2008 Memorial Tournament Preview and Picks

Tournament: The Memorial
Date: Thursday May 29th through Sunday June 1st, 2008
Location: Muirfield Village GC - Dublin, OH
Televised: Golf Channel

by Matt of Predictem.com

The PGA leaves the traditional golf-heavy states of Florida and Texas for a trip north to Ohio for the Memorial Tournament. Muirfield Village is the host course for the event that is also know as “Jack’s Tournament”. Mr. Nicklaus will oversee a strong field in competition for the $6 million dollar prize purse with the winner taking the $1.8 million dollar share. K.J. Choi is back to defend his title with the Golf Channel broadcasting four days of action.

Nicklaus designed Muirfield in the early 70’s with the first Memorial event taking place in 1976. For the week, the course will play par-72 at 7,265 and will test the players with heavy bunkering and water that poses a hazard on over half the holes.

The par-5 holes will have a lot to say this week in separating who does and does not fare well. All four play at pedestrian lengths by Tour standards, ranging from 503 to 567 yards, but all require well placed drives that avoid trouble to even give players a look at going for the greens in two. All the greens are protected as well by water or trees and none present an easy target as some of the smallest and most undulated on the course. The longer hitters will have some advantage here if they are straight as well as long, but all will have to be accurate into the greens to score on these holes.

Each week we look at the boards at the golf sportsbooks and make picks to win from the short, middle and long odds groups, as well as highlighting a few matches. The following odds and matches courtesy of Bodog.

Phil Mickelson

13 to 2 to win & 11 to 8 to finish in the top-5 (including ties)

Tiger may be on schedule to return soon, but he is absent again this week which leaves Phil as the favorite. Mickelson is coming off a win at the Crowne last week and has been in contention nearly every week he plays of late. Lefty is plenty long, ranking 15th in driving distance, but can be crooked as he hits only 57% of fairways. Even playing from the rough at times, Mickelson averages 4.02 birdies per round en route to a second best 69.4 stroke average. A good week off the tees will have Phil in position to make it two in a row.

Sergio Garcia

16 to 1 & 3 to 1

Garcia showed a solid putter a few weeks back to go along with a superior tee to green game in his PLAYERS win that has many expecting a hot streak from the Spaniard. Sergio has run well here, including a second in 2001 and certainly has the ball striking numbers that fare well here. Ranked 10th in GIR% and 27th in total driving, Garcia will have opportunities for birdies, but his ultimate success is tied to his putter.

Geoff Ogilvy

16 to 1 & 7 to 2

Ogilvy has the iron play that Muirfield demands as he ranks 23rd in greens hit and he ran T9 here last year. Ogilvy isn’t necessarily a birdie machine, ranking just 119th in birdie average, but a damage control game has him ranked 22nd in overall scoring average. Geoff has been playing well of late, including a T7 at last week’s Colonial but will need to improve on his 156th ranked par-5 birdie % to get it done this week.

Stewart Cink

18 to 1 & 10 to 3

Cink has been a top-10 monster this year, yet is still looking to break into the winner’s circle. The Memorial may be his breakthrough as he was a T5 last year and has been in the top-12 in five of his last seven starts here. Cink is 5th on Tour, hitting almost 70% of his greens and is plenty capable with the putter, ranking 37th in putting average. Cink is a good look in the matches as well, as he sports the 9th best scoring average.

Jim Furyk

22 to 1 & 7 to 2

Furyk has enjoyed Muirfield success as the 2002 champ and is looking to make up for a MC at last week’s Crowne Plaza. Hitting a 28th best fairway % will play well alongside his 65.3% of greens hit here and his 3.4 birdies per lead to a solid 70.3 stroke average.

Ernie Els

22 to 1 & 7 to 2

Ernie is still searching for some consistency to his game as he has more missed cuts than top tens this year. Still, Els has a win at the Honda from earlier and went well at the PLAYERS with a T6. Ernie is the ’04 Memorial winner and was T15 last year showing a fondness for the track. An Els pick is a true gut look as his scoring average is up almost 2 strokes from recent years and his scoring stats all rank outside the top-125.

Anthony Kim

25 to 1 & 4 to 1

Kim is an odd combination of length, averaging 300 yards off the tee, and putting, ranking 14th on Tour. That combo led to a win at the Wachovia a few weeks back for the 10th ranked All Around player and he looks to regain the winning form after going 40th and 42nd in the subsequent weeks. Kim is 11th in overall birdie average, but is best on Tour in par-5 birdie conversion.

Luke Donald

25 to 1 & 4 to 1

Donald has been truly hit and miss as he has alternated missed cuts with top-20 finishes over the last six weeks. Luke is a great putter, ranking 8th, but needs to be hot with the flatstick as he lags outside the top-125 in total driving and greens hit. A 69.7 scoring average proves he can get it done even if misfiring a bit, but Muirfield is no place to be inaccurate.

K.J. Choi

33 to 1 & 6 to 1

This is a pretty deep look for the defending champ, especially when there are two other top- 10’s in four Memorial starts. Choi is coming off two straight MC’s but has the recipe for success with a solid 41st rank in total driving and a premier GIR%. He may not make it two in a row, but the top-5 bet is as good as you’ll probably find.

Mike Weir

50 to 1 & 10 to 1

Weir is a longshot as he has missed 5 cuts already, but is a good look should he start hot as he has top-25’s in over half of his made cuts. Coming off a 15th at the Crowne Plaza, Weir also has a third and fourth on his Memorial resume. The lefty is in the top-75 in total driving, GIR% and putting.

For the Win

Short Favorite: Sergio Garcia at 16-1 - Mickelson is rightly the favorite, but I like Sergio this week and his renewed confidence and focus.

Middle of the Road: Anthony Kim at 25-1 odds - I give the kid a pass on a couple of spotty weeks after his first career win and look for him to get it rolling again.

Longshot: Mike Weir at 50-1 odds - Its been a while for the Canadian, but the game is rounding into shape as he returns to a favored course.

Matches (our pick)

All matches are for the entire tournament.

Phil Mickelson(-140) v. Stewart Cink(+110) (Cink)

Took one on the chin picking against Lefty last week, but I’m at it again as Muirfield is less than forgiving to wayward drives and I like Cink as a way overdue dog.

Sergio Garcia(-120) v. Geoff Ogivly(-120) (Garcia)

Players are similiar here in terms of accuracy numbers, but I like Sergio with a streaking putter and higher birdie average.

Anthony Kim(-120) v. Luke Donald(-120) (Kim)

Donald doesn’t have the key Muirfield stats going for him and Kim is still making the weekend during his late rough stretch.

Good Luck!