The Course: Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio
Principal Architects: Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead, 1974
Defending Champion: Hideki Matsuyama, Japan
How he did it: Following a wild final round of lead changes and implosions from Bubba Watson and Adam Scott, among others, the 22-year-old Matsuyama survived his own 16th and 17th hole blunders to birdie the 72nd hole and earn a playoff with Kevin Na, who blazed home with a 64. Matsuyama’s par on the first playoff hole earned him his first PGA Tour title.
Key holes to watch: Most memorable is the 363-yard, par-4 14th, a superior test of drive-and-pitch precision, where a creek intrudes along the fairway’s left side before it curls in front of the green. More marvelous risk/reward golf takes place at the 529-yard, par-5 15th. While the tee shot is hemmed in by trees and the approach is uphill, it’s reachable by everybody — but is it worth the risk? Bubba Watson found out the hard way in 2014, when he made double-bogey 7 in the final round.
Who to look for: Tiger Woods returns after a three-week layoff since the Players, seeking his sixth win. He’ll be paired with Patrick Reed and Australia’s Jason Day, the latter ranked 10th in the world and who is somewhat of a hometown favorite. His wife Ellie is a Buckeye State native and they make their home in suburban Columbus. Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson are also in the field, as is Sam Saunders, grandson of Arnold Palmer, who was Nicklaus’ greatest rival in the 1960s.
Tournament lore: Historically unlucky with weather, The Memorial’s forecast isn’t half-bad: 50 percent chance of thunderstorms on the weekend. On his way to victory that week, Tom Watson posted one of the greatest bad-weather rounds in PGA Tour history, a 3-under-par 69 on Day 2 of the 1979 event, during rain and cold that dropped the wind chill to 13 degrees. Forty-two players failed to break 80 that day. Justin Leonard, who is in the field this week, has never captured the Memorial, but as a 20-year-old, he did win the 1992 U.S. Amateur at Muirfield Village. The final was postponed by a day — not surprisingly — due to massive showers earlier in the week.