For the past 38 years, some of the world’s greatest golfers have showcased their talents in Dublin, Ohio, at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. The brightest stars in the game have competed at Muirfield Village Golf Club, the design jewel of the Memorial’s Host and Founder, Jack Nicklaus.
The list of winners at the Memorial is equally impressive. In fact, of the 28 individuals who have won the Tournament, 17 have also won at least one major championship.
Earlier this month in Ardmore, Pa., at Merion Golf Club, a familiar face to Memorial Tournament fans captured his first career major championship. The Memorial’s 2010 winner, Englishman Justin Rose, fired a closing even-par 70 en route to a two stroke victory over Jason Day and Phil Mickelson to join the impressive list of Memorial winners who have hoisted a major championship trophy.
Rose joins a who’s who roster of golfing greats that make up the Memorial’s list of major championship winners. Names like Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods. The Tournament’s 17 individual major championship winners represent a total 67 major titles, led by Nicklaus’s record of 18.
The correlation between past winners of the Memorial Tournament and major champions is hard to overlook. Of the six multiple-year winners at the Memorial, five have won at least two major championships. Along with Nicklaus’s 18 majors, Woods has won 14, Watson eight, Irwin three, and Norman has claimed victory at two major championships.
"When we created Muirfield Village Golf Club, we tried to design a good golf course and a challenging one," said Nicklaus. "We wanted a golf course that forced the player to use the majority of clubs in the bag and, of course, be a good, complete test of golf. It takes a good player to win on that type of layout, and it takes a good player to win majors. So we hope there are some similarities."
Interestingly, the 67 major titles are distributed rather evenly between the four major championships. The Masters Tournament is last with 15 titles. The U.S. Open Championship leads the way with 19, while the Open Championship represents 16 and the PGA Championship sits at 17.
The Memorial annually draws one of the strongest fields in golf. The 2013 contingent was no exception, featuring seven of the top-10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, including, in order the top 6 of Woods (reigning and five-time winner), Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Rose, Brandt Snedeker, and Luke Donald.
Additionally, 2013 saw 21 past major champions competing, not only for a coveted victory in one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments, but also for a prize found nowhere else, a congratulatory handshake from Nicklaus himself. Ultimately, it was Matt Kuchar, who has yet to win his first major, who finished atop the leaderboard.
If history is any guide, Kuchar’s chances of capturing a major championship during his career are better than average.