The Memorial Tournament
It was undoubtedly a fantastic display from Justin Rose at the Fort Worth Invitational but it was a disappointing week from our end of things.
None of our main team got going at all and it was all downhill after Zach Johnson eagled the first hole on Thursday!
So let’s move on…
The PGA Tour has now finished it’s stint in Texas and it is now full steam ahead in to US Open ‘build up mode’.
After a journey of about 30 miles between stops over the past two weeks players who were in Fort Worth last weekend will be using up their air miles this week [or getting their private jets on the runway] as the tour this week heads nearly 1100 miles North East wards to Dublin, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament.
The event was founded in 1976 by Jack Nicklaus and is played on the Nicklaus designed course at the Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Similarly to last weeks event at Fort Worth the Memorial is an invitational event made up of a field of about 120 players.
As is normally the case when the tour heads to ‘Jack’s place’ we have a stellar line up on show this week and teeing it up are Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, JT, DJ, Spieth, Fowler, last weeks winner Justin Rose and five time Memorial winner Tiger Woods amongst others.
Muirfield Village is a Par 72 measuring at just over 7350 yards.
The greens are Bent Grass.
Muirfield Village is seen as a classical test. Approach play is key as it is imperative to find the correct part of the undulating greens, which can run up to 13 on the stimpmeter.
With a bit more room of the tee compared to some recent courses that have been played, such as Colonial and TPC Sawgrass, Muirfield Village is basically a 'second shot and in' course.
Although plenty of birdies are available particularly on the par 5s there is also a lot of danger lurking with water in play on more than half of the holes, and historically thick rough around the greens.
The closing stretch of the course 16 through 18 is historically the toughest.
The Par 5s is where you make your score at Muirfield Village with all four Par 5s playing under Par year in year out.
I would therefore see Par 5 scoring as a key stat to look at.
I would also suggest that form on other Nicklaus courses is worth taking in to consideration and one fact that stands out is that last years winner Jason Dufner is a past winner at the CareerBuilder which uses a Nicklaus course. Similarly David Lingmerth who won here in 2015 has also come close at the CareerBuilder [when losing to Dufner in a playoff].
As you would expect for a tournament that tends to attract a high quality field Memorial is normally won by a ‘bigger named’ player and over the past ten years we have seen wins for Tiger x 2, Rose, Dufner, Matsuyama, Kuchar, Stricker and Kenny Perry [back when he was a force!].
It’s worth saying though that whilst this list is of course high quality with the exception of Tiger it is noticeable that there haven’t really been wins for top 5 players such as DJ, Day, Spieth, Rory, Rickie etc over the last few years [Rose wasn’t at the level he is now when he won] and this could be down to the events closeness to the US Open.
In addition you can see a real shock here and we had two of them in back to back years in 2015 & 2016 when David Lingmerth and Will McGirt went home with the trophy.
Whilst past course form is never a minus it does not appear to be a requisite here. In fact the last four winners Dufner, McGirt, Lingmerth and Matsuyama had a best place finish of 19th between them in ten previous starts. [Hideki was making his course debut.] So don’t be put of if the man you have a hunch for has not done much here before.
As always the winning score is influenced by the elements. We have seen a low of -18 from Justin Rose in 2010 and a high of -8 from Kenny Perry in 2008.
For the last four years though we have seen two winning scores of -15 and two of -13.
We also have to back to 2011 when Steve Stricker won to find a winner who managed all four rounds in the 60s.
It looks like we could be in for the kind of week we have often seen at Muirfield Village over the years….Warm temperatures, sunshine and the possibility of a thunderstorm or two.
There is also the possibility of a storm on Wednesday and if this does materialize we’ll potentially have a softer course there for the taking on day 1.
The wind could be a bit of a factor through the week blowing fairly consistently at 10-15 MPH for the first three days. There is then the possibility for 20mph + gusts on Sunday.
I have gone with five players this week as follows;
RYAN MOORE – 70 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 13th
I have been on Moore a couple of times already this year and he has proved incredibly frustrating however I make no apologies for putting him up again this week.
Basically the weeks when based on his solid form coming in, meeting previous course form, you would have expected him to produce he has flopped, whilst weeks you wouldn’t necessarily have expected as much he has produced.
The most recent instance of the above with us being on him was at Quail Hollow where he duly let us down, however the following week Ryan produced a solid performance at TPC Sawgrass, a venue he had no past history at to speak of, and duly finished 30th.
At TPC Sawgrass Ryan basically striped the ball tee to green ranking 7th in DA, 10th in GIR and 2nd in Strokes Gained Tee to Green.
Unfortunately though, as has been the case previously this year, when Ryan has hit the ball well tee to green the putter was cold and he finished the week ranked 70th in SGP.
These stats are basically a reflection of Ryan’s season as a whole whereby everything is pretty much working tee to green but the putter has then let him down.
Next up now for Ryan is a return to Muirfield Village, a venue he has shown a liking for in the past and the event comes at a time when he needs a big week.
Along with the usual hatful of Ryder Cup points, Fedex Cup points [& of course bundle of cash!] up for grabs the main reason that this is a massive week for Ryan is that he is not yet exempt for the US Open.
As of today the UNLV grad sits 66th in the OWGR meaning that short of coming through the annual bun fight of Sectional Qualifying next Monday his only hope of making Shinnecock Hills is to produce a big week this week [or next at St Jude] to find himself inside the worlds top 60 by Monday 11th June.
From this point of view whilst some of the leading players will have one eye firmly on the challenges that await them at Shinnecock this will certainly not be an issue with Moore and he will be 100% focused on the task this week.
If Ryan could pick a venue to produce a big week at Muirfield Village would surely be reasonably high on the list as he has made the cut on ten of his past twelve visits here with six top 20s including three top 10s to his name.
His showings here over the past two years have been disappointing and this is of slight concern, however in 2016 he had missed his previous three cuts coming in and was in nowhere near the ball striking form he is now, whilst last year after his MC in the event it basically transpired he was suffering from a shoulder injury which lead to him missing the next month.
I am therefore happy to dismiss both of those efforts and instead focus more on his previous good results here and when you combine that with his current ball striking form I can see a big week ahead for Ryan.
EMILIANO GRILLO – 40-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 23rd
Grillo is one of the hottest players on tour at the moment and there was absolutely nothing he could have done about the performance of the two players he found too good for him at Colonial last weekend.
I have always liked the Argentine on a ‘second shot’ golf course with gettable Par 5s and he has shown that he can produce on this type of test with his performances at Bay Hill and Quail Hollow to name but two over the past couple of years.
In relation to these two courses I definitely see some comparisons between the tests offered particularly by Bay Hill, when compared with Memorial, and this of course can be born out hugely by the record over the years of Tiger at both tracks.
Grillo currently sits 17th in Strokes Gained Approach to the green and 15th in SGP and these are two stats that should serve him well this week.
The one slight concern we have with Emiliano of course is that he has so far been unable to back up his only previous PGA Tour win, however he showed no signs of nerves at Colonial on Sunday and if he can maintain his current all round levels he has to surely be in the hunt again this week.
KEVIN NA – 55-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED MC
Talking of in form players I can’t really leave out Kevin Na this week.
The likeable Californian is perhaps most well known for having the yips a few years back and for his slower play, however despite all of this he has been one of the PGA Tours most consistent performers week in week out over the past few years outside of the games top level elite.
To back this up Kevin had seven top ten finishes in 2014/15, eight top 10s in 15/16 and five in 16/17.
This year had started slowly for Na in comparison with only one high finish at Riviera to his name, however he has really caught fire in Texas over the past two weeks with back to back top 5 finishes.
Na became a father at the back end of 2016 and whilst he hasn’t leapt out with a ‘nappy factor’ victory you would like to think that this life changing event has seen him become more relaxed around his golf game and this certainly came across in his interviews at Colonial on Sunday night after shooting 61.
Both the US interviewers and UK Sky Team seemed keen to push him on the point that despite shooting 62 and 61 in the same week he hadn’t won the event and was this a disappointment but Kevin was clear that he was delighted to have played some great stuff over the week.
So we’ve established that Na comes to Memorial in a relaxed mind frame on the back of two great weeks but can he produce again this week?
Well it should first be noted that Na does have ‘previous’ on this front in that he went 2 2 3 in three consecutive events at the back end of 2015.
Secondly Kevin came 2nd at Memorial in 2014 and 13th in 2015 so he clearly knows how to play the course.
The elephant in the room of course when backing Na is the fact that despite all of the high finishes he still only has one PGA Tour Victory to his name which came way back in 2011 at The Shriners.
I firmly believe however that Na does have the talent to win on the PGA Tour more than once again and we have to remember that at age 34 he should now be just coming to the peak of his career and with a decent each way price on offer I am happy to take a chance on him this week.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU – 50-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 1st!!!
Next up for us this week is ‘The Scientist’ Bryson Dechambeau.
I made a mistake earlier this season when not including Bryson in the team for the Arnold Palmer Invitational based on his Par 5 scoring performance however I shall not be making the same mistake again this week.
I have already mentioned that I see a connection between Bay Hill and Muirfield Village and Bryson duly delivered that week with a second place finish.
Since then Bryson has notched up two more top 5s including one at Quail Hollow before two down the field performances in Texas.
Having turned professional just after the 2016 US Masters Bryson made his debut appearance at the Memorial Tournament in 2016 on a sponsors exemption and finished in a creditable 34th place. He then went on the day after to qualify for the US Open at sectional qualifying in Ohio, so he will have pleasant memories of his last visit to the state.
It’s also worth noting that Bryson’s only previous PGA Tour victory also came in the North East at the John Deere Classic in Illinois.
I mentioned earlier that I feel Par 5 scoring is a key stat this week and Bryson currently sits 5th in this on tour.
Therefore back on a track which I feel will be far more to Dechambeau’s liking I can see him pushing for that second PGA Tour victory this week.
JAMIE LOVEMARK – 125-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 37th
My final selection this week goes to a player we were last on at the API in the form of Jamie Lovemark.
With the exception of a MC at Quail Hollow the Californian native has been in really solid form this year and he was 17th last time out at Sawgrass after opening up with a 76.
Jamie has made two visits to Muirfield Village and after a ‘sighter’ in 2016 when he finished 52nd he finished an eye catching 10th place here last year.
Three of the last four winners of this event, Matsuyama, Lingmerth and McGirt were grabbing their debut PGA Tour wins when they lifted the trophy here and at 125-1 I am happy to roll the dice that this hugelyb talented player can add his name to that list this week.
UPDATED 29th MAY
TRADER - BILL HAAS FINISHED 57th - BEST PRICE TRADED 85
It's been a pretty lean time for Haas of late with only one top 10 finish this season which came back at the RBC Heritage in April.
In addition of course Haas was involved in a tragic car accident when travelling as a passenger earlier in the year which resulted in a fatility, so it is totally understandable his golf has suffered since his return to the course in the spring.
Last weekend though Bill sprung in to life to wrap up his week at Colonial with a round of 64 on Sunday, which resulted in a 14th place finish.
Interestingly this upturn in form pretty much coincides with the timing of a similar improvement in Bill's form last year when again after a lean spring he finished 12th at the Dean & Deluca.
This was then the start of a run of four top 25 finishes in four consecutive events, which included a 5th place finish at the US Open and a 25th place finish at Memorial.
Haas' record at Muirfield Village is actually pretty strong as in his last five starts there he has four top 25 finishes including two top 10s.
I am sure Bill will be looking this week to build on his finish at Colonial and with a nice early tee time I see every possibility that he can get of to a fast start at a venue he knows well and obviously likes.
CURRENTLY TRADING @ 240+