2014 The Memorial Tournament Preview, Picks + Predictions Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #JacksPlace

In PGA Tour golf, there are the four majors, and then there’s everything else.  Right at the top of that “everything else” list is the PLAYERS, followed by a select few annual rotas on the calendar that draw top notch fields to go along with a high quality course.  Count the Memorial at Muirfield Village as one of those select premiere non-major tourneys the Tour visits each year.

Muirfield Village aka “Jack’s place” is a beautiful, lush 7,353 yard track in Dublin, OH that is cut through the trees and has bunkers and water hazards galore.  The par 72 layout is annually the toughest non-major on the PGA Tour, last year playing to a stroke average of 73.256.  The course demands extreme accuracy off the tee, and precision around the blazing fast greens, which average less than 5,000 square feet in size.

This year’s field is again a who’s-who in the world of golf, with big names like: World #1 Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Luke Donald, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner and others teeing it up.  Yep, I can handle some heavy doses of those names on the GC airwaves all week long.

A mixed bag for my picks last week as John Senden as one of my Lockzillas was very solid in finishing t-5th, but annual top 5 Colonial finisher Zach Johnson pouted his way through the weekend, eventually finishing 73rd (nice triple and quadruple bogies to finish on Sunday, Zach).  Louis Oosthuizen as my Semi-Flier was just so-so, finishing t-38th and my DOTD play of the week and defending champion Boo Weekley disappointed by finishing t-75th.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Zach 73rd, Senden t-5th)

Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland
– The burly Kansas native has been leaderboard lurking like crazy of late, going t-16th, t-8th, t-20th, t-26th, t-18th, t-11th and t-7th in his past 7 seven starts.  That’s definitely nothing to just sneeze at.  His prodigious length off the tee is complemented by an underrated short game and touch around the greens, plus throw in the fact that he finished t-16th here last year and solo 6th in ’11, and Gary is an absolute rock solid pick to be in contention this week.

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson
– DJ seemed to be the man to beat after round one of the Colonial following his opening 65, but he faded during the middle rounds before posting a closing 66, good enough to vault him back up into a tie for 14th.  His level of focus, or lack thereof, scares me at times to pick him, but he’s a stellar pick for this track, as proven by his solo 4th place finish here in ’11 and t-19th in ’12.  Expect multiple squares on his card each round, but a plethora of birdies and a few double circles as well.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Oosthuizen t-38th)

Russell Knox
Russell Knox
– The Scottish native has been playing some sneaky solid golf this year, much of which has come on courses that he’s never seen before—notably, P2 at the Honda Classic, t-21st last week at Colonial.  He ranks 17th in GIR and 18th in Driving Accuracy on Tour.  I’m calling for some first-timer good Muirfield fortune for Russell this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Leishman t-21st)

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
– Wait- he just won the BMW Championship on the European Tour and he’s finished t-7th, t-8th, t-8th and t-6th in his past four PGA Tour events…so how on Earth can #Rors be a BUST pick for this week?  Simple- course history + letdown.  Rory chopped his way to an opening round 78 here last year, before rebounding with a 69 on Friday, but still only scraped his way to a t-57th finish for the week.  The year prior he missed the cut with rounds of 71-79 and yes, ok, he has two top tens here the prior two years.  BUT, this week the recipe is ripe for a post-victory/break-up flying-back-across-the-pond letdown for Rory.  I think he has the weekend off this week.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY O F THE WEEK (Last Week: Weekley t-75th)

Stewart Cink
Stewart Cink-
Stewy has been playing some impressively steady golf of late, beginning with the Masters and carrying on through his last start at the PLAYERS Championship.  In fact, at the PLAYERS he was reasonably in contention going into Sunday after three straight opening rounds of 2-under par 70, but he faded to a 76 in that final round, ultimately finishing t-38th.  That final round fade coupled with the fact that he hasn’t played since will likely make him very under-picked in all formats this week.  I already liked his chances given his solid form of late, then checked out his record at Muirfield Village—he’s played here every year since ’97, and only has 1 missed cut (in ’97).  Here are his finishes here every year since 2000: t-29th, t-25th, t-30th, t-8th t-8th, t-30th, t-5th, t-12th, t-45th, t-40th, 6th, t-9th, 4th.  Sorry for the laundry list of numbers, but that just flat out proves his consistency and love for this place.  Stewart Cink is my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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