Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Memorial Tournament Tips 2020

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Congratulations to you if you were on Collin Morikawa at 33/1 last week. A special talent in the making is Morikawa, who already had both a Bent/Poa Annua green and Jack Nicklaus design victory to his credit at the 2019 Barracuda Championship. Winning golf tournaments is hard and tournament favourite Justin Thomas proved that on Sunday, bogeying the last to set up a monumental play-off. But overall Muirfield Village showed exactly why it’s one of the best courses on the PGA Tour, where ‘bomb and gouge’ simply won’t work.

Before we talk the Memorial Tournament, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is sure to be strong, with new readers and those new to golf betting full-stop.  Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) the Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

On the PGA Tour, very little has more credence than ‘Jack’s Tournament’. The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide is always a highlight of the PGA Tour as its Invitational status combined with its reverence to the greatest Major Champion we’ve ever seen. A high-class field is always guaranteed and 2020 doesn’t disappoint with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele all in attendance. In all, the top 9 players in the world and 17 of the world’s top 20 ranked players are in Dublin, Ohio this week.

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Course Guide: Muirfield Village GC continually develops as a golfing test and we’re back to its Memorial Tournament guise this week as it 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. 2019: 72.08 (+0.08), Difficulty Rank 13 of 49 courses. 2020 Workday: 71.85 (+0.15), Difficulty Rank 9 of 33 courses.

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

  • Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:24; 350:29.
  • Detroit Golf Club: 250 yards from tee: 34 yards wide; 275:34; 300:35 325:34; 350:33.
  • TPC River Highlands: 250 yards from the tee: 38 yards wide; 275:36; 300:29; 325:29; 350:28.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:22; 325:26; 350:22.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:33; 300:33; 325:39 350:29.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:27 350:25.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Jack Nicklaus designs include:

  • Annandale Golf Club – (Sanderson Farms Championship through 2013)
  • Glen Abbey (2008, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2016 RBC Canadian Open)
  • Montreaux GCC – Barracuda Championship
  • PGA National – Honda Classic
  • PGA West, Tournament Course – The American Express
  • PGA West – Nicklaus Private (Humana Challenge through 2015)
  • Sherwood Country Club – Thousand Oaks – (World Challenge through 2013)
  • Valhalla Golf Club (2014 PGA Championship)

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.

As a reference, over the past 10 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 slightly at 15th, 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 284 yards (9th lowest on the PGA Tour in 2019), highlights that, for once, bombers do not have a significant advantage here. That being said, this week’s layout sees an additional 64 yards added, but until now 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 closing 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 yards, 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.

Differences from last week’s Workday Charity Open sees a slightly shorter course in play, down 64 yards. Rough will be slightly longer at 4 inches high and the organisers will want to get the green complexes far faster – standard stimpmeter reading here is 13.

memorial tournament tips

Winners: 2019: Patrick Cantlay (-19); 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 | 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 Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger, Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland and Abraham Ancer.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Honda Classic and Oman Open, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour (where recorded) 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) Tyler Duncan; 2) Brendon Todd / Henrik Norlander; 4) Daniel Berger; 5) Ryan Moore; 6) Jim Furyk; 7) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Collin Morikawa; 9) Abraham Ancer; 10) Sungjae Im / Brian Stuard; 12) Jason Dufner / Jim Herman / Kevin Streelman; 15) Ryan Armour; 16) J.T. Poston; 17) Scott Piercy; 18) Doc Redman; 19) Kevin Kisner / Vaughn Taylor.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Adam Hadwin; 2) Paul Casey; 3) Cameron Champ; 4) Lucas Glover; 5) Xander Schauffele / Kevin Streelman; 7) Corey Conners; 8) Bryson DeChambeau / Matthew Fitzpatrick; 10) Daniel Berger / Hideki Matsuyama / Doc Redman; 13) Jim Furyk / Sergio Garcia / Dustin Johnson / Gary Woodland; 17) Harold Varner III; 18) Jason Dufner / Viktor Hovland / Brooks Koepka / Matthew NeSmith.
  • Scrambling: 1) Patrick Cantlay; 2) Kevin Kisner; 3) Daniel Berger; 4) Brendon Todd; 5) Bryson DeChambeau; 6) Harris English; 7) Adam Long; 8) Brandt Snedeker; 9) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Branden Grace; 11) Webb Simpson; 12) Rory Sabbatini / Danny Willett; 14) Max Homa / Zach Johnson; 16) Kevin Na / Jon Rahm; 18) Dustin Johnson / Ian Poulter; 20) Jason Day / Matt Kuchar.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Mackenzie Hughes; 3) Ian Poulter; 4) Danny Lee; 5) Daniel Berger; 6) Harris English; 7) Abraham Ancer; 8) Patrick Cantlay; 9) J.T. Poston / Doc Redman / Justin Thomas; 12) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Collin Morikawa / Danny Willett; 15) Bryson DeChambeau; 16) Talor Gooch; 17) Viktor Hovland; 18) Xander Schauffele; 19) Brooks Koepka; 20) Jim Herman / Vaughn Taylor.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Honda Classic and Oman Open, which includes both PGA and European Tour events where recorded. 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:

  • Top 20 SG Off The Tee: 1) Bryson DeChambeau / Jason Kokrak; 3) Hideki Matsuyama; 4) Collin Morikawa; 5) Viktor Hovland; 6) Patrick Cantlay; 7) Rory McIlroy; 8) Dustin Johnson; 9) Daniel Berger / Jon Rahm; 11) Sungjae Im; 12) Sergio Garcia; 13) Scottie Scheffler; 14) Cameron Champ; 15) Bubba Watson; 16) Corey Conners / Xander Schauffele; 18) Ryan Moore; 19) Jim Herman; 20) Nick Taylor.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Lucas Glover; 2) Hideki Matsuyama; 3) Daniel Berger / Viktor Hovland; 5) Paul Casey / Webb Simpson; 7) Corey Conners; 8) Patrick Cantlay; 9) Bryson DeChambeau / Doc Redman; 11) Joaquin Niemann / Justin Thomas; 13) Adam Hadwin; 14) Bud Cauley; 15) Graeme McDowell / Gary Woodland; 17) Joel Dahmen; 18) Collin Morikawa / Kevin Streelman; 20) Abraham Ancer / Matthew NeSmith.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Sergio Garcia; 2) Brian Harman; 3) Sungjae Im; 4) Daniel Berger / Harris English; 6) Justin Thomas; 7) Patrick Reed / Rory Sabbatini; 9) Phil Mickelson / Cameron Smith; 11) J.T. Poston / Steve Stricker; 13) Andrew Landry; 14) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Ian Poulter; 16) Patrick Cantlay / Charles Howell III; 18) Kevin Na / Brian Stuard; 20) Vijay Singh.
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Bryson DeChambeau; 3) Sergio Garcia; 4) Patrick Cantlay / Hideki Matsuyama; 6) Viktor Hovland; 7) Lucas Glover; 8) Webb Simpson; 9) Dustin Johnson; 10) Harris English / Justin Thomas; 12) Rory McIlroy; 13) Corey Conners; 14) Tony Finau; 15) Abraham Ancer; 16) Xander Schauffele; 17) Jon Rahm / Harold Varner III; 19) Graeme McDowell; 20) Brian Harman / Sungjae Im.
  • Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Mackenzie Hughes; 2) Harris English; 3) Ian Poulter; 4) Matt Kuchar; 5) Adam Hadwin; 6) Daniel Berger / Matthew Fitzpatrick; 8) Patrick Cantlay / Denny McCarthy; 10) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 11) Bryson DeChambeau / Zach Johnson; 13) Andrew Putnam; 14) Mark Hubbard / Gary Woodland; 16) Xander Schauffele; 17) Troy Merritt; 18) J.T. Poston / Webb Simpson / Brendon Todd.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Patrick Cantlay; 3) Bryson DeChambeau; 4) 4) Harris English; 5) Webb Simpson; 6) Adam Hadwin; 7) Viktor Hovland; 8) Rory McIlroy; 9) Xander Schauffele; 10) Matt Kuchar / Jon Rahm; 12) Dustin Johnson / Ian Poulter; 14) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Sergio Garcia; 16) Justin Thomas; 17) Abraham Ancer; 18) Rory Sabbatini; 19) Lucas Glover / Graeme McDowell.

PGA Tour Resumption Player Strokes Gained Rankings These top 20 in the field rankings are based from the Charles Schwab Challenge onwards:

  • Top 20 SG Off The Tee: 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Rory McIlroy; 3) Cameron Champ; 4) Paul Casey; 5) Viktor Hovland; 6) Sergio Garcia; 7) Jon Rahm; 8) Jason Kokrak; 9) Abraham Ancer / Hideki Matsuyama / Nick Taylor; 12) Justin Rose; 13) Webb Simpson; 14) Tony Finau / Collin Morikawa; ; 16) Brooks Koepka; 17) Dustin Johnson; 18) J.T. Poston; 19) Patrick Cantlay / Corey Conners / Jim Herman.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Abraham Ancer; 2) Lucas Glover / Viktor Hovland; 4)Doc Redman; 5) Nick Taylor; 6) Corey Conners / Daniel Berger; 8) Hideki Matsuyama; 9) Joaquin Niemann; 10) Paul Casey; 11) Emiliano Grillo / Webb Simpson; 13) Kevin Streelman; 14) Henrik Norlander / Justin Thomas; 16) Adam Hadwin; 17) Patrick Cantlay / Bryson DeChambeau / Harold Varner III; 20) Dustin Johnson.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Brian Harman; 2) Sergio Garcia; 3) Daniel Berger; 4) Justin Thomas; 5) J.T. Poston; 6) Vijay Singh; 7) Patrick Cantlay; 8) Phil Mickelson; 9) Rory McIlroy; 10) Tony Finau / Ian Poulter / Erik van Rooyen; 12) Patrick Reed; 13) Wyndham Clark / Sungjae Im / Rory Sabbatini; 16) Andrew Landry / Brian Stuard; 18) Paul Casey / Tyler Duncan / Si Woo Kim / Cameron Smith.
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Viktor Hovland; 2) Daniel Berger; 3) Abraham Ancer / Bryson DeChambeau; 5) Sergio Garcia; 6) Lucas Glover; 7) Paul Casey / Nick Taylor; 9) Rory McIlroy / Justin Thomas; 11) Hideki Matsuyama; 12) Patrick Cantlay; 13) Joaquin Niemann / Webb Simpson; 15) Henrik Norlander; 16) Corey Conners / Jon Rahm; 18) Doc Redman; 19) Dustin Johnson; 20) Brian Harman.
  • Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Gary Woodland; 3) Mackenzie Hughes; 4) Matt Kuchar; 5) Ian Poulter; 6) Patrick Cantlay; 7) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 8) Bryson DeChambeau; 9) Adam Hadwin; 10) Mark Hubbard / Xander Schauffele; 12) Denny McCarthy; 13) Brooks Koepka; 14) Ryan Armour / Harris English; 16) J.T. Poston / Andrew Putnam; 18) Troy Merritt; 19) Zach Johnson; 20) Zach Johnson.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Bryson DeChambeau; 3) Abraham Ancer / Patrick Cantlay; 5) Viktor Hovland; 6) Lucas Glover; 7) Rory McIlroy; 8) Sergio Garcia / Brooks Koepka; 10) Adam Hadwin; 11) Mark Hubbard / Henrik Norlander / Webb Simpson; 14) Harris English / Matt Kuchar / Justin Thomas; 17) Doc Redman / Xander Schauffele; 19) Tyler Duncan / Dustin Johnson / Kevin Streelman.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Cantlay 18/1; 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 6 Renewals Average: 150/1; Overall Average: 105/1.

For full details of winners’ prices on the PGA Tour going back to 2010 click here.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: Partly cloudy with scattered showers. High of 72. Wind SW 10-20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 79. Wind NW 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind WSW 10-18 mph. Sunday: Cloudy. High of 70. Wind NW 12-22 mph.
  • 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: latest weather forecast for Dublin, Ohio, is here. A tiny bit of rain Sunday night will have been welcomed by the course, but 3 days of beautiful Ohio weather in the build-up to the Memorial, should see the course drying up, just as the organisers will have wanted. So expect plenty of run on the fairways and faster green complexes from what we saw last week.

That of course could change based on the constant threat of thunderstorms from Thursday onwards, but percentage chances of ‘boomers’ are down week-on-week. A front passing through on Thursday sees the 20mph gusting wind in play, but from Friday onwards expect light breezes and 30-32 degree Celsius temperatures.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 10 winners at Muirfield Village since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this:

  • 2019, Patrick Cantlay (-19). 298 yards (4th), 67.9% fairways (51st), 69.4% greens in regulation (11th), 29’0″ proximity to hole (10th), 82.7% scrambling (5th), 1.62 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 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: 33rd, Driving Accuracy: 24th, Greens in Regulation: 11th, Proximity to Hole: 12th, Scrambling: 11th, Putting Average 15th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2019, Patrick Cantlay (-19). SG Off the Tee: 8th, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 2nd, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 7th.
  • 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: 16th, SG Approach: 10th, SG Around the Green: 20th, SG Tee to Green: 6th, SG Putting: 19th.

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

Patrick Cantlay (2019): “I like this golf course a lot. It’s in great shape. And puts a serious premium of driving the ball in the fairway, which is one of my strengths. I feel comfortable around here, and it’s nice to be here. I feel like I know the lines and what to expect. The golf course suits my game. There’s a huge premium on driving the golf ball long in the fairway. And if you can control your distance coming into the greens, you can have a lot of looks. The greens are really slopey, and there’s a lot of hole locations where the ball gathers to the hole. And being able to know your distance and knowing where to leave it so it will feed to the hole is important. And I feel like being back here my third year I’m getting a better feel of it. And I’m starting to feel really comfortable around the golf course.”

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 10 Memorial Tournament winners:

  • 2019 – Patrick Cantlay: Round 1: 8th, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 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 10 Memorial Tournament winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2019 – Patrick Cantlay: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 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:

  • Patrick Cantlay: 3rd PGA Championship/3rd Heritage/9th Augusta/MC Sawgrass.
  • 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.

  • 2019 – Moore – AM -7/65 – 100/1.
  • 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:

  • 11 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 6 – Bubba Watson.
  • 5 – Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Jimmy Walker.
  • 2 – Brooks Koepka, Scott Piercy, Patrick Reed, Vijay Singh, Brendan Steele, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland.
  • 1 – Keegan Bradley, Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Champ, Jason Dufner, Emiliano Grillo, Bill Haas, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Nate Lashley, Marc Leishman, Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama, Graeme McDowell, Collin Morikawa, Carl Pettersson, Andrew Putnam, Jon Rahm, Chez Reavie, Justin Rose, Scott Stallings, Steve Stricker, Nick Taylor, Vaughn Taylor, Justin Thomas, Kevin Tway, Bo Van Pelt.

Trends-wise since the PGA Tour return we have seen a quality line-up of winners. 66/1 (Daniel Berger), 30/1 (Webb Simpson), 30/1 (DJ), 7/1 (DeChambeau) and 33/1 (Collin Morikawa) have been the winning prices to this point. And the winners list over the past 5 years at the Memorial reads David Lingmerth (500/1), William McGirt (200/1) Jason Dufner (66/1), Bryson DeChambeau (50/1) and Patrick Cantlay (18/1). With the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational 2 weeks away and the PGA Championship the mere matter of 3 weeks away, top players are positioning themselves for the season’s first Major Championship.

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 and Hideki Matsuyama 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. 2018 and 2019 has also seen Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay win at 50/1 and 18/1 respectively. All-in-all this plethora of sub-100/1 winners is hardly a surprise when you consider that every winner of The Memorial since 2003 apart from 2 (Lingmerth 2015 & McGirt 2016) have ranked in the Official World Golf Ranking top 75.

As ever though, trends in golf betting vary and there have been big price winners as well here in Ohio. 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 this column has had plenty of success here over the past 2 renewals of The Memorial. 2018 saw Bryson DeChambeau capture his second PGA Tour title at 50/1. 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 2016 DAP Championship in Ohio.  Patrick Cantlay last year was a hot hand with 3rd at the PGA Championship, 3rd at Harbour Town and 9th at Augusta National preceding his 2nd, and by far biggest, PGA Tour title to date.

My Final Memorial Tournament Tips Are As Follows

Justin Thomas 3pts EW 11/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

At the top of the market there are 5 players sub-18/1: DeChambeau, Thomas, McIlroy, Cantlay and DJ. Naturally it’s a case of take your pick or ignore if you want to play further down the board, but I’m going to take Predictor Model Number 1 Justin Thomas.

Magnificent last week here at the Workday Charity Open, Thomas ultimately had the tournament in his control but bogeyed the second hardest hole, the 72nd, and surrendered his one shot lead. From there it was the lottery of a play-off and when he rolled in that 50 footer for birdie on the first play-off hole, he must have thought that victory was going to be his. But Morikawa showed huge mental strength to follow him in and ultimately take the biggest tournament to date of his short career.

On such fine margins are golf tournaments won and lost and nobody will know that more than Justin Thomas. A 12-time PGA Tour winner – spanning less than 5 years – Thomas has also finished runner-up at the 2017 Tour Championship, 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship and the 2019 Genesis Open. Results post-2nd place finish read 2017: 17th/1st; 2018: 4th; 2019: 9th. What I’m trying to say is effectively what Justin said yesterday post play off, “I hope it takes about three or four days to get over this because I’ve got to start another tournament on Thursday. I mean, I’m playing great. I have a great chance to win another golf tournament next week at a course that I obviously enjoy and I’m playing well. I just need to execute better when I get in that situation in the future.”

4th (2017), 8th (2018) and now 2nd in 2020, Justin undoubtedly has a love affair with Muirfield Village and undoubtedly he’d love to win Jack’s Tournament. Fact is, he’s also in the groove right now to achieve that: 14th for Driving Accuracy and 9th for Greens in Regulation, 7 of his 12 PGA Tour victories have come when he’s been in the top 10 for Greens Hit, or 9 if you broaden it out to the top 20 for Greens Hit, the previous outing. 19th for SG Off the Tee, 2nd for SG on Approach, 28th for SG Around the Green and 2nd for SG Tee to Green this season-to-date, Thomas was 5th, 4th and 2nd for the same categories last week on the same golf course as this week. He’s hard to oppose and actually I’m not going to! RESULT: T18

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Daniel Berger 1.5pts EW 40/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

The narrative of big break-out wins here works nicely. Justin Rose in 2010, Hideki Matsuyama in 2014 and William McGirt in 2016 won their first ever PGA Tour titles at this tournament. And the last 2 champions namely Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay were already PGA Tour winners, but this Memorial win undoubtedly cemented them at the top table of world golf. Naturally Viktor Hovland is a player on everyone’s lips since the PGA Tour resumption and a win for him this week would not be out of the question at all. But at 22/1 and shorter than the likes of Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Webb Simpson – I can’t get involved.

Instead in Daniel Berger we have a rested player whose form reads 9-5-4-1-3 and who I’ve backed at what I thought was an excellent 40/1. Across my 8-week trackers and in this field he ranks 4th for Driving Accuracy, 10th for Greens in Regulation, 3rd for Scrambling and 5th for Putting Average (Putts per GIR) across traditional skill sets. And from a Strokes Gained perspective, his game is just as impressive right now in this field: 9th for Off the Tee, 3rd for Approach, 4th for Around the Green, 1st for Tee to Green, 6th for Putting and 1st for Total – that’s effectively Strokes Gained current form. A winner at the classical, tree-lined Colonial at the start of June, a win at the Memorial Tournament would undoubtedly be a career highlight for the 3-time PGA Tour winner.

2nd as a rookie at the 2015 Honda Classic played at the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA National, 2nd at Conway Farms (2015), 10th at Augusta National (2016), 5th and 2nd at TPC River Highlands (2016 + 2017), 10th at Crooked Stick (2016), and 2nd at Sheshan International (2017), correlate nicely with the likes of Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Cantlay. 4th again in 2020 at PGA National, I’m sure we can all remember his last 2 outings since the PGA Tour resumption where he captured his first title for 3 years at Colonial and backed that up a week later with 3rd at the Harbour Town hosted RBC Heritage.

I always find 3-time Muirfield Village champion Kenny Perry (1991, 2003 and 2008) as a great player to use as a correlating course yardstick and Kenny amongst 14 PGA Tour titles has wins at TPC Scottsdale, Colonial (twice), TPC River Highlands and Deere Run. That template works nicely with Berger who has 4 top-11 finishes at TPC Scottsdale, a win at Colonial, 2nd and 5th at TPC River Highlands and 5th at Deere Run to his name. A lot to like about Berger this week. RESULT: MC

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Abraham Ancer 1.5pts EW 50/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Abraham Ancer hit the crossbar a few weeks ago at Harbour Town, where he shot a -6/65 final round and a -21/263 total. From a Strokes Gained perspective he gained 12.80 shots total against the field and still managed to finish runner-up by 1 shot to Webb Simpson who birdied 5 of the last 7 holes to take the RBC Heritage plaid jacket. But you can’t get away from the fact that Ancer is developing and feeling more comfortable in the white heat of contention on the PGA Tour.

2nd at the American Express, 6th in Saudi Arabia, 12th at the WGC-Mexico Championship, 14th at the Charles Schwab Challenge, 2nd at the RBC Heritage and 11th at the Travelers Championship. 50/1 seems a fair price on a player who is playing very nicely thank you on a golf course where Driving Accuracy, Total Driving, Ball Striking and Scrambling really mean something.

Comfortable on Bentgrass and with Poa Annua when you look at his results, he has quite a bit of form which correlates nicely with previous winners here. The last 3 seasons have seen the Mexican finish 5th at Glen Abbey (2018), 7th at TPC Boston (2018), 4th at TPC Summerlin (2018), 8th at TPC River Highlands (2019), 2nd at Liberty National (2019), 4th at Sheshan International (2019) and 12th at Chapultepec – all predominantly Bentgrass greens with some Poa Annua in spots.

From a statistical perspective, he’s had a stellar season so far. From a traditional perspective, 11th for Scoring Average, 55th for Proximity to Hole, 8th for Scrambling and 30th for Putting Average (Putts per GIR) are solid. From a Strokes Gained perspective, 32nd for Off the Tee, 11th for Approach and 11th for Tee to Green highlight a Tour maiden who’s due a win. 2 previous outings here have seen a couple of pay cheques and the Mexican co-led with Joaquin Niemann and Hideki Matsuyama (shooting -7/65) after Day One here 24 months ago. 2 years down the line you get the feeling that Ancer would take that opening round forward and contend across all 4 days. And at a course where break through wins are a theme – think DeChambeau, Cantlay and now Morikawa – Ancer’s name joining that list seems more than logical to me. RESULT: T58

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Memorial Tournament tips. Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:20BST 13.7.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.