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Memorial Tournament: Featured Pairings

Tiger Woods headlines a star-studded field at Muirfield Village Golf Club this week. He has hoisted the trophy here five times, but he will be facing the toughest field before the U.S. Open. Woods posted a T11 in his last start, at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Eight of the top nine players in the world are set to play the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, starting with reigning FedExCup champion Justin Thomas and including Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose, who round out the top three.

Here are some groups to watch:

(Note: Tee times ET; FedExCup ranking in parentheses.)

THURSDAY
Justin Thomas (1), Patrick Reed (6), Rickie Fowler (21): Thomas is making a strong bid to become the first player to successfully defend as FedExCup champion, and he and Reed are both winners already this season. Thomas, of course, is a two-time winner—one of five so far this season along with Jason Day, Patton Kizzire, Bubba Watson and Rose—and was in the mix to win the Memorial last year before finishing T4. Fowler is looking to break through for the first time this season after runner-up finishes at the Masters and OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He has flirted with winning the Memorial with a runner-up in his 2010 debut (final round 73), and a T2 finish last year, when the final round featured two rain delays and was completed near darkness.

Tee times: 8:15 a.m. off No. 10 on Thursday; 1:05 p.m. off No. 1 on Friday.

Justin Rose (2), Tiger Woods (54), Jason Dufner (62): Three players who have won a combined seven Memorial titles, with Woods accounting for five of them. Rose, the 2010 champion here, is coming off a convincing victory at the Fort Worth Invitational in which he had total command from tee to green and moved from 11th to second in the FedExCup. Dufner looked like he had shot himself out of the tournament with a third-round 77 last year, but rallied in the final round for the victory. Two of the three players represented the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team at Muirfield Village in 2013, and Rose is a shoe-in to make this year’s European Ryder Cup Team.

Tee times: 8:26 a.m. off No. 10 on Thursday; 1:16 p.m. off No. 1 on Friday.

FRIDAY
Jason Day (3), Dustin Johnson (9), Rory McIlroy (36): Three players who have tasted No. 1 in the world, three players who have already won this season. Of course, Johnson wins every year like clockwork, but Day and McIlroy broke through after failing to lift a trophy last season. McIlroy is the only one of the three to have won the FedExCup (2016), and also has the best record at Muirfield Village, albeit without having won: T10 in 2010, 5th in ’11, T15 in ’14, and T4 in ’16. (He didn’t play the tournament two of the last three years.) Day, who lives in Columbus, has lamented his poor record at the Memorial, but seems to be getting closer to winning after a T15 last year, his best result so far.

Tee times: 1:05 p.m. off No. 1 on Thursday; 8:15 a.m. off No. 10 on Friday.

Bubba Watson (7), Phil Mickelson (4), Jordan Spieth (30): Two lefties (Watson, Mickelson) join up with a young star who plays right-handed but is actually left-handed (Spieth). Watson, who has won twice this season, has come close to winning the Memorial with a T6 last year (final-round 73) and a third-place finish in 2014. Spieth opened with a 66 at Muirfield Village last year before fading with a final-round 73 for a T13 finish. He’s looking for his first win since The Open Championship last July. Mickelson broke a winless drought dating to 2013 at the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier this season, and while he has 43 PGA TOUR victories, none has come at the Memorial, where he has authored few highlights other than top-10s in 2002 (T9), ’06 (T4) and ’10 (T5).

Tee times: 1:16 p.m. off No. 1 on Thursday; 8:26 a.m. off No. 10 on Friday.

Written by Terry Sakurai

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