Even without Tiger Woods, the Memorial Tournament will have the type of big-league atmosphere so scarce on the PGA Tour since the Masters. For all the fretting done by tournament host Jack Nicklaus over the effects of modern equipment technology, his constant tinkering of Muirfield Village is the biggest reason it remains one of the tour's best venues. If the golf gods still are paying attention, we're due for a terrific week.
The list of guys who haven't won this tournament is quite impressive: Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia are among the most notable nonchampions. Fred Couples, who won here in 1998, has finished second the last two years, further proof that Freddie's results often coincide with the tournaments he's most interested in playing. I like Couples a lot this week, but not enough to pick him. Too much bad karma with that putter.
Something about Goosen makes this an easy pick for me. He hits his irons 10 miles high, which always helps on a Nicklaus course, and he might be the best putter in the field.
With four top-five finishes in eight U.S. starts, Goosen has had a year befitting of his personality: quietly strong. He wins on good, tough courses, and though Muirfield Village might not be the Shinnecock Hills of the Midwest, this is a tournament one would figure he'll win one of these years. Why not now?
John Hawkins is a senior writer for Golf World magazine.