It may not be a major, but very few of the PGA Tour’s best golfers are sitting out this week’s Memorial Tournament – the event created by sports legend Jack Nicklaus.
Muirfield Village is a course that seems to have a little bit of everything, so whoever emerges from the elite and exclusive field will have earned it.
Here are the players we like most this week:
15. RYAN MOORE
Despite a T30 finish at THE PLAYERS in his last start, Moore ranked second in the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green at TPC Sawgrass, a statistic he ranks 14th on Tour in this year, which is an excellent sign for his chances at The Memorial.
The 35-year-old UNLV product is hoping some of that Golden Knights good luck rubs off on him at a tournament where he has a handful of top 25 finishes, including a runner-up in 2007 and a T5 in 2010.
World Rank: 66th
Field Rank: 45th
Last Seven: 30, MC, 7, 16, 28, 5, MC
14. EMILIANO GRILLO
In the midst of his best season as a professional, a pair of bookend 64s at last week’s Fort Worth Invitational led to a solo-third place finish, the 25-year-old Argentinian’s third top-10 in his last six starts.
Grillo led the Colonial field in strokes gained: putting and scrambling, and appears to be on the verge of his first victory since the first week of his 2016 rookie season. He ranks inside the top 20 on Tour in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation.
World Rank: 52nd
Field Rank: 34th
Last Seven: 3, 37, 9, 16, 3, 50, 26
13. MARC LEISHMAN
Leishman’s best has been among the best on Tour over the past year, but he has been wildly unpredictable. He has six top-10s in 14 starts this season, including a solo runner-up finish in his last event (AT&T Byron Nelson), but his eight non-top 10s were all outside the top 30.
Which Marc Leishman will show up this week at Jack’s Place? He has finished inside the top 15 of his last three Muirfield Village starts, so we lean towards his good version.
World Rank: 11th
Field Rank: 34th
Last Seven: 2, 63, MC, 9, 52, 7, 37
12. PHIL MICKELSON
Phil has cooled down considerably since his torrid February-March stretch where he finished inside the top-six in four of his five starts, but did sneak in his 6th top 10 of the year earlier this month at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he posted a T5 after a 64-69 weekend.
He was abysmal at THE PLAYERS, but perhaps taking the past two weeks off will get him on track again. None of his 43 career victories have come at Muirfield Village, but he has a plethora of solid finishes, and brings in as much experience as anyone in the field who is still a first-class player.
World Rank: 19th
Field Rank: 13th
Last Seven: MC, 5, 36, 24, 17, 1, 6
11. RICKIE FOWLER
The Masters runner-up has two second-place finishes at The Memorial, including last year, where he reached 10-under par for the week.
The World No. 7 is itching for his first victory in over a year, and under as much pressure as anyone in golf to snag a major this year, he should be extremely motivated to get himself in form at the last stacked-field event before the U.S. Open.
Rickie has taken a step back with his putter this season, one year after ranking second on Tour in strokes gained: putting, but he did place fifth in that statistic his last time out, a T14 at the Fort Worth Invitational.
World Rank: 7th
Field Rank: 6th
Last Seven: 14, MC, 21, 2, 43, 14, 37
10. BRANDEN GRACE
It is heat check time for the steady South African, but is playing his best golf in years. Two weeks ago, a Sunday 9-under 62 vaulted him to a T3 finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which he then followed up with a T5 at last week’s BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event of the European Tour.
Currently ranking 10th on Tour in strokes gained: around-the-green, and 4th in strokes gained: putting, he feels like a safe bet anywhere. Grace is playing Muirfield Village for the first time since a missed cut in 2014.
World Rank: 31st
Field Rank: 19th
Last Seven: 5, 3, 46, 24, 29, 8, 30
9. HIDEKI MATSUYAMA
It has been a disappointing 2018 for Matsuyama, as the man who won three times last season has not finished in the top 10 of a tournament since the first week of January.
That being said, he showed some significant signs of life at the AT&T Byron Nelson with a second round 63 and a final round 66. It helps that his first career victory came at Muirfield Village (2014), and he finished T5 the following year.
He is a fit and his A game easily warrants a high ranking, but can he put together four rounds? He has been painfully up-and-down within events this season.
World Rank: 10th
Field Rank: 8th
Last Seven: 16, MC, 76, 19, 36, 49, 12
8. PATRICK REED
The Masters Champion saw an impressive streak of six consecutive top-10s come to an end at THE PLAYERS in his last start, but it has still been a phenomenal rebound season for the ultra-confident Reed.
He has only played The Memorial three times, but left encouraged in two of them: a T26 in 2015 where he posted two rounds of 68, and a T8 in 2016 where he notched three sub-70 rounds.
World Rank: 13th
Field Rank: 9th
Last Seven: 41, 8, 1, 9, 7, 2, 37
7. HENRIK STENSON
Stenson should be a favorite at any event that prioritizes shot-making, and the 42-year-old is still a tee-to-green wizard. The World No. 15 currently leads the Tour in driving accuracy, greens in regulation, and strokes gained: approach-the-green, a big part of the reason that he finds himself 6th on Tour in scoring average.
Stenson has a surprisingly poor history in this event, which is likely a big reason he has not played it since 2013, but he is in great form and would love to add more Swedish influence to an event that has been seen two recent Swede champions in David Lingmerth (2015) and Carl Petterssen (2006).
In the past 12 months, Stenson has only finished outside the top 25 of a PGA Tour event on three occasions.
World Rank: 15th
Field Rank: 10th
Last Seven: 23, 5, 6, 4, MC, 60, 6
6. DUSTIN JOHNSON
One of the most stoic superstars in professional sports, if DJ cares that he recently lost his World No. 1 ranking, a position he had held for over a year, he probably will not show it.
He has just one finish outside the top 17 this season, although he has not really been in serious contention at an event since February.
The Tour leader in scoring average and strokes gained: off-the-tee has not had any of his 17 career victories at The Memorial, but has a handful of good finishes, including a solo-third in 2016 and a solo-fourth in 2011.
World Rank: 2nd
Field Rank: 2nd
Last Seven: 17, 16, 10, 59, 7, 16, 2
5. JUSTIN THOMAS
The new world No. 1 will be facing a new kind of pressure this week, as The Memorial will be Thomas’ first tournament as the highest-ranked player in the OWGR.
He will be anxious to prove himself in that role, and the extra motivation could be what he needs for his first top-10 in two months.
JT has finished inside the top 22 in all 12 of his individual event starts, and has the iron game to thrive in an event like this, as evidence by his No. 3 ranking this season in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He used to struggle badly in this event, but that changed dramatically with a T4 last year.
World Rank: 1st
Field Rank: 1st
Last Seven: 11, 21, 17, 4, 2, 1, 9
4. JUSTIN ROSE
The 2010 Memorial Champion and 2015 Memorial playoff runner-up showcased an immaculate iron game in a dominant victory at the Fort Worth Invitational this year. It is difficult to go back-to-back, but Rose is experienced enough where he should not be too distracted by the accolades for what he did in Texas.
Now ranked No. 3 in the world, we just cannot see a let-down coming in Central Ohio. We expect him to stay hot through the U.S. Open.
World Rank: 3rd
Field Rank: 3rd
Last Seven: 1, 23, 12, 52, 3, 5, 37
3. JASON DAY
This is a home-field event for the Muirfield Village member, who resides in a nearby Columbus suburb, but his history in this event has been surprisingly awful. Still, his best finish in the event was last year (T15), and he looks reborn in 2018 with two victories, including one at Quail Hollow earlier this month.
The Tour leader in strokes gained: putting also posted a T5 in his most recent start, the stacked-field PLAYERS Championship. Right now, it is difficult to bet against him at any course.
World Rank: 83rd
Field Rank: 7th
Last Seven: 5, 1, 20, 36, 22, 2, 1
2. TIGER WOODS
It would be exceptionally fitting if Tiger’s first victory of this newest chapter of his career (“the comeback”) happened at Jack’s Place, and after a 65-69 weekend at TPC Sawgrass in his last start, he should be coming in confident.
Tiger is playing Muirfield Village for the first time since 2015, but he is the event’s all-time wins leader with five, three more than tournament host Nicklaus. If his recent iron game meets with the putting we saw at THE PLAYERS, this could finally be the week that has been years in the making.
World Rank: 83rd
Field Rank: 56th
Last Seven: 11, 55, 32, 5, 2, 12, MC
1. RORY McILROY
A dominant Sunday led to a victory at Arnie’s Place in March; could the World No. 6 add a second 2018 victory at the event created by The King’s greatest rival? We love the chances of Rory, who has two top-5 finishes in this event, including a T4 in his last attempt, two years ago.
Coming off a runner-up at last week’s BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event, we think he seals the deal in an event where he should feel less pressure than he did at The Masters or THE PLAYERS.
World Rank: 6th
Field Rank: 5th
Last Seven: 2, MC, 16, 5, 36, 1, MC