The Memorial Tournament Preview and Picks – 2009

The Memorial Tournament
Thurs. June 4 Sun. June 7, 2009
Muirfield Village Golf Club Dublin, OH
The Golf Channel/CBS

by Matt of

After three consecutive events in Texas, the PGA Tour heads north to Ohio this week for the Memorial Tournament. Known as Jacks Tournament among the players, the Memorial is a must-play event for the majority of the pros, making for a major-like field and atmosphere. The Nicklaus designed Muirfield Village hosts the event, and the course has done a fantastic job of separating the best player in the field over the years. Previous winners include names like Norman, Couples and Watson, with crowd favorites like Woods, Furyk and Perry also owning wins here. The Golf Channel carries the early rounds with CBS picking up the weekend finish.

Muirfield Village has the reputation as one of the more stern tests in the standard PGA Tour rotation, ranking as the 5th hardest in terms of scoring average in 2008 play. The par-72 track will play at 7,265 yards this week, about 100 yards shorter than last year. The fairways are wide by Tour standards, but the course plays long and proper angles are critical to scoring. Once the players reach the greens, they will be tested on nearly every putt as the tournament stimpmeter is right at 13 feet, making these greens among the fastest you will see this year. With over 70 bunkers and water present on 13 holes, ballstriking and shotmaking are necessary just to scratch out pars. Players with a good mix of length and accuracy should do well and the upper echelon of putters will have a big advantage on the greens.

Each week, we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that we like to win the event. We make a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a few head to head matches as well. Here are some players to watch at the Memorial, with odds and line info courtesy of the board at Superbook.

Short: Jim Furyk (18 to 1)
Tiger is back this week, but his 3 to 1 odds just dont bring the value of the 2002 champ, Jim Furyk. Furyk is still looking for his first win since late 2007 and while his best days may be behind him, there is plenty to like about a player whose last three finishes were T11, T5 and T9. Jims biggest asset this week will be his putter, currently ranked 25th in average and 4th in total putts per round. Furyk also has the savvy around the greens, ranking 7th in scrambling, to limit bogeys and post the 15th best scoring average to this point.

Middle: Sean OHair (25 to 1)
Sean was our pick last week at the Colonial, and ran in the top-10 for most of the week before a 72 on Sunday pushed him to 18th. OHair is worth another shot this week based on his overall game that has him 1st in the all around category. Sean ranks 17th in total driving, 2nd in greens hit and 3rd in ballstriking. Before last week, his last three finishes were 2nd, 10th and 1st, so there is no reason to suspect a dropoff from the form that is producing the 2nd best birdie and scoring average in 2008.

Longshot: Mike Weir (50 to 1)
Mike is in this spot due in large part to his putting. Muirfield demands a solid stroke on the greens and Weir is currently ranked 12th in putting average and 3rd in putts per round. The lefty also has the 13th best overall birdie conversion percentage, getting down in one on just over a third of his greens in regulation. If the approach game is there, Weir will be in contention come the weekend.

Head to Head Matches (our pick)

* all matches are for entire tournamentcheck with your favorite golf sportsbook for single round matches, updated daily.

Geoff Ogilvy (EVEN) v. Kenny Perry (-130) (Ogilvy)

Perry is the heavy favorite based on his wins from 2003 and last year, but Kenny just isnt going that well right now. Since his playoff loss at the Masters, Perry has not been inside the top-20 and although he has the edge in the ballstriking stats, Ogilvy has the big edge with the putter, ranking 4th in average with Perry outside the top-50. Ogilvy has two wins in early in 2009 and a recent stretch of mediocre play shouldnt make you ignore the 4th best birdie average on Tour.

Ian Poulter (-115) v. Steve Stricker (-115) (Stricker)

Both of these players are going well at this point, but Strickers game should fit Muirfield better. Strick has the advantage in greens hit, putting, and birdie average with the best scoring average on Tour as his kicker. Poulter has been smooth and consistent with four top-10s in nine starts, but Stricker has six top-10s in ten, including three top-3s.

Good Luck!