It has been a long time since the PGA Tour played consecutive events at the same course. August 1957 to be exact. It has also been a long time since a pandemic effectively shut down the world, but 2020 has certainly been full of surprises. Most of them have been bad, but if we saw in the Workday Charity Open is any indication of what we will see in the Memorial Tournament, we are in for a really good weekend.
Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, and Viktor Hovland wound up going flag hunting together in the final group on Sunday at Muirfield Village and Morikawa outlasted Thomas on the second playoff hole. We knew all along that this would be an event for ball strikers and three of the game’s best were there at the end.
Now we’ll see what Muirfield Village has in store for the Memorial, as the rough is expected to be more penal, pin placements are expected to be tougher, and the course will be lengthened with the tee boxes moved back.
This week, we’ll pull our odds from MyBookie Sportsbook to change things up and to also offer a better sportsbook option. MyBookie has a lower theoretical hold than 5Dimes, so we’ll probably just go ahead and use them going forward. They are a better sportsbook for betting on golf. Odds for all players are at the bottom of the article.
Most of the same players that we saw last week for the Workday Charity Open will just stick around in the Columbus area or will simply return in a few days, given that they already got quite a bit of practice on the course. We do have a handful of big names that did not play last week back in the field this week.
The most notable is 10/1 favorite Bryson DeChambeau. Co-third favorite Rory McIlroy is 14/1 and also back in the fray this week. Webb Simpson skipped last week and he’ll be back out there at +2800. Charles Schwab Challenge winner Daniel Berger is also back in the mix at 40/1 and so is Abraham Ancer at +5000.
Arguably the most notable name in the field is Tiger Woods, who will participate in his first event since the PGA Tour returned for the Charles Schwab. He is +2800.
Fans will not be on hand. Originally, 8,000 fans were expected to be allowed to enter the grounds, but COVID-19 spikes in Franklin County put a stop to that a couple weeks ago. While an expansion of people at the course won’t happen with fans, it has happened with the field, as this event has expanded to accommodate 133 players instead of the usual 120 as an Invitational event.
Twenty-six of the top 30 from last year’s championship event are going for a piece of the $9.3 million purse this week.
We saw some of those old elements of Muirfield Village come into play, as hitters found hazards and the greens got a little feistier on Sunday. We also saw a winning score of 19-under, which is the same number that Patrick Cantlay posted in his win last year. Cantlay’s 19-under was the highest winning score since Tiger won with that number in 2000. The best winning score ever was Tom Lehman’s 268 back in 1994. His 20-under was good enough to win by five shots.
The course generally plays around 7,400-7,450 yards, but it wouldn’t be a total stunner to see it play closer to 7,500 or more this week with some modifications. Some holes may also be shortened, including some drivable par 4s.
It is hard to know how much having played last week will help with playing this week, given that a lot of things will be different in terms of pin placements and tee boxes. The rough will also be more penal, so maybe that helps more accurate drivers.
Yay or Neigh?
Our horse for course section didn’t really uncover too many great finishers last week. Hideki Matsuyama (+2500) tied for 22nd because his putting once again failed him. Byeong Hun An (+11000) missed the cut. Jason Dufner (+25000) never got going. Emiliano Grillo (+20000) also missed the cut.
Course history is more about finding the styles of play that fit the course than it is guys that have had success. Guys like Kevin Streelman (+7000) have played well here and we did tip him at +6600 last week. He gave a game effort.
Guys like Patrick Cantlay (+1400) play well just about everywhere, so is it really worth it to harp on his performances at Muirfield?
One guy we did isolate was Matt Kuchar, who tied for 39th. You’re getting a pretty good 70/1 number on Kuchar this week. He has a win, six top-10 finishes, and two more top-15 finishes at Muirfield Village since 2008. He wasn’t great last week, especially on approach, but he rolled his putts fairly well. Putting actually became a big part of the equation on Sunday.
Two guys that have good course histories that missed the cut are Marc Leishman (+7000), who has four top-15 finishes here in the last five years, and Jordan Spieth (+7000), who has three. They both got an early start on the weekend. Justin Rose (+5000) also has had a lot of success at Muirfield, but he shot 10-over with a disastrous tee-to-green performance.
This is Jason Day’s home course, as he has adopted the Columbus area as his US home because of his wife. He’s a member and broke from his recent form to have his best result in a while. That will likely pull some people in at 66/1, but it may be fool’s gold.
Ball. Striking. Thomas led the field in SG, but was outlasted by Morikawa (+2200), who was second, in the playoff. Viktor Hovland (+2200) was third, as his SG: Approach actually struggled some, but he paced the field in SG: Tee-to-Green. You aren’t going to believe this, but it was the putter that again failed Hovland.
This week, we’ll take a look at Xander Schauffele at +2800. Schauffele actually putted really well last week to make up for an uncharacteristically weak week in the SG: T2G department. He struggled to scramble and also wasn’t at his best off the tee. He did roll his putts well and was 13th in SG: Approach, which is a really key metric at this event.
In last year’s Memorial, the top 10 in SG: Approach featured seven top-10 finishers. Intererstingly, Keegan Bradley and CT Pan led the field last week, but finished 39th and 48th, respectively. Morikawa and Thomas were third and fourth. Pan was awful off the tee and Bradley couldn’t putt it into an open sewer.
SG: Approach is the most important metric, but that doesn’t mean you can do other things poorly.
Take Troy Merritt at +22500. Last week, he was merely average off the tee and on the green. He was fifth in SG: Approach, but finished outside the top 20. Last year in the Memorial, he was third in SG: Approach and finished 17th because of his putting.
The goal here is to isolate guys that will do well in SG: Approach, but not actively cripple themselves elsewhere. That is why Matsuyama has burned so much money in his career. He can’t putt. Hovland is going down that road, too, though he should be a factor again this week at +2200. Corey Conners (+11000) is also in that same breath.
That is why Schauffele is up there at 28/1. Quietly, Rickie Fowler struck it well last week at +4000. He was 13th in SG: T2G per DataGolf. He just didn’t putt well enough to be a factor. Rickie’s burned up a lot of money in his career, but this isn’t a bad spot to play him. He was top-15 in this event last year.
The three outrights this week will be Schauffele, Fowler, and Merritt as the super long shot price. Hovland is probably going to be in the hunt again, so I couldn’t argue with anybody taking him at +2200. Quite frankly, Morikawa could win again at that price, but those are my three picks.
Look for some of the other guys that we’ve discussed in matchups and group play.
Odds from MyBookie Sportsbook as of July 13, 1 p.m. ET:
|BYEONG HUN AN||+11000|
|J T POSTON||+11000|
|HAROLD VARNER III||+15000|
|ERIK VAN ROOYEN||+16000|
|RAFAEL CABRERA BELLO||+17500|
|CHARLES HOWELL III||+25000|
|SI WOO KIM||+25000|
|C T PAN||+40000|
|K J CHOI||+75000|