By Ron Patey

With the next major only a few weeks away, the PGA Tour rolls into Dublin, Ohio for this year’s Memorial Tournament. Golf’s top players will be fine-tuning their skills at the Muirfield Village Golf Club, in the lead up to the U.S. Open.

CBS Sports golf analyst and six-time major champion, Sir Nick Faldo, 57, is this year’s Memorial Tournament Honoree. Faldo discusses the award, his change of heart about ending his playing career at this year’s British Open and Phil and possible contenders at Jack Nicklaus’s tournament.

What was your reaction when informed you were to be the honoree for the Memorial Tournament, and what does it mean to you?

It’s one of life’s circles, as I call them. Jack was the man that I watched on television 44 years ago; he inspired me to play golf. I was looking for a sport and didn’t know anything about golf really. Watching on the BBC is another circle, because I didn’t realize then that the broadcast was being beamed over by CBS. And now here I am, years later, working for CBS. It’s quite amazing that the man who inspired me to play — and is the game’s greatest player ever — gave me this honor. So it’s obviously very special.

Why have you changed your mind about St. Andrews being your last British Open Championship as a competitor this July?

The reason why — and I wanted to be honest about this — is I’m a big believer in keeping going. Recently, I realized that the British Open was the first tournament I went to and is where I met Jack in 1976. However, it will definitely be my last walk over the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews. I’m going to keep myself fit and strong, and it’s always great as a golfer to keep playing, I’ll do so until I’m 60 at Royal Birkdale.

Check out other golf expert interviews.

Who are your sleeper picks to surprise this week?

Chris Kirk, who won a couple of weeks ago and is playing well, should be a factor. Justin Thomas, who is a slip of a lad at 145 pounds, is right there. Once he gets over the curve and learns how to win, that will be big for him. He’s definitely one to watch.

Do you think last year’s winner Hideki Matsuyama has shown enough this year to repeat as the Memorial’s champion?

He’s played consistently well this year, hasn’t he. So I’d expect him to be in there again this week.

Which holes pose the biggest challenges at Muirfield Village Golf Club?

The par threes (4, 8, 12 and 16), like many courses, really test you and so can the short par fours (9 and 14). They’re really tough and very tricky, because you can’t get at them easily. If you get on the wrong side, it’s hard to get up and down; and 18 is a big finish. The players will be hitting into a slip of green that is heavily bunkered.

Will Hideki Matsuyama repeat last year’s success? Is Tiger going to reemerge to his dominant form? Tune in to the 2015 Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament on CBS to find out.

Ron Patey covered the golf industry for 21 years as a special sections editor with Sun Media. During the past five years, Patey has been a golf writer for Examiner.com.

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