As the American’s would say, the field for this week’s Memorial Tournament is “stacked”. Eight of the nine top players in the world, six previous winners, Tiger Woods, a sprinkling of Presidents Cup stars and even a bunch of South Africans.
Justin Rose, who won here in 2010, arrives as the hottest player in the world after his win at the Fort Worth Invitational, but he’s not the clear favourite. That’s incredibly hard to define this week with Justin Thomas, now the world’s No 1-ranked player, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, the hometown favourite even though he’s Australian by birth, all ready to show Rose - and the world - who’s boss.
Then you need to add a bitter Rory McIlroy, who will be raring to go after a few days of sulking after letting the BMW PGA Championship slip from his grasp. Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler barely mentioned in the favourite’s favourite.
Golf’s never been in a better
place although not perfect - get rid of the odd clown shouting ‘Mashed
Potatoes’ and ‘Baba booey’ - and then it would be.
The purse on offer is as attractive as the star power set to play for it with the winner taking bragging rights along with his cheque of $1 602 000 or put into rand context, R20.92 million. And that’s where Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace come into the equation.
Sure, 2004 winner Ernie Els has received a sponsor’s exemption and Rory Sabbatini will start the week as well, but the above-listed trio are the ones in contention to bag the cash.
All three have shown positive signs (Schwartzel T2 at The Players and the other two both finished in the top 5 last week) and Muirfield proves a fair test without handing an advantage to any particular type of player.
If Jason Dufner can do it around Jack’s track, then so can any one of the three Saffas; even if they’ll have to get past Rose, McIlroy, JT and a bunch of others in the process.
You too could add some cash your balance if you are on the right side of a South African win with Grace backed at 48-1, Schwartzel in at 57-1 and Oosthuizen a tantalising option at 65-1.