It’s raining in central Ohio (or at least it was when I wrote this), so you know what that means.... It’s Memorial week! Even though Jack Nicklaus’ tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club usually has to deal with some rain, it is always one of the most entertaining events on the PGA Tour.
While COVID-19 had its grips on the world last year, it didn’t stop the PGA Tour from visiting Dublin. There were no fans in attendance, but two golf tournaments were held at Muirfield. First was the Workday Charity Open, which Collin Morikawa won after defeating Justin Thomas in a playoff. Then, Jon Rahm won the official Memorial Tournament, besting Ryan Palmer by three strokes to earn his fourth career PGA Tour victory. Rahm will now be looking to become the first golfer since Tiger Woods in 2001 to defend his title at The Memorial.
Muirfield is going to have a bit of a different look this year, as an overhaul of the course started during the final round last year. Fairway and greenside bunkers have been rebuilt, 140 trees have been added to the course, and tee boxes have been resurfaced. The course is now playing up to 100 yards longer.
While Jack Nicklaus hung up his professional clubs a while ago, he is still a fixture at the event. The Golden Bear is a two-time champion at his tournament, with his victories coming in 1977 and 1984. Usually on the weekends of The Memorial, you can find Jack joining the CBS broadcast on commentary for at least a little bit of time.
The only former Buckeye teeing it up this week in Dublin is Bo Hoag. After earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2009 and 2011, Hoag turned professional in 2011. While Hoag has one victory on the Korn Ferry Tour (think of it as golf’s version of AAA baseball), the former Buckeye has never won on the PGA Tour.
It would be a great story for the Columbus native to earn his first win on tour at Muirfield, but it’s unlikely we’ll see that story play out. Hoag has just five top-10 finishes in his career, and is currently ranked 260th in the World Golf Rankings. A win by Hoag isn’t impossible though. In 2016 William McGirt made 165 starts on the PGA Tour before earning his first career win at Muirfield, so occasionally there are unexpected victories at Jack’s Place.
There is obviously some disappointment that Tiger Woods won’t be able to play in this year’s event. Woods is a five-time winner at Muirfield, but won’t be able to play golf professionally for a while as he recovers from injuries suffered in a car accident earlier this year. Woods and Kenny Perry are the only golfers to win at least three times at Muirfield.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be some great golfers at Muirfield this weekend. Along with Rahm, there will be six other golfers ranked in the top-10 in the world playing. Some other notable names that will be playing in Dublin are Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, and Collin Morikawa.
One golfer who will have the crowd on his side this weekend is Jason Day, who makes his home in Westerville now. The Australian has never won at Muirfield, and is currently the 69th (nice) ranked golfer in the world. Day hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2018, so Muirfield would be a perfect place for Day to create some momentum ahead of golf’s two major championships over the next couple months.
No matter who you are rooting for this weekend, it’ll just be great to see Muirfield with fans on the course again. Last year was understandably different, but now as things open back up and are back to full capacity again, the players can get a little added juice from the fans on the course. Just don’t be the “GET IN THE HOLE” guy if you are headed up to Muirfield.