The PGA Tour rolls into central Ohio and will make its annual stop at Dublin’s Muirfield Village Golf Club today. Here is a list of the top five players who have a shot at competing for the Memorial Tournament title.
1. Justin Rose
Rose enters this year’s Memorial Tournament as defending champion, and seems to be the perfect candidate to pick up where he left off one year ago. He came back from a four-stroke deficit entering the final round in 2010 and, with his 66-shot final-round score, earned his first-ever PGA Tour victory. During the this year’s tour, Rose has made the cut in 11 of the 12 events he has played, including three top-10 finishes. Rose’s solid play so far this year makes him a player to watch throughout the weekend.
2. Luke Donald
Donald is coming off a week in which he won the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship in England, and also claimed the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career. The victory marked Donald’s second of the year on all tours and should have him flying high upon his arrival at Muirfield Village. Donald also comes into this week having finished in the top 10 in seven of the eight PGA events he has played this year. If he can ride the momentum across back to the U.S., Donald should be a heavy favorite this week.
3. Bubba Watson
While Watson has finished no better than tied for 23rd (2007 and 2009) in his five starts at Muirfield, he’s enjoying his most successful season on tour. Watson is one of just two players on tour with multiple wins this season, and is first in the FedEx Cup point standings. Watson is second on tour in driving distance and first in reaching greens in regulation percentage. The key for Watson this week is putting. The Memorial is notorious for quick greens, and, if Watson putts well, he should remain in contention for the title.
4. Rickie Fowler
This year’s Memorial Tournament is all about redemption for Fowler. After tying a tournament-record 13-under par through the first 36-holes, and maintaining a three-shot lead after the third round, Fowler looked poised to win his first-ever PGA tournament at last year’s Memorial. A bogey on the 10th hole and a double bogey on the 12th undid Fowler’s strong start and allowed Rose to take the win. Fowler has struggled lately, failing to finish inside the top 10 of a PGA event in nearly three months. Look for Fowler to return to Muirfield with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.
5. Phil Mickelson
Mickelson has already won once on tour this season with a three-shot victory at the Shell Houston Open on April 3, and returns to Muirfield after a tie for fifth in the 2010 Memorial. Mickelson has posted three top-10 finishes in his 11 starts at Muirfield. Don’t be surprised to see Lefty’s name near the top of the leaderboard this weekend.