Preview and Predictions for the 2015 Memorial Tournament

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2015

Preview and Predictions for the 2015 Memorial Tournament

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    The PGA Tour heads to Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, this week for the Memorial Tournament. 

    Jack Nicklaus' project is one of the best-regarded venues on tour, and the fact that the Golden Bear plays tournament host makes it difficult for many pros to pass up.

    Thus, 15 of the world's top 25 golfers will be in the field in Ohio, including Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and defending champion Hideki Matsuyama. Tiger Woods will also be putting a peg in the ground at a venue where he's won five times. 

    What can you look forward to at Jack's place this year?

    Read on to find out.

Where to Watch and Tournament Info

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    This guy's place.
    This guy's place.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Defending Champion: Hideki Matsuyama

    Where

    Muirfield Village Golf Club (Dublin, Ohio)

    7,392 yards, par 72

    What

    Total Purse: $6,200,000

    Winning Share: $1,116,000

    FedEx Points to Winner: 500

    When

    Thursday-Friday: 2:30-6:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

    Saturday-Sunday: 12-2:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel; 3-6 p.m. ET, CBS

The Biggest Storylines

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Tiger Woods returns to action

    Ending a three-week break, Woods returns to action at the Memorial. Woods has five career wins at Muirfield Village, most recently in 2012. Woods was largely unimpressive in his last start at The Players Championship, where he finished tied for 69th.  

    Will Dustin Johnson bounce back?

    Derailed by the a disastrous quadruple-bogey eight during the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Dustin Johnson heads to the Memorial looking to bounce back. Sure, a tie-for-eighth finish isn't objectively disappointing, but it has to be when one hole cost you a shot at victory. He tied for 46th at Muirfield Village last year. 

    Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama

    Teeing it up for the first time since the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago, Matsuyama is in the midst of a strong season that has seen him make 14 of 15 cuts and notch seven top-10 finishes, including a second and two thirds. He's consistently playing quality golf, and it's difficult to think he won't be in the mix Sunday. 

    Peaking for the U.S. Open 

    With the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay just a couple of weeks away, many of the tour's elite won't be in the field for next week's FedEx St. Jude Classic. Thus, this will be the final competition for players such as Rickie Fowler and Woods before the season's second major.

The Favorites

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    Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

    Jordan Spieth

    The highest-ranked golfer in the field this week, Jordan Spieth is the presumptive favorite to win the Memorial. The 21-year-old Texan tied for 30th at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his most recent start. He tied for 19th at the Memorial last year. 

    Dustin Johnson

    Fresh off a disappointing finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Johnson's length (316.7 yards per drive on average) earns him a look every time he tees it up. As is often the case, the par fives are the easiest holes at Jack's course. Expect Johnson to take advantage. 

    Rickie Fowler

    Teeing it up on the PGA Tour for the first time since winning The Players Championship, Fowler finished 30th in Ireland last week at the Irish Open on the European Tour. His statement win at the Players has oddsmakers thinking the bold Oklahoma alum has turned a corner. Fowler finished second at the Memorial in 2010.

The Dark Horses

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    Tiger Woods

    It's odd to peg Woods as a dark horse rather than a favorite in a tournament preview. Still, listed in the neighborhood of 30-1 odds at most books and coming off an unimpressive showing at Sawgrass, he can't be considered a favorite. The fact that he's owned five times here, though, has to earn him a look. 

    Brooks Koepka

    Long-hitting Brooks Koepka tied for 16th at last week's AT&T Byron Nelson. He'll be making his first trip to Muirfield Village, but don't expect the native Floridian to be intimidated. He's played well the past two seasons on courses he'd never seen before. Koepka is 11th in strokes gained: total, a great indication of the relative quality of his play. 

    Kevin Na

    Runner-up at last year's Memorial Tournament, Kevin Na has top-10 finishes in his last two starts. It's a pretty simple formula: Na's playing well, and he played well at the Memorial last year; thus, it's likely he'll do the same this year. At 40-1 odds, though, it seems the oddsmakers don't think so.

Predicition

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    Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

    When in doubt, go with the chalk. 

    Jordan Spieth is listed at 7-1 odds at most outlets, which is nearly twice as good as the odds for Johnson, the second favorite. 

    A final-round 75 at Muirfield Village last year kept Spieth's tie-for-19th finish from being much better. He tied for 30th at last week's AT&T Byron Nelson, bothered by the course's slow, soggy greens. He'll be facing pure putting surfaces that traditionally run around a 13 on the stimpmeter, according to GCSAA.org, and the kid knows how to handle fast greens (see Augusta National). 

    It's difficult to think of a reason the 21-year-old Texan should be anything other than the heavy favorite this week, with Matsuyama getting a look as well. 

    Stats via PGATour.com. Odds courtesy of Oddschecker.

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