The PGA Tour begins its 14-day stay in Ohio this week, as the Tour kicks off a new one-time event at the Workday Charity Open. The tournament, which was added to the schedule in May, takes the place of the long-standing John Deere Classic, which was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. The Tour plans on returning to TPC Deere Run and the Quad Cities in 2021.
This will mark the first of two consecutive tournaments at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. The Workday event will have a full, 156-player field and will feature seven of the top 20 players in the world as well as eight different players who have won The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.
World No. 2 Jon Rahm and No. 4 Justin Thomas will go for the Muirfield Village back-to-back…though the golf world continues to wait on Tiger Woods. Tiger has chosen to sit out the Workday, his fifth consecutive week at home since the season restart. He is expected to come out of hibernation next week for the Memorial, an event he’s won five times over his career.
Here’s a look at what to keep an eye on this week at Muirfield Village.
Two Weeks at Jack’s Place
Two weeks at Muirfield Village means two weeks at one of the most popular stops on the PGA Tour. Jack Nicklaus first opened Muirfield Village near his hometown of Columbus back in 1974, and hosted his first ever Memorial Tournament in 1976.
Jack’s place is vintage Jack—all class all of the time. And that will be no different this week as the folks who run the Memorial Tournament will be in charge of putting on the Workday Charity Open. The Tour’s pros simply rave about playing Muirfield Village.
“The conditioning is nothing short of perfect,” says 2016 Memorial champion William McGirt.
“The superintendent comes into work every day with the goal of having the course at its absolute best. The course is extremely challenging, yet fun to play. I think Mr. Nicklaus did a phenomenal job on each hole out there.”
One challenge that superintendent Chad Mark will have this week, is having Muirfield Village play differently than it will during next week’s Memorial Tournament. Tour officials are expected to have the golf course play shorter and slower for the Workday. They will then let the rough grow out a bit and speed the greens up a notch for next week’s Memorial.
The Koepka Brothers Are Back
After pulling out of the Travelers Championship as a precaution two weeks ago, the brothers Koepka will be back on the golf course. World No. 6 Brooks Koepka returns after his caddy Rickie Elliot’s positive coronavirus test forced him to withdraw from The Travelers. Koepka appeared to be turning a corner with his game prior to dropping out of the Connecticut. After a disappointing start at Colonial, Koepka turned in a 7th place finish at the RBC Heritage prior to missing the Travelers. The performance at Harbour Town was his first top 10 since injuring his knee in the fall.
As good as it is to have Brooks back…the feel-good story of the week belongs to his brother Chase Koepka. He Monday qualified for the Travelers Championship a few weeks ago, only to pull out of the event as a precaution after spending time with Brooks’ caddy. This week, Chase was granted a sponsor’s exemption into the field at the Workday giving him his third PGA Tour start of the 2020 season after spending much of his career primarily on the European Tour. The “solid” issued by Workday deserves a tip of the cap.
A Break from Bryson
Bryson Dechambeau’s hulk-like transformation has been the most talked about storyline on the PGA Tour since the season restart. His win last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic solidified his place as the ultimate disruptor in golf…and his fellow tour pros are certainly taking notice.
“I've never seen anything like what he's done and how successful he's done it,” said World No. 4 Justin Thomas this week at Muirfield Village. “It’s obviously working for him. I went from kind of being a little skeptical about it to maybe saying some things to realizing he was beating me every week and I should probably shut up and just start playing better for myself.”
Thomas is spot on. It’s hard to argue with the results that 30 pounds of weight gain have produced, but many would agree that this week…it’s nice to have a break from Bryson. Too much of anything isn’t good for the golf soul, and hearing about Bryson and his protein shakes and bacon-heavy breakfasts has gotten old.
To top it off, his “we deserve privacy” act he pulled during the Rocket Mortgage Classic was a bad look. Dechambeau’s frustration with a CBS cameraman and subsequent comments did not sit well with the golf masses.
On Sunday night he apologized for people taking it the wrong way but continued to take shots at the cameraman. “The guy was videoing me for a minute after a shot, like a full minute. That’s just, it’s just obsessive,” said Dechambeau on his Twitch Stream. “People are going to make a big deal out of nothing, it was a nothing burger.”
Win: Justin Rose
The 2010 Memorial Tournament Champion is second in all time earnings in the event at Muirfield Village. T-3 at Colonial and T-14 at Harbour Town before a couple of weeks off.
Value: Cameron Champ
Forced to WD from the Travelers Championship after a positive COVID-19 test (and subsequent negative tests), Champ returned last week with a T-12 finish in Detroit. Can use his extreme length off the tee as an advantage at Muirfield Village.
Sleeper: Jason Dufner
Despite a slow restart, Dufner should find comfort at Muirfield Village. He’s was the 2017 Memorial Champion and has top 25 finishes in four of his last six starts at the golf course including at T-7 a year ago.