Na disappointing Memory for Kevin this Year at The Memorial

The PGA Tour completes a triumvirate of events dedicated to the greats of the game with the Memorial Tournament. This is Jack's event played at the course he built, Muirfield Village, in Dublin, Ohio. Making the step from Japan Tour starlet to PGA Tour winner was Hideki Matsuyama who picked up his first PGA Tour title last year, beating Kevin Na in a playoff. Ohio is 5 hours behind and so it will start at 12.20pm UK time, on Thursday 4th June 2015.

The Course & Past Winners

The course was designed by Jack himself and is in his home town in Ohio, just to the north of the Columbus. It's a parkland course stretching to 7,392 yards and has been stretched by 40 yards on the last hole and is still a par 72. Hitting the fairways is not so important here as the fairways are not made too difficult, despite 71 bunkers and water in play on 11 holes. However the difficulty of the course is the greens which are quite small and it was 5th most difficult in terms of scrambling in 2013.
The recent winners have been:
Year Player Score Players Under Par Winning Margin
Hideki Matsuyama
Matt Kuchar
Tiger Woods
Steve Stricker
Justin Rose
Tiger Woods
Kenny Perry
K.J. Choi
Mixed scoring, playing as the toughest non major par 72 course in 2012 & 13, but relatively easy the two years before that. Last year did break two trends, it was the first playoff here since at least 2002 which is the first year I have looked at, and Matsuyama was the first player to win on debut since Roger Maltbie back in 1976, when every player was making the debut as that was the first year of the event.

The Contenders

Winning on his debut does of course mean Hideki Matsuyama does have the best record here, the only player with all rounds under par and to average under 70, at 68.75. Brendan Todd also debuted last year and he was 8th so is second in the stats at 70.00 & 75%, his final round 72 letting him down slightly. Now you could argue Matsuyama's form is in a downward trend but his last four finishes have all been top 20's, 5th at The Masters, won all 3 group matches before being trounced by Rory at the Matchplay, so finished 9th there, 17th at Sawgrass for The Players Championship and then 20th at the Wells Fargo Championship. He has however only finished outside the top 25 on two occasions in the 11 events he's played in 2015, when 78th at the Sony Open and a missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, both in Jan/early Feb. Todd for the record was 4th at the RBC Heritage following a missed cut at Augusta, and then lost all 3 matches at the Matchplay for 52nd, 51st at Sawgrass and 43rd & a missed cut in the last two weeks in Texas.
There are four guys in the field this week who have had five top ten's since 2002, with three of the four past winners in that time. Dealing first with the one who will no doubt court the most media attention and that is Tiger Woods. He's a double winner thanks to wins in 2009 and 2012. Whilst his previous top ten's were a 4th and pair of 3rd places from 2003 to 2005, but only 65th on his last visit in 2013. He has an average round of 70.14 which is 3rd best in the field and 67% (24/36) rounds under par which is equal 4th best in the field. Concern will be his form as he hasn't played much in the last year and is without a top ten since 2nd at his own event in 2013. This year he missed the cut in Phoenix before withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open with more injury problems. Returned at the Masters with 17th and then 69th at Sawgrass.
For the last four years I have alternated my picks here between Justin Rose in 2012 and last year, and Matt Kuchar (pictured) in 2011 and 2013, the sharp eyed amongst you may have noticed that included tipping Kuchar to his win. Kuchar has the better record of the two, I also backed him to 2nd in 2011 and he was also 15th last year, 8th in 2010, 5th, 10th & 13th in 2007, whilst in 2002 his was 32nd but missed the cut in 03. So he has the 4th best average round at 70.35 and 74% (25/34) of rounds under par which is beaten only by Matsuyama & Todd. Rose is more extreme in his results, he was 4th in 2004, then 75th & 4th in the next two years, then started his run of top ten's or missed cuts, 2nd in 08, missed the cut, won in 2010, missed the cut before 8th in both 2012 & 2013, before another missed cut last year. So he average round is a bit lower at 71.24 which is 15th best in the field and 59% (20/34) of rounds under par which is also 15th best.
Neither arrives in great form Rose was 2nd at The Masters and won a couple of weeks later in New Orleans, but since then lost his opener in the Matchplay to fail to qualify for the second round, missed the cut in Sawgrass, and then 38th at Wentworth on the European Tour a couple of weeks ago. Kuchar was 46th at Augusta and then 5th the following week at the RBC Heritage, only won one match at the Matchplay, also missed the cut at Sawgrass and then 39th last week.
The final of the four perhaps warrants less thought in terms of his chances this week as Stewart Cink has not had a top ten here since a pair of 8th place finishes in 2009 & 2010. Since then 30th, 25th, 29th & 49th last year, whilst prior to that has not missed a cut since 2002 playing every year. He has the most under par rounds with 32 at a healthy 62%, and an average round of 71.08 which is 13th best. Current form is the worry without a top 10 in nearly two years, with 20th last time out at the Wells Fargo Championship being his best performance of the year and since The Barclays back in August last year.
Arriving in good form is the winner a couple of weeks ago at Colonial Chris Kirk. Before that was won two out of three at the Matchplay, only losing to Paul Casey in extra holes, and 13th at Sawgrass. Is possibly due a missed cut this year having done so on debut in 2011 and again in 2013, with a 25th in between the two and he was 4th last year. The missed cut's don't help so he only averages dead on par 72.00 which is 33rd best and 50% (6/12) of rounds under par.
Losing the playoff last year was Kevin Na which was his best finish here by a distance. He didn't play that often with 45th here in 2005, 66th in 2008 and 34th the following year, missed the cut in 2012 and then 2nd last year when he closed with an excellent 64. Only averages 72.50 which is 50th best in the field and just 28% (5/18) of rounds under par, three of those rounds under par being last year. Arrives in good form with 9th back in March, 10th the following week at the Valspar Championship, 6th at Bay Hill for Arnie's event, 20th in Texas, and 12th at The Masters. Only won one match at the Matchplay, including another loss to Matsuyama, bounced back with 6th at Sawgrass and then 10th at Colonial.

My Selection

I think for a change I will avoid Kuchar and Rose as both arriving in relatively poor form. Therefore I'm going to go with Kevin Na, did well here last year including an excellent 64 which is beaten by just one player in the field. Plus he arrives in excellent form with seven top 20's in his last eight events.