Expert picks: The Memorial Tournament


This week the PGA Tour heads to Dublin, Ohio where Jack Nicklaus hosts an elite field at Muirfield Village GC. Steve Stricker defends his title against a field that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and new world No. 1 Luke Donald. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Luke Donald: I can't not pick Donald these days. I took Westwood last week and regretted it after Luke crushed the field at Wentworth en route to defending his title. He also has a history at Jack's Place, with finishes inside the top 15 in his last three starts, including a T-7 showing last year.

Group 2: Jim Furyk: He has one of hte best resumes on this course of all the players in the field. Add to that his solo fourth place finish last week and you can't go wrong with him on your team this week.

Group 3: Harris English: The rookie has been making heads turn since he came onto the scene. Last week he was solid all week, yielding a T-5 at Colonial. He'll ride that momentum into Ohio, the state where last year as an amateur he won the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational on the Scarlet Course at Ohio State.

Group 4: Kyle Reifers: Of all the players in Group Four, he is coming off of one of the best finishes - a T-13 showing last week in Ft. Worth, his biggest payday of the year. He has Ohio roots as well growing up in Columbus and won the Ohio State Amateur in 2004, following in BOTH of his parents' footsteps.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Luke Donald: The world No. 1 won last week, is playing great golf of late and has a good track record at the Memorial.

Group 2: Jim Furyk: The 2002 champion at Muirfield Village has top-10 finishes in two of his last three starts here.

Group 3: Brandt Jobe: A runner-up here last year, Jobe has been in the top four in his last two Memorial starts ('06, '11).

Group 4: Ricky Barnes: Two starts at Jack's place has netted Ricky two top-18 finishes. Not bad.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Luke Donald: He only has two top-10 finishes at Muirfield Village, but the world No. 1 has the look of a man who plans to keep that title for a couple of weeks.

Group 2: Jason Day: The Muirfield Village member caught some unwarranted heat for skipping the Memorial last year, but he's comfortable on the course and finished tied for ninth in his last Tour start.

Group 3: Harris English: We'll stop picking the rookie when he stops making money (15 starts, three missed cuts and six top-25 finishes, including a T-5 last week at Colonial).

Group 4: Stewart Cink: Veteran is starting to show signs of life and after last week's decision to honor his commitment to play the Colonial pro-am, one would expect a cosmic make-good.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Steve Stricker: The defending champion at Muirfield Village is making just his ninth start of hte 2012 season. He has four top-10 finishes in eight starts, including a win in Hawaii. Considering his past success at this course, his quietly strong play in 2012 and his desire to bounce back from a missed cut at The Players, I think Stricker is a smart pick.

Group 2: Jim Furyk: The 2002 Memorial champ has six top-10 finishes in 16 starts here and is playing well after a disappointing 2011 season. He has three top-10s, including a fourth-place finish last week, and has not finished out of the top 30 on Tour in the last three months. I like Furyk a lot this week.

Group 3: Harris English: The rookie has had an eventful month: he played well, then faded at The Players, qualified for the Open Championship and finished T-5 last week at Colonial. I think this young man can ride his momentum to a good finish in the city where he won a Nationwide Tour event last year.

Group 4: James Driscoll: Driscoll has played well this month, finishing T-9 in Charlotte and T-19 at the Byron Nelson - although he missed the cut in his other two starts this month. He has never made the cut in three starts here but I think he's a good pick in this group based on recent performance.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Rickie Fowler: The hottest hand in golf outside of Luke Donald and Jason Dufner. Fowler tied for second at Memorial two years ago.

Group 2: Jim Furyk: Former Memorial champ ('02) is coming off a fourth-place finish and four rounds in the 60s at Colonial.

Group 3: Gary Woodland: Taking a flier here with Woodland not far removed from a wrist injury, but he finished sixth at Memorial last year.

Group 4: Ricky Barnes: Since his tie for third at Pebble Beach, Barnes hasn't made any runs, but Muirfield Village will bring out his best. He was T-18 and T-3 here in his last two starts.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Luke Donald: Steadiest value of the bunch. Breezed to victory at Wentworth last Sunday to successfully defend his BMW title; no worse than T-14 in his last three Memorial appearances.

Group 2: Jim Furyk: Continues to motor. Finished fourth at Colonial where he led the field in greens hit and was the only golfer to card four rounds in the 60s. Won here in 2002, but also finished second in 2009 and T-10 in 2010.

Group 3: Harris English: A calculated flier here as a first-timer at Muirfield Village. Comes off a career-best T-5 at Colonial, which trailed his cakewalk medalist performance at the IFQ-America. his game fits Muirfield Village marvelously.

Group 4: David Hearn: Making his debut at Muirfield Village. I was tempted by both Ricky Barnes and Stewart Cink in this group given their success at the Memorial, but Hearn has cashed in his last five events, posting three top-25s including last week's T-13 at Colonial.

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