Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Updated: May 30, 1:02 PM ET
The Memorial Tournament experts' picks
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.
This week's tournament: The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.
Horse for the Course
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Rickie Fowler
Since missing the cut at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, he hasn't finished outside the top 10 in his last four starts (including a win, a second and a fifth in his last three). Attribute that to hitting around 75 percent of his greens in regulation for those four events and you can see why his time is now.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger Woods
In 12 appearances at the Memorial, the 14-time major champion has four wins, including three in a row from 1999-2001.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Justin Rose
A runner-up at the BMW, Rose got his first PGA Tour victory at the Memorial two years ago and also has two other top-five finishes in the tournament.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Justin Rose
This is Rose's year at the Memorial, if recent trends hold to form. In 2008 he tied for second. The following year? An MC. So in 2010 he wins the thing, but then he missed the cut last year. So we're expecting big things in 2012.
Michael Collins: Luke Donald
Here we go again ... except ... Rory McIlroy is in a slump and Donald has an opportunity to grab a commanding lead in the Official World Golf Rankings if he can finish inside the top five and Rory misses the cut (a realistic prediction). Donald is ranked 11th in scoring average; expect his consistent play to continue.
Farrell Evans: Ben Curtis
The 2003 British Open champion cooled off some last week with a tie for 68th at the BMW PGA Championship, but he's had a win at the Valero Texas Open, a T-13 (Zurich Classic) , a T-5 (Wells Fargo) and a T-2 (The Players) in his last four starts on the PGA Tour.
Bob Harig: Luke Donald
For the second straight year, he comes into the Memorial off a victory at the BMW PGA Championship. This time, however, it won't be his fourth consecutive tournament.
Kevin Maguire: Jim Furyk
The veteran was the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s last week at Colonial -- where he ended up in solo fourth. His worst finish in more than two months is a T-26 at the Wells Fargo Championship. Furyk is starting to look like his old, consistent self again.
Michael Collins: Bo Hoag
Hoag is the ultimate super sleeper. He's been playing the golf course since he was a kid. His grandfather (Bob) was one of the tournament founders. He was a standout at Ohio State University thru 2011 and even got his first PGA Tour start as a pro under his belt after missing the cut at the Honda Classic earlier this year, where he did drop a 69 in the opening round.
Farrell Evans: Tommy Gainey
Before his solo third last week at the Colonial, the 36-year-old Bishopville, S.C. native had missed eight of his first 16 cuts on the season. Though he easily missed the cut last year at the Memorial with rounds of 78-70, he's the streaky kind of player who could surprise everybody at Jack's place.
Bob Harig: Dustin Johnson
Since he's playing in his first tournament since early March, it would be a lot to expect Dustin Johnson to contend. A back injury knocked him out of the Masters and he hasn't played since Doral. This is likely more about getting back between the ropes.
Kevin Maguire: John Huh
Somehow, the just turned 22-year-old who made it through all three stages of Q-school has cashed checks in excess of $2 million so far this season. (A win for the rookie certainly helped.) So there's not much to faze him as he heads to Jack Nicklaus' event for the first time this week.
Michael Collins: Phil Mickelson
Finally ... maybe it was his induction into the Hall of Fame that took some of the pressure off him. Maybe it is the confidence he has this year from missing only one cut in 12 events and finishing outside the top 26 only once in his last 10 straight starts. Whatever it is, Mickelson has wanted to win Jack Nicklaus' tournament badly for a long time. Good things come to lefties that make the HOF!
Farrell Evans: Luke Donald
Coming off a 4-shot win at the BMW PGA Championship in England, the 34-year-old Northwestern grad is back at No. 1 in the world and poised to continue his good play heading into the U.S. Open. Last year the Englishman, who now lives in Chicago, finished in a tie for seventh at the Memorial.
Bob Harig: Ernie Els
It's been a series of ups and downs for the Big Easy, who lost in a playoff in New Orleans and then lost his cool last week at Wentworth. Still, he managed a tie for seventh and has had five top-10s around the world. Els won the Memorial in 2004, likes the course and will undoubtedly be primed to have a good week with the U.S. Open just ahead.
Kevin Maguire: Ben Curtis
This might be a homer pick, but the Ohio native has been playing some of the best golf of his career in recent weeks. Even when not in solid form in the past few years, Curtis still played well at Muirfield Village.