Perhaps the strongest field of the season congregates at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio for The Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus. Nine of the top-10 players in the world will play this week along with Tiger Woods who is making his first appearance in a PGA Tour event since the coronavirus layoff. Here’s my Top-20 countdown for The Memorial.
Top Picks for The Memorial Tournament
20. Kevin Kisner: Finally broke out of a slump in Detroit with a third place finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He has too much talent to be in slumps. His best finish at the Memorial is a T6 in 2017. Should be able to build off his momentum from a couple weeks ago and play well here.
19. Matthew Fitzpatrick: Perhaps with Jim “Bones” McKay on the bag for him this week, Matthew will be able to elevate his game. It definitely can’t hurt.
18. Louis Oosthuizen: Maybe the most unpredictable player on Tour. When he makes his putts, he’s always a threat to win. Was on fire earlier this year with five top-6 finishes but has cooled down since. Has played better the last couple weeks but hasn’t been able to hold together good starts.
17. Brooks Koepka: Maybe playing with Tiger the first two days will give him some motivation. He seems like he needs it right now. He looks bored a lot of the time out there. Always plays better with stronger fields evidenced by his four majors and World Golf Championship.
16. Joel Dahmen: Didn’t play well here a week ago, but quietly has produced a solid season. He has finished in the top-20 in five of his last seven weeks, including two top-10s. Always seems to be hanging around more often than not.
15. Jon Rahm: Hasn’t had the greatest return to action. In his four tournaments since the return, his best finish has been a tie for 27th. But he is the No. 2 ranked player in the world and is due for a bounce back. Showed some signs a week ago at this very golf course of breaking out of his slump.
14. Victor Hovland: Only concern here is fatigue. He’s played in every tournament since the layoff. However, he’s taken advantage of those tournaments and collected some good money. He seems to be finding himself higher and higher up on the leaderboard each week. He’s finished T-23, T-21, T-11, T-12, and 3rd since the return. I don’t feel there’s many more golfers who are more due and ready to break out than he is.
13. Hideki Matsuyama: He won here back in 2014 and finished 6th a year ago. He has steadily played well over the course of the year with five top-11 finishes so far this season. It’s just a matter of him trying to eliminate the bad round that seems to have crippled his chances the last few weeks.
12. Justin Rose: The Englishmen would be one of my top-3 picks to win if it weren’t for his recent performances. He comes in missing two straight cuts, including one at Muirfield Village last week. However, no one perhaps has a better resume at this venue than Rose. He won here back in 2010 and has finished in the top-13 the last three years. Call this more of a gut play that he will find a way to get over his recent shortcomings and play well this week.
11. Kevin Streelman: Two straight top-10 finishes for Streelman, including one last week on this golf course. A very consistent player who has finished in the top-5 here a couple times. A leaderboard machine; he should be there again this week.
10. Rory McIlroy: After a hot stretch of golf, Rory’s cooled off the last few tournaments. He took last week off to rest and try and polish his game a bit. I have no doubt Rory will get off to a hot start yet again. The question is can he finish. It’s been his achilles heel since the return from the virus.
9. Tiger Woods: This is the optimistic side of me picking here. Tiger’s back should be fine after all the rest. He actually looked great in The Match with Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning and has won on this course a record seven times. His lack of reps will likely keep him from winning, but not contending. Look for him to hang around the leaderboard this week, playing better as the week goes along.
8. Gary Woodland: Quiety, the U.S. Open champion has put together a solid year. He has eight top-10 finishes so far this season and had a great performance on this course a week ago. If the tournament started on the back 9 on Friday, he would have won. Woodland seems to play better when the field is bigger, so he should be in his comfort zone this week.
7. Dustin Johnson: He answered the doubters who thought his best days were well behind him when he won at the Travelers. When DJ gets hot, he can string wins together. Twenty-one wins now on the PGA Tour and he enters with a week of rest and confidence. He has his eyes on the prize this weekend.
6. Collin Morikawa: He won here a week ago; why not again? Seriously, Morikawa has established himself as one of the best young up-and-coming stars in the game and seems to be getting better week in and week out. It’s tough to win back to back, and with a much more impressive field this week compared to last, he’ll have his hands full. But don’t put it past this young superstar in the making.
5. Xander Schauffele: Finished 14th here a year ago and 14th on this course last week. His game has been consistent since the return from the layoff and he played great on the weekend a week ago. I like his chances this week if he can make the crucial putts.
4. Patrick Cantlay: The defending champion at the Memorial is made for this golf course. He played well a week ago again at Muirfield and seems to have shaken off the rust from not playing much this season. He has a scoring average of just over 68 in his last 12 rounds at Muirfield Village. That’s quite impressive.
3. Webb Simpson: A great course for the consistent Simpson who has two wins in his last five starts. Now a top-5 player in the world, Simpson’s strong tee-to-green game will be a major asset this week. Simpson is fourth in all-around ranking this year and a win can vault him potentially to second in the world golf rankings.
2. Bryson DeChambeau: There’s no golfer playing better since the calendar turned than big BDC. He comes in with eight straight top-10 finishes and a win in his last tournament. He also won this tournament two years ago so he has great success at Muirfield Village. Expect him to be near or atop the leaderboard come Sunday night.
1. Justin Thomas: Finished second on this course a week ago and his great play of late should carry into this week. In his last 15 tournaments, Thomas has three wins and an incredible 11 top-10 finishes. He has a chance to overtake Rory McIlroy and establish himself as the world’s best player this week. I’ll take him over anyone to win it.