Four angles at Muirfield Village: Preview of the Memorial Tournament

The PGA Tour returns to Dublin, Ohio, but that’s just about the only thing that has stayed the same.

Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about making changes at Muirfield Village to maintain the integrity of the test which annually hosts the Memorial Tournament.

But while most of those alterations have been minor, between last year's event and this the layout has been more or less rebuilt.

Tees, fairways, bunkers, greens - they've all been transformed.

It makes for an almost unique situation because last year the course hosted two events in a month, the Workday Charity Open then the Memorial.

To liven things up, during the first week the greens were slow, in the second they were lightning fast.

Now it will be played for a third time in entirely different circumstances.

It's doubtful that one course has ever been played three times in such contrasting fashion.

Who will it suit? Let's take a closer look.

The fast starter

Hideki Matsuyama won the Memorial on debut in 2014 and while he's never repeated that feat, he has added another four top 25 finishes and also shown a profound fondness for going low on Thursdays.

On defence he thrashed a first round 64 to grab a share of the early lead and in 2018 a 65 achieved the same feat.

Meanwhile, in last year's 2020 Workday Charity Open, a 67 got him into a tie for third.

His capacity to go low on the course is backed up by a 64 he carded in the third round two years ago on his way into a tie for sixth.

He's best price 40/1 to claim this week's first round lead with Unibet.

Fresh eyes

Might this be a really good week to have little or nor experience of the course?

Those extensive renovations might easily play havoc with the very experienced Muirfield Village visitors.

They will expect the ball to do one thing and then find it doing something else, sometimes in a subtle manner, other times more significantly.

They'll start to doubt themselves and some will get plain frustrated.

Frenchman Antoine Rozner will be seeing the layout for the first time and will therefore have no preconceptions to be played with.

Rozner, who is a two-time winner on the European Tour in the last six months, is priced 350/1 with Unibet.

A man to oppose?

There are two ways of looking at Charles Howell III this week.

The first is that there must be something about this week's event that tempts him, but it's not the likelihood of a top finish because he's been visiting the course throughout the 21st century and it's never happened yet.

The second is that surely no man in the field is likely to be happier about the significant course renovations.

We can only guess about the latter so let's take a closer look at his numbers.

His debut in 2001 showed promise: a slow start before he moved through the field to claim T15th.

However, after a further 17 appearances, it remains both his best finish and his best 54-hole position (T12th).

True, he followed up that first effort with a pair of top 30s and repeated that in 2011/2013, but otherwise he's been banging his head against the door.

In all, 12 of his last 15 visits have reaped nothing better than T48th and five of his last ten scores have been over-par, often well over.

Look to oppose him in matchbets.

The top 20 machine

From the re-start after lockdown to THE PLAYERS Championship Matt Kuchar's game was in a funk.

He landed one top 20 in that period and look a shadow of the consistent golfer we had grown to expect.

But a return to head-to-head golf at the WGC Dell Match Play reinvigorated him.

He finished third that week and has added T12th in the Texas Open, T18th at The Heritage and T17th in the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Now he returns to a course where, for a long period, he was more or less guaranteed to finish top 20.

The numbers are staggering really: from 2007 to 2018 he played 11 times at Muirfield Village and only once didn't finish top 15 (when T26th).

Seven of those efforts were top 10s, including a runner-up finish in 2011 and victory a year later.

True, he was only T32nd last year, but given a first round 76 had left him T95th that's not bad and it did come in the middle of that funk.

He's best price 9/2 with Sport Nation to return to old ways and land another top 20.

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