The Memorial Tournament 2022 Overview
The Players head to the Muirfield Village this week for The Memorial. Jack Nicklaus envisioned and built Muirfield Village Golf Club this really is a masterpiece. Although the land was purchased in 1966, construction did not begin until July 28, 1972. The golf course spans 220 acres and includes an 11-acre driving range. On Memorial Day, May 27, 1974, the course was officially dedicated with an exhibition match between Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. Nicklaus shot a six-under-par 66, which remained the course record until 1979. This week sees an elite level field tee it up and there will be more than a few 66 ‘s on show. This is a venue that brings the best names to the top, Rham, Hideki, Cantley, Bryson, Rose & the GOAT have all had success here in the past.
This course has always been a favourite of players and fans alike, hosting the 1987 Ryder Cup and the 2013 Presidents Cup. It is an original Nicklaus design, and Jack personally oversaw recent course development following the 2020 Memorial Tournament. Nicklaus altered and renovated the course. Muirfield’s 18 greens were rebuilt and replanted with bentgrass, and the majority of green complexes were recontoured. Fairway and greenside bunkers have been rebuilt, and the fairways have been resurfaced. A new look Muirfield Village faces the players and the test looks harder than ever looking at the scoring last year.
Muirfield Village, named after the exclusive Muirfield Golf Links in Scotland, where Jack won the 1966 Open Championship, usually requires strong approach play and skills on and around the fast, undulating greens. Longer hitters have an advantage with total driving and distance, and keystrokes gained stats include ball-striking, tee-to-green and short game. Players will be required to move the ball both ways with iron in hand, a signature part of all Nicklaus courses. If the course softens, it will become more of a shootout for approach plays, most other stats will become insignificant. Otherwise, firmer and slicker greens will put emphasis on short game strength, and run-off zones and waste areas will be trimmed shorter to deter errant approaches. Let’s hope for firm and fast conditions it will make for a stunning event much like we had last week at the Charles Schwab.
This is an event all players want on their CV and the course has a habit of allowing the cream to rise to the top. Let’s break down the skill sets required and bring you those all-important outright selections.
Key Skills Set Required
- SG T2G – What a course we have this week and the foundation to any success here is overall T2G performance. If we look at the finishing leaderboard last year we can see only Homa & Lowry ranked outside the top 10 for SG T2G over the course of the week. This course tests players in every aspect of their game so we need to have players onside who are regularly gaining strokes over their competitors with T2G stats of recent times.
- SG Approach Play – As with nearly all Jack Nicklaus courses there is huge emphasis on Approach play here at Muirfield Village. Nicklaus is renowned for making his course 2nd shot venues and this week is no different. 6 of last years Top 10 ranked in the top 10 for approach play over the week.
- GIR gained – It has been a theme over the past few week but these tough tracks, especially a Nicklaus design put huge emphasis on the second shot. This week will be no different. We have touched upon it with approach play. The winner has ranked in the top 5 for GIR gained in 5 of the last 7 years. Hitting a high percentage of GIR here at Muirfield sets you up very nicely and that what I’m looking for this week.
- SG Around the green – Since the redesign in 2020 the run off areas are even more severe than before, which puts a real added emphasis on short game skills here at Muirfield Village. We can see from the data that Muirfield Village ranks in the top 5 hardest courses on the PGA Tour to get up and down.
- SG Scrambling – A stat often mistaken with around the green, scrambling measures a players ability to get up and down when missing a the standard GIR. A player who is and around the green specialist could have horrible scrambling stats. Players will miss greens in regulation 25-35% of the time this week so there will be huge emphasis on scrambling and the players who rise to the top will scramble at a rate of 80% or better on the week.
- Bogey Avoidance – With a winning score of 10-15 under par expected this week, mistakes will be costly. Look for players who few mistakes and have patience to attack at the right time and no when to take their foot off the gas and make sensible pars.