The 2018 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide takes place May 31-June 3 at Dublin, Ohio’s Muirfield Village Golf Club. Jack Nicklaus’ invitation only tournament is known for its strong field and emphasis on the history of the game. This year, Nicklaus will preside over a number of compelling storylines as golfers look to make history in Ohio.
Nicklaus had long envisioned returning to the Columbus, OH region to create a tournament that would allow him to give back to the region and game that gave him his livelihood. When the Nicklaus co-designed and maintained Muirfield Village Golf Club was completed in 1974, he knew he had a potential venue for a PGA Tour event. Nicklaus’ dream was realized when the inaugural Memorial was contested in 1976. Nicklaus, host of the event since its founding, wanted the Memorial to honor golf's greats after their playing days had ended and to reflect on their achievements. Each year, one golfer and golf journalist are honored with Nicklaus himself being honored in 2000. All honorees have a plaque installed in their honor at the Muirfield Clubhouse. The tournament has been won many legends of the game, including Curtis Strange, Jim Furyk and Hideki Matsuyama. Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Kenny Perry, Hale Irwin and founder Jack Nicklaus are multiple winners. Tom Lehman, winner in 1994, holds the record low score with -20.
2017 Winner Jason Dufner
Last year’s champion Jason Dufner, the first Ohio native to win the Memorial since Jack Nicklaus himself, won the event with contrasting rounds. Dufner had set the 36-hole record and nursed a 5-shot lead going into the third round. However, Dufner followed his first two rounds with a third round horror show 78 which saw him slip to 4 strokes off the top spot. Many pundits wrote him off completely after his sudden change of fortune, believing that “the Duf” had choked. Instead, Dufner rallied on his last round through two storm delays to take the lead again and iced the performance with a 33ft putt for par. It was his longest putt of the entire tournament, and allowed Dufner to win by two strokes with an overall score of -13. This year, Dufner returns to attempt to become the first back to back winner since Tiger Woods completed a three-peat in 2001.
Tiger Woods, the record holding 5-time winner of the Memorial, is looking for his first Memorial win since 2012. He is coming off a tied for 11th finish at the Players Championship and fans continue to wonder when, if ever, Woods will return to the winning ways that saw him as one of the world’s greatest golfers. He will have to beat the generation that largely replaced him, including new world number 1 Justin Thomas as well as number 2 Dustin Johnson. In all, 8 of the world top-10 golfers will be teeing up this week and Muirfield Village. Other favorites are Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson. Ohio’s adopted son Jason Day also looks to erase past Memorial disappointments to claim his first win. Chilean teen sensation and former number 1 ranked amateur Joaquin Niemann is a dark horse looking for his first professional win following a tied for 8th finish at last week’s Fort Worth Invitational.