Preview: PGA Tour’s the Memorial Tournament

Preview – PGA Tour — the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance –Muirfield Village Golf Club – Dublin, Ohio –

One of the PGA Tour’s premium-field events gathers near Columbus, Ohio this week to help celebrate the on-course and off-course contributions of Jack Nicklaus to the sport, charity and business of golf.

The event also showcases a host of players gearing up for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in just a few weeks.

The best golfers in the world assemble at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance to compete for the one of golf’s most-respected championships. The par-72 layout reaches more than 7,300 yards and dates back to 1976 when Roger Maltbie won the first edition.

Recent champions at Muirfield are high-profile names in golf including Matt Kuchar (2013), Tiger Woods (2012 and 2009), Steve Stricker (2011) and Rose (2010). Last year’s champion—Hideki Matsuyama – is now up to No. 14 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Woods, a five-time winner here, and Masters champion Jordan Spieth are headliners this week along with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler.

2014 Recap:

  • Matsuyama (13-under) edged Kevin Na in a playoff to capture the title. Na fired a final-round 64 to earn a playoff spot. Bubba Watson missed out by a shot thanks to a Sunday 72. Chris Kirk and Adam Scott logged T-4 finishes at 10-under. Top 10 were earned by Steve Stricker, Ben Curtis, Bill Haas and Charl Schwartzel.

FANTASY: Consider Schwartzel in this spot. He has contended two seasons in a row here. Na’s runner-up effort last year and trending play this season makes him a must play. He failed to close out wins this season (most recently at Crowne Plaza with nine holes to play), but has logged six Top 10s. Fowler, who was runner-up here in 2010 to Rose, is coming from Ireland after playing in the Irish Open, so fatigue could play a part.

BETTORS: Spieth is the top-ranked player in the field and the betting favorite at 7-to-1 odds, according to Take Kirk (25-1) following his victory two weeks ago at the Crowne Plaza. Kirk was T-4 here a season ago. For longer shots, Schwartzel is 66-1, while Na is 40-1. Woods is worth a pick at 25-1. Rose, who won the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, is a past champ here. At 16-1 odds, he’s worth the wager.

The Golf Channel has the coverage Thursday and Friday along with earlier look-ins Saturday and Sunday. CBS Sports handles the prime coverage on the weekend.

Other Golf News:

  • Henrik Stenson, who slipped to No. 3 in the world rankings behind Watson, headlines the field at the European Tour’s Nordea Masters in Sweden. At 4-1 odds, Stenson is a big favorite but hasn’t won since capturing the DP World Championship last November.
  • The LPGA Tour returns to Canada this week for the Manulife LPGA Classic. It’s the final week before the tour’s next major at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
  • Anna Nordqvist’s 5th career victory — capturing the ShopRite LPGA Classic last week — moved her up to No. 7 in the Rolex Rankings. Lydia Ko still leads the rankings followed by Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis.
  • Steven Bowditch’s triumph at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship jumped the Aussie from 127th to 65th in the latest world rankings.
  • Soren Kjeldsen climbed nearly 200 places to 105th in the world rankings. Denmark’s Kjeldsen won his 4th career European Tour title last weekend at the Irish Open in a playoff.