Jason Day returns at Memorial
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance | Preview | 27 May 2014
The PGA Tour heads north to Dublin in Ohio for this week’s Memorial Championship, the event important not only for its status as a flagship event on the PGA Tour but because of its proximity to the US Open, now only two weeks away.
The event sees the return to the tournament scene of current world number 7 Jason Day who plays his first event since a solid 20th place finish at the Masters.
Day played at Augusta under sufferance after injuring his hand and more specifically his thumb earlier in the year and even before he won the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Wisely, Day has given his hand plenty of time to heal and has chosen what is in many respects a home game to return to tournament golf ahead of the US Open where he has performed with such distinction in recent times.
Day, who bases himself in Ohio these days, has not enjoyed a lot of success at what is his home club with a best of 27th in five starts in the event.
The tournament, as is so often the case, brings together the best available in world golf with seven of the leading nine available players in the game in the field.
Adam Scott heads the field in terms of world ranking and arrives full of confidence with his game following his impressive comeback win last week in Fort Worth.
Scott has played well at Muirfield Village on occasions including two top five finishes earlier in his career and contending last year before a last round 73 saw him finish 13th.
Matt Kuchar has a great record in this event and as the defending champion will start being close to Scott and McIlroy in terms of favouritism. Kuchar is not only the defending champion but he has been inside the top ten in each of his last five starts at Muirfield Village and despite missing the cut last week in Fort Worth is likely to again perform well at Muirfield Village.
Rory McIlroy no doubt arrives in Ohio in a great state of mind following his impressive victory at Wentworth last week. At his best McIlroy has displayed a capacity to annihilate an field anywhere and it would seem he is close to that peak again.
McIlroy has not played this event well in the last couple of years but earlier he had including a 5th place finish just two weeks ahead of his 2011 US open victory.
Justin Rose is another with a good record in the event. A winner in 2010 and 8th in each of the last two years his liking for the layout is obvious.
Rose regularly contends these days and it would be a surprise if he does not again this week.
Luke Donald seems to be getting better and better of late with a series of top tens in recent months including last week at the BMW PGA Championship when 3rd.
Donald has a very solid record in this event never missing the cut in six starts and often inside the top ten. He looks a very good chance at slightly longer odds than the previously mentioned players.
As a result of injury, Steve Stricker has played sparingly this season. The former winner of this event in 2011, Stricker is in good enough form to have finished 13th at the recent Players Championship so might yet have a chance of a second victory at the Memorial.
Now that he appears fit once again, Hideki Matsuyama gave us all a further glimpse of just how good he could become when he led at stages in last week’s Crown Plaza Invitational.
The Japanese star has yet to play this event but provided he can stay relatively injury free Matsuyama is on track to become one of Japan’s best ever.
The Australians in the field apart from Scott and Day are Marc Leishman, Matt Jones, Greg Chalmers, Steve Bowditch, Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby.
Leishman has another week to force his way into the top 60 in the world and gain a start at the US Open. The Victorian does not enjoy a good record at this venue but he is playing well and could find a way to secure the top ten he likely needs although he still has another week if needed.