Power Rankings: the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
May 29, 2017
By Rob Bolton , PGATOUR.COM
- May 29, 2017
- Dustin Johnson finished solo third at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide last year. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance is presenting its 42nd edition this week. The last three winners – Hideki Matsuyama (2014), David Lingmerth (2015) and William McGirt (2016) – captured their first PGA TOUR victories at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
This is in contrast to an opposing trend that was extended at last week's DEAN & DELUCA Invitational. When Kevin Kisner secured the title on Sunday, he extended the tournament's streak without a first-time winner to 16 editions. To put that drought into perspective, Sergio Garcia's breakthrough at Colonial in 2001 is nearer in time (by almost a full year) to Jack Nicklaus' last victory in a major (1986 Masters) than to today.
It is, of course, Nicklaus, who hosts 120 golfers at the Memorial.
Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Charl Schwartzel are among the notables who will be included in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
Muirfield Village is a stock par 72 tipping at 7,392 yards, but it's hardly a secret that it's a second-shot track even throughout its tireless evolution of nips, tucks and more invasive strategic and cosmetic upgrades. Despite greens that average just 5,000 square feet and save the occasional deviation, it's been one of the most scorable courses on the PGA TOUR. The objective has been as simple as the definition of good golf: hit greens in regulation and press your luck with the putter.
Last year's field averaged 11.85 GIR per round. That yielded a birdie-or-better clip of 34.94 percent, which was third-highest on any course all season. The scoring average landed at 70.987, lowest in recorded history (since data were first maintained in earnest in 1983).
Course modifications since McGirt posed for pictures were primarily subtle as compared to previous years. The most noticeable change occurred at the par-4 third hole where two fairway bunkers at the end of the elbow left were removed. A tee ball hadn't landed in one since 2014 when Justin Lower found sand in the opening round.
Fulfilling the expectation as the first northern site of the 2016-17 season, bentgrass is grown everywhere but in the rough where a blend of Kentucky bluegrass, rye and fescue is allowed to grow as high as three-and-three-quarter inches. The devilish greens are prepped to run at least 13 feet on the Stimpmeter, serving as an omnipresent reminder of the value of confidence on approach.
On Tuesday, The Confidence Factor (formerly known as Comfort Zone) will expand on what the last three winners did en route to their victories, as well as identify which factors have defined success at Muirfield Village. Indeed, precision and accuracy on approach are keys, but you might be surprised by a couple of other influences.
Seasonal conditions are forecast throughout the tournament. Daytime highs are unlikely to escape the 70s. In between a dry and calm open and close, rain and thunderstorms will pose a threat. With it, winds will kick up. With a limited field in this invitational, tournament officials will have flexibility to deal with weather concerns and still finish on time. The winner will receive a three-year PGA TOUR exemption (through 2019-2020). Total prize money is up to $8.7 million, a rise of $200,000 since last year. The champion will bank $1,566,000.00.
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 columns this week.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, The Confidence Factor, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
THURSDAY: Ownership Percentages in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf and One & Done presented by SERVPRO
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.