2021 Memorial Tournament Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

The 15th tee at Muirfield Village. Credit: Getty Images/Ryan Young

It’s Memorial Tournament week – the second to last stop before next month’s U.S. Open, and the field in central Ohio is once again stout.

The 134-player set will include 16 of the top-20 ranked players in the world, featuring seven of the top-10.

Contested at the acclaimed Muirfield Village Golf Club, and hosted by PGA Tour legend Jack Nicklaus, the star-studded gathering in Dublin, Ohio will feature world No. 3, and defending champion, Jon Rahm who will be joined by a several other former winners, including top-ranked stalwarts such as Patrick Cantlay (2019), Bryson DeChambeau (2018), Hideki Matsuyama (2014), and Matt Kuchar (2013).

Top-10 ranked stars looking for their first Memorial win include No. 2 Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele (5), Collin Morikawa (6), Rory McIlroy (8), Patrick Reed (9).

Other marquee names in the field: Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland, and Shane Lowry, among others.

Below, you’ll find more details to help you get primed for the 2020 edition of the Memorial Tournament.


Memorial Tournament Skinny

Name: the Memorial Tournament
Title Sponsor: Nationwide Insurance
Tour Debut: 1976
Dates: June 3-6, 2021
Where: Dublin, Ohio
Course: Muirfield Village GC
Distance: Par 72, 7,392 yards
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Format: Stroke, 72-holes, 36-hole cut
Purse: $9,300,000
Winning Share: $1,674,000
Defending Champion: Jon Rahm


How to Follow the Memorial Tournament

Jack Nicklaus The Memorial Tournament
Tournament host Jack Nicklaus does a television interview during the third round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 6, 2015 in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 3-7 p.m. (GOLF); Sat: 12:30-3 p.m. (GOLF), 3-6 p.m. (CBS); Sun: 12:30-2:30 p.m. (GOLF), 2:30-6 p.m. (CBS)

PGA TOUR LIVE: Thu-Fri: 7:15 a.m.-7 p.m. (Groups); Sat: 7:45 a.m.-3 p.m. (Groups), 3-6 p.m. (Holes); Sun: 7:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Groups), 2:30-6 p.m. (Holes)
Watch on Prime Video

PGA TOUR RADIO: Thu-Fri: 12-6:30 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 1-6 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio)

LINKS: Website | Instagram | Facebook


Memorial Tournament History

The Memorial Tournament Wall of Honor Sam Snead
A wall of plaques commemorates golfing greats outside the Muirfield Village Golf Club clubhouse during third-round play in The Memorial Tournament, June 5, 2004 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt via Getty Images)

As one of the most respected names in the history of the game, Jack Nicklaus’ gift to the golf world, and to a central Ohio community that embraced him, has grown into one of the most important events outside of the four majors.

The Memorial, considered one of the two best non majors on the schedule, continuously draws a very strong field, and even bigger crowds, the latter a testament to a Muirfield Village course design that made fan experience a priority.

Debuting in 1976, just two years after Muirfield Village opened, the inaugural edition of the Memorial was a brutal test as only two players, Roger Maltbie and Hale Irwin, were able to avoid an over-par score. Both finished at level-par 288 with Maltbie eventually edging Irwin on the fourth sudden-death extra hole.

The following year featured the first victory for tournament host Nicklaus, who would also win the 1984 edition.

Other notable winners have included the aforementioned Irwin, Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd, Greg Norman, Curtis Strange, Paul Azinger, Tom Lehman, Vijah Singh, Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Justin Rose, and Tiger Woods.

Woods holds the tournament record with five victories, followed by Kenny Perry who won three times. Four players, including Nicklaus, have claimed two Memorial titles.

One of the unique features of the tournament is a yearly induction ceremony, honoring past golfers. A plaque for each honoree is installed near the clubhouse at Muirfield; Nicklaus himself was the 2000 honoree. Every honoree is an off the chart historical name, but some of the names include Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros, Lee Trevino, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Sam Snead, among others.


The Course: Muirfield Village

The 18th hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 3, 2018 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Founded by Jack Nicklaus, and opened in 1974, Muirfield Village Golf Club is a par 72 track, measuring 7,392 yards for the Tour pros.

Acting as the home base of the Ohio legend, the property and golf course was named after Muirfield, Scotland – where Nicklaus won the first of his three British Open titles in 1966 to complete the first of his three career grand slams.

The Nicklaus designed signature golf course has hosted the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament since its inception in 1976, with the Golden Bear, himself, acting as the tournament host.

A bronze sculpture of Nicklaus mentoring a young golfer, unveiled in 1999, is located in the wide median of Muirfield Drive.

The private pro-style layout is regularly ranked as one of the top golf courses in the state of Ohio.

Course Skinny

Name: Muirfield Village Golf Club
Locale: Dublin, Ohio
Established: 1974
Type: Private
Holes: 18
Par: 36/36/72
Par 3s: 4 (4, 8, 12, 16)
Par 4s: 10 (1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 17, 18)
Par 5s: 4 (5, 7, 11, 15)
Length: 7,329 yards
Greens: Bentgrass/Poa annua
Fairways: Bentgrass/Poa annua
Designed by: Jack Nicklaus
Website: mvgc.org


The Field: Overview

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm celebrates with his caddie Adam Hayes after winning on the 18th green during the final round of The Memorial Tournament on July 19, 2020 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Headlining the event at Jack’s Place will be seven of the top-10 ranked players in the world – many of whom will tee it up for the final time before next month’s U.S. Open.

World No. 3 Jon Rahm returns to defend his 2020 title. He will be joined by a plethora of superstars, including top-10 stars such as No. 2 Justin Thomas, No. 4 Bryson DeChambeau, No. 5 Xander Schauffele, No. 6 Collin Morikawa, No. 8 Rory McIlroy, and No. 9 Patrick Reed.

Alongside Rahm (2020) and DeChambeau (2018), other top-20 ranked former winners include No. 14 Hideki Matsuyama (2014) and No. 15 Patrick Cantlay (2019).

Other marquee names include Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and Shane Lowry, among others.


The Field: Power Rankings

Bryson DeChambeau Wins the Memorial
Bryson DeChambeau celebrates with his caddie after winning in a playoff against Byeong-Hun An after the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village GC on June 3, 2018 in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Bombers who can work the ball, tee to green, and stick pins should find success this week in Ohio.

1. Bryson DeChambeau
The 2018 Memorial champion is someone who especially respects the history of the game, and the significance of adding his second win at Jack’s Place in the same year that he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational (back in March) would not be lost on him.

World Rank: 4th
Odds To Win: 14-1
Last Six Starts: 38, 55, 9, 46, 42, 3
Best Memorial Finish: W (2018)

2. Jon Rahm
The world No. 3 has been a little hit-or-miss the past three months, with the birth of his first child possibly playing into that some, but he still has 10 top-10s on the season.

World Rank: 3rd
Odds To Win: 10-1
Last Six Starts: 8, 34, MC, 5, 5, 9
Best Memorial Finish: W (2020)

3. Hideki Matsuyama
The reigning Masters champion notched his first career win at The Memorial, taking the 2014 edition in a playoff over Kevin Na. That win does not appear to have been a fluke, as the 29-year-old has finished double-digits under par four times in this event.

World Rank: 14th
Odds To Win: 25-1
Last Six Starts: 23, 39, 1, 30, 42, MC
Best Memorial Finish: W (2014)

4. Collin Morikawa
The world No. 6 leads the Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green and in greens in regulation, and seems to be on the verge of another contending week, with four straight finishes of T18 or better in individual events.

World Rank: 6th
Odds To Win: 16-1
Last Six Starts: 14, 8, 7, 18, 56, 41
Best Memorial Finish: T48 (2020)

5. Jordan Spieth
Spieth’s current form cannot be overly scrutinized: he has eight top-10s in his last 11 starts, with a win and five other finishes of T4 or better among them.

World Rank: 23rd
Odds To Win: 14-1
Last Six Starts: 2, 30, 9, 3, 1, 9
Best Memorial Finish: T3 (2015)

Read Joel Cook’s Power Rankings


The Field: Odds To Win

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth lines up a putt on the third hole during the final round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 02, 2019 in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

At 10/1, Jon Rahm is the favorite this week at Muirfield. The defending champion was a one-man show at last year’s event, building a four-stroke 54-hole lead before winning by three despite a questionable two-stroke penalty late.

DeChambeau is next at 14/1, and despite being in a bit of a funk at the moment – with four of his past five starts resulting in finishes outside the top 35, he always seems to get in the mix at the bigger events. And even despite his more recent results, he leads the Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee and strokes gained: total, and is second in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are also offered at 14/1.

Spieth, who owns a bunch of top 10s this season, enters off a painful loss at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. It’s fair to wonder if there will be any scar tissue from his implosion, which he capped off a with an approach into the water on 18 when he needed a birdie to put pressure on the man who overtook his 54-hole lead.

McIlroy, meanwhile, enters off a T49 at the PGA, but before that a win at Quail Hollow. Perhaps he will feel more comfortable in this week’s comparatively lower-pressure environment. He has four top 10s in his Muirfield Village career, with a best result of T4 in 2016.

Rounding out the top-5 betting favorites, at 16-1, is world No. 2 Justin Thomas, who’s been in a funk since his big win at the Players Championship.

Top-5 Betting Favorites

Pos-Player(Odds)
1. Jon Rahm (10-1)
2. Bryson DeChambeau (14-1)
2. Jordan Spieth (14-1)
2. Rory McIlroy (14-1)
5. Justin Thomas (16-1)


The Field: How They Qualified For the Memorial

Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama reacts on the 18th green after making birdie on the first playoff hole against Kevin Na to win the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 1, 2014 in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Winner: the Memorial Tournament
Patrick Cantlay
Bryson DeChambeau
Jason Dufner
William McGirt
Jon Rahm

Winner: The Players Championship (2017-2021)
Si Woo Kim
Rory McIlroy
Justin Thomas

Winner: The Masters Tournament (2017-2021)
Hideki Matsuyama
Patrick Reed

Winner: The U.S. Open (2016-2020)
Gary Woodland

Winner: The Open Championship (2015-2019)
Shane Lowry
Jordan Spieth

Winner: PGA Championship (2015-2020)
Collin Morikawa

Winner: WGC Events (2019-2021)
Billy Horschel
Xander Schauffele

Winner: Arnold Palmer Invitational (2018-2021)
Marc Leishman

Tournament Winner in Past Year
Sam Burns
Stewart Cink
Joel Dahmen
Brian Gay
Branden Grace
Jim Herman
Max Homa
Viktor Hovland
Matt Jones
Martin Laird
KH Lee
Carlos Ortiz
Cameron Smith
Robert Streb
Hudson Swafford
Michael Thompson
Richy Werenski

U.S. Presidents Cup Team (2019)
Tony Finau
Rickie Fowler
Matt Kuchar

International Presidents Cup (2019)
Byeong Hun An
Adam Hadwin
Haotong Li
Joaquin Niemann
Louis Oosthuizen
Cheng Tsung Pan

Winner: U.S. Amateur (2020)
Tyler Strafaci

Winner: British Amateur (2020)
Joe Long

Money List Leaders: International Tours
Lucas Herbert
Takumi Kanaya
Antoine Rozner

Sponsors Exemption: 2018
Rafael Cabrera Bello

Sponsors Exemption: Members not otherwise exempt
K.J. Choi
J.B. Holmes
David Lingwerth
Vijay Singh
Danny Willett

Sponsors Exemption: Unrestricted
Padraig Harrington
Bo Hoag
Chase Johnson
Luke List
Patrick Rodgers
Camilo Villegas

Top 50: Official World Golf Rankings
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Scottie Scheffler
Will Zalatoris
Victor Perez
Corey Conners
Adam Scott
Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Top 70: FedExCup Points (2020)
Sebastian Munoz
Mackenzie Hughes
Lanto Griffin
Brendon Todd
Cam Champ
Adam Long
Kevin Streelman
Tyler Duncan
Mark Hubbard
Danny Lee
Brendan Steele
Nick Taylor
Tom Hoge
Alex Noren
Harry Higgs
Russell Henley
Jason Day
Dylan Frittelli
Talor Gooch
Robby Shelton
J.T. Poston
Charles Howell III

Top 70: FedExCup Points (2021)
Charley Hoffman
Keegan Bradley
Cameron Tringale
Emiliano Grillo
Chris Kirk
Aaron Wise
Peter Malnati
Charl Schwartzel
Wyndham Clark
Patton Kizzire
Harold Varner III

College Player of the Year
Sahith Theegala

Current Year / Prior Year
Cam Davis
Doc Redman
Sung Kang
Denny McCarthy
Tyler McCumber
Troy Merritt
Henrik Norlander
Xinjun Zhang
Matt Wallace
Sepp Straka
Doug Ghim
Matthew NeSmith
James Hahn
Brandon Hagy
Vaughn Taylor


Quotable

Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus focuses on his ball flight at the 1976 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England, held July 7-10, 1976. Credit: R&A Championships via Getty Images

“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a color movie.

“First I ‘see’ where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes and I ‘see’ the ball going there: it’s part, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing.

“Then there is this sort of fadeout, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images to reality.”
Jack Nicklaus, founder and host of the Memorial Tournament


Jeff Shain and Joel Cook contributed to this column.


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