The Memorial Tournament Preview and Predictions to Win
When: June 2-5, 2016
Where: Muirfield Village GC Dublin, OH
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
b: Evergreen, PGA Golf Betting Analyst, Predictem.com
You don’t have to go far down the list of greatest golfers to find the name Jack Nicklaus. In fact, The Golden Bear tops that list for a large portion of golf fans so it is meaningful anytime the PGA Tour does anything associated with Jack. After an entertaining week at Colonial, the players head to Ohio for the Memorial, held at the Nicklaus designed Muirfield Village. This is the 41st edition of the The Memorial Tournament and there is added prestige to winning here, even beyond the handshake from the host. The Memorial is one of just a few events that are given invitational status so the field is shorter and the qualifications for an invite are pretty demanding. If you are teeing it up this week, chances are you have a win to your credit at some point in the last year or have at least played to a level that finds you among the leaders for things like the FedExCup. Given those conditions, the field is incredibly strong with most of the world’s top-30 in attendance including Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. This is usually an event reserved for the big names on Tour with Tiger winning five times and the winners list dotted with names like Irwin, Norman and Tom Watson but surprises have been prevalent recently with Hideki Matsuyama and David Lingmerth winning in the last two years. A three-year Tour exemption is awarded to the winner, giving the Memorial high status among the non-Major championships.
Muirfield Village is a highlight Midwestern course and Jack pretty much nailed it with his championship design. The par-72 layout stretches to nearly 7,400 yards and features a handful of bruising par-4’s that measure 450-plus yards. That length puts the Tour’s bombers in a better position to score but players need to be a bit measured to avoid the well-placed bunkers and to miss the trees that line the meandering fairways. There are also several very difficult up-and-down challenges for those that miss greens. Muirfield is definitely a place that puts all shots in play and rewards those with a diverse skill set alongside the guts to pull off a few aggressive shots.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight our best bets to win. We make some picks and also breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that you can find at Bovada Sportsbook. Here are our picks to win the 2016 Memorial Tournament.
Dustin Johnson (20 to 1 to win)
I really think you need a strong driver of the golf ball here and it doesn’t get better than DJ in that department. There are some that are straighter for sure but for my money, no one has the shot-for-shot ability to hit the ball further than Dustin. He can use that length to effectively shorten the course and put scoring clubs in his hands rather than the longer irons. That gives his ability to hit and hold greens a big bump and that is part of the reason he is the 7th best tee-to-green player on Tour. DJ is a fast starter with either the best or second best scoring averages on day one and two so plug and play him in those early head-to-heads as well. He is 3rd in birdie average entering the week so I expect him to notch more birdies than just about anyone in this field. If he can scramble well and save a few key pars, he should be in contention come Sunday.
Patrick Reed (40 to 1)
Reed has been pretty quiet this season as far as true title contention goes but he has made top-10’s pretty routine with eight such finishes in sixteen starts. He was in a similar position last week before settling for 15th and all appearances are that he is just a swing or two away from breaking through again. Reed hasn’t been striking the ball exceptionally well but he has more than made up for that with the #1 overall putting average. He’s been clutch on the greens as well, converting the 2nd most par saves and his scoring average is about twenty spots better than his raw birdie average. With very few mistakes made, he is getting the most out of his rounds and he will push for that elusive win with just a few more well-struck shots each day.
Webb Simpson (80 to 1)
When the USGA wrote in the rules banning the anchoring of the putter, it was either a non-issue for players or a major one. Simpson was one of the players in that second camp as he saw tremendous results with the anchored style and didn’t really have a go-to approach after the ban took effect. Lack of a confident stroke on the greens usually spells death for golfers but it seems that Webb has found his way with a new putter and a style that copycats the very steady Matt Kuchar. Simpson did some of his best work last week in finishing third at Colonial and he should be in line for more success as his confidence grows. Webb is a solid overall player that has proven he can win anywhere so his putting stroke is really all that is left to pin down. His value is tremendous at this point and he has the look of a player that could rebound all the way to regular PGA wins.
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with 5Dimes Sportsbook for single round matches and prop bets.
Jason Day v. Rory McIlroy (Pick to win: McIlroy)
Despite his prolific talent and adopted home field advantage, Jason Day has never found much success at Muirfield. Day has managed just a career-best finish of 27th at Jack’s place and he is going to be paired with McIlroy and Spieth in his most common head-to-head matches. There is so little separating the top-3 in the world right now that you basically need to start nit-picking their stat sheets to find you way in terms of who to bet. Day enters the week as the best putter on Tour in terms of strokes gained on the greens. That fact should have him scoring quite a bit better than Rory but both players are essentially tied in that category with Day at 5th in scoring and McIlroy at 6th. Both players have won recently so there is nothing to say that either won’t do so this week but I think that McIlroy has the more efficient tee-to-green game at this point and that has to pay dividends at a place like Muirfield. This is probably a 51/49 kind of series if played out but I think Rory has the advantage this week and will be relatively distraction free with Day and Spieth getting more of the American media attention.
Matt Kuchar v. Hideki Matsuyama (Prediction to win: Kuchar)
With a pretty vanilla outward appearance, you would never know that Matt Kuchar is one of the more intense players on Tour. I guess you have to be in order to be a top-20 OWGR golfer and that dogged nature has always made Kuchar a tough guy to beat in head-to-head matches. Matsuyama likely has more raw talent that Kuchar but also makes more mistakes as he trails Matt in scoring despite making more birdies per round. Kuch is the better scrambler of the two and a bit steadier off the tee so his rounds have less ebb and flow to them. That “simpler” approach to the game often plays better at the stronger field events and while Matsuyama has proven he can win here, he is the more mercurial player and a bit harder for me to trust. I’d rather have the tortoise in head-to-heads than the hare, hence the Kuchar pick in this pairing.
Good luck and good golf!