By Tom LaMarre
The PGA Tour bubble, which includes players and officials, will shelter in place in the same location for the next two weeks when not on the course, with the next two tournaments both scheduled to be played at Muirfield Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
After several cancellations left an open week in the schedule, and a new tournament sponsor stepped up and the Workday Charity Open will be played beginning Thursday, followed by the Memorial Tournament hosted by all-time great Jack Nicklaus.
The Memorial was slated to be the first PGA Tour event to admit fans since the circuit ended a three-month shutdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, but officials have changed their minds and spectators again will not be allowed on the course.
“We are extremely pleased to join with Workday and Muirfield Village Golf Club to present this new event as we continue our Return to Golf efforts,” said Andy Pazder, chief tournament and competitions officer for the PGA Tour. “Our special thanks go to Workday for partnering with us as title sponsor and for their pledge to make a significant charitable impact with the event.
“The Memorial Tournament host Jack Nicklaus has always done what is best for the game of golf and in these unprecedented times, we are most appreciative of his Muirfield Village Golf Club hosting the event the week prior to the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.”
Leading the field in the Workday Charity Open will be second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, fifth-ranked Justin Thomas (pictured) , sixth-ranked and reigning PGA champion Brooks Koepka, defending champion and eighth-ranked Patrick Cantlay, ninth-ranked Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day of Australia, Jordan Spieth, reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Xander Schauffele, reigning Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland, Mark Leishman of Australia, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Nick Taylor of Canada and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan.
“I haven’t tested positive for Covid-19, but as I’ve said all along, I’m taking this very seriously,” Koepka, who withdrew from the Travelers Championship two weeks ago when his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the virus. “I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize the health of any player in the field or his ability to compete.”
Among several other major champions playing are Zach Johnson, Justin Rose of England, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Vijay Singh of Fiji, Davis Love III, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Stewart Cink, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Jimmy Walker.
The young guns are led by Cameron Champ, Lanto Griffin, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland of Norway, Collin Morikawa, Sebastián Muñoz of Colombia, Joaquin Niemann of Chile, Aaron Wise, Matthew Wolff, Carlos Ortiz of Mexico, Scottie Scheffler, Maverick McNealy of Stanford, Beau Hossler, Robby Shelton and Xinjun Zhang of China.
Tiger Woods, who 14th in the World Golf Rankings, will not play, but is expect to return for the first time since the PGA Tour restarted next week in the Memorial Tournament, which he has won a record five times—the last in 2012.
Like everyone else, he will have to pass a Covid-19 test to enter the bubble.
- Justin Thomas, United States – JT missed the cut his last time out in the Travelers, but he has seven top-10 finishes this season including victories in the CJ Cup and the Sony TOC, to rank second in the FedEx Cup standings. Thomas’ best results at Muirfield Village were a tie for fourth in the 2017 Memorial and a tie for eighth the next year.
- Brooks Koepka, United States – After being forced to withdraw from the Travelers as a precaution after his caddie tested positive for the Covid-19, Koepka returns this week hoping he has some momentum. Following a slow start this year after left knee surgery, he tied for seventh in his last start at the RBC Heritage with four scores in the 60s.
- Jon Rahm, Spain – After failing to crack the top 30 in three outings since the PGA Tour’s restart, Rahm seems ready to get going again. He recorded six straight scores in the 60s before closing with a 71 to tie for 37th in the Travelers. Has four finishes in the top 10 this season, and won the DP World Tour Championship Dubai late last year.
- Patrick Cantlay, United States – Returns to Muirfield Village after claiming his second PGA Tour victory there in the Memorial Tournament last year. Cantlay finished in a tie for 11th in the Travelers, his only tournament since the restart, and has six straight finishes in the top 20, including second in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
- Xander Schauffele, United States – Hoping to climb back into the top 10 in the World Golf Rankings after slipping to No. 11, Schauffele has tied for third in the Charles Schwab Challenge and tied for 20th in the Travelers since the restart, giving him four top-10 results and nine in the top 25 this season. He ranks 14th in FedEx Cup standings.
- Matthew Wolff, United States – Took a three-stroke lead to the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week before finishing second behind Bryson DeChambeau. The 21-year-old Wolff has five finishes in the top 25 this season, but that was easily his best golf since he claimed his first and only PGA Tour victory last year in the 3M Open.
- Rickie Fowler, United States – Finally got untracked by finishing in a tie for 12th last week in the Rocket Mortgage Classic after missing the cut in two straight outings since the PGA Tour restart. Rickie has only two top-10 finishes this season, but returns to Muirfield Village, where he twice finished second in the Memorial, in 2010 and 2017.
- Patrick Reed, United States – Missed the cut for the second time in his last three starts in Rocket Mortgage Classic, but is having a fine season with five finishes in the top 10 including a victory in the WGC-Mexico Championship, to rank sixth in the FedEx Cup standings. Reed’s best result at Muirfield Village was a tie for eight in 2016 Memorial.
- Adam Hadwin, Canada – Posted four scores in the 60s last week, giving him seven in a row, and was in the hunt in the final round before tying for fourth in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Hadwin has three top-10 finishes this season, including second in the Safeway Open. His best finish at Muirfield Village was a tie for 11th in 2016 Memorial.
- Justin Rose, England – Captured the 2010 Memorial for the first of his 10 victories on the PGA Tour, and has six other top-10 finishes at Muirfield Village. After a slow start this season, Rose tied for third in the Charles Schwab Challenge and tied for 14th in the RBC Heritage since the restart, but also has missed the cut four times this year.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Hideki Matsuyama, Japan; Jordan Spieth, United States; Matt Kuchar, United States; Marc Leishman, Australia; Phil Mickelson, United States; Nick Taylor, Canada; Jason Day, Australia; Bubba Watson, United States; Cameron Champ, United States; Dylan Frittelli, South Africa.
- Lanto Griffin, United States – Finished in a tie for 21st last week in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and has 11 top-25s this season, including a win in the Houston Open.
- Viktor Hovland, Norway – A closing 71 dropped him to a tie for 12th in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, his sixth top-25 this season, including a victory in Puerto Rico Open.
- Doc Redman, United States – Opened with a 65 and tied for 21st in Rocket Mortgage, after being second last year. It was his third straight top-25 finish and sixth this season.
- 4. Joaquin Niemann, Chile – T-5 in RBC Heritage and had three scores in the 60s before a 75 left him 63rd in Travelers. Won 2019 Greenbrier and was T-6 in 2018 Memorial.
- Collin Morikawa, United States – Finished second in Charles Schwab Challenge after the restart for his fourth top-10 this season. Captured the 2019 Barracuda Championship.
For first-round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html