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Handicapping

The Memorial Tournament Predictions

Event: The Memorial Tournament
When: June 1-4, 2017
Where: Muirfield Village – Dublin, OH
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by: Evergreen of Predictem.com

The list of legendary living golfers grew shorter by one name when we lost Arnold Palmer last year. Arnie was the player for the masses and was a perfect adversary for the hard-charging talent of Jack Nicklaus. I’m sure there were folks back then that wanted to see one win more than the other but anytime both took the course, most were delighted to see either man succeed. The two cultivated a friendship that went far beyond fairways or greens and both have proved to be amazing ambassadors for golf. In Arnie’s absence, that living legend tag belongs almost entirely to Jack now and the PGA visits Jack’s place this week for the Memorial.

An invite to play in Jack’s event is highly coveted so it is no surprise that most of the top-10 in the world rankings will be teeing it up. Rory McIlroy will miss the Memorial with a persistent rib injury but he is about the only high profile name not making an appearance at Muirfield. Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite at 6 to 1 with Jon Rahm most commonly listed as the next player on the board. Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are 12 to 1 threats to best the field and defending champion William McGirt will pay a hefty 100 to 1 should he go back-to-back. There are plenty of multi-time winners at the Memorial but only Tiger Woods has been able to defend a title. There has been a playoff at Muirfield in each of the last three seasons so expect a tightly contested finish. Justin Rose won by three strokes in 2010 but every other edition since 2005 has been decided by two or less.

Jack designed Muirfield to test the ever-progressing talents of today’s professionals while still honoring the traditions of the game. The 7,400 yard, par-72 layout undergoes yearly re-designs to deftly tweak the challenge overall. Nothing is overtly difficult but players know that a complete test is before them and they will need every shot in their bag at some point through the week. I think of Muirfield as an “if” course. You can score from the rough “if” you can control your approaches from the long stuff. You can save par after a missed green “if” you have the imagination and guts to pull off that tough chip. This course will punish back-to-back decent shots, players have to hit B+ or even grade A shots often to get good birdie looks but those that do will score.

Each week, we take a look at Bovada Sportsbook (50% bonus up to $250 FREE and your credit card will work there!) and highlight the best bets. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of the head-to-head matches that can be found at any of the golf betting outlets. Here are our picks to win the 2017 Memorial.

Rickie Fowler (25 to 1 odds to win)

I think everyone knows enough about the Johnson, Day, Spieth, Rahm group to gloss over those guys a little bit. All are tremendous talents and stand a good chance of winning this week but their values aren’t enough to make them good value plays. I like Rickie at 25 to 1 simply because his talent combined with that potential return is not found elsewhere. He does not have a great Memorial record but you can’t ignore a top-10 tee-to-green player that is 4th in birdies and 3rd in scoring. He enters the week 1st in total driving on Tour so you like his chances to set himself up off the tee and also attack the par-5 chances. Fowler is top-30 across the board in anything you want to point to in order to predict score and is poised to break his Muirfield slump in a big way.

Webb Simpson (60 to 1)

There is a little recent result bias baked into this pick as I though Simpson played as well as anyone last week but just couldn’t make it happen on Sunday. The things that he did well at Colonial should translate well to this week and he has clicked here before with a solid T11 just last year. Webb is about Tour average in overall putting and birdie average but he gains strokes on the field on approach metrics, measuring 8th in proximity on shots hit into the greens. Hitting it close helps but Simpson is also solid when he misses the putting surface with the 8th best overall scrambling percentage and the 6th best sand save rate. He gets the most out his rounds and that will be a plus in an event where something just over 10-under par will be a contending score.

Ryan Moore (90 to 1)

These premiere events are a double-edged betting sword. On one hand, they are hard to win and you have to wade through the very best to do so. On the other hand, the presence of those big dogs attaches these wild odds to players that are not expected to win. Ryan is not your week-in, week-out longshot in this range but he gets pushed to a tremendous value with so many top-tier talents on the board. He has a decent Muirfield record with consecutive top-19 finishes going back to 2013 and he has a nice, well-rounded skill set to handle this layout. Moore is 48th in total driving, 20th in fairways hit, and in the 30’s for total putting, GIR putting average and 1-putt percentage. Those are all key indicators for a course that is bound to test the entire golf game. He will need an uptick in the approach game to really contend for a win this week but I like his chances to hang around and maybe card that round on the weekend that pays off big.

Head-to-Head Matches

Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds.Check with your 5Dimes Sportsbook for the best array of single round matches and a the best variety of prop bets.

Patrick Reed v. Kevin Kisner (pick to win: Kisner)

I am always a little leery of taking the winner from the week prior because you just never know how players approach the next week but I like Kevin’s overall demeanor to keep him grounded and on the right track. Statistically, this one is a knock-out for Kisner, especially with Reed still looking for his form. Kisner has significant advantages in fairways, greens, scoring average and ballstriking with Reed metrically better only in putting average. That could be a leveler at some courses but Muirfield requires too much tee-to-green work in order to make that putter pay off and I fear Reed will be struggling unless he suddenly finds his form. Look for Kisner to do well just by importing most of the things that served him well at Colonial.

Justin Thomas v. Brooks Koepka (pick to win: Thomas)

Neither of these players are scheduled to do very well this week as Muirfield is more kind to names like Furyk, Choi and Stricker than it is to the bombers on Tour like Justin and Brooks. Someone will win this pairing however and I like Thomas based on his 8th ranked overall tee-to-green metrics. Koepka is 76th in that category and loses out on greens hit to his opponent in a rather sizeable manner. Both putt well in order to make birdies but both also make plenty of bogeys through a normal week so this one could be a roller-coaster match but I think Thomas is the slightly steadier player and will find a way to save a few key strokes to get the W.

Good luck and good golf.

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