Memorial Tournament betting market and overview
It's cliche week on the PGA Tour as we hit "Jack's Place" for what is renowned as the stereotypical "second shot track". Destination Muirfield Village and Memorial - one of the best courses and events outside of the majors. Looking at the market, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was indeed a major. Everyone wants to win Jack's tournament and with Oakmont and it's super-fast greens looming for the US Open, it's also a great test ahead of the 2nd major of the year. Add to that the fact the prize money here has increased further to 8.5 million dollars, and all the big boys are in play.
Yes, we get to see the big three - Jordan Spieth 8.00, Rory McIlroy 8.00 and Jason Day - 7.00 – line-up against one another in a non-major and what's more, each of the trio comes here on the back of a win in their last start. Dustin Johnson - 23.00, Bubba Watson - 29.00 and Rickie Fowler - 23.00 - candidates for the 'big 6' all tee it up. One big absentee is course specialist and former champion Justin Rose as he rests a back injury in order to be right for the US Open.
Course Features and Premiums - Muirfield Village - Par 72, 7,392 yards
A buzz phrase you'll hear this week is "short side" and the defence of Muirfield Village is on and around the greens. I'm getting old as it was Kenny Perry I remember as first describing Muirfield Village as what is now renowned as a "second shot course", where approaches into small, super-fast greens surrounded by penal rough and bunkering need to be intelligently thought out. Kenny had an excellent record here incorporating multiple wins and was a big drawer of the golf ball. "Proximity to the hole” will be another buzz phrase important this week. Those with a high ball flight will be at an advantage (Justin Rose has an outstanding record here) and keeping yourself under the pin is hugely important.
Course specialist Matt Kuchar describes the surfaces as the fastest on Tour from above the hole. Short siding yourself will more often than not cost you at least a shot as it's impossible to get close to some of the pin positions from poor misses. "Jack's place" is annually ranked amongst the tougher courses on the PGA Tour circuit but with Jack Nicklaus designs, there's a little room for manoeuvre off the tee despite tree-lined, lush terrain at Muirfield village. Par 5 scoring is always a player here.
Memorial Tournament best betting tips
If it's a winner rather than undisputed value you're after then Hideki Matsuyama - 18.00 or 4.00 - looks a good bet to challenge the big 3 this week in my opinion. Hideki ranked 1st for proximity to the hole when he won here in 2014 and that was key in a strong all round performance for the Japanese on a track that tests most compartments of the game. He ranked 5th in that stat for that whole year. There's a new stat out now: Strokes gained: Approach-The-Green, and unsurprisingly the Japanese ball striking machine sits 3rd in that, and 5th overall from tee to green in 2016. It's no coincidence that Matsuyama also won the Phoenix Open where total driving and proximity are vital. His last three appearances read T7 at The Masters, T11 at Wells Fargo and T7 at Sawgrass. He was 5th last year on defence at Memorial.
At Memorial, the form figures read 13-10-5-8-2-1-15- 26 for Matt Kuchar - 26.00 or 6.00 - who has begun to hit first gear in the run up to Oakmont where I fancy him to go well. Kuchar is a course specialist at Memorial for all the reasons I like him for Oakmont: His course management is second to none and he knows where to play to at Muirfield Village, even if it's away from the pin. Kuch's scrambling / putting on fast greens is where he excels and he's more than efficient with the wedge. The American currently sits 23rd in putting average and 26th in scrambling. He's 3rd in scoring average and comes to the Memorial Tournament off the back of three top 6 finishes including two 3rds. Smart play is the key for Kuch who (as mentioned above) says the greens at Memorial are the fastest he's played from above the hole and he's very wary of leaving his shots under the cup and avoiding the "shortside".
Kevin Chappell - 51.00 or 11.00 - has been in fine form of late and he has previous at Jack's place having been the one to chase Matt Kuchar home in 2013. I said it last year and It's still a very vivid performance for me given I was on Kuchar and how Chappell coped with the course and being in contention, chasing him down that week. Chappell fired a bogey free 68 on the Sunday. He mc'd at Colonial on the number shooting 68-74 which should only have served to inflate his price. Prior to that he was 2nd at The Players Championship and also runner up at the Arnold Palmer and 4th at Valero. He sits 6th in Strokes gained: approach-to-green in 2016, and led the strokes gained tee to green stat at the Players Championship.