20 Million up for grabs at Memorial Tournament

The 14th hole remains, in my opinion, one of the best-designed holes on the PGA Tour

by Andrea Gussoni
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20 Million up for grabs at Memorial Tournament
© Warren Little/Getty Images Sport

After Bob MacIntyre's thrilling victory in Canada, which rightly earned him a well-deserved week off to celebrate like a true Scot, it's back to the course for the penultimate signature event of 2024 at Jack Nicklaus's Golden Bear's home turf.

The Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, will be the stage for the dress rehearsal before the feared US OPEN next week at the treacherous Pinehurst No. 2 course. Whoever manages to keep the ball on the fairway as much as possible this week will be one of the main contenders to win the third major of the season.

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The Bear's design that doesn't forgive mistakes Nicklaus and his team consider this tournament and this course as one of the most demanding yet fair tests for tour players. Jack has always wanted to maintain a very "European" approach for this event, with not overly generous fairways and tall rough that helps balance distance and accuracy off the tee.

The finishing stretch of this course is nothing short of picturesque yet incredibly challenging. The 14th hole remains, in my opinion, one of the best-designed holes on the PGA Tour. A mere 360-yard par 4 with numerous traps that can turn a great birdie opportunity into a double bogey in a flash.

The par 3 16th is typically the hole where nobody takes risks on Sundays due to the generous lake in front of the green, and the same goes for the 500-yard par 4 17th, where the second shot is almost always defensive, aiming for a complex green with numerous slopes.

The tournament is often decided at the 18th, where only those with the courage to attack the pin can hope to win. Who are the favorites this week? For me, the real favorite among the top contenders of the week is Viktor Hovland.

The Norwegian seems to be back in Ryder Cup 2023 form, and his precision off the tee and excellent iron play could make the difference this week. As always, we cannot overlook Scottie Scheffler, who, after putting the accusations of the PGA Championship behind him, can surely return to top form, as he was for almost the entirety of 2024.

The third name is Collin Morikawa, who is in tremendous form and can unleash his characteristic fade on a course that seems tailor-made for his skills. Who to bet on as an outsider? The first name I highlight is Russell Henley.

His statistics show that he could easily adapt to the course with excellent accuracy off the tee (one of the top 10 on the PGA for over two years), and his current form suggests to me that he could be one of those under-the-radar bets.

The second name is Lucas Glover, another excellent fairway sniper and wedge master, who on average gains over half a stroke on the field per round just on approaches, which are crucial at Muirfield, even more so than putting.

As always, for the last name, I'm going with my slightly "crazy" choice. The Tom Kim train is ready to derail the competition and take home a victory that everyone has been waiting for in 2024. One of the most beloved players on tour for his charisma, he has the credentials after an excellent 4th place in Canada last week, and in Ohio, he won't suffer too much from the lack of distance off the tee, which almost always penalizes him.

The third major of the year is just around the corner Despite almost everyone's mind already being focused on Pinehurst for next week, I'm sure the Memorial will give us a great battle and send some important signals. Let's not forget, however, that this week we also have the LIV event in Houston where DeChambeau seems to be the favorite of the week and will unfortunately give us very few insights into his players' form given the "ease" of the course and its little relevance to a complex course like Pinehurst No. 2.

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