The Memorial Tournament
After the highs of Brooks’ performance of Bethpage it was the lows of Colonial for us last week as our main team turned in a truly shocking showing, with a bunch of MC and a 40th place from Hossler the best to show.
Well done to Kevin Na on clinching his third PGA Tour title and other than that there’s not much more to say.
Let’s move on…
The PGA Tour has now finished it’s stint in Texas for the year and it is full steam ahead in to US Open ‘build up mode’ as the tour heads nearly 1100 miles North Eastwards 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 five time Memorial winner Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and a returning from injury Justin Thomas.
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, 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 2017 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].
In addition it may be worth looking at results at Glen Abbey for the Canadian Open, which is also a Nicklaus track or PGA National used for the Honda, which is a Nicklaus redesign.
So lets take a look at the last ten winners;
2018 – Bryson Dechambeau
2017 Jason Dufner
2016 William McGirt
2015 David Lingmerth
2014 Hideki Matsuyama
2013 Matt Kuchar
2012 Tiger Woods
2011 Steve Stricker
2010 Justin Rose
2009 Tiger Woods
As we can see from this list it’s been a fairly mixed bag of winners here over the past decade and if we put to one side the two victories for Tiger Woods we have seen four players, Rose, Matsuyama, Lingmerth and McGirt gain there first PGA Tour wins here, with McGirt and Lingmerth’s successes in particular coming from left field.
Whilst past course form is never a minus it does not appear to be a requisite here. In fact the last five winners Dechambeau, Dufner, McGirt, Lingmerth and Matsuyama had a best place finish of 19th between them in eleven 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.
Current form coming in is a bit more interesting and I have provided a table below to show this;
2018 – Bryson Dechambeau 42 37 4 3 38
2017 Jason Dufner MC 13 60 5 11
2016 William McGirt 47 43 17 37 9
2015 David Lingmerth MC 33 MC MC MC
2014 Hideki Matsuyama 10 23 38 MC MC
2013 Matt Kuchar 2 33 48 35 8
2012 Tiger Woods 40 MC 40 1 WD
2011 Steve Stricker 12 13 11 4 18
2010 Justin Rose 71 MC 43 14 MC
2009 Tiger Woods 8 4 6 1 9
As we can see from this list [with their most recent start prior to winning here shown first] all but two of these last ten winners [Lingmerth & Rose] had posted a top ten finish in there previous five starts on tour and even Rose had finished third at the Honda a couple of starts previously to that. It would seem therefore that current form is a better way in here than course form.
One other angle I feel merits consideration is par 5 scoring and it’s correlation to similar style tracks like Bay Hill where taking advantage of the par 5s is key. Longer term readers may remember that this was a large part of the case I built for Bryson last year when putting him up as he had finished second at Bay Hill [also fourth at Quail Hollow, which rewards par 5 performance], and lead the tour coming in to the week in par 5 scoring.
Finally 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 five years though we have seen three winning scores of -15 and two of -13 [-15 was the score required to make the play off last year.]
We also have to go 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 every day.
There is also the strong possibility of storms on Tuesday and Wednesday and if this does materialize we’ll have a softer course there for the taking on day 1.
The wind does not look to be a factor for the majority of the week however as I type there is a possibility for gusts of up to 20mph on Thursday.
As I always say though this could all change!.
As each week goes by I am getting more drawn to the possibility that the new PGA schedule is leading us to more shock/bigger priced winners between the majors.
My logic in thinking this is fairly simple. Basically the game’s elite such as Brooks, Rory, DJ, Tiger etc are now focused on peaking once every month or so for the majors and the one or two starts they are potentially making between the majors are either warm downs or warm ups from/before the last/next major. Meanwhile the tours bread and butter are focused on trying to win as normal and to indeed try and qualify for these majors.
Obviously we are still in the early stages of the new schedule and it is quite possibly that Tiger or Rory could come out this week and blitz the field, however to date since Augusta we have seen CT Pan, Max Homa, Sung Kang and Kevin Na victorious whereas the same four events last year saw Day and Rose pick up wins alongside Kodaira and Wise and I can’t help but think this is no coincidence.
As I say though it is early days in the new schedule and we’ll see what the next few weeks between now and Royal Portrush bring, however for this reason I am by and large happy to swerve the elite names teeing it up and I have gone with five players this week as follows;
PATRICK CANTLAY – 18-1 – 1.5pts E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 1st!!!
Below the list of elite players I mentioned above there are some star performers who, whilst also seen high up on Major Championship leaderboards, could do with getting another win under their belt. Finau heads this list and there is an obvious case to be made for him this week, however whilst he might finally get his second W I can’t trust him at the prices on offer based on the amount of chances he has had.
Another is former Memorial champion Hideki Matsuyama and again this may well be his week to get that comeback win, however the one I do want to have on side in this echelon of players is Patrick Cantlay.
The case for Patrick is a fairly straightforward one this week, which doesn’t need much making, however I shall do so briefly anyway.
Patrick’s last three starts on tour have seen him finish ninth and third at the Masters and the PGA Championship respectively, and third at Hilton Head.
He sits in the top 50 in all of the main statistical categories for the season and 32nd in Par 5 scoring.
He has also finished 35th and fourth last year in his two visits to Muirfield Village to date.
Basically in a nutshell there are no holes in Cantlay’s game and it is only a matter of time before the floodgates open and the wins and the Major Championship[s] come and I am more than happy to have him on side this week.
LUKE LIST – 70-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED MC
I have mentioned already that par 5 scoring is key this week and that I also see recent form coming in as important and all of this leads me to the thought that this could be the week for big hitting Luke List to finally make his breakthrough.
Since joining the tour full time in the 15/16 season Luke has posted no less than thirteen top ten finishes but so far he has been unable to get the job done.
Obviously this is a bit of a concern when going in to bat with List however at the price we are taking there is plenty of juice in the e/w part of the bet.
As I say though the hope is that this might finally be Luke’s week and there are several reasons for thinking this.
Firstly the 34yr old arrives here on the back of a top 10 finish at the recent PGA Championship where not only was he of course near the top of the Driving Distance stats, but he also finished the week second in SGP, a stat he currently sits 154th for in the season.
Secondly, and not unsurprisingly allowing for his length of the tee, List currently sits fourth in Par 5 scoring for the season.
Furthermore if we look at List’s successes on tour to date we see that he has three top 20s including two top tens at Bay Hill to his name, a top ten at the Correlating Quail Hollow and two top ten’s at the Jack Nicklaus redesigned PGA National in the Honda Classic, where, when he finished second to Justin Thomas he could not be faulted at all.
We have seen from the Seattle native over recent seasons that his high finishes often come in bunches with the most recent stretch of these coming when he had two top fives in three weeks last fall and I can see Luke building on his finish at the PGA and producing another great week this week.
RORY SABBATINI – 66-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 27th
Someone who has been on fire of late and I find it impossible to leave out this week is Rory Sabbatini.
Slovakia’s number one as he shall forever now be referred to as, has now made his last ten cuts in a row and has finished inside the top six on both of his last two starts.
As we have seen from Sabbatini over the years he is undoubtedly a ‘streak player’ and his wins have all come in the past on the back of a strong run of form. His last win at the Honda in 2011 came after he had posted three top 25s in four starts including a fifth place the week before, his win at the Byron Nelson in 09 came after two top tens in his previous four starts and his win at Colonial in 2007 came after three top fives in his previous five starts, whilst his win at Riviera in 06 came after five top 20s including three top tens and a second the week before.
Basically, historically, when Rory gets hot he stays hot and until the W comes he is a man to keep on side.
Obviously the elephant in the room here that I have noted above is that Rory’s last win came way back in 2011 and this has to be of slight concern, however again, as with List we are getting enough juice in the e/w section of the price to fall back on if unfortunately he can’t get the job done if he gets in the hunt.
43yr old Sabbatini has played solidly enough here on his most recent couple of visits when arriving in steady but unspectacular form, in addition he has second and 12th place finishes here to his name in years gone by.
Arriving here this week in his best form for many a year I see a another big week for Rory ahead.
MATT EVERY – 175-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED MC
Whilst there are slight doubts over the ‘metal’ of our previous two picks to get the job done when it matters one man I feel confident can close an event out when the mood takes him is the mercurial Matt Every.
Every’s trials and tribulations over the recent years have been well documented however there is no doubt that he has now turned a corner.
Last weeks 17th place at Colonial when we had Matt onboard as our trader pick, followed a second place finish at the Byron Nelson and what was particularly impressive about Matt’s performance in the Charles Schwab was how well he fought back after going +3 in his first two holes on Thursday, showing that his recent fragilities seem behind him.
Matt stats this season are really solid and he currently ranks 41st in SGP, 64th in SGTTG and 55th in SGATTG. In addition and importantly for this week, he ranks strongly on par 5 scoring as well.
As we know you are never quite sure what you are going to get from the Floridian and as testament to this we can see that Matt has missed the cut on his last four visits to Muirfield Village but prior to that he finished sixth here.
Every is a two time winner at Bay Hill, which as stated already sits very nicely along side Muirfield Village for course form, and I do not think it is a stretch to say that based on the way he is currently trending he could well win again this year and I am more than happy to have him onside at a big e/w price.
RYAN MOORE – 125 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 - FINISHED 33rd
I shall finish this week by chancing our old friend Ryan Moore once again.
Regular readers will know that I am a fan of Ryan’s and have been keeping a close eye on him in anticipation of an overdue return to the winners enclosure.
This season has seen Ryan come close to this already on two occasions, most noticeably when losing out in a play off to Kevin Tway at the Safeway last fall before then finishing third more recently at the Valero Texas Open.
It is not surprising that this season has seen Ryan more involved in the business end of tournaments as while his long game has stayed as solid as last year his putting, which was holding him back, has improved hugely from 163rd SGP last year to 57th this.
Prior to the PGA Championship Moore was starting to gain some decent traction having made six of his previous seven cuts on the tour including the third place in Texas. Unfortunately though Bethpage Black proved to be simply too long for Ryan and he struggled to make any impact.
Next up now for Ryan is a return to Muirfield Village and, currently ranked 79th in the world, he finds himself in need of a really big week if he is to avoid the annual bun fight of Sectional Qualifying next Monday in order to make the trip to Pebble Beach.
Fortunately if the 36yr old could pick one venue to perform well at Muirfield Village would probably be pretty near the top of the pile as if we take away his MC here in 2017, which came just before he took time out with a shoulder injury, he has made the cut here on each of his other last eight visits and finished in the top 20 on seven of these occasions.
There is no doubt in my mind that the UNLV grad is trending towards another win and I am happy to have him in my team this week at a venue he has played really solidly at in the past.
UPDATED 29th MAY
TRADER - KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT - FINISHED 17th - LOWEST PRICE TRADED 22
For this weeks trader pick I have decided to run with the affable Thai, Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
The Barnrat as he's known, tends to blow hot and cold on the PGA Tour however when he's 'on' he is a world class player and a force to be reckoned with.
The appeal of the Thai this week to me is that he tends to play his best golf on courses that give a bit of room of the tee but require a bit more imagination the closer you get to the hole and there is no doubt that Muirfield Village falls in to that category.
Fifth as recently on the tour as three weeks ago at the Byron Nelson, [another course which falls in to the type just mentioned], his third top five on the PGA Tour this season, Kiradech can make another big splash this week on a course he was thirteenth on last year.
CURRENTLY TRADING @ 320