I have to say we're having our best ever run at Golf Betting System since we went live at the start of the 2009 season. You learn over 3 1/2 years researching and publishing free tips 50 weeks a year! Zach Johnson produced my 3rd winner in 5 weeks at 16/1 last week and I'm hopeful of delivering the winner again this week at 'Jack's Tournament' hosted at Muirfield Village, Dublin Ohio, after we grabbed Justin Rose at 80/1 in 2010 and followed that up with Steve Stricker at 28/1 at last year's renewal 12 months ago. Virtually all the major bookmakers have extended their each way terms to 6 places this week. Paddy Power, as well as going 6 places EW, are offering £/€200 of free bets to all Golf Betting System readers who open a new account using this link; Bet 365 also offer £/€200 of free bets plus 6 places Each Way available using this link.
The Memorial Tournament is a homage to Jack William Nicklaus , The Golden Bear, and is similar to the Arnold Palmer Invitational held at Bay Hill in March both in terms of tournament reputation, World Golf Ranking points available and course set-up is also fairly similar. Winning at Muirfield and being congratulated by Jack is to this day a major target for all of the top golfers. 2011 Champion Steve Stricker said after shooting 286/-16 to win by one over Brandt Jobe and Par 72 specialist Matt Kuchar, "It's pretty special walking off, he's a friend, and it's truly an honour."
Muirfield is very interesting as a test for a number of reasons, the first of which is that Memorial marks the PGA Tour's first visit to up-state USA. Nicklaus's most famous golf course is located in Dublin, Ohio and the classical +7,300 yard Par 72 features +13 on the stimp meter Bentgrass greens. You'll only find faster greens at Augusta National. On top of that, the tree-lined course is unique in that each hole gets more difficult the closer to the physical cup a player gets. Driving landing areas are huge but expect tougher than usual rough for the severely wayward due to a wet early 2012. From the short stuff greens are difficult to hit and, once on board, putting surfaces are contoured to make birdie opportunities difficult to convert. With Wentworth / Colonial strength wind forecast across Thursday to Saturday I'm expecting higher scoring than the aforementioned -16 and -18 that Justin Rose shot when capturing his first PGA Tour victory here in 2010. That in itself will appeal to a slightly different type of golfer, all of whom need to thrive on classical, Par 72s plus have a strong record (and recent form) on Bentgrass putting surfaces to contend this week in my opinion.
Of the 'big 4' it's only worth considering covering off Luke Donald and Lefty in my view. Donald is in great nick right now and his performance at Wentworth last week oozed world class for me. However his record of winning Invitational standard tournaments hosted on classical Bentgrass greened courses in the US is non-existent, so instead I'm plumping for Mickelson this week whose game at the moment is also right on the money. From history only the true greats can win at Muirfield after already bagging a victory in the season and Lefty,who won at the classical Pebble Beach in February (who can forget his birdie barrage on Sunday to dismantle Woods), is due another PGA victory to add to the 40 he already has on his CV, which include victories at a plethora of classical tracks like Torrey Pines: 2000, 2001; Pebble Beach: 1998, 2005, 2007, 2012; Bay Hill 1997; Augusta (Bent): 2004, 2006 & 2010; Riviera (Bent Poa) 2008, 2009; Colonial (Bent): 2000, 2008; East Lake: 2000, 2009. An incredible record which the eagle-eyed amongst you will note doesn't include Muirfield. Indeed 12 appearances in Ohio have only yielded 3 Top 10s including 9th in 2002, 4th in 2006 and 5th in 2010. So does that mean Lefty can't win at Muirfield? Well for me Phil will want to hit yet another career landmark this week and finally greet Jack Nicklaus on the 72nd green this Sunday and a 2012 Bent green record of 9(TPC Four Seasons)-26(Quail)-3(Augusta)-4(Humble) is the best on the PGA Tour this season. With hot form paramount to challenging at the US Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco in 2 weeks I'm expecting a serious contending performance for a guy who is playing much more consistently tee to green and with the putter than when he finished 5th here in 2010. RESULT: WD
My Ryder Cup theory has paid huge dividends over recent weeks with Jason Dufner (now surely guaranteed a US team place) winning in New Orleans at 28/1, Rickie Fowler winning in Quail Hollow at 55/1 and last week Zach triumphing and all jumping into the Top 8 automatic qualification positions alongside Phil Mickelson. This week I think it's time for Webb Simpson to step forward to the plate and grab the $1,165,000 - which equates directly to points - which in turn should see him jump into the Top 10 for qualification on the coat tails of Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler. But pushing qualification for Medinah to one side, North Carolina-based World Number 13 Simpson is absolutely perfect for Muirfield this week. Many are commenting that Simpson is a one season wonder - but I'm not one of them and indeed I tipped him at the classical Bay Hill back in March for the same reasons as this week. However where Simpson can play on Bermuda greens well he absolutely thrives on Bent carpet. Indeed his Bent form going back to Muirfield 12 months ago reads: 4(Quail)-44(Augusta)- 5(Cog Hill)-1(TPC Boston)-10(Plainfield)-1(Sedgefield)-9(Old White TPC)-16(Sandwich)-8(Aronimink)-13(TPC at River Highlands)-14(Congressional)-7(Muirfield). He finally got his head around Muirfield last year where 72-70-70-68 delivered 7th and, for those doubting Simpson this week, the following core PGA Tour skill categories make interesting reading: Scoring Average: 29th, Strokes Gained Putting: 18th, GIR%: 18th, Par 3 Birdies: 4th Par 4 Birdies: 5th, Birdie Average 3rd. Needs to perform this week on a track where his lack of driving accuracy season to date compared to his stellar 2011 won't be punished. RESULT: MC
Yes Jason Day again! I'll keep the commentary brief as regulars know I can't get enough of the talented 25 year-old Australian on classical Bentgrass greened golf courses. Jason's Bentgrass CV is worthy of serious note Augusta: 2nd (11), Congressional: 2nd (11), TPC Boston: 2nd (10) and 3rd (11), Ridgwood: 5th (10), Aronimink: 9th (10), Firestone (Bent Poa): 4th (11), TPC Four Seasons: 1st (10), 5th (11). Indeed both of Jason's 2 Bent appearances this season have delivered Top 10 results at Quail Hollow and last time out at TPC Four Seasons where he was in 2nd position after 54 holes. For me, Day's game is in great shape right now and he's also extremely motivated to deliver his 2nd PGA Tour win since his debut "W" in Irving, Texas, 24 months back. His last visit to Muirfield was back in 2010 which ultimately only delivered a 33rd place finish. But scrape the surface and it's well worth bearing in mind that Jason sat in 4th after 36 holes after firing scores of 69 and 67 in Rounds 1 and 2 respectively and still had a shot at victory on the Sunday as he sat in 8th after a 72 in Round 3. The wide landing areas of Muirfield will suit Day who is so Bentgrass green biased it's untrue. RESULT: MC
I've got a serious "must win" theory with Ernie as I'm confident that the Big Easy is close to his first PGA Tour win since March 2010. After upsetting tournament officials at Wentworth last week, I'm sure the Florida-based South African will be glad to be back in the US this week and don't believe the press stories, he'll be ready for a serious crack at winning on a course where 18 appearances have yielded 6 Top 10 finishes including: 1st (2004), 2nd (2000), 6th (1996), 7th (98 & 99) and 8th as recently as 2009. We all know that Ernie is most at home on a Par 72 format where he can open his shoulders and last week's 7th at Wentworth was impressive for three reasons. Firstly it was in the same breezy conditions he will face in Ohio this week; secondly both his irons and putter worked well together (3rd in GIR% & 24th in Putting) and thirdly because he was under serious pressure as the new Wentworth course designer. Indeed that 7th was his best at Wentworth since 2003 when back in his pomp he won tournaments at Kapalua and Waialae in consecutive weeks and in the following season another 7th at Wentworth was followed a week later by the aforementioned victory where Els shot -18/270 to greet Jack on the 72nd green. With a lower winning score target required this week and some confidence in the putter following positive putting performances at TPC Four Seasons, TPC Sawgrass and TPC Louisiana, I'm expecting Els to be right in the mix this week. RESULT: T58
Our Muirfield team is completed by Jonathan Byrd who played in the final group with Steve Stricker here last year and ultimately came up short despite finishing 7th. However I'm not selecting Georgia-based South Carolinian Byrd on that fact alone. Instead his recent performances have been superb on "alien" tracks because Jonathan has always struggled on tight technical Par 70 tracks where quite simply you don't back him. 10th last week at Colonial, hot on the heels of a career best 12th at TPC Sawgrass which, although a Par 72, actually plays like a Par 70, have impressed me hugely. Link those finishes to 9th at the classical Bentgrass greened Quail Hollow, 27th at Augusta (his 2nd best performance there after 8th on debut in 2003) plus 8th and another career best finish at the classical (but ultimately for Byrd too tight) Riviera and you can see that when he hits a course that suits his game, i.e. Muirfield, he's in awesome shape to contend. The World Number 52 is also a 5 times PGA Tour winner where interestingly he has won with totals of -27 (Callaway Gardens, Georgia 2003), -20 (En-Joie, New York 2004), -18 (Deere Run 2007), -24 (TPC Summerlin, 2010) and -24 (Kapalua, 2011). One thing is for sure, when Byrd is right he can score heavily on wider formats and on Bentgrass greens. In conclusion, he's playing well and I can see a stand-out performance this week at a value-packed price. RESULT: T6
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