Up north from the Texas swing and over to Jack’s in Ohio this week for the Tour. With the passing of Arnie expect full metal maudlin this week. Last year we speculated over the vote for women members at Muirfield (Scotland) having decided that they should remain banned – they finally relented in March this year after a second vote.
The 120 invitational field is strong with only Rory’s enforced absence taking some of the gloss off and with just the Fed Ex St Jude to come this is the last prep event for all the major players.
Last year Rory, Jason and Jordan all teed it up here on the back of wins. McGirt prevailed in the end and Dustbin made his major breakthrough at Oakmont a fortnight later. Rory’s out while Day made a hash of the playoff last time out against Horschel and his tee to green game won’t stand up in 2 weeks. Jordan just failed to repeat at Colonial and his tee to green game has to be a concern as well. But all that’s to come.
Again like last year I’ve often wondered why the players turn up for Jack’s event given it hardly seems representative of a US Open venue. It’s more than just the events position in the calendar. It’s Jack – and given Tigers timely DUI charge this week – the whole week will only serve to sanctify the man Tiger was all but nailed on to replace as the greatest major player until he hit that fire hydrant in 08.
Muirfield is touted as a 2nd shot course – classic Nicklaus. You place it off the tee or melt it – no one player fits the bill – and then how good is your approach play. Tiger won here five times pounding it off the tee, with its quite generous fairways 36 yards wide at the 250, and then making the most of his iron play / scrambling to smallish greens.
The role call of past winners includes Kuchar, Matsuyama, Lingmerth KJ, Ernie, Rose, Carl Pettersson and last year’s late maturing winner McGirt.
A par 72 nigh on 7,400 yards Muirfield ranks highly on the tours “birdies made from greens hit in regulation”. With small greens naturally if you’re on them you’ve got a chance.
Emilliano Grillo 1pt win @ $75 on
Tony Finau 1pt win @ $50 on
Emilliano Grillois clearly a favourite of ours and while he’s not delivered – yet – all the indicators are he could this week. A really solid 11th place at The Players followed by a good performance with a strong finish last week at Colonial will have boosted his confidence and that can’t hurt heading back to Memorial. Last year on debut Grizzo was bang in contention when he came unstuck on the back nine on Sunday eventually finishing 11th. Par on the back nine, no easy feat mind, would have secured him the title. The suggestion is he likes quick greens and Jack will come to the party here with a predicted 13 on the stimp. Grizzo scores well in the greens in reg / proximity to the hole at 67.78% and 35’ 6”, ranked 40th but barely 2’ out of the top spot. Proximity to the hole this week will be a factor given the smallness of the greens but consider this: Alex Noren – he of the 5 wins in 11 months – is last of 206 in this category. You still have to putt and Grizzo’s week will hinge on his liking for fast greens.
Tony Finau: makes a back up appearance here having finished a respectable even par at Colonial where at one stage he was three off he lead. It’s his greens in reg figure that impresses coming in at 71.30 (5th). If he keeps that up at Muirfield he’ll contend. Nothing said here about him last week changes my mind he’s a winner in waiting. Four top tens in 18 starts and a top 25 scoring average Finau needs a better than his average week on the greens to add a second title.