Tournament: Memorial Tournament, June 1-4
Course: Muirfield Village GC, 7,392 yards, par 72.
Defending Champion: William McGirt. The somewhat-journeyman won his first PGA tournament here last year, making some clutch par saves (nothing was easy) and winning on the 2nd playoff hole over Jon Curran.
Fun Fact: This is the only course to have hosted the three major US team-format tournaments: Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Solheim Cup. This is a very highly ranked course, and on my personal top 10 bucket list. Visioned, purchased, designed, built, and owned by Jack Nicklaus.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 2:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, noon-2 p.m. (GC), 2:30-6 p.m. (CBS). TV loves Jack Nicklaus, and being his tournament, they will give him plenty of air-time.
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Five): Chris Kirk, Brian Harman, Hudson Swafford, Kevin Kisner, Bubba Watson
Another week, another Tour victory for a Georgia Bulldog. Kevin Kisner came from behind in the final round last Sunday, made a key birdie and clutch pars down the final stretch, and outlasted the leaders to take home his 2nd PGA Tour victory and $1,242,000 in prize money. Plus another 2 year exemption on Tour, entry into all the majors and invitationals he wants, and he’s up to 7th in FedEx Cup points.
As in all things, the Tour moves on and in this case moves to Dublin, Ohio. Specifically, The Memorial Tournament is a creation of Jack Nicklaus, purpose-built to hold a world-class tournament on a world-class course with a world-class field, all to honor those who have made contributions to golf. This year’s honoree is former world #1 Greg Norman, the Great White Shark.
The Golden Bear always puts on a great show, and the field this year reflects that. World #1 Dustin Johnson will play, as will #3 and adopted favorite son Jason Day (raised in Australia, married a local girl, now resides in Columbus, OH), and most of the world’s top 50. That also includes two former Georgia Bulldogs. Here is who is playing this week, having formerly played in Athens:
Chris Kirk. #100 in the world (OWGR) and #68 in FedEx Cup points, he has 3 top 10 finishes this season.
Brian Harman. #51 OWGR, and #9 in FedEx Cup, he has 5 top 10s so far including a win last month at the Wells Fargo in Wilmington, NC.
Hudson Swafford. #80 OWGR, and #21 in FedEx Cup thanks to his win in Palm Springs, and top tens in Houston and Bay Hill.
Bubba Watson. #34 OWGR and #125 in FedEx Cup points. He is basically in a freefall, as he was #2 in the world just 2 years ago. He plays a pink ball, pink (and other color) golf gloves, has a pink shaft in his driver... and just has no short game. He’s 5th on Tour off the tee, but is 190+ both around the green and putting.
Kevin Kisner. #22 OWGR and #7 FedEx Cup points thanks to last week’s win in Fort Worth. He now has 2 career PGA Tour titles, and 6 second place finishes. And as was mentioned by HavenDawg , he is virtually a lock for the US President’s Cup team this fall (biennial golf team competition, United States versus an International Team (sans Europe)).
So there is who to root for. If you like golf, you like Jack Nicklaus and he knows how to put on a show. The course is tough but fair, and CBS will fawn over both Jack and Muirfield Village alike. Flip it on over and let’s make it two weeks in a row with a ‘Dawg on top.
And as always...
*For those of you who track such things, UGA is the three-time defending champion of college progam alumni earning prize money on the PGA Tour. Perennial powers Georgia Tech (yep), Texas, and Arizona State have all challenged, but fallen short. Until this year. Arizona State came out of the gate hot, mostly thanks to rookie Jon Rahm (1 win, 2 seconds, 4 other top 10s). But Georgia has closed the gap with wins by Swafford, Henley, Harman, and now Kisner this season. The difference is only about $98k, and both schools are well in front of 3rd place OkieState.