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Kuchar captured the 2013 Memorial by two shots over Kevin Chappell and likes his odds at a repeat.

“I feel optimistic about my chances,” said Kuchar, behind only Woods in terms of scoring average in tournament history. “This course has been really good to me - one of my favorite places. I’ve had great success in the past and feel the state of my game is still pretty good.”

Scott ascended to the top spot in the world rankings and then solidified his position by winning last week, beating Jason Dufner in a playoff at the Colonial.

“I just had a random lunch with Luke Donald and he made a comment something like, ‘It feels pretty good up there’ or something like that,” Scott said. “And for sure it does. The feeling for me is I’m motivated to work hard and try to stay there for a little bit.”

Mickelson does not have a glittering history at Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village - just two top-fives in 13 starts - but is coming off a two-week respite at home where he’s worked on his game and tried to get in the proper mindset for the U.S. Open in two weeks at Pinehurst.

“I’m not worried about results as much as I am getting the game sharp,” said Mickelson, needing only a U.S. Open title to complete a personal Grand Slam. “But I do think the results are going to come if I just play well. I’m not worried about finishing first or second or top 10 or what have you, but building momentum, building confidence in my game over the next couple of weeks.”

Watson, like Mickelson also a lefty, has not played well at the Memorial. He’s never finished higher than two ties for 23rd in his eight starts. But that doesn’t mean he’s conceding anything.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a real high finish, but I look forward to the challenge,” the two-time Masters champion said. “Hopefully, now that I’m playing a little bit better, it’ll show on Sunday afternoon.”

McIlroy won on the European PGA Tour last week at Wentworth in the wake of the breakup of his engagement with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. He declined to discuss details of the separation on Wednesday.

Everyone, of course, is chasing the $1.1 million first-place check and the congratulatory handshake from Nicklaus on the 18th green. But everyone also is looking ahead to Pinehurst.

“It was really nice to get that win last weekend,” McIlroy said. “It gives me some confidence coming into here - and obviously the U.S. Open in a couple weeks’ time.”


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