Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Memorial Tournament Tips 2019

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Congratulations to Kevin Na and Bernd Wiesberger backers last week as both players won their respective events at 70/1. Na’s victory at Colonial Country Club was very assured and was his 3rd on the PGA Tour – all of which have been on pure Bentgrass greens.

On the PGA Tour it’s our second trip to the north of the United States in 2019 and it’s sure to be a real treat as we visit Muirfield Village GC in Ohio for ‘Jack’s Tournament’. The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide is always a highlight of the PGA Tour as its Invitational status, combined with its positioning close to the U.S. Open, guarantees a high class field. 2019 doesn’t disappoint with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau and Xander Schauffele all in attendance. In all, 11 of the World’s top-16 ranked players are in Dublin, Ohio this week.

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Course Guide: Muirfield Village GC continually develops as a golfing test and in its latest guise plays as a 7,392 yard, Par 72. In the past the course has hosted the 1987 Ryder Cup and the 2013 Presidents Cup and is an original Nicklaus design. In the modern game of golf the layout isn’t massively long but, as you’d expect from the pen of an 18-time Major Champion, the format stretches the world’s very best via a combination of attributes: this classical design features tree-lined fairways, 73 bunkers, 11 holes with water in play and over 80 acres of primarily Kentucky bluegrass rough. Severely undulating green complexes are a true work of art and feature, if the weather plays ball, some of the purest Bentgrass with Poa Annua putting surfaces that the PGA Tour traditionally sees each season.

Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio: Designer: Jack Nicklaus 1974, latest guise established 2014; Course Type: Classical; Par: 72; Length: 7,392 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 11; Fairways: Bentgrass with Poa Annua; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with ryegrass/fescue 3″; Greens: 5,000 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass with Poa Annua; Tournament Stimp: 11ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 73.67 (+1.67), Difficulty Rank 6 of 49 courses. 2013: 73.26 (+1.26), Difficulty Rank 6 of 43 courses. 2014: 71.90 (-0.10), Rank 29 of 48 courses. 2015: 71.74 (-0.26), Difficulty Rank 23 of 52 courses. 2016: 70.99 (-1.01), Difficulty Rank 36 of 50 courses. 2017: 72.80 (+0.80), Difficulty Rank 13 of 50 courses. 2018: 71.40 (-0.60), Difficulty Rank 30 of 51 courses.

Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Muirfield Village GC and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:35; 300:30; 325:26; 350:30.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:25; 300:26; 325:25; 350:22.
  • Trinity Forest: 250 yards from tee: 58 yards wide; 275:54; 300:56; 325:60; 350:57.
  • Quail Hollow: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:32; 300:31; 325:30; 350:29.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 31 yards wide; 275:25; 300:20; 325:26; 350:22.
  • Oaks Course: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:29; 325:27; 350:26.
  • Copperhead: 250 yards from the tee: 24 yards wide; 275:20; 300:21; 325:23 350:19.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:33; 300:32; 325:29 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:34; 325:39 350:29.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:26 350:25.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:29; 300:25; 325:27 350:27.

Course Overview: Muirfield Village is undoubtedly a great all-round classical golf test where both ball striking and short game experts can contend with equal frequency when the wind is tranquil. A typical Nicklaus design, each hole gets more difficult further away from the tee so those with consistent approach play this week will be able to access flatter parts of the green complexes close to hole locations. Birdies will be available for those with excellent course navigation, top notch scrambling and naturally a hot putter. A second-shot golf course where those who can find the right layers of the green complexes can make birdies. However don’t ever think of Muirfield Village as a purely resort-style track as this classical design still has teeth for the wayward, poor scramblers and poor putters, so we need to look for those with an all-round game who can hit the ball close, but also scramble and putt well on these Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix greens.

Accessing the flatter parts of these undulating green complexes is the key. This is how Jordan Spieth described it in an interview back in 2015, “I love putting on greens where you have to have imagination, you have to play these ridges, speed control is so vital. And then I enjoy the ball-striking part of this course where these pins are located normally three times. They’re located pretty close to each other, and if you hit a really good tee shot, you’re set up to feed into these holes.

So although fairways are relatively easy to find, indiscriminate, total ‘bomb and gouge’ type stuff from the tee tends to be rejected by this brilliant classical design. The real key to Muirfield Village though is consistent, accurate approach play allied to the ability to manage your game from a strategic perspective. Over the past 9 winners of The Memorial, average winning Greens in Regulation numbers rate at 11th amongst the field, Proximity to Hole at 12th and Scrambling at 11th. Putts Per GIR lags behind at 17th, highlighting that top-notch iron play allied to chipping is a must this week. And the fact that Average Driving Distance here 12 months was only 287 yards (8th lowest on the PGA Tour in 2018), highlights that for once bombers do not have a significant advantage here. The key to Jack’s Place is the ability to regularly get approach shots close to pin locations which unlocks scoring opportunities.

It’s worth highlighting that the back nine at Muirfield Village is a far tougher proposition than the front nine. The final 3 holes make for one of the toughest closing stretches on the PGA Tour with a 201 yard par-3, a 478 yard par-4 and another par-4 – this time at 484 yard – leaving little room for error, especially as the 2015 course renovation added a new bunker complex now on the right-hand side of the fairway in the landing area between 275 and 350 yards. Undoubtedly holes 16-18 always prove to be a key section of the course where dreams can be made or shattered.

Winners: 2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-15); 2017: Jason Dufner (-13); 2016: William McGirt (-15); 2015: David Lingmerth (-15); 2014: Hideki Matsuyama (-13); 2013: Matt Kuchar (-12); 2012: Tiger Woods (-8); 2011: Steve Stricker (-16); 2010: Justin Rose (-18).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Jim Furyk, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Gary Woodland and Matt Every.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Corales Championship and Indian Open, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Bronson Burgoon; 2) K.J. Choi; 3) Ryan Armour; 4) Kyle Stanley; 5) Russell Knox; 6) Andrew Landry; 7) Ryan Moore; 8) Brice Garnett / Matt Kuchar; 10) Brian Stuard; 11) Jason Dufner; 12) Joel Dahmen; 13) Austin Cook / Michael Thompson; 15) Emiliano Grillo; 16) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Tyrrell Hatton / Billy Horschel; 19) Henrik Stenson; 20) David Lingmerth / Louis Oosthuizen.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Kevin Streelman; 2) Matt Kuchar; 3) Emiliano Grillo; 4) Corey Conners / Brice Garnett; 6) Jason Dufner; 7) Rory McIlroy; 8) Keegan Bradley / Haotong Li / Aaron Wise; 11) Kyle Stanley; 12) Joost Luiten; 13) Henrik Stenson / Tiger Woods; 15) Adam Hadwin / Adam Scott; 17) Tyrrell Hatton; 18) Charley Hoffman / Rory Sabbatini; 20) Jason Day.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Patrick Cantlay; 2) Jordan Spieth; 3) Andrew Putnam; 4) Aaron Baddeley; 5) Louis Oosthuizen; 6) Stewart Cink; 7) Matt Every; 8) K.J. Choi / Matt Kuchar; 10) Joel Dahmen / Matthew Fitzpatrick / Charley Hoffman; 13) Hideki Matsuyama; 14) Alex Noren; 15) Vaughn Taylor; 16) Ryan Moore / Gary Woodland; 18) Kevin Na; 19) Emiliano Grillo; 20) Carlos Ortiz / Scott Stallings.

Winners & Prices: 2018: DeChambeau 50/1; 2017: Dufner 66/1; 2016: McGirt 200/1; 2015: Lingmerth 500/1; 2014: Matsuyama 66/1; 2013: Kuchar 22/1; 2012: Woods 16/1; 2011: Stricker 28/1; 2010: Rose 80/1. Past 5 Renewals Average: 176/1; Overall Average: 114/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2018: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 88. Wind SW 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Friday: Overcast with scattered showers and an afternoon thunderstorm which caused a 1 hour, 28-minute delay. High of mid-80s. Wind WNW 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 80. Wind N 10-15 mph. Sunday: Cloudy. High of 81. Wind W 10-15 mph, with gusts of 25 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Mostly sunny skies in the morning became partly cloudy in the afternoon with a high of 77. Wind W 8-16 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 80. Wind WNW 6-12 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny skies with a high of 84. Wind WNW 5-10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a high of 85. Wind WSW 15-25 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Mostly cloudy skies with a high of 82. Wind W at 6-12 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy skies with a high of 82. Wind N/NW at 8-12 mph. Saturday: Cloudy skies and periods of light rain with a high in the mid-70s. Wind S/SE at 6-12 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 79. Wind W/SW at 15-25 mph.
  • 2015: Weather: Thursday: Cloudy, but drier in the afternoon, with highs reaching only into the lower 60s. North wind at 10-20 mph. A total of 1.3 inches of rain fell overnight and into the morning. Friday: Overcast, with intermittent rain throughout the day. High of 76, with N wind at 7-12 mph. Saturday: Overcast, with a high of 76. Wind SE at 15-25 mph. Sunday: Due to the likeliness of inclement weather, final-round tee times were between 7-9 a.m. Cloudy with rain most of the day and a high of 79. Wind SSW at 10-20 mph.

 

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Dublin, Ohio, is here. Thunderstorms look like they could potentially impact the golf course across both the Wednesday Pro-Am and the opening day of play. A 50% likelihood of rain is what it is, but across recent months Ohio has seen plenty of rain, so I’m expecting lush conditions rather than firm and fast fairway conditions. Thursday sees a passing front, which along with the potential precipitation, sees moderate winds a factor. From there, only light breezes across Friday to Sunday, in tandem with 25-27 degree Celsius temperatures, will yield excellent scoring.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 9 winners at Muirfield Village since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this:

  • 2018, Bryson DeChambeau (-15). 306 yards (4th), 62.5% fairways (58th), 72.2% greens in regulation (9th), 27’10” proximity to hole (9th), 80.0% scrambling (1st), 1.69 putts per GIR (27th).
  • 2017, Jason Dufner (-13). 299 yards (29th), 73.2% fairways (7th), 75.0% greens in regulation (1st), 29’9″ proximity to hole (6th), 55.6 % scrambling (30th), 1.67 putts per GIR (7th).
  • 2016, William McGirt (-15). 285 yards (50th), 67.9% fairways (39th), 73.6% greens in regulation (7th), proximity to hole 26’10” (5th), 73.7 % scrambling (6th), 1.74 putts per GIR (55th).
  • 2015, David Lingmerth (-15). 280 yards (61st), 76.8% fairways (11th), 68.1% greens in regulation (16th), proximity to hole 29’2″ (21st), 69.6 % scrambling (9th), 1.59 putts per GIR (7th).
  • 2014, Hideki Matsuyama (-13). 293 yards (39th), 75.0% fairways (11th), 66.7% greens in regulation (22nd), proximity to hole 25’8″ (1st), 58.3 % scrambling (20th), 1.60 putts per GIR (7th).
  • 2013, Matt Kuchar (-12). 283 yards (38th), 69.6% fairways (37th), 75.0% greens in regulation (1st), proximity to hole 32’2″ (31st), 61.1% scrambling (18th), 1.74 putts per GIR (23rd).
  • 2012, Tiger Woods (-9). 287 yards (18th), 76.8% fairways (14th), 73.6% greens in regulation (1st), proximity to hole 31’3″ (20th), 57.9% scrambling (9th), 1.75 putts per GIR (25th).
  • 2011, Steve Stricker (-16). 295 yards (35th), 80.4% fairways (3rd), 65.3% greens in regulation (30th), proximity to hole 26’9″ (2nd), 64.0% scrambling (3rd), 1.60 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2010, Justin Rose (-18). 263 yards (55th), 82.1% fairways (10th), 73.6% greens in regulation (13th), proximity to hole 27’6″ (13th), 68.4% scrambling (5th), 1.59 putts per GIR (1st).

Tournament Skill Average:

  • Driving Distance: 37th, Driving Accuracy: 21st, Greens in Regulation: 11th, Proximity to Hole: 12th, Scrambling: 11th, Putting Average 17th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2018, Bryson DeChambeau (-15). SG Off the Tee: 25th, SG Approach: 24th, SG Around the Green: 26th, SG Tee to Green: 12th, SG Putting: 6th.
  • 2017, Jason Dufner (-13). SG Off the Tee: 10th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 13th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 47th.
  • 2016, William McGirt (-15). SG Off the Tee: 19th, SG Approach: 10th, SG Around the Green: 38th, SG Tee to Green: 7th, SG Putting: 16th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 18th, SG Approach: 12th, SG Around the Green: 26th, SG Tee to Green: 7th, SG Putting: 23rd.

Let’s take a view from players as to how Muirfield Village sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Bryson DeChambeau (2018): ” Yeah, I played really well here (Columbus, Ohio). I love the grass. It’s super familiar. Back home in Fresno, California we have the same type of grass, relatively speaking. You go over to Monterey, it’s kind of the same as well. So I’ve played a lot of golf over there, I’m just comfortable with these types of, this type of grass. For whatever reason it seems to be that, out of this grass relative to Bermuda, it’s just way easier to kind of control the ball out of those types of lies, because in Bermuda you can sometimes get these massive jumpers, like incredibly massive, 30-yard jumpers. And out of this type of rough you only get about 15- to 20-yard jumpers. So in that regard I’m more comfortable and was just able to conquer it this week.”

Jason Dufner (2017): “This is a difficult golf course. The wind can be tricky at times. I’m hoping we’ll have some calmer conditions. But just being underneath the hole is a big thing out here. I find myself – when I play good rounds, I seem to be putting uphill all week. I’m struggling from above the hole. So position into the greens is important. Yeah, these are by far probably the best greens that we play on all year, from the standpoint of consistency on speed from green to green. When I step on 7th green I feel like it’s the same speed as the 14th green or the 17th green. And then also just the consistency of the roll, like you said. You feel like you get a really pure roll. If you start in on your line and your read is right you’re probably going to be holing a lot of putts. And I think they get as fast as any that we play. There’s a lot of pitch, a lot of undulation out there on these greens. You get above the hole you’re just breathing on them when they’re moving pretty good.

William McGirt (2016): “The one thing that I’ve learned, I think this was my fourth time playing here, I think. The biggest thing I’ve learned is where you can and cannot miss it. Most of the week, I missed it in the proper spot and left myself a chance to get it up and down. I mean, that’s the whole key around here is you can’t go attacking pins. Like the pin yesterday on 18. I mean, I’m standing out there in the fairway knowing that, if I hit 7 iron and catch any gust at all and it lands on the front, it’s coming 30 yards back down the fairway, but I’m thinking 6 could potentially go in that back bunker. And I kind of chickened out in the end, but I knew the right bunker was fine. So I kind of chickened out in the end and fanned it over there and got it up and down.

Jordan Spieth (2015): “A couple of things specifically about the course, the greens are arguably tied for first or second only to Augusta National as far as speed and how pure they are consistently each year. I love putting on greens where you have to have imagination, you have to play these ridges, speed control is so vital. And then I enjoy the ball striking part of this course where these pins are located normally three times. They’re located pretty close to each other, and if you hit a really good tee shot, you’re set up to feed into these holes. You can have really short birdie putts and you’ll see some eagles out here, given that the greens are so fast, they’ll just speed off the side and roll down. But if you get yourself out of position off the tee, and all of a sudden you’re left you can’t really take much of a chance because then you get above the hole and you’re out of it. So premium on positioning off the tee, and then imagination putting. And I enjoy those aspects of Muirfield.

Rickie Fowler (2015): “Yeah, most of the driving areas are generous in a way. There are some tight holes where you do have to be careful. But for the most part, it’s a second shot golf course. You have to have control of your golf ball coming to these greens, and you have to be able to put yourself on the right side of the hole on the right section of the green, which can definitely make a difference. It’s a three putt when you’re in the wrong spot. So having that control, coming from the fairway, it could be the proper side of the fairway, too, if the fairway is that big. But having to come in from the right side to change the angle, it can turn it into a little bit of a tighter hole. But it is definitely a second shot golf course. And you’re rewarded with good shots, but it will pick you apart if you’re off your numbers or missing your lines.

Matt Kuchar (2014): “Justin Rose. Kenny Perry. K.J. There’s not a whole lot of similarities amongst that crew. I mean, I think this course demands you to do everything well. These greens seem to get every bit as fast as Augusta National’s. You have to be on your game. And I think when greens are fast, it’s not so much a premium on your putting, but your iron shots is a real premium and positioning your iron shots. Driving is certainly a premium here. You don’t have to hit a lot of drivers. The longer guys, particularly, don’t have to hit a lot of drivers. I tend to hit more than most. I tend to challenge some of the shorter holes knowing those are opportunities for me to turn into real birdieable holes and know that my driving is one of my strengths, so I tend to challenge those a little more than most. I think in order to do well, you just have to have all parts of your game working well.

Bubba Watson (2014): “The course has a major feel, it’s because of the fact that it’s so difficult. It’s an approach shot golf course, I guess you’d say. The fairways are generous. Even I hit a lot of fairways here. So it’s all about your iron shots. It’s all about controlling your distance. It’s all about your mental game, because the par 3s, these have to be the most difficult par 3s on any course, all four of these put together. So it’s all about your approach shots into the greens and approach shots on the par 3s. So the last finishing stretch is you’re going to have a difficult shot over the water on 16, which is one of the toughest holes I’ve ever seen in my life, and 17 you’re going to have tough iron shot. And 18 now, the length, make it even tougher with that green. And so it’s all about your mental focus and what you can do. That’s what we all want. We always feel like if you focus better than the other guys and you think your ability is good enough, you’re going to be there in the end. We want it as tough as possible, or I want it tough as possible so that it weeds out some of the guys that aren’t thinking positive.

Phil Mickelson (2014): “Gotta drive the ball well here. It’s hard to recover from here. And your short irons need to be sharp because you’ve got to make a lot of birdies here. But then you also have to have your long irons and hybrids strong because you’re hitting those into the par 5s. And the greens are so pure and around the hole there’s not a lot of movement that you can really make some putts.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 9 Muirfield Village winners:

  • 2018 – Bryson DeChambeau: Round 1: 16th, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Jason Dufner: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2016 – William McGirt: Round 1: 44th, Round 2: 22nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2015 – David Lingmerth: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2014 – Hideki Matsuyama: Round 1: 21st, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 3rd
  • 2013 – Matt Kuchar: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2012 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2011 – Steve Stricker: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2010 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 4th.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 9 Muirfield Village winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2018 – Bryson DeChambeau: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2017 – Jason Dufner: Round 1: level, Round 2: 5 ahead, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 2016 – William McGirt: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2015 – David Lingmerth: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2014 – Hideki Matsuyama: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2013 – Matt Kuchar: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 2 ahead.
  • 2012 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 2011 – Steve Stricker: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 3 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.
  • 2010 – Justin Rose: Round 1: level, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 4 back.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Bryson DeChambeau: 42nd Colonial/37th TPC Sawgrass/4th Quail/3rd Heritage.
  • Jason Dufner: MC Colonial/12th TPC4S/60th Sawgrass/5th TPC Louisiana.
  • William McGirt: 47th Colonial/43rd Sawgrass/17th Quail/37th TPC San Antonio.
  • David Lingmerth: MC TPC4S/33rd Colonial/MC Quail/MC TPC Louisiana.
  • Hideki Matsuyama: 10th Colonial/23rd TPC Sawgrass/38th Quail/MC Heritage.
  • Matt Kuchar: 2nd Colonial/33rd TPC4S/48th TPC Sawgrass/35th Heritage.
  • Tiger Woods: 40th TPC Sawgrass/MC Quail/40th Augusta/1st Bay Hill.
  • Steve Stricker: 12th TPC Sawgrass/13th TPC Louisiana/11th Augusta/4th Houston.
  • Justin Rose: 71st Colonial/10th Wentworth/MC TPC Sawgrass/43rd TPC Louisiana.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2018 – Ancer / Niemann / Matsuyama – 2AM/1PM -7/65 – 175/1, 100/1 & 45/1.
  • 2017 – Dufner / Lingmerth – AM/PM Split -7/65 – 55/1 & 90/1.
  • 2016 – D Johnson – AM -8/64.
  • 2015 – Matsuyama / Van Pelt – Both PM -8/64.
  • 2014 – McIlroy – PM -9/63.
  • 2013 – Schwartzel – AM -7/65.
  • 2012 – Stallings – PM -6/66.
  • 2011 – McIlroy / Riley – AM/PM Split -6/66.
  • 2010 – Fowler / Rose – AM/PM Split -7/65.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Poa Annua and Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 5 – Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods.
  • 4 – Jason Day.
  • 3 – Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth.
  • 2 – Bryson DeChambeau, Vijay Singh, Jordan Spieth, Brendan Steele, Nick Watney.
  • 1 – Aaron Baddeley, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Emiliano Grillo, Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama, Ted Potter Jnr, Andrew Putnam, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Scott Stallings, Henrik Stenson, Steve Stricker, Vaughn Taylor, Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland.

The Memorial Tournament is very similar in stature and Tour scheduling placement to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. A number of top players use Bay Hill in March as their competitive warm-up for The Masters and the same point is true for Muirfield Village and the U.S. Open which is now only a fortnight away. Tie tournament scheduling in with the Jack Nicklaus links, plus the classical nature of this course, and it’s hardly surprising the best players feature year-in, year-out here at Muirfield Village.

The Memorial is often a tournament where you don’t want to hit the front too early, but undoubtedly quality players have generally topped the leaderboard come close of play on Sunday. Tiger’s wins in 2009 and 2012 came at 3/1 and 16/1 respectively. Justin Rose’s first PGA Tour victory in 2010 came at 80/1 a fortnight after a 10th place finish at Wentworth. Steve Stricker won at 28/1 in 2011. Matt Kuchar’s and Hideki Matsuyama’s victories here in 2013 and 2014 both followed contending performances the week prior at Colonial, with both players being priced at 22/1 and 66/1 respectively. This plethora of sub-100/1 winners is hardly a surprise when you consider that every winner of The Memorial since 2003 up to 2015 had ranked in the OWGR top 75.

But trends in golf betting vary and there have been seismic changes here in Ohio across the past 4 renewals. Nicklaus course specialist David Lingmerth landed his maiden title here in 2015 with inbound form of MC-33-MC-MC-MC. You won’t be surprised to read that the Swede was a 500/1 chance. Fast-forward to 2016 where Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland were all in the mix, but eventually it became a shoot-out between Jon Curran (400/1) and William McGirt (250/1) in a playoff, both of whom were chasing maiden PGA Tour titles. World Number 102 McGirt captured his first title since he played the Tarheel Tour in 2007 and came off immediate form of 47-43-17-37. He had though delivered 3 top-9 finishes and a further 2nd in the season prior to winning in Ohio. 2018 saw World Number 65 Jason Dufner beat Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Justin Thomas to take his 5th PGA Tour victory at 66/1. Jason showed grit and resolve on a fast Sunday golf course, taking on the likes of 54-hole leader Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Thomas and playing partner Rickie Fowler to comfortably win in the end by 3 shots.

And 2019 saw Bryson DeChambeau capture his second PGA Tour title at 50/1, delivering an excellent result for this column. His inbound form line read 42- 37- 4-3 with 4th coming at the classical Quail Hollow and 3rd coming at Harbour Town. Prior to that he’d gone very close in March at the classical Bay Hill finishing runner-up to Rory McIlroy. His maiden win had come in Connecticut at the 2017 John Deere Classic and he’d also won the web.com 2016 DAP Championship in Ohio.

My selections are as follows:

Patrick Cantlay 2pts EW 18/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair

First up for me this week has to be Patrick Cantlay who must arrive at Muirfield Village with a skip in his stride after finishing 3rd at the PGA Championship – his first ever Major top-5 finish. But that effort was certainly no flash in the pan: 7th in the WGC-HSBC Champions, 2nd at TPC Summerlin, 9th at the Desert Classic, 6th at the WGC-Mexico Championship, 9th at The Masters, 3rd at The Heritage and 3rd at the PGA Championship – season 2018/19 has been magnificent thus far. Yet he still finds himself with only a single win on the PGA Tour and outside of the automatic spots for Tiger’s United States Presidents Cup team. Asked about his thoughts after he’d finished at Bethpage Black, Cantlay answered, “I feel like every week I show up extremely prepared and extremely ready to play well. And I have been. I had a lot of nice finishes this year, and looking to get some Ws.

2nd for Scoring Average (behind only Dustin Johnson), 15th for SG Off the Tee, 14th for SG on Approach, 21st for SG Around the Green (huge improvement this season), 5th for SG Tee to Green, 1st for par-4 Scoring Average and 32nd for par-5 Scoring Average tell you all you need to know about Patrick’s game this season. But it’s his Ball Striking right now which really excites as he was 4th in that category at the stretching Bethpage Black where he hit the ball long and straight. That was his best performance of 2019. In 3 appearances in Ohio, Cantlay has finished 35th (here in 2017), 6th at Akron (2018) and 4th here 12 months ago, and it’s well worth remembering that he led for large chunks on Sunday here before missing out on the play-off by a single stroke.  Has a great opportunity to capture his biggest title to date at what I call the ‘Cathedral of Ball-Striking’. RESULT: Winner

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Matt Kuchar 2pts EW 20/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair

Take Tiger out of the equation and few have better Muirfield Village records than Matt Kuchar. 10th in 2008, 5th in 2009, 8th in 2010, 2nd in 2011, 1st in 2013, 4th in 2016, and 4th in 2017 – I make that 1 Win, 4 top-5s and a further 2 top-10 finishes in 13 appearances. It’s also noticeable that in 5 of those top 10 finishes, Kuchar had finished in the top 12 in his appearance prior across TPC Four Seasons or Colonial. So to see Kuchar finish 8th at Bethpage Black a fortnight ago, closing with a 69 in the worst of the weather, I think he arrives in Dublin, Ohio with confidence.

6th for Scoring Average, 6th for SG Approach, 1st for Greens in Regulation, 7th for Proximity to Hole, 3rd for Ball Striking (outstanding for a regular distance hitter), 12th for SG Tee to Green, 5th for par-4 Scoring average and 3rd for par-5 Scoring Average highlight a player at the very peak of his powers in 2019. But without a win since the Sony Open in January, Matt must have mentally marked this down as another huge opportunity this week. 19th (Bethpage), 12th (Harbour Town), 10th (Augusta National) and 8th (TPC San Antonio) for Ball Striking across his past 4 tournament, you won’t find many more consistent approach games right now, and that’s powering form which reads 2nd WGC Dell Match Play/7th Valero Texas Open/12th The Masters/2nd Harbour Town/8th PGA Championship. RESULT: MC

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Jim Furyk 1pt EW 80/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair

Muirfield Village is a rare Par 72 as in as much that shorter hitters can still be very, very competitive. Take Kyle Stanley here 12 months ago who averaged 278 yards off the tee and made the play-off.  Stanley is a proper ball striking metronome and a player who may be a little under the radar this week is Jim Furyk. A winner here in 2002, Jimbo has 7 top-10 finishes here over the years and 2nd here in 2009 and 8th as close as 2015, show that the fairway and greens man from Connecticut is a good match for Muirfield Village.

8th on the PGA Tour for Scoring Average is a huge achievement for the 49 year-old, whose 13th place at Colonial last week squeaked him into the Top 50 in the OWGR and into the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. The Open could be a huge opportunity for the Jacksonville, Florida-based player with its links format so affected by wind, but it’s tournaments like The Memorial where Jim can still be very much competitive.

6th at El Camaleon, 9th at PGA National, 2nd at TPC Sawgrass and last week’s 13th at Colonial highlight a player who can still be very competitive at courses with shorter par-5s. Muirfield Village is much like TPC Sawgrass in that respect and the fact that Jim ranks 8th in Scoring Average, 15th for Greens in Regulation, 13th for SG Approach, 2nd in Proximity to Hole and 25th for SG Tee to Green so far this season is pretty incredible. He’s also grossed over $2.3 million in prize money and mid-rounds of 66/68 were impressive in Fort Worth last week, with a putter than ranked 5th for Strokes Gained before his closing 73. Free-rolling this week, if the flat-stick remains compliant then I can see him towards the upper-echelons of the leaderboard. RESULT: T33

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Andrew Putnam 1pt EW 125/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Andrew Putnam is the sort who could also go well this week and his price is pretty indicative of many winners here since 2010 including Jason Dufner (66/1), Hideki Matsuyama (66/1) and Justin Rose (80/1). Putnam is the quiet sort that easily gets missed, but the 2018/19 season has already seen the World Number 49 (he qualified for the Open Championship with his 4th last week) finish 3 times in the top 4, so he’s not afraid to mix it. 4th at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in late October really grabbed my attention. That was a high-class breakthrough for the 29 year-old who mixed it with some of the very best in the world at Sheshan in Shanghai. We were also on board at 80/1 when he finished runner-up to Matt Kuchar at the Sony Open at Waialae in January. Then last week at the classical Colonial Andrew finished well, recording weekend rounds of 67 and 66 to finish in 3rd spot behind Kevin Na and Tony Finau.

When at his very best Putnam is a real Greens in Regulation man and sure enough he was 4th for Greens in Regulation last week in Fort Worth, but played very nicely finishing 11th for Driving Accuracy, 10th for SG Approach, 19th for Proximity to Hole, 10th for Ball-Striking and tellingly 6th for Putts per GIR. We also know that the 30 year-old from Washington State when confident holds form having had runs of 20/2 (Colonial/St Jude), 8/1 (Glen Abbey/Montreux) and 4/17/14/2 (Sheshan/Dunlop Phoenix/Kapalua/Waialae) over the past 12 months. 8th at Glen Abbey and 1st at Montreux last summer both came on Jack Nicklaus designs featuring Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix greens and Andrew was also 16th here after 36 holes at Muirfield Village on debut way back in 2015 amidst a run of 6 Missed Cuts in a disastrous rookie season. Could surprise this week. RESULT: T17

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Matt Every 0.5pt EW 175/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Finally a 2-time PGA Tour winner whose wins have come at the stretching, Bay Hill. With form of 3rd (New Orleans)/MC (Quail Hollow)/2nd(Trinity Forest)/17th (Colonial), he’s in very, very good nick, but still priced at nice triple-digit odds. Matt Every I have to say ticks lots of boxes this week on a course where he finished 6th on his course debut back in 2012 – a year where he had finished 8th (Harbour Town) and 2nd (TPC San Antonio) in the immediate build-up to The Memorial. 26th for Scoring Average, 4th for Birdie Average, 3rd for par-4 Birdie or Better Conversion, 25th for par-5 Birdie or Better Conversion, 53rd for Proximity to Hole and 1st for Putting Average, the Jacksonville Beach, Florida resident has re-invented himself in 2019. Up from 583rd in the OWGR to 214th, Matt has already guaranteed his playing privileges for next season after his exploits in April and May. Now finding greens on a regular basis, and with a top-notch approach game where he has been 9th and 5th for SG on Approach across Trinity Forest and Colonial on his last 2 outings, if Every keeps playing well with his irons, I think he can be live again this week in Dublin, Ohio. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:30BST 27.5.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.