DUBLIN, Ohio — A dozen former champions are teeing it up as the 44th Memorial Tournament began play this morning.
Among those are defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, who won a three-way playoff last year, and five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods.
After his fifth Masters win in April, Woods needs one more victory to tie Sam Snead’s record of 82 wins on the PGA Tour.
Whether that record-tieing win will come at Muirfield Village remains to be seen.
“This golf course is not set up easy this week. It’s going to be tough to play,” Woods said. “None of them have been easy, but this one is going to require a lot of good driving.”
DeChambeau is looking to get his game back in order after a recent rough patch where he’s missed the cut in his last three events.
“This, to me, is my lowest of lows. I really don’t feel that I can play much worse,” he said.
He’s missed the cut by one stroke twice and missed by two strokes in the PGA Championship two weeks ago. “I got in really bad lies at the PGA and I couldn’t hack it out. I feel this is as low as it’s going to go,” DeChambeau said.
Rory McIlroy, ranked No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings and in the World Golf Rankings, has won a number of big tournaments, and would like to get the handshake from host Jack Nicklaus for winning the Memorial.
“I think to win here, I think it would be really cool to walk up that hill on the last and have Jack greet you,” McIlroy said. “That’s something that’s pretty special.”
Accuracy off the tee will be key for whoever claims the win on Sunday.
“You have to drive it in the fairways, especially this week,” McIlroy said. “The rough is very thick.”
DeChambeau and Woods will be grouped with 2010 Memorial winner Justin Rose as one of the featured groups in the opening two rounds.
McIlroy will be grouped with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
The Golf Channel has coverage of the first two rounds from 2:30–6:30 p.m. each day and will have early coverage Saturday and Sunday before the tournament switches over to CBS.