The 2014 Memorial Tournament gets underway Thursday at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Hosted by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, this event is held in extremely high regard on the PGA Tour, but it is not among the most lucrative stops in terms of overall prize money.
While the winner does walk away with a hefty payout of $1,116,000, there have been 16 checks of that amount or more among the events played thus far in the 2013-14 season.
Despite the lesser payday, this prestigious invitational tournament still draws an elite field. The minimal difference in the purse doesn't discourage these world-class players—many backed by numerous sponsors and endorsements—from teeing it up.
Past Memorial victor and reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose lauded the event ahead of Thursday's start, per PGATour.com's Helen Ross:
Just really, really enjoy the test and the whole extra experience. … What Jack [Nicklaus] has created is something from the moment you walk in the gates to teeing it up to tapping in to using the locker room afterwards, it seems to have it all now. …
There's a lot of strategy on this golf course. Obviously with Jack building it, you expect to have to think a lot around this golf course. What I like about it is it gives you the driver. The fairways are relatively wide. You feel like you can get it and play off the tee and be somewhat aggressive.
But it's a second shot golf course. You need to have distance control with your irons. You can't short-side yourself. The greens are incredibly fast. But they're true. So it rewards good play.
Below is a look at the payouts for those who will finish in the top 10 along with an overall preview of the Memorial Tournament, which has a $6.2 million total purse.
Bear in mind that the results and paychecks will be impacted by ties. Muirfield Village has lent itself to close finishes over the past decade or so, suggesting there should be several deadlocks toward the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of PGATour.com.
Memorial Tournament Preview
Adam Scott defeated Jason Dufner in a playoff at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last week to retain his No. 1 world ranking, while Rory McIlroy won the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship.
That prompted James Corrigan of The Daily Telegraph to weigh in following last Sunday's excitement:
Adam Scott, world No 1. Wow! Rory is after him, though. Feel like the golf season has finally got up and running today. Hold on to your sofa— James Corrigan (@jcorrigangolf) May 25, 2014
The two biggest superstars will be paired together for the first two rounds along with Jason Day, who is a resident of nearby Westerville and will be playing on his home course. Day is coming back from a thumb injury that's kept him out of competition since the Masters, and he remarked about his status prior to the Memorial, per USA Today's Steve DiMeglio:
I'm just excited that I can actually swing a club without pain. I went and played Augusta and I kind of forced myself to play Augusta. It was sore then. …
It was really frustrating, because everything felt great. My whole body felt great except for one thing, my thumb. You can probably get away with maybe a bad back or a bad knee, but if you can't hold the club, then that's not fun. You underestimate your hands and the fingers.
Rose will be paired with defending Memorial champion Matt Kuchar and 2011 tournament winner Steve Stricker, so those three veterans figure to be factors on the weekend.
Another storyline that will generate a lot of attention will be the progress—or lack thereof—fan favorite Phil Mickelson makes this week. Mickelson has yet to record a top 10 this season and needs to gain some momentum before the U.S. Open, where he will once again try to avoid heartbreak and seek to complete the career Grand Slam.
Jordan Spieth will be grouped with Mickelson for the first 36 holes.
Who will win the Memorial?
With Muirfield's slippery greens and slender margin for error to negotiate, it will take a seasoned pro—or a precocious youngster who plays like one—to navigate the course successfully and emerge with the trophy.
Since this is such a critical tuneup for most players scheduled to play in the U.S. Open, the Memorial will serve as a measuring stick for how the best golfers stack up. To use a cross-sports analogy, it's comparable to two NBA or NFL teams meeting in the regular season that could encounter each other in a subsequent postseason matchup.
Although the PGA Tour has its own FedEx Cup playoffs, the major tournaments are still the stages upon which all the modern greats are measured.
If the pristine Muirfield Village venue, Nicklaus serving as host and the vast majority of golf's best partaking in this tournament aren't enough to draw fans in, the PGA's penultimate precursor to the U.S. Open should garner plenty of interest with regard to the contenders' form before the year's second major.