The Workflow Charity Open provided an intense final Sunday duel between Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa with ultimately Morikawa coming out on top on the third playoff hole. We find ourselves in a unique situation where the tournament was played on the same course that the golfers will take on this coming week. The PGA Tour stays at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio for The Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus. As is typically the case, it is joined by a star-studded field of golfers. However, the course will have a few very specific differences from last week that we will touch on later.
The majority of the top golfers in the world will be in attendance this weekend. The field features nine of the top ten golfers in the official world golf rankings including world number one Rory McIlroy, last week’s runner up Justin Thomas, and arguably the most talked-about golfer on tour Bryson DeChambeau. Other golfers of note competing are Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, and Webb Simpson.
Also joining them will be the 2019 Memorial Tournament champ, Patrick Cantlay.
But let’s not bury the lead. The main thing on everyone’s mind this week is it will be the return of Tiger Woods, who has not played since the tour shut down back in March. The last time we saw him on the course was in February at Riviera Country Club. More on him in a little bit.
Muirfield Village is a par 72 course that is just under 7400 yards in length. It has tree lined fairways, an above average amount of greenside bunkers, and water in play on 11 of the 18 holes. The greens are made of bent grass and run at a faster speed than most courses on tour. They are also smaller in size which puts an emphasis on Approach and Around the Green play. The rough is fairly long in length which makes finding the fairway that much more important; more so than length off the tee.
They have already announced that the major difference this week from last is that the rough will be longer in length, the greens will be faster, and the tee boxes will be adjusted from their previous positions. Precision in all aspects of the game will be key to finding success and shaking Jack’s hand with the trophy late Sunday afternoon.
Stats that I will be looking at for this week are:
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Around the Green
- Sand Saves
- Par 4s: 400-450 yards
- Proximity from 150-175 yards
Tiger Woods +2200
He needs his own section. He’s the man. And he’s back. There really is no way for us to know what his golf game currently looks like, but when Tiger hits the course all eyes will be on him. As mentioned above, the last time he played was at the Hyundai Invitational at Riviera Country Club back in February. He finished 68th and lost strokes in all the major categories, including losing an asstounding 8 strokes putting. This may seem troublesome but for the greatest golfer of all time, all it takes is a couple rounds to get back in form. Last year, he didn’t play from August until October and, of course, won his first tournament back. And if anyone was watching “The Match” back in May where he was partnered with Peyton Manning, his ball striking appeared to be strong and he drove the ball confidently.
This may be the highest outright odds we will see on Tiger this year if his game looks sharp. Feel free to take advantage of the 22/1 if you choose but I will be staying away until we get a better look at his form. That won’t stop me from cheering for him though. Tiger back is good for golf and the PGA Tour.
High end value
Patrick Cantlay +1400
While everyone was focused on the head-to-head battle this past Sunday between Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay was on the other side of the course making a run up near the top of the leaderboard. Cantlay struggled the first two rounds of the event but finished the final round 2nd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach and gained 5.8 strokes total for the day. In his two tournaments since the return of golf he has finished 11th and 7th respectively.
Bent grass is also his preferred putting surface. Over the past 24 rounds on bent grass, he has gained 12.1 strokes; far better than he performs on other putting surfaces. For bent grass specific courses, Cantlay ranks 7th in the field in scoring on par 4s from 400-450 yards and 1st in overall par 4 scoring. Last year’s defending champ also finished 7th here in 2018. He’s got the right stats, he finished strong this past weekend, and has great course history at Muirfield. Typically I don’t like to dip under +2000 on golf futures but Cantlay looks like a great option for starting the card with this week.
Hideki Matsuyama +2500
It is equally as enjoyable as it is upsetting to target ultimate ball strikers who can’t seem to make a putt. In the past 4 events, Hideki has gained an astonishing 4.4 strokes on Approach and 6.3 strokes Tee to Green. He has also gained strokes around the green in six of his last nine events. In his last five times competing in The Memorial, he has only missed the cut once and has posted two top 10 finishes along with a 13th.
But then there is also this part of the game known as putting. It tends to be important and anyone who has bet Hideki in the past knows how frustrating it can be to watch him put on a ball striking exhibition and then miss every putt outside of five feet. But let’s look into it a little closer. The chart below shows the percentage of putts made on each specific green surface throughout the past 12 months.
Bent is by far his preferred green type. If there was ever a time for Hideki to roll some in, it could be this weekend at Memorial. Pair that with his strong course history and it is reason enough for me to take him at 25/1.
Mid tier value
Daniel Berger +4000
It might seem strange that with all of these high profile, top ranked golfers in the world I am taking the time to write about Daniel Berger. I would agree that it is in fact strange. But nothing surprises me anymore and when looking into the numbers, he is as good of a bet as anyone. Dating back to February, he has finished inside the top 10 in all of his past five starts, including a win in June at the Charles Schwab.
Below are his Strokes Gained metrics over that time frame and it is truly impressive.
|Date||Pos||Event||SG: Total||SG: T2G||SG: OTT||SG: APP||SG: ARG|
When a golfer appears to have found something in their game, and Berger seems to have done just that, you ride the hot hand as far as it can go. I’m in on Berger at 40/1.
Rickie Fowler +4000
One of the most popular golfers on tour took his normal position on Sunday; sitting next to the 18th green watching one of his friends compete for the title. For having so much talent, Fowler certainly does struggle to find the winner’s circle on tour. He did post a respectable 22nd place finish this past week, and did that while losing 2.1 strokes on approach. This is the first time in the past 7 events that he has actually lost on approach. To me, that says positive regression is due.
Fowler has finished inside the top 14 each of his last three trips to Muirfield for the Memorial. I must admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for Fowler but if the irons come together and he keeps striping it off the tee, a win is not too far away. Potentially at a course he has a solid history. Hopefully it’s this week at 40/1.
Kevin Na +12500
In Kevin Na’s last start he posted a top 5 finish at The Travelers. This was one week after he was forced to withdraw due to a back injury the week prior. It was a good sign that he bounced back so well showing that he is clearly healthy and the game is strong. When he gets it rolling, he is one of the top putters in the game so all it takes is to get the irons hot and he tends to find his way to the top of leaderboards. He’s not the furthest off the tee but he is typically near to lead when it comes to finding the fairways, which is crucial when it comes to being successful at Muirfield. If he can keep gaining strokes on approach, Na could be poised to be in contention come Sunday. And that is enough for me to take a flier on him at 125/1.
Max Homa +17500
Once we dive this deep down the board we are looking for any sign that a golfer has winning upside. Simply put, this number is too deep for a guy who won on tour in 2019. When it comes to Max Homa, he is a premier ball striker posting positive Strokes Gained: Approach numbers every week since January. He has missed 3 of the last 4 cuts but two of them were on the number and the other was by only two strokes. Before the tour froze in March, Homa had finished in the top 10 three out of five weeks played. He does struggle with the flat stick but his irons are strong enough to make up for the issues in putting. 175/1 is worth a shot that he will sink a few more putts this week than he did last. I will also be looking for top 5 and 10 bets for him as well.
I will typically have a few other plays as we move closer to Thursday once we see some line movement but this is the initial core group I am looking to start my card with. Follow me on Twitter at @sommbets5 to see updates to the card as the week progresses or just to chat about some golf.