By Mark Lamport-Stokes
DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) - World number four Phil Mickelson cannot pinpoint exactly why but he has generally failed to flourish at the Memorial tournament despite his love of the undulating Muirfield Village layout.
In 11 appearances at the event since 1991, the American left-hander has recorded only three top-10s while he missed the cut in 1998 and withdrew with a wrist injury after 11 holes in 2007.
"Since I have played this course in 1986 in the U.S. junior, I've always been fond of coming here," Mickelson told reporters at a sun-splashed Muirfield Village on Wednesday.
"And it's funny how I have not played as well in this event as I would have liked. It feels a lot like Riviera (Country Club in Los Angeles) to me. I loved Riviera early in my career and never played well there.
"For whatever reason, it clicked at Riviera and I started playing well and won it a couple times. I'd love to win Jack's tournament. This is a special tournament."
Riviera was one of very few PGA Tour venues on the West Coast where Mickelson had failed to win until he posted successive victories there in 2008 and 2009.
The Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, always attracts one of the strongest fields on the PGA Tour and it is surprising that Mickelson, a 39-times champion on the U.S. circuit, has never triumphed here.
"This course is just a terrific course, one of the better ones we play," the 40-year-old said while preparing for Thursday's opening round at the Memorial.
"I'm hoping that it clicks and I play as well on this course as I know I can. I just haven't done it yet."
Asked to explain why his game had generally never "clicked" at Memorial, Mickelson replied: "I feel like I've kind of forced it.
"At times, when the course has been soft and there's been rain and there's been a lot of low scores, I kind of force the round.
"And it's been tough for me to adjust when it's been playing tough ... where you think that six, seven under par is what you need to shoot and then there's times where if you shoot even par, one or two under, you make up a lot of ground.
"It's been difficult for me to adjust scoring-wise on the conditions," added Mickelson, a four-times major champion.
The American, whose best Memorial finish was a tie for fourth in 2006, will play the first two rounds at Muirfield Village in the company of British world number one Luke Donald and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
(Editing by Julian Linden)