by Jeff Skinner
The PGA Tour picks it up a notch as they travel to Dublin, Ohio and Jack Nicklaus’ baby The Memorial. Jack’s own creation, The Muirfield Village Golf Course is his tribute to Augusta National and he runs his tournament with a “Masters-Like” atmosphere.
The Memorial is one of those select few tournaments that are just a notch below the major championships. This year’s field is one of the best of the season as the top six players and ten of the top fifteen in the Official World Golf Rankings will be teeing it up. Any tournament with Tiger and Rory in it always has an extra buzz.
One of the many aspects that makes The Memorial a special week is Jack’s tradition of selecting an “Honoree” each year to reward that person for their contributions to the game.
“The Memorial Tournament is themed each year around a person, living or dead, who has contributed to the game of golf. This was Jack Nicklaus’ idea as a contribution to perpetuating achievements of the game’s greatest individuals. The honoree is selected by the Captain’s Club, a group of statesmen who act independently of the tournament organization, but who also advise on player invitations and the conduct of the event generally.”
This year’s honoree is Jack’s old friend and rival Raymond Floyd who battled Jack for years. Floyd is a Hall of Famer with 22 PGA Tour wins including a U.S. Open, Masters and two PGA Championships. Floyd and Sam Snead are the only two players to win PGA Tour events in four different decades.
From The Memorial’s website,” The bigger wins stay with you. The ones you had to work for are the ones that give you the most satisfaction,” Floyd said five years ago, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his victory at Muirfield Village Golf Club. “I can tell you this: nothing was ever easy for me in Jack’s tournament.”
Floyd, a native of Fort Bragg, N.C., was never easy to beat. In a career that spanned four decades, Floyd was a perennial contender due to his superb short game and mental toughness. He is widely considered one of the greatest chippers to ever play the game.
“Raymond’s short game was simply tremendous,” said Memorial Tournament founder and host Jack Nicklaus. “He always got the most of out a round because of it.”
Known for “the stare” and his love of having a good time, Floyd’s signature moment came at the 1986 U.S. Open with his emotional win at Shinnecock Hills at 44 years old, making him the oldest Open winner at the time.