Tiger Woods’ returns from licking his wounds in Germany last week to defend his Memorial Tournament at Muirfiled Village in Ohio, Jack Nicklaus' tournament. Woods claimed his second victory of 1999 at the Memorial Tournament, one of eight en route to his second PGA Tour Player of the Year Award in three years. He earned a record $6,616,585 and won the PGA Championship.
With two victories already under his belt this season, Woods defends his Memorial title this week.
“Two” was the magic number for Woods at Muirfield Village Golf Club last year. After 36 holes, Tiger held a two-stroke lead over Vijay Singh and Lee Janzen. He maintained that advantage against Singh at the end of Round 3, then brought home the victory, still two strokes in front of Singh, the 1997 Memorial champion.
This week’s tournament is the 25th playing of the Memorial, which has yet to have a successful title defence. Over the course of its first 24 years there have been four two-time winners: tournament host Jack Nicklaus (1977, 1984), Tom Watson (1979, 1996), Hale Irwin (1983, 1985) and Greg Norman (1990, 1995).
The Memorial, which has had an honoree every year since its inception in 1976, this week honors its host, Jack Nicklaus.
REGULAR ATTENDEES: Tournament host Jack Nicklaus and Roger Maltbie are the only players who have competed in every Memorial Tournament. Maltbie won the inaugural event in 1976, while Nicklaus posted victories in 1977 and 1984.
EXTRA TIME: There have been four playoffs in the 24-year history of the Memorial Tournament. After posting a final-round, 4-over-par 76, Roger Maltbie edged Hale Irwin in the first playoff in the inaugural event in 1976. Jack Nicklaus defeated Andy Bean in the next playoff in 1984. Kenny Perry ousted Irwin on the first extra hole in 1991, earning his first career PGA TOUR victory. The following year, David Edwards went two extra holes to defeat Rick Fehr.
DISTINGUISHED COMPANY: The list of past Memorial Tournament champions includes some very recognisable names. Of the 20 past Memorial champions, 12 have won a combined 47 major championships, led by Jack Nicklaus’ PGA TOUR-record 18. The past four Memorial winners are all holders of major championship titles: Tiger Woods (Masters, PGA Championship), Fred Couples (Masters), Vijay Singh (PGA Championship, Masters) and Tom Watson (two Masters, U.S. Open, five British Opens).
HONOR ROLL: Two-time winner Greg Norman (1990, 1995) has enjoyed the most success at the Memorial Tournament. Norman has placed in the top 10 seven times and earned a tournament-best $957,272 in 16 starts.His scoring average of 71.21 is tied with David Frost for the lowest among players who have participated in the event at least 10 times.
LEADERS OF THE PACK: Holding on to a lead at the Memorial Tournament has proven to be a difficult task. Much of that is due to the fact that Muirfield Village has long rough and quick greens. The field scoring average of 72.581 ranked Muirfield 12th toughest on the PGA TOUR in 1999. No first-round leader has gone on to win the event, but eight second-round and 10 third-round leaders have held on for victory.
ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW: While keeping the ball on the fairways is an important key to victory at the Memorial Tournament, it does not guarantee a win. Case in point: a player has hit every fairway during all four rounds four times in PGA TOUR history. Three of those have occurred at the Memorial Tournament. In 1986 and 1987, Calvin Peete hit all 56 fairways on his way to T57 and T46 finishes, respectively. In 1992, Brian Claar hit all 56 fairways and finished T26.
Jack Nicklaus became the first PGA TOUR player to surpass $3 million in career earnings with his victory at the 1977 Memorial Tournament A few of the more pertinent Memorial Tournament scoring records have been established in the last six years. In 1994, Tom Lehman broke Hal Sutton’s record for 72-hole low score with a 20-under-par 268. That same year, Bob Tway recorded two holes-in-one during the tournament, a feat that since has gone unmatched. In 1996, John Huston set the Muirfield Village course record with a second-round 61.