Memorial Tournament experts' picks

May, 27, 2014
05/27/14
7:14
PM ET

Each week of the season, our experts share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week, the PGA Tour is at Muirfield Village Golf Club for the Memorial Tournament.


Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Bo Van Pelt
In his past four starts here, he's never been worse than 21st and has a third-place finish included. He had a stretch in the beginning of the year where he missed seven of nine cuts, but now he's coming off a much more solid run, making four of five cuts. Last week was his first top-20 of the calendar year.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Matt Kuchar
Prior to his win at the Memorial in 2013, the former U.S. Amateur champion had four consecutive top-10s in the event, including a tie for second in 2011.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Matt Kuchar
The defending champion has found Muirfield Village to his liking over the past several years, with five top-10 finishes in that stretch, including his win a year ago.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Jim Furyk
The veteran teed it up 18 times previously at the Memorial and made the weekend in all but one instance -- including six top-10s. Although his last time out at Colonial wasn't stellar (T-51), Furyk is coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes.


Birdie Buster

Collins: Rory McIlroy
For as much as we (the media) have questioned the state of Rory's game, he has yet to finish outside the top 25 on the PGA Tour, racking up six top-10s. Now he returns to Muirfield Village GC off a win at the European Tour's flagship event, all while dealing with the emotions of breaking off a long-term relationship. Sometimes golf is just the therapy that's needed.

Evans: Brendon Todd
After taking his first PGA Tour victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship two weeks ago, the 28-year-old former Georgia Bulldog had a tie for fifth last week at Colonial. This is Todd's first appearance in the Memorial Tournament.

Harig: Rory McIlroy
Not only is he coming off his first victory of the season at the BMW PGA Championship in England, McIlroy has been playing well for most of the year, with eight top-10s in nine stroke-play events in 2014.

Maguire: Brendon Todd
The University of Georgia product might not be too excited to leave Texas, where he finished first and T-5 the past two weeks. Todd, who does a little bit of everything well, should keep that hot streak rolling as evidenced by him holding down the No. 18 spot on the PGA Tour's all-around ranking coming into this week.


Super Sleeper

Collins: Will MacKenzie
He's only played here twice and the most recent was in 2009, but both finishes (10th and 11th) were good. This is a new Will with a new confidence and the game to back it up. He's coming off four missed cuts in a row, but I expect a top-10 finish this week.

Evans: Bo Van Pelt
At Colonial, the Oklahoma State grad got to within a shot of the lead late on Sunday, but faltered with three closing bogeys to finish in a tie for 14th. Since missing seven of nine cuts at one point this season, Van Pelt has begun to show some of the form that carried him to 10 top-10s in 2012.

Harig: Jason Dufner
The reigning PGA champ is returning to the Memorial for the first time in four years after having missed two cuts in the tournament. But he's also coming off the best performance of the year, a playoff loss to Adam Scott at the Colonial.

Maguire: Carlos Ortiz
Ortiz's name might only be recognizable to most golf fans if you are a close watcher of the Web.com Tour, where the Mexico native nearly earned a battlefield promotion earlier this season. He's a sponsor invite this week, so watch out as he's playing with house money.


Winner

Collins: Charl Schwartzel
It's so easy to overlook the South African, even though he's one of the top 25 players in the world. You'd think after missing the cut at the BMW PGA Championship last week on the European Tour that he'd have no chance, but that's why we love this game. New week, new course, new trophy to hoist.

Evans: Rory McIlroy
"Free your mind ... and you're a-- will follow" is the title of a 1970 Funkadelic album. Perhaps now that McIlroy has freed his mind of marriage, a climb back to No. 1 in the world will follow. Coming from 7 shots back on Sunday to win the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, the 25-year-old Ulsterman proved that the funk he was in is probably over.

Harig: Justin Rose
The Englishman got his first PGA Tour victory at the Memorial in 2010 and has been trending in the right direction lately after a slow start to his year. He'd love to add a victory prior to his U.S. Open defense in two weeks.

Maguire: Phil Mickelson
Having missed two of his past three cuts, Lefty has his game exactly where he wants it. Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but can anyone in the game turn it off and on like Mickelson? He'll want to kick it into high gear with the U.S. Open -- and his Grand Slam chances -- right around the corner.

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