McIlroy, Woods & Koepka the headline act ahead of Memorial battle

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The PGA Tour has unveiled a mouth-watering line-up for this week’s feature groups over Thursday and Friday at the Memorial Tournament.

Back at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio for what’s promised to be a much tougher assignment than last week, the event is the sixth since the PGA Tour return post-Covid-19.

Two Irishmen feature in the dozen players to be showcased over the first two days with Open Champion Shane Lowry finally getting the respect he deserves in an all-star trio alongside Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose.

However, there’s no escaping where most eyes will fall on Thursday with the headline act undoubtedly seeing world number one Rory McIlroy welcoming back Tiger Woods for his first event in nearly five months while Brooks Koepka completes a titanic three-ball.

Woods, 44, will be making his 18th appearance in the prestigious invitational Tournament hosted by golf legend Jack Nicklaus where he’s won a whopping five times. His scoring average of 70.25 is tied for third best at the Memorial, and he is No. 1 in total earnings with $5,373,205.

But McIlroy will have nothing to fear. He boasts a superb record of four top-10’s at Memorial and given all the clamour around Bryson DeChambeau’s hitting lately and the mercurial approach play of Collin Morikawa last week at the same venue, no doubt Rory fresh off a break will be gunning to restore the order as the game’s number one talent.

Feature Groups stats via PGA Tour (FedEx Cup ranking)

Rory McIlroy (5), Tiger Woods (41), Brooks Koepka (156)
• McIlroy, two-time FedExCup champion and World No. 1, owns the most top-10s at the Memorial Tournament (4) among the top-five players in the Official World Golf Ranking
• In his first start since finishing 68th at The Genesis Invitational in February, Woods makes his third attempt at a record-breaking 83rd PGA TOUR win; the five-time Memorial Tournament champion will make his 18th start in the event
• Koepka birdied five of his closing seven holes at last week’s Workday Charity Open, but missed the cut by a stroke

Phil Mickelson (94), Justin Rose (119), Shane Lowry (145)
• Mickelson is making his 20th start at the Memorial Tournament, with his first appearance dating back to 1991
• Rose owns seven top-10s in 13 appearances at the Memorial Tournament, highlighted by a win in 2010 and two runner-up finishes (2008, 2015)
• Winner of The Open Championship in 2019, Lowry returns to the Memorial Tournament for the fourth time and first since 2018; The 2020 Open Championship, originally scheduled for this week, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Bryson DeChambeau (4), Collin Morikawa (6), Patrick Cantlay (28)
Note: Morikawa (2019 Workday Charity Open), Cantlay (2019 Memorial Tournament) and DeChambeau (2018 Memorial Tournament) are the last three winners at Muirfield Village
• Coming off his sixth TOUR victory at the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic, DeChambeau is on a streak of seven consecutive top-10s
• Following his second career TOUR title at last week’s Workday Charity Open, Morikawa has more wins than missed cuts (1) in 24 professional starts on TOUR
• Defending champion Cantlay has not missed a cut since the 2019 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, currently the longest active streak on TOUR (16 starts)

Justin Thomas (1), Xander Schauffele (12), Dustin Johnson (23)
• Thomas regained the No. 1 position in the FedExCup with a runner-up at the Workday Charity Open and has held the top spot for a total of 10 weeks this season, the most of any player
• With a victory at the 2020 Travelers Championship, Johnson extended his streak of winning at least one TOUR event to 13 consecutive seasons
• Schauffele made the cut in all four of his starts since the Return to Golf (T3/Charles Schwab Challenge, T64/RBC Heritage, T20/Travelers Championship, T14/Workday Charity Open)

 

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