MAIN CANDIDATES

TIGER WOODS
 
I never thought I would write this ahead of the Memorial, but I couldn’t even consider backing Tiger at 7/1. He loves this place, winning four times this century including after a trademark astonishing finish last year. However, the Tiger we’ve seen so far this year is a different animal altogether. Even assuming his neck injury is repaired, there’s no good reason to think Woods will suddenly start hitting fairways again. Unless that area of his game improves markedly on recent efforts, he’s highly unlikely to win here.
 
PHIL MICKELSON
 
Surprisingly, Mickelson is yet to win at Memorial. He has made the top 20 on his last four visits, but has only once registered a top-five finish here. Though his wider 2010 form is much better than Tiger’s, a similar concern about Phil’s driving accuracy makes him easy to oppose.
 
JIM FURYK
 
Even accounting for disappointments in his last two events, I’d much rather have Furyk here than the big two. Besides winning in 2002, Jim has gone close several times at the Memorial, including finishing an unlucky second last year when carrying this column’s cash. Needless to say, he made the short-list again.
 
KENNY PERRY
 
Another Memorial specialist who must come in for serious consideration. Perry has two titles and five top-seven finishes here this century, and looks to be finding his touch after a poor first half of the season. Perry ranked second for greens in regulation at Colonial, in what was his third straight top-25 finish.
 
ERNIE ELS
 
As a former course winner with nine top 20s to his name here, and Fedex Cup leader, Els will have his supporters. I won’t be one of them, however, as I remain of the view that while Ernie retains his class, his two titles this year rather flatter a less convincing wider picture.