Red-hot Rose and Woods lock horns at Memorial
With eight of the top nine players in the world descending on Dublin, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament this week – it is hard to know where to look.
Everywhere there are storylines brewing, we have world No.1 Justin Thomas teeing it up for the first time since claiming top spot in the rankings.
Champion Golfer of the Year Jordan Spieth’s search for a first win since last year’s Open continues, adopted hometown favourite Jason Day brings his hot streak to town and Rory McIlroy is back that side of the pond after his runner-up finish at Wentworth.
But we have to begin our preview by talking about two men that fans of The Open know only too well – Justin Rose and Tiger Woods.
ROSE IN FULL BLOOM
At the age of 37, Rose appears now to be playing some of the best golf of his career.
We all remember the youngster who shot to fame at the 1998 Open as an amateur.
FaceTime with the 🌹family back home! 👨👩👧👦🏆📱 pic.twitter.com/22ICkYTEn7— Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) May 28, 2018
But now Rose is a major winner, the Olympic champion and looked almost unstoppable in taming the Fort Worth Invitational field last week.
That was his ninth career PGA Tour win and moved him second in the FedExCup standings as attention turns to Dublin.
Rose won for the first time in America here back in 2010 – and victory this week would mark him out as one of the stand-out favourites for the US Open in two weeks’ time.
11 events this season for @JustinRose99:— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 27, 2018
No. 2 in the #FedExCup
5 top-5 finishes
6 top-10 finishes
9 top-25 finishes
0 cuts missed
24 rounds in the 60s
Combined score: -109#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/UyZNZI6b3i
TIGER’S BURNING BRIGHT
Woods, a three-time Champion Golfer of the Year, has not been sighted on the PGA Tour since his charge at the Players Championship that saw him end up 11th.
But at the tournament founded by the great man Jack Nicklaus who is so often mentioned in the same breath as Woods – the 42-year-old will make his return for the first time since 2015.
Woods has won five times there, but not cracked the top 60 since his last victory back in 2012.
But the best news is that the duo of Woods and Rose are paired together this week and will lock horns on Thursday alongside defending champion Jason Dufner.
Here today at Shinnecock, and grateful every day to the men & women who sacrificed their lives to give us our freedom and allow us to do what we love. pic.twitter.com/Kmkar1zDAj— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 29, 2018
Rose, Dufner and Woods are not the only eye-catching groupings in Ohio – indeed Thomas will tee it up with Masters champion Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler.
Thomas is looking to become the first man to defend the FedExCup while Reed dominated the field to claim his first Green Jacket and Fowler is looking for a first win of the season after a couple of near misses including Augusta.
Spieth meanwhile will hope to feed off the experience of Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson while there are three former world No.1s together in the form of McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Day.
The Italian Open has moved this year from its traditional October slot to late May and is at a new course in Gardagolf, Brescia.
But Tyrrell Hatton will be hoping history can still repeat itself as he aims to defend the title he won last year.
He has history of doubling up, he has won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship for the last two years including taming Carnoustie to the tune of a 65 in 2017.
But if he is to take the title this year in Lake Garda, then Francesco Molinari – winner last time out at Wentworth ahead of McIlroy – will take some stopping.
First missed cut at the PGA in my 5th appearance. Gutted!! 😞— Tyrrell Hatton (@TyrrellHatton) May 25, 2018
3 bad holes and long game generally not being good enough this week.
Got the weekend to figure it out before defending in Italy next week. #BMWPGA #RolexSeries
Molinari has already claimed this tournament – whose previous winners include Champion Golfers of the Year Sir Henry Cotton, Peter Thomson and Tony Jacklin – twice before in 2006 and 2016.
And with Hatton nursing a wrist injury that saw him miss the cut last week at Wentworth, eyes will also be on Tommy Fleetwood – Carnoustie course record holder – and Ian Poulter as they look to challenge for their first Rolex Series wins of the season.