Rarely does a year go by when Muirfield Village Golf Club doesn’t undergo noticeable and influential changes in preparation for its annual duty as host of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. It’s still the par 72 measuring 7,392 yards that we knew last year. However, this hasn’t been just any ol’ 12-month cycle in Dublin, Ohio.
It was announced in December that the existing partnership was extended six years through 2021. The winner of the tournament will continue to receive a three-year PGA TOUR exemption, while the total prize money has ballooned to $8.5 million. (It was $6.2 million in 2015.) It will increase by $200,000 in every edition throughout the term of the agreement. This week’s champion will earn $1.53 million.
When you think of scorable tracks on the PGA TOUR, Muirfield Village probably doesn’t crack your consciousness, but only the trio of host courses of the CareerBuilder Challenge in both 2014 and 2015 yielded a greater percentage of birdies or better when hitting greens in regulation. At 34.84 percent, Muirfield Village ranked fourth-highest. The rub is that it was 18th-hardest to total scoring opportunities last year at 63.49 percent (or 11.4 GIR per round), and that was a five-year high. Overall, the field averaged 71.738, which is an eight-year low.
The bentgrass greens average only 5,000 square feet, so with ample room off most tees and terrific looks to break par, proximity to the hole is at a premium. Furthermore, despite a deep, 120-man field, truly no one can be ruled out to contend since distance is usually manifested only when combined with accuracy on approach. This helps explain why Hideki Matsuyama (2014) and David Lingmerth (2015) emerged with their first TOUR titles in this invitational on this golf course.
Mother Nature may play a role early and late as rain and potentially thunderstorms are forecast on Thursday and Sunday. Winds may freshen by the time the finale rolls around. Seasonable temperatures will climb into the high 70s.
ROB BOLTON'S WRITING SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM's Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week's event. Look for the following features later this week:
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Fantasy Insider, Comfort Zone, Sleepers
THURSDAY: Most-picked players
* = Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM's Expert Picks, which also publishes on Tuesdays.