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Memorial Tournament preview: The 22/1 shot who can give Day, Spieth & McIlroy a run for their money

Matt-Kuchar

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The big three arrive at the non-sexist Muirfield Golf Club having all collected over-sized cheques on their latest starts.

Day, Spieth & McIlroy tee off together in Ohio on Thursday for the first time since the Players Championship when Jason bolted off in front, Rory couldn’t stay the pace and Jordan gave up at half-way.

We’re two weeks out from the US Open at Oakmont so bragging rights and the all-important psychological edge is up for grabs as Paddy puts it up to the competition by paying the first 7 home. Again.

Jason-Day

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1. Jason Day

Despite being a member at Muirfield Village, the World No 1 has only broken the Top 30 once in seven tries at Ohio which isn’t the greatest recommendation for any player at the top of the market.

But you can probably overlook that in Day’s case as the US PGA Champion, Players’ Champion and all round form-pony’s mantlepiece must be breaking under the weight of these and his five other titles worldwide in the last 10 months. Not bad!

If pinging the lids like he did on his last start in Florida – Day could be very hard to rein back.

2. Rory McIlroy

Three Top 15s for Macca in Ohio as he ended his own ‘drought’ by winning his first European event in almost a year at the Irish Open a fortnight ago.  McIlroy showed plenty of cojones to bounce back from a shot down (having been three clear of Russell Knox) to hit to three feet from 252 yards when posting an eagle at the final hole.

A par 5 king when in the mood, he’ll need to get hot with the flat stick to go back-to-back here in a very deep field back in the States.

3. Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth ended what was about the shortest ‘drought’ in sporting history when birdieing the last three home at the Dean & Deluca Invitational last weekend to outstay Harris English down the stretch in Texas.

Spieth’s 22 birdies over the four days not only delivered a very dodgy plaid jacket (which we’re pretty sure won’t make up for the Green one he missed out on at Augusta) but made him the third multiple winner on Tour this season after Adam Scott (2) and Jason Day (3).

Looks well placed to build on a third-place finish last year but needs to get to grips with his swing which can collapse quicker than support for Brexit when the heat is on.

 

 

4. Rickie Fowler

Was second here in 2010 but hasn’t troubled the networks on a Sunday with no Top 30s in his last four starts. Fowler would have held high hopes of getting a Major freak on this year after banishing ‘the most over-rated player’ award last term.

Has actually had a very good season with six Top 10 finishes but failing to make the weekend at both the Masters & the Players Championship has seen him fall behind his peer group again in the hunt for Major glory – just two tournaments out from the US Open. Needs to keep posting his solid scores.

5. Dustin Johnson

Four top five finishes since the Northern Trust Open in February (including a T4 at Augusta) has seen DJ post the right kind of digits – despite not getting his name on the winner’s rostrum yet.

A regular feature here where a fourth-placed finish in 2011 is the high watermark, DJ will look to polish his game as he tries to end his Major drought at the US open in two weeks after his 18th hole ‘three-putt’ at Quail Hollow 12 months saw another Major literally slip through his hands. He is getting there though.

 

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6. Matt Kuchar

The ‘Kooch’ has always been more ‘business’ than ‘show’ but lost some of that Mr Reliable sheen over the past couple of seasons as his form dipped.

But the ‘Kooch’ has started to show signs of life again with four Top 10 place finishes since the Masters and has serious form at this track.

A win here in 2013 is the high water mark for Kuchar in 11 appearances that also includes five other Top 10 finishes. With his current form around the fairways and historical stats at Muirfield, Kuchar may just offer an alternative in a market dominated by the big three.

7. Hideki Matsuyama

A first run-out since he jumped on board the bogey bus early on Sunday at the Players Championship which was unusual for this tee-to-green mo’chine.

Matsuyama’s game is built on avoiding bogeys as much Roy Hodgson avoids controversial squad selections and pulled off no mean feat by winning on his debut here in 2014.

A decent title defence last year saw him finish T5 to reigning champ David Lingmerth and already a winner of the Phoenix Open in February when wiping Rickie Fowler’s eye on the final hole.

What do you think?