Last week’s field at the Charles Schwab Challenge was a downgrade from what we had been seeing on the PGA Tour. Fortunately, that was a short-lived development because we’ve got an excellent set of players on hand in Dublin, Ohio on the outskirts of Columbus for The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Country Club.
This is Jack Nicklaus’s tournament and it is played on a Jack Nicklaus design. The 79-year-old will once again be on hand and be the master of ceremonies as we inch closer to The Open Championship in just three weeks time.
Odds for this tournament are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and below the comment box for mobile viewers.
Locked and Loaded
This really is a loaded field. Masters champion Tiger Woods headlines the field, but Rory McIlroy headlines the betting board. Justin Thomas is back from a wrist injury that kept him out of the PGA Championship. Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, and Bryson DeChambeau are just some of the names on hand this week.
This is another one of the invitational tournaments, much like last week’s event at Colonial. The criteria isn’t all that strict and there are always players like Dustin Johnson that skip these events, but this field is limited to just 120 players.
McIlroy was the early-week favorite at +800, with Tiger, Rose, Thomas, and Spieth all checking in under 20/1. Day, Finau, Fowler, Cantlay, and Kuchar were in the +2000 crowd, with a lot of terrific players from +2200 to +3300. We’ll have to see how the odds move around as the week goes along, but there will be some popular players in that 33/1 range, including DeChambeau, who won this event last year.
All Jack’d Up
With a lot of rain in the Buckeye State, Jack’s course should be in beautiful condition. The winning score has been 15-under in three of the last four years and has not exceeded that mark since 2011 when Steve Stricker won at 16-under. I think that streak could be in jeopardy this week with some soft greens.
Muirfield Village is a really picturesque course. There are some streams and rivers that protect greens and line fairways, but the players will be taking aim at some big putting surfaces. Bunkers protect the front edges of some greens and penalize players that are long on approach. The par 3 12th is a gorgeous hole and the par 5s put players to a decision. Do they go for it with the driver or play it safer with a fairway wood?
This course has hosted the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, and Presidents Cup, so it is a legit diamond as far as golf courses go.
Variety is the Spice of Life
How about the winners and contenders we’ve had here. Bryson DeChambeau won last year in a playoff over Byeong Hun An and Kyle Stanley. Jason Dufner won by three shots in 2017. William McGirt won for the first time in 165 starts in a playoff over Jon Curran in 2016. David Lingmerth outlasted Justin Rose in 2015. Hideki Matsuyama topped Kevin Na in 2014. But then we’ve also had five wins from Tiger Woods, a win for Steve Stricker and Justin Rose, and three wins for Kenny Perry.
Going back to the mid-2000s, Carl Pettersson and Bart Bryant were winners here. The elitist of the elite have won here, but so have some lesser-known players. That speaks to how difficult this course can play. It was named after Muirfield, Scotland, so there are some hallmarks of links courses over in Europe.
Scouting the Field
Matt Kuchar has to be on your radar this week. Kuchar has 10 straight top-15 finishes at Muirfield Village, including a win back in 2013 and a runner-up in 2011. The same can be said for Justin Rose, who hasn’t won here since 2010, but has two runner-up finishes, most recently in 2015.
How about Rickie Fowler, who missed the cut last week at Colonial? Fowler has been eighth and second in his last two starts at Muirfield Village. He’s been almost as good here as McIlroy, but has 2.5 times the price this week. Fowler’s MC was a surprise, but he got the weekend off and still ranks top 15 in par 4 scoring and strokes gained putting and also ranks top 50 in strokes gained tee to green, strokes gained approach, and driving distance.
Similarly, Tony Finau has played well here. He’s been in the top 13 in three of his last four appearances near Columbus and was second last week at Colonial.
Those are all low prices. You can find some bigger prices worth considering, like Gary Woodland at 33/1. Woodland had a top-five back in 2016 and has been very consistent all season long. He skipped last week’s event as well, so he’s well-rested.
As far as balloon prices go, this is probably a good time to get back on Jason Kokrak. Kokrak had a much needed week off last week. He entered the PGA Championship in the top 40 in driving distance, par 4 scoring, strokes gained tee to green, off the tee, and on approach. Putting and chipping had been a problem for Kokrak, but it’s safe to say he probably spent his week off working on that. At 70/1 with the stronger field, his stat profile suggests a lower price.
Similar to Kokrak, Luke List at 80/1 looks good. List just hasn’t had that breakthrough win, but he’s played very well. With a par 72 this week, we’re back to four par 5 holes. List went into the PGA Championship third in driving distance, eighth in par 5 scoring, and in the top 25 in strokes gained tee to green and off the tee. Like Kokrak, putting has been his Achilles heel. He also had last week off, so it’s a good time to get back on him.
Kokrak and List make the cut among the longer shots. I’d also look at Finau and Woodland this week. One of the low prices may win, but this has been an event with a wide range of outcomes and winners. Another mid-range shot to consider is Marc Leishman at 60/1, as he has three top-15 finishes in the last four events here. Don’t be afraid to take some shots on some prices this week.