Jack Nicklaus and Muirfield Village are set to welcome the PGA Tour for another edition of the Memorial Tournament. Who will be greeted by the Golden Bear beside the 18th green come Sunday?
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Jon Rahm shot nine-under-par 279 last year to defeat Ryan Palmer by three shots. With his victory, Rahm reached the pinnacle of the world rankings for the first time in his career.
COURSE: Muirfield Village Golf Club was founded by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1974. It was named after Muirfield in Scotland, where he won the first of his three Open Championship titles in 1966 to complete his career Grand Slam.
The 6,759-metre layout has hosted the Ryder, Presidents and Solheim Cups and has regularly undergone small changes from year-to-year at Nicklaus' whim, but 2020 saw an extensive renovation.
All 18 greens were reconstructed and resurfaced with new bentgrass, with only four greens resembling their previous form, while new irrigation and Precision Air systems were also added. And every bunker throughout the course was also rebuilt, with some moved for strategic purposes.
The par-72 has also been extended by up to 100 yards thanks to several new tees, and all fairway and green surround areas have been resurfaced with new irrigation installed. The 15th hole has seen the greatest changes, the par-5 completely rebuilt from tee to green.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
Defending champion Jon Rahm is aiming to become the first player since Tiger Woods (1999, 2000 & 2001) to win back-to-back titles at this event.
The in-form Spaniard was T8th at the US PGA Championship two weeks ago and banked additional top-10s at the Masters and The Players earlier this year.
Rahm hasn’t claimed any silverware since winning his fifth PGA Tour title last August at the BMW Championship. But the World No.3 has proven he can handle the pressure of defending tournaments – finishing sixth at the Desert Classic in 2019 – so expect to see him in contention at Muirfield Village this weekend.
RIGHT: Rahm became World No.1 with his victory at Muirfield Village last year. PHOTO: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.
Jason Day hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish since sharing seventh place at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am back in February. But the former World No.1 has a home course advantage this week and generally enjoys this event.
The Queensland-born Muirfield Village resident was T4th here last year and was T15th in 2017.
Day, 33, has missed three of the past four cuts and hasn’t won an official event since claiming the Wells Fargo Championship in May, 2018.
The World No.69 needs to move inside the top-60 by Sunday evening to automatically qualify for the upcoming US Open, having already declared he won’t be taking part in sectional qualifying for the major championship.
72-HOLE RECORD: American Tom Lehman fired 20-under-par 268 in 1994 to defeat Greg Norman by five shots.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Greg Norman (1995 & 1990) and David Graham (1980).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Jason Day, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 9am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 9am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2:30am – 8am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2am – 8am)
*AEST, check local guides