Jack Nicklaus critical of players withdrawing from events
Hideki Matsuyama hopes a return to Muirfield Village will inspire better form
Hideki Matsuyama: “Coming back to Muirfield Village, there are some special vibes here and hopefully that will encourage me to play much better.” Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Six of the world’s top 10 are in the field for this weekend’s Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, but world number two Rory McIlroy is absent with a rib injury and 2010 winner Justin Rose was a late withdrawal on Sunday as he focuses on the upcoming US Open.
Tournament host Jack Nicklaus said McIlroy had texted him to explain and that he could sympathise, but contrasted the number of withdrawals now with those during his era with Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
“You think I had any injuries when I played? Do you think Arnold had any injuries when he played? Do you think Gary had any injuries when he played? How many tournaments do you think that we entered that we withdrew from during the course of our career?” Nicklaus said.
The 18-time Major winner put his forefinger to his thumb to signal zero.
“Never entered if I wasn’t going to play,” Nicklaus said. “We played through it. We had a ton of injuries and I played through it.
“But that’s sort of the norm today. And the guys, they’ve all got . . . I made my own decisions. I didn’t have an entourage. I didn’t have a fitness trainer. I didn’t have a nutritionist, whatever you all have, somebody to cut my toenails in the morning. I didn’t have any of that. I did that myself.
“I think that entourage helps make that decision for the player, telling them, ‘We think physically this is probably not right for you to play’. And that’s what their job is.”
Former champion Hideki Matsuyama is hoping a return to the site of his first PGA Tour victory will help him rediscover the scintillating golf he produced at the end of 2016.
After finishing fifth in the Tour Championship last season, Matsuyama won four of his next six events and was runner-up in the other two, with three of the wins coming in succession in China, Japan and the Bahamas.
Matsuyama then claimed his fourth PGA Tour title in a playoff in Phoenix in February and, although he has missed just one halfway cut in 2017, the 25-year-old has not been happy with his form since.
“It has been an up-and-down year,” said the world number four. “Hopefully I’m on the upswing, but to be honest my swing isn’t where I’d like it to be and I’m not putting very well.
“But coming back to Muirfield Village, there are some special vibes here and hopefully that will encourage me to play much better than I have been the last couple of months.”
Pádraig Harrington and Shane Lowry are the two Irish players in action while Paul Dunne, Michael Hoey and Gary Hurley tee it up at the Nordea Masters on the European tour.