If there is such a thing as a "mini-major" on the PGA Tour, this week's Memorial Tournament is it.
The Memorial is played at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, home to none other than the Golden Bear, Mr. Jack Nicklaus.
If you've ever been to the Memorial, you know it has a Masters-like feel -- everything from the white jumpsuits for the caddies, to the stunningly manicured grounds with not a blade of grass out of place.
Muirfield Village is the only course to have hosted a Ryder Cup (1987), a Solheim Cup (1998) and a Presidents Cup (2013). It's a big-time venue.
Not surprisingly, this big-time venue also has a list of big-name champions: Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose, just to name a few.
Here are the five players I'll be keeping a close eye on this week at Jack's place.
5. Tiger Woods
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T17 at the Masters
Reason to watch: I'll be the first to admit that Tiger hasn't shown me anything lately that would suggest he's ready to contend again. That said, no one has been more dominant at the Memorial than Woods, who has a tournament-best five victories, the latest coming in 2012. I don't think Tiger will ever again be the insanely dominant Tiger we once knew. That said, I do think he's got some great golf left in him. Given his track record at Muirfield Village, this seems as good a place as any for Tiger to get the train back on the track. Surely Tiger would love nothing more than to gain some much needed confidence in his final event before the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in two weeks, which he was scouting out early this week.
4. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T2 at Humana Challenge
Reason to watch: Over the past several years, Kuchar has been a top-10 machine. For most players, the three top-10 finishes in 15 starts this season -- including a T2 and a third -- would be pretty good. Not for Kuchar though. Outside of a fifth-place showing at the RBC Heritage, Kuchar has been in a funk since the beginning of April. His last three starts look like this: T34 at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship; Missed cut at the Players Championship; T39 at the AT&T Byron Nelson. That's not what I expect from Kuchar. He's going to break out of his slump and I have a good feeling it could happen this week at Memorial, where he won in 2013 and was a runner-up in 2011. Dating back to 2007, Kuchar has played in every Memorial expect for 2012. His worst finish? A T15.
3. Justin Rose
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Reason to watch: This will be Rose's first PGA Tour start since a missed cut at the Players Championship (though he did play in the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour, where he finished T38 a couple of weeks ago). Rose rolled to a three-stroke victory at the 2010 Memorial. He's had two missed cuts and two top-8 finishes at Memorial since then. He's either really good, or not so hot at Muirfield Village. Coming off a missed cut a year ago, I think Rose will be trending toward one of those "really good" weeks.
2. Bill Haas
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Humana Challenge
Reason to watch: In his last two starts at Muirfield Village, Haas has finished T8 (2014) and T4 (2013). He also compiled a 2-2-1 record during the 2013 Presidents Cup. It should be noted as well that Haas will be more motivated than usual to rack up top finishes. He really wants to be a member of this year's U.S. Presidents Cup team, which will be captained by his father, Jay. He doesn't want to put dad in a position to have to use a captain's pick on his son... he wants to make the team outright. Haas is a consistent player and, as you can see by his on-course demeanor, he never gets too high or too low. That's important around a course like this.
1. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the WGC-Cadillac Championship
Reason to watch: It's been a very good season thus far for Johnson with six top-10s in 11 starts, highlighted by the win at Doral and the playoff loss at Riviera. His latest top-10 came just last week at the Byron Nelson, where he finished T8. Johnson has a few top-20 finishes at Memorial, the best of which was a T4 in 2011. Muirfield is a big park. Since Johnson is such a big hitter, you'd think it would be perfect for his game. He'll be in the mix come Sunday evening, grinding to snag his second victory of the season.
Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the Byron Nelson:
5. Ryan Palmer -- T10
4. Brandt Snedeker -- T6
3. Dustin Johnson -- T8
2. Jimmy Walker -- T2
1. Jordan Spieth -- T30