Memorial Tournament 2013: Tiger Woods and Past Champions with Best Chance to Win

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Memorial Tournament 2013: Tiger Woods and Past Champions with Best Chance to Win
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The 2013 Memorial Tournament features an elite field as always, headlined by defending champion Tiger Woods.

As a five-time winner of this event and prohibitive favorite coming off his victory at The Players Championship, the world's No. 1 has plenty of success to draw on from the past and present. However, several others who have triumphed at Muirfield Village Golf Club should give him a run for his money.

Let's take a closer look at Woods' prospects of capturing his sixth title at this prestigious, Jack Nicklaus-hosted event, as well as the other prior winners who should fare well in Dublin, Ohio this week.

 

Tiger Woods

There is no longer any question as to whether Woods is back, and perhaps there shouldn't have been as early as last year.

The deal-breakers come in the form of three specific attributes: clutch putting, uncanny capitalization on par-fives and, more negatively, wild driving. Woods lives up to his surname frequently, hitting it well off line on many of his tee shots and ranking 127th in driving accuracy.

It's something that Woods has always overcome, but as amazing as his work on the greens has been in the past, this has been the best stretch of putting in Woods' career.

Phenomenal flatstick work was the most evident absence in Woods' arsenal as he recovered from the scandal that broke up his marriage. Now it's back again, and Woods leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting.

One of the other statistics Woods is No. 1 in is birdie or better percentage on par-fives, which happens a whopping 61.36 percent of the time. Assuming all these trends continue—and there's no indication they won't—it could be Woods' trophy yet again come Sunday.

 

Jim Furyk

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Few can grind better than Furyk, and that's optimally important at Muirfield Village, a course that requires patience, precision off the tee and experience to ultimately thrive.

Other than holing out from the fairway for eagle to cap off a tie for third at the Valero Texas Open, it's been a relatively quiet 2013 campaign for the 43-year-old veteran.

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That should change in Dublin this week, as Furyk has the requisite driving and mettle to weather adversity and know when to attack. Course management is vital and is always a stern test on a Nicklaus-designed layout.

One encouraging sign is that Furyk leads the Tour in proximity to the hole on his approach shots with an average of 32'5". Such a statistic showcases the aforementioned course-management prowess Furyk consistently exhibits.

Even beyond his 2002 win at this site, he's notched five top 10s, which is the type of track record that certainly bodes well for his chances to get his season back on track.

 

Justin Rose

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

After a disappointing defense of his 2010 Memorial title that resulted in a missed cut, Rose rebounded last year by finishing in eighth.

Rose remains one of the purest ball-strikers in the world with as mechanically flawless of a swing as anyone on tour. The persistent problem is his putter; he ranks 161st in strokes gained putting this season.

When he beat Phil Mickelson at the Ryder Cup with several clutch putts in the final day of singles play—including a massive one at the par-three 17th at Medinah—it seemed Rose had turned a corner.

Apparently it isn't so, and he's arguably at a low point in his career with the flatblade. A tie for 50th at the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour wasn't exactly what Rose had in mind as a tuneup for the Memorial, either.

Having said that, the Englishman had to weather arduous, cold conditions in the first two rounds of that event and did shoot a three-under 69 in Round 3 at Wentworth.

All year long, everything has been so close to coming together for Rose, but things just keeps going south. At any time, though, Rose's putter could heat up, which could result in him exploding back into form and winning for the first time since last year's WGC-Cadillac Championship.

 

Note: All statistics and past finishes, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of PGATOUR.com.


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