PGA Tour Picks: Memorial Tournament

By TOM LaMARRE

Patrick Cantlay became the seventh player to win the Memorial Tournament multiple times last season, but he knows it probably should have been Jon Rahm of Spain.

Rahm, who won by three strokes over Ryan Palmer the year before in Jack Nicklaus’ event at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, built a six-stroke lead after three rounds over Cantlay and Collin Morikawa.

However, as Rahm came off the course following round three, he was told he had tested positive and had to withdraw, opening the door for Cantlay, who beat Morikawa the next day with a par on the first playoff hole.

“I’ll definitely remember it as being slightly different,” said Cantlay (pictured with Nicklaus), who claimed the first of his first three victories last season and went on to capture the FedEx Cup at the end of the campaign. “It was a very unfortunate situation and not anything I would wish on anybody.

“Jon played so great for the first three rounds, so there’s a little something that I can’t quite put my finger on that makes it feel a little different, but I really hit a lot of clutch solid shots and so I think I’ll remember that mostly.

“ … I wish there was some way to give Jon three-quarters of a trophy.”

Cantlay, who also won the Memorial in 2018 by two strokes over Adam Scott of Australia and finished fourth in 2018, joined Tiger Woods (five), Kenny Perry (three), plus Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman of Australia and Tom Watson (all with two) as multiple winners in the 47-year history of the Memorial.

The winner receives something else that’s pretty memorable.

“It’s always special coming off the 18th green and shaking Jack’s hand,” said Cantlay who teamed with Xander Schauffele to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this season for his seventh PGA Tour victory.

“We have a great connection and we are good friends, so that makes it just a little more special, He’s taken me under his wing and to win at his place is very special for me.”

Rahm, who captured the 2021 U.S. Open and claimed his seventh PGA Tour victory at the beginning of May in the Mexico Championship, is back at Muirfield Village this week trying to join that list of multiple winners.

Last year, he opened with 69-65-64 and was 18-under-par.

“It’s hard to say that it was maybe the best I’ve played,” said the 27-year-old Rahm, who has been No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings but now is No. 2 behind Scottie Scheffler. “I mean, the U.S. Open was really good, right?

“But, sure, I played some amazing golf that week at Muirfield Village. The hole looked like a bucket. Basically, I felt like any time I was on the green, that ball was going in, and the ball- striking was also unbelievable. So yeah, it’s gonna be tough to top those three days of golf.”

Also in the field are previous Memorial winners Bryson DeChambeau, who is battling back from hand surgery, and Jason Dufner, plus the likes of Morikawa, Schauffele, Scott, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Cameron Smith of Australia, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Viktor Hovland of Norway, Will Zalatoris, Shane Lowry or Ireland, Daniel Berger, Matt Fitzpatrick of England and Sungjae Im of South Korea.

They all want to be the guy shaking Nicklaus’ hand at the finish.

BEST BETS

1. Patrick Cantlay, United States– Thedefending FedEx Cup champion has won the Memorial two of the last three years, including in a playoff over Collin Morikawa last season. The sixth-ranked Cantlay teamed with Xander Schauffele to win the Zurich Classic this year for his seventh PGA Tour victory, and also finished second in Phoenix and in the RSM Classic.

2. Jon Rahm, Spain – The second-ranked Rahm held a six-stroke lead heading to the final round of the Memorial Tournament last year before he was forced to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19. He won the event a year earlier for one of his seven PGA Tour victories, including the Mexico Championship this season, and was second in Sentry TOC, third in Farmers this year.

3. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland – Claimed his 20th PGA Tour victory this season in the CJ Cup and has won 29 times as a pro. The eighth-ranked McIlroy has finished in the top 10 in his last three tournaments, including second in the Masters, fifth in the Wells Fargo and eighth in the PGA Championship. Has four top-10 results in the Memorial, the best a tie for fourth in 2016.

4. Jordan Spieth, United States – The 10th-ranked Spieth earned the 13th victory of his career on the PGA Tour  in the RBC Heritage this season and also finished second at Pebble Beach and in the AT&T Byron Nelson among his  six results in the top 25. He has had six top-25 finishes in the Memorial Tournament, with the best a tie for third in 2015 and a tie for seventh in 2019.

5. Collin Morikawa, United States – The two-time major champion, ranked fourth in the world, lost to Patrick Cantlay on the first hole of a playoff in the Memorial last season. Morikawa has five PGA Tour victories, but none this year despite being close several times with six finishes in the top 10, including second in the CJ Cup and a tie for second in the Genesis Invitational.

6. Viktor Hovland, Norway – The seventh-ranked Hovland has won three times around the world in the last six months in addition to tying for second in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, tying for fourth in the Genesis Invitational and tying for ninth in the Players among seven top-25 results. He tied for 47th in the Memorial last season after tying for 48th the year before.

7. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan – The 2021 Masters champion claimed the first of his eight PGA Tour victories in the 2014 Memorial Tournament in a playoff over Kevin Na, tied for fifth in his title defense and finished sixth in 2019. Matsuyama, ranked 12th, won the Zozo Championship and the Sony Open in Hawaii this season, and tied for third in the AT&T Byron Nelson.

8. Xander Schauffele, United States – The 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist, ranked 11th in  the world, teamed with Patrick Cantlay to win the Zurich Classic this season for his fifth PGA Tour victory. He also tied for third in Phoenix, tied for fifth in the AT&T Byron Nelson and tied for 13th in the PGA. Schauffele tied for 14th, 13th and 11th the last three years in the Memorial.

9. Cameron Smith, Australia – By winning the Players Championship and the Sentry TOC in addition to tying for third in the Masters among five top-10 results, and tying for 13th in the PGA Championship, Smith has climbed to No. 3 in the world. However, he has missed the cut four times in addition to tying for 65th in 2017 and tying for 68th in 2020 in the Memorial.

10. Will Zalatoris, United States – The 2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has yet to win on the circuit, but finished second in the PGA Championship and the Farmers Insurance Open among six top-10 finishes this season. Zalatoris also tied for sixth in the Masters and tied for fifth in WGC-Dell Match Play. Missed the cut in only start in the Memorial Tournament in 2018.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Shane Lowry, Ireland; Matt Fitzpatrick, England; Max Homa, United States; Joaquin Niemann, Chile; Davis Riley, United States; Sungjae Im, South Korea; Cameron Young, United States; Daniel Berger, United States; Mito Pereira, Chile; Abraham Ancer, Mexico.

SLEEPERS

1. Beau Hossler, United States – In the hunt at Byron Nelson by starting 66-67, but closed with 73-74 to T-21. Hossler was solo third at Pebble and T-4 in Texas Open. T-44 in 2018 Memorial.

2. Byeong-Hun An, South Korea – Has won four times as a pro, including the Lecom Suncoast Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour this season. T-8 in American Express is his best on PGA Tour.

3. Kurt Kitayama, United States – A three-time winner around the world, Kitayama has finished T-2 in Mexico Open and solo third in the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour this season.

4. Anirban Lahiri, India – Has 18 career wins, but has yet to break through on PGA Tour. Solo second in the Players Championship and T-6 in Wells Fargo this season. T-2 in 2017 Memorial.

5. Sahith Theegala, United States – The 2020 college player of year at Pepperdine was T-3 in Phoenix, T-8 in Sanderson Farms, T-7 in Valspar this season. T-32 in the Memorial last year.

For first-round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

2,267FansLike
353FollowersFollow

Latest Articles