The 2013 edition of the Crowne Plaza Invitational is now officially behind us but I wanted to take a second and say congratulations to Boo Weekley for an outstanding victory this past weekend. The weeks tour stop is one of the most incredible stops of the year, welcome to the week of the Memorial Tournament.
Affectionately referred to as “Jack’s Tournament” with Jack Nicklaus as the host and designer of Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin Ohio. It is truly an incredible course that is part of a 220 acre complex. The course will play to 7,265 yards and a par of 72. An amazing 11 holes on this course are challenged by some level of water and there are also 75 bunkers throughout the 18 holes at Muirfield Village.
This week boasts one of the strongest fields outside of a Major Championship with 17 of the world’s top-25 entered to play this week. Previous winners in Kenny Perry, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods are all in the field. The Memorial Tournament past winner chart is a who’s who in the history of the PGA Tour which only provides credence to the quality of this event since its inception in 1976. Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, Fed Couples, Tom Watson, Ernie Els and the previously mentioned Tiger Woods are all past winners of the Memorial Tournament.
Of course us as fans of great golf will not be the only beneficiaries this week. In fact the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which is the primary supporter of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, will be the key charity benefitting from the Memorial Tournament this week. According to the official charity information:
” Driven by a passion to come to the aid of all those impacted by childhood illnesses, the Nicklaus family formed its Foundation in 2004. The mission of the Foundation was and remains simple yet powerful: To support programs and activities that advance and enhance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of childhood diseases and disorders. The goal of the Nicklaus family has been to broaden the reach of the Foundation’s helping hand.”
There is not a much better cause than this to say the least. Although the charity is arguably more important than the golf it is not the reason everyone is here in Ohio this week. It is all about one of the marquee events hosted by one of the greatest of all time over a very challenging Muirfield Village Golf Club. What makes it a challenge? Let’s look at a few holes that might be considered swing holes this week.
After a reasonable start to the round on the first hole the players step to the second tee which is historically the second hardest hole on the course with an average score of 4.187. It is a 455 yard par 4 with a creek than runs the entire right side of the hole to the 100 yard marker then making its presence known on the right edge and rear of the green. The left side is protected by mature trees that will destroy a players chances if challenged. The accuracy required validates the historic ranking.
After a brief reprieve the players are welcomed to the 300 par 3 fourth hole that is ranked as the third hardest hole here throughout the tournaments history at 3.170. It plays slightly downhill and drastically penalizes a ball hit left into the wooded depression. the green itself is heavily bunkered and challenging if the tee shot is successfully navigated. Walking off this hole with birdie or par can almost be considered getting one back on the field.
Scoring at the Memorial Tournament will have to take place between the fifth and 15th holes because once players stand on the 16th tee they will just be trying to minimize the damage coming in. The 16th is the last par 3 and will play all of 215 yards. The grassy swale up front and the large bunker left coupled with the backside bunker will ensure this hole keeps to its historical 3.135 average. 17 is the fourth hardest hole playing 478 yards and to a par 4. It has been revamped, as if it was not challenging enough, and offers trees right which can create a blind shot if approaching from the right side of the fairway. It boasts a small and heavily bunkered green protected further by a deep valley short of the green with rough that can destroy a players chances. Expect its 4.159 career scoring average to hold true especially when players are trying to charge on Sunday.
Then there is 18. The 444 yard par 4 that is the hardest hole at Muirfield Village boasting a 4.239 career stroke average. It is built for drama and holds up its end of the bargain more than not. While the drive appears benign it is the bunkering on the right side of the dogleg that have seen many a golf ball. If players hit is long left they are destined to find the creek that is running down the tree line. After a successful drive players are facing an uphill shot to heavily contoured two-tier green that can destroy a players chances with a blink of an eye. Drama will be present on the hole that can accommodate thousands of viewers looking to capture the moment. Speaking of moments at the Memorial, remember these?
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
Who will challenge and conquer Muirfield Village this week? Will Tiger add another Memorial victory to his resume? Will another first time winner capture the title? At this course anything is possible and there is drama guaranteed to be present at Jack’s Tournament. Let’s look at some of the more logical win choices this week.
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