Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Memorial Tournament Tips 2022

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Congratulations if you were on-board Sam Burns at Monday odds of 30/1 (William Hill) to win the Charles Schwab Challenge. 7 shots back of World Number 1 Scottie Scheffler going into Sunday, you don’t see too many come-from-behind victories like that! This column snared some each-way returns for Jordan Spieth (16/1) and Kevin Na (50/1), which could have been better as both bogeyed 18 (17 and 18 in the case of Jordan).

On the PGA Tour, very little has more credence than ‘Jack’s Tournament’. The Memorial Tournament presented by Workday is always a highlight of the PGA Tour given its Invitational status combined with its reverence to the greatest Major Champion we have ever seen. A high-class field is always guaranteed. 2022 sees Patrick Cantlay defend his title with the likes of Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Will Zalatoris, Matt Fitzpatrick, Billy Horschel, Joaquin Niemann and Abraham Ancer all in attendance from inside the OWGR top 20. With a couple of U.S. Open qualifiers in Ohio on Monday, this part of the mid-west United States is undoubtedly the epicentre of the golfing world this week.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Memorial Tournament, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,100 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: Muirfield Village GC continually develops as a golfing test and 2021 saw a lengthened, renovated design for the very first time. Up by over 150 yards, the course now plays as a 7,533 yard, Par 72.

This track has always been a cracker and has hosted the 1987 Ryder Cup and the 2013 Presidents Cup and is an original Nicklaus design – Jack also oversaw recent course development personally. 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, tough bunkering, 11 holes with water in play and over 80 acres of primarily Kentucky bluegrass rough which was very lush last year. Severely undulating Bentgrass green complexes are a true work of art with 14 of them only seen in 2021.

Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio: Designer: Jack Nicklaus 1974, latest guise established 2021; Course Type: Classical; Par: 72; Length: 7,533 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 13; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with ryegrass/fescue 4″; Greens: 5,000 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; 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 12 of 41 courses. 2020: 74.01 (+2.01), Difficulty Rank 2 of 41 courses. 2021: 72.97 (+0.97), Difficulty Rank 10 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: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:28; 325:24; 350:27.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.
  • Champions Course – Southern Hills: Average 40 yards wide.
  • TPC Potomac: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:30; 300:27; 325:23; 350:27.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:22; 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; 275:32; 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.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.

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

  • Annandale Golf Club – Sanderson Farms Championship through 2013
  • Glen Abbey – RBC Canadian Open – 2008, 2013, 2015-2018
  • Montreux Golf & Country Club – Barracuda Championship through 2019
  • Old Greenwood GC – Barracuda Championship 2020
  • PGA National – The Honda Classic
  • PGA West – Nicklaus Private – Humana Challenge through 2015
  • PGA West – Stadium Course – The American Express
  • Sherwood Country Club – Thousand Oaks – World Challenge through 2013 + 2020 ZOZO Championship
  • Valhalla Golf Club – 2014 PGA Championship

Course Overview: Muirfield Village has always been a great all-round classical golf test where both ball striking and short game experts can contend with equal frequency. A typical Nicklaus design, each hole gets more difficult further away from the tee so those with consistent approach play have always been able to access flatter parts of the green complexes close to hole locations. Birdies are 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. Put conversely, this classical design still has teeth for the wayward, poor scramblers and poor putters.

Muirfield Village in 2021 also looked significantly different and as ever there was a certainly level of disquiet from players who did not like the tough set-up. This quote from Jack Nicklaus himself highlights the key focus of the 2020 renovation and how Muirfield Village will continue to be prepared for his tournament ongoing: “My belief is that tournament golf should be a test to find out who is the best golfer that week. Far too many tournaments have eliminated the rough and firmness of greens, and that is just not my idea of what the game of golf should be. So I am going to stick with my old-fashioned beliefs about how the game of golf should be played and the way golf courses should be set up. The whole gamut of all shots is what the game of golf is all about. The game should challenge every facet of every club in the bag.

Statistically the Muirfield Village course plays to 7,543 yards, up 151 yards. Most of that length has been added to the par-5s with new tee boxes adding 20-30 yards to each. The par-4 1st Hole also had a new tee box added, taking that to 490 yards.

A summary of the renovation which has taken place across 2 phases, either side of the 2020 Workday / Memorial events, includes the fact that all greens were reconstructed with new Bentgrass, irrigation and Sub-Air Air systems. Most holes had their green complexes 100% re-contoured and rebuilt with significant bunker modifications. Fairway widths, which have always been generous here, were also pinched on certain holes, with all fairways featuring fresh Bentgrass fairway grass and associated Bluegrass/Ryegrass/Fescue rough.

Only green complexes on the 12th, 13th, 14th and 17th resemble the old design. All fairway and greenside bunkers were rebuilt, with fairway bunkers on the 1st, 15th and 17th strategically repositioned.

The biggest differences last year were on the par-5s which used to play relatively short. New tee boxes were added to all 4 of them adding 100 yards to the scorecard. Number 5 was rebuilt in its entirety from tee to green with new fairway bunkers and extensive grade changes to the second and third shot landing zones, plus a water hazard placed in front of an entirely new green.

Feedback from 2021 was that the course played harder. The rough was thicker than before and many talked about how the risk/reward element had turned towards laying-up rather than Going for the Green. That changed though on Sunday, when the PGA Tour brought the tees forward on 3 of the 4 par-5s. It’s also worth remembering that Jon Rahm led by 6 with an amazing -18 score before having to WD on Saturday.

memorial tournament tips

Memorial Tournament Winners: 2021: Patrick Cantlay (-13); 2020: Jon Rahm (-9); 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).

OWGR of Winners: 2021: Cantlay 15; 2020: Rahm 2; 2019: Cantlay 15; 2018: DeChambeau 38.

Cut Line: 2021: +2; 2020: +3; 2019: +1; 2018: E.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2021: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -18; Round 4 -13.
  • 2020: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -12; Round 4 -9.
  • 2019: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -15; Round 4 -19.
  • 2018: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -15.

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 | Strokes Gained 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 Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Shane Lowry, Sungjae Im, Will Zalatoris, Mito Pereira, Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Cameron Young.

Memorial Tournament Winning Prices: 2021: Cantlay 22/1; 2020: Rahm 22/1; 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 8 Renewals Average: 118/1; Overall Average: 91/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2021: Thursday: Cloudy with rain. High of 72. Wind SW 10-15 mph. Play was suspended and officials decided to cease play for the day at 6:41 p.m. The morning wave of 60 players completed the round. No player of the 60 in the afternoon wave completed the round. A total of 0.95” rainfall was recorded Thursday. Friday: Cloudy, with a high of 81. Wind WSW 8-13 mph. Early-morning fog delayed the scheduled 7:30 a.m. first-round resumption until 7:53 a.m. The first round was completed at 12:40 p.m. Saturday: R2 Mostly sunny. High of 86. Wind SW 12-16 mph. Round two resumed at 8 a.m. and concluded at 9:54 a.m. R3 Mostly sunny. High of 86. Wind SW 12-16 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny, with brief afternoon showers. High of 89. Wind SSW 10-15 mph. The final two pairings were held in place from 5:46-5:51 p.m. for a heavy rain shower.
  • 2020: Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with light rain in the morning. High of 90. Wind SW 15-25 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 90. Wind W 5-10 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 93. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny with intermittent showers. High of 96. Wind SW 15-25 mph, with gusts to 30 mph. Due to a dangerous weather situation, play was suspended at 3:41 p.m. and resumed at 4:30 p.m. (49-minute delay).
  • 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.

After a stretch of wind-affected golf which goes back to The Masters, we actually see a change this week with Muirfield Village GC looking calm and placid in that regard. 45mm of rain fell in this part of Dublin, Ohio last week, and there’s a 50% chance of further rain on pro-Am Wednesday. The course should be looking picture perfect for play on Thursday. Temperatures of 23-25 degrees Celsius look perfect. Jack Nicklaus should be in a situation where he can make the rough as tough as he wants, in combination with making the greens as fast as he likes with Sub-Air, low wind and moderate temperatures.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Masters Tournament which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Jon Rahm; 3) Sungjae Im; 4) Keegan Bradley / Patrick Rodgers; 6) Jordan Spieth; 7) Cameron Young; 8) Joaquin Niemann; 9) Matt Fitzpatrick / Mito Pereira; 11) Cameron Champ; 12) Will Zalatoris; 13) Viktor Hovland / Min Woo Lee; 15) Ryan Palmer; 16) Chris Kirk / Kurt Kitayama; 18) Xander Schauffele; 19) Abraham Ancer / Corey Conners / Chan Kim; 22) Luke List / Shane Lowry; 24) Lucas Glover / Anirban Lahiri.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Cameron Smith; 2) Rory McIlroy; 3) Mito Pereira; 4) Collin Morikawa / Brendan Steele; 6) Sungjae Im; 7) Max Homa; 8) C.T. Pan; 9) Xander Schauffele; 10) Stewart Cink; 11) Viktor Hovland / Jordan Spieth; 13) Cameron Young; 14) Patrick Cantlay; 15) Scott Stallings; 16) Hideki Matsuyama; 17) Aaron Wise; 18) Cam Davis / Chris Kirk; 20) Marc Leishman; 21) Cameron Champ / Si Woo Kim / Cameron Tringale; 24) Justin Lower; 25) Matthew NeSmith / Will Zalatoris.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Pat Perez; 2) Jordan Spieth; 3) David Lingmerth; 4) Sungjae Im; 5) Cameron Young; 6) Jason Day; 7) Matt Kuchar; 8) Anirban Lahiri; 9) William McGirt; 10) Luke Donald; 11) Andrew Putnam; 12) Brian Harman; 13) Joaquin Niemann / Danny Willett; 15) Adam Hadwin; 16) Chris Kirk; 17) Seamus Power; 18) Matt Fitzpatrick; 19) Adam Long / Peter Malnati / Aaron Wise / Will Zalatoris; 23) Lucas Herbert / Si Woo Kim; 25) Xander Schauffele.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Sungjae Im; 3) Mito Pereira; 4) Jordan Spieth; 5) Collin Morikawa / Cameron Young; 7) Cameron Smith; 8) Shane Lowry; 9) Chris Kirk; 10) Aaron Wise; 11) Matt Fitzpatrick / Hideki Matsuyama / Jon Rahm; 14) Will Zalatoris; 15) Xander Schauffele / Brendan Steele; 17) Max Homa; 18) Joaquin Niemann; 19) Lucas Glover; 20) Keegan Bradley / Kurt Kitayama / Anirban Lahiri; 23) Patrick Cantlay / Peter Malnati; 25) Cameron Champ / Matt Kuchar / Adam Long  Patrick Rodgers.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Shane Lowry / Denny McCarthy; 3) Lucas Herbert; 4) Troy Merritt; 5) Patrick Rodgers; 6) Alex Noren; 7) Seamus Power; 8) Ryan Palmer; 9) Viktor Hovland / Joaquin Niemann; 11) Max Homa; 12) Davis Riley; 13) Bryson DeChambeau / Rory McIlroy / Jon Rahm / Nick Watney; 17) Abraham Ancer / Lanto Griffin / Beau Hossler / J.T. Poston / Cameron Tringale; 22) Matt Fitzpatrick / Xander Schauffele; 24) Corey Conners / Cam Davis.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Shane Lowry; 3) Mito Pereira; 4) Sungjae Im; 5) Jordan Spieth; 6) Cameron Young; 7) Cameron Smith; 8) Joaquin Niemann; 9) Keegan Bradley / Matt Fitzpatrick / Max Homa / Jon Rahm / Xander Schauffele / Aaron Wise; 15) Patrick Rodgers; 16) Adam Long; 17) Hideki Matsuyama / Seamus Power; 19) Viktor Hovland; 20) Matt Kuchar; 21) Collin Morikawa / Davis Riley; 23) Cam Davis / C.T. Pan; 25) Corey Conners.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at Muirfield Village Golf Club since 2016 click here.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the winners of the Memorial Tournament since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:

  • 2021, Patrick Cantlay (-13). 303 yards (8th), 66.1% fairways (28th), 75.0% greens in regulation (1st), 31’8″ proximity to hole (16th), 66.7 % scrambling (6th), 1.67 putts per GIR (20th).
  • 2020, Jon Rahm (-9). 293 yards (36th), 64.3% fairways (4th), 66.7% greens in regulation (3rd), 34’9″ proximity to hole (17th), 66.7 % scrambling (3rd), 1.71 putts per GIR (17th).
  • 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 Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 27th, Driving Accuracy: 23rd, Greens in Regulation: 10th, Proximity to Hole: 13th, Scrambling: 10th, Putting Average 16th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2021, Patrick Cantlay (-13). SG Off the Tee: 3rd, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 3rd, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 19th.
  • 2020, Jon Rahm (-9). SG Off the Tee: 4th, SG Approach: 8th, SG Around the Green: 1st, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 28th.
  • 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: 12th, SG Approach: 9th, SG Around the Green: 14th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 21st.

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

Patrick Cantlay (2021): “I never changed my mind. I was 268 or 270 front. It’s all cover over water and it’s into the wind. So even my best 3-wood is about 270 and that’s not into the wind or anything. So with the new length on all these par-5s, it’s a lot of laying up. I’ve never laid up as much this week around this golf course on the par-5s by a long ways. So the par-5s are playing a lot more difficult and I think that’s why scoring’s worse this year compared to previous years. Especially considering how this golf course in the past has played. But that’s just the way it is now and I’m sure if the fairways firm out a little bit you will be able to hit the ball a little further and maybe get to some of the par-5s.

Rory McIlroy (2021): “No, it’s the redesign of the holes. Especially the par-5 5th green, I went for it today and hit a pretty good shot, but even, I hit a great shot straight over the pin into the back bunker and, I mean, you would rather be 90 yards away hitting a sort of a nice wedge shot in there, you can get it way closer. So I think people are just realizing it’s, you’re probably more likely to make birdie just by laying up and, which is a shame, because it’s sort of exciting to get to go for par-5s and it’s sort of taken that a little bit out of play.

As it fries out, it will make people even more wary of going for the par-5s in two. Like I went for one par-5 today and made 6 and laid up on the others and had birdie chances. I’ve made more birdies this week by laying up than I have going for the green.

I think what’s happened here is everyone is just now playing from the same spot with their second shot, so it’s really become, and it’s not an easy driving golf course by any means, but everyone is hitting to the same spot. So I guess there’s no different strategies off the tee, it’s just sort of everyone goes and does this and then they go from there. So it’s sort of hard for, you look how condensed the field is, it’s hard to separate yourself when a design is like that.”

Jon Rahm (2020): “Well, this is only the second time I’m playing. My first time was 2017. I don’t remember it being this windy or firm. It’s tough. I mean, there are some holes out there that are really difficult. That 16th green, I actually thought I hit a pretty good shot and couldn’t stop it, so you have to hit an amazing shot to actually keep it on the green. It’s a test out there. It’s more how golf should be. I’m glad for once we’re not having a week where it becomes a putting contest and see who shoots 20-plus under par. Hopefully it keeps being a test and hopefully I can keep playing good golf and make those clutch putts.

I told Adam walking down 18, I said, they should — Adam, my caddie, for people who don’t know, they should just allow people, whoever wants to play, to come tomorrow in the same conditions we did. Cut the greens, make sure they’re the same speed, flags on the same spots, just for people to see. We were thinking the club champion, the scratch club champion might not break 80 here today. It’s that difficult a golf course. And I can say, because of that, today could be one of the best rounds of golf I’ve played in my life. It’s unbelievable, and it’s hard to believe how passively it came compared to how I played usually.”

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.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the winners of the Memorial Tournament since 2010:

  • 2021 – Patrick Cantlay: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2020 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 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 shots from the lead during the tournament of the Memorial Tournament winners since 2010:

  • 2021 – Patrick Cantlay: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 6 back.
  • 2020 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 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.

Form of Memorial winners since 2010:

  • Patrick Cantlay: 23rd PGA Championship/MC Quail/11th New Orleans/MC Augusta.
  • Jon Rahm: 27th Workday/37th Travelers/33rd Heritage/MC Colonial.
  • 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.

  • 2021 – Morikawa – AM -6/66 – 28/1.
  • 2020 – Finau – PM -6/66 – 66/1.
  • 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 Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 8 – Rory McIlroy.
  • 5 – Jordan Spieth.
  • 4 – Patrick Cantlay, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama.
  • 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Lucas Glover, Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Ryan Moore, Adam Scott.
  • 2 – Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Martin Laird, K.H. Lee, Marc Leishman, Troy Merritt, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Brandt Snedeker, Jhonattan Vegas.
  • 1 – Daniel Berger, Cameron Champ, Luke Donald, Dylan Frittelli, Charley Hoffman, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Sung-jae Im, Russell Knox, Danny Lee, David Lingmerth, Joaquin Niemann, Seamus Power, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Camilo Villegas, Nick Watney, Danny Willett, Matthew Wolff.

The winners’ list over the past 7 years at the Memorial Tournament reads David Lingmerth (500/1), William McGirt (200/1) Jason Dufner (66/1), Bryson DeChambeau (50/1), Patrick Cantlay (18/1), Jon Rahm (22/1) and Patrick Cantlay (22/1). And with the U.S. Open just 2 weeks away, the top players are positioning themselves for the season’s third Major Championship in Dublin, Ohio this week.

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.

Since 2018 Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay have won this coveted title at 50/1, 18/1, 22/1 and 22/1 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. Let’s look into those bigger price wins as well.

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 play-off, 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 some success over the past 4 renewals of The Memorial, with a couple of winners. 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 had also won the Korn Ferry 2016 DAP Championship in Ohio.  Patrick Cantlay in 2019 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.

My selections are as follows:

Viktor Hovland 2.5pts EW 25/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Viktor Hovland makes plenty of sense for me this week in Ohio.

The Memorial Tournament has seen PGA Tour winners step up a grade of late. Bryson DeChambeau in 2018 had previously won the 2017 John Deere Classic before triumphing here. Patrick Cantlay in 2019 had previously won the 2017 Shriners Open. Even Jon Rahm in 2020 had been winless in terms of singles victories on the PGA Tour for over 2 years, with 2 solo wins coming at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open and the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge. For all 3, winning ‘Jack’s Tournament’ was undoubtedly their career biggest win to that point and in the case of DeChambeau and Rahm, they have gone on to take Major titles, with Cantlay winning last year’s Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. Let’s not also forget the 2020 Workday Charity Open, held here at Muirfield Village the week before the Memorial Tournament. That was won by Collin Morikawa, a player who prior to that had won the 2019 Barracuda Championship and has since gone onto win 2 Major titles.

Hovland is seemingly at the same kind of career stage. 2 DP World Tour wins have come at the 2021 BMW International Open and this year’s Dubai Desert Classic. He won the 2021 Hero World Challenge ‘hit and giggle’ last December and has won 3 PGA Tour titles. All sounds great, but the 2020 Puerto Rico Open, 2020 Mayakoba Golf Classic and the 2021 WWT Championship at Mayakoba aren’t the highest grade victories and he still gets asked the inevitable question – when are you going to win in the United States on the PGA Tour? Winning this week’s Memorial would end all of that chatter.

And I think the World Number 7 has a great chance. 3rd here at the 2020 Workday won by Morikawa in a play-off from Justin Thomas, Viktor was also 8th after 36 holes the week after at the Memorial before falling away when the course got virtually U.S. Open tough. I don’t see such luridly firm conditions this week. 41st at the PGA Championship and 21st last week at the Charles Schwab where he ranked 3rd for Total Driving, 4th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee and 9th for Strokes Gained Putting, a forecast downshift in wind strength will undoubtedly suit the Norwegian this week. RESULT: T51

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Will Zalatoris 1.5pts EW 28/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

It’s definitely a  case of ‘feast or famine’ for Will Zalatoris in 2022, but when he’s good he’s been absolutely outstanding.

A Major Championship performer, Zalatoris should love the challenge of Muirfield Village this week, a course which I think is sure to suit as it offers a little width off the tee, with an onus for precise and consistent long iron approach play. 6th at the 2020 U.S. Open, 2nd at the 2021 Masters, 8th at the 2021 PGA Championship, 6th at the 2022 Masters and a painful 2nd at the PGA Championship a fortnight ago, ‘Willy Z’ has rocketed to a career-high 14th in the OWGR, but naturally is still winless on the PGA Tour.

But Zalatoris has been so close in 2022 it’s untrue. 2nd at Torrey Pines in January when we were on-board at 28/1, he lost that week in a play-off to Luke List. And despite losing in a 3-hole playoff to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship a fortnight ago, I thought he made definite progress, holing out for birdie on 17 and for par on 18 to make the play-off. He certainly made Thomas take the title, rather than throwing the towel in. 6th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 10th for Strokes Gained Putting at Southern Hills, forget about last week where the 25 year-old was exhausted and played the Charles Schwab purely because he’s a Dallas resident.

I think he’s high likely to bounce back this week on a classical, tough, Par 72, which features Bentgrass greens, which I think he prefers over Bermudagrass and other putting surfaces. RESULT: T5

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Cameron Young 1.5pts EW 33/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

It’s easy to think that the Memorial Tournament has been the domain of elite, multiple-winning PGA Tour victors over the years, but actually that isn’t really the case. Post-Tiger Woods’ winning era here, we have seen the likes of Kuchar (5 wins), Dufner (4 wins), Rahm (3 wins) and Cantlay (3 wins) shake Jack’s hand on Sunday. But we have also seen plenty of talented players make big breakthroughs at Muirfield Village GC. Hideki Matsuyama won his maiden PGA Tour title here in 2014, and he was followed by David Lingmerth (2015) and William McGirt (2016) – not so talented I grant you, but Tour maidens all the same.

Bryson DeChambeau took his second PGA Tour title here in 2018, as did Patrick Cantlay in 2019, and Collin Morikawa won the 2020 Workday Charity Open here in 2020, the week before Jon Rahm won the Memorial Tournament. Morikawa, like Bryson and Patrick, was a talented top 40 in the OWGR youngster, who had only won once on the Tour.

Cameron Young makes masses of sense this week – an extremely talented 25 year-old, who has undoubtedly been the best rookie of this 2021/22 season. 2nd in the fall at the Sanderson Farms Championship was epic for a player only making his 4th PGA Tour start, and from there 2022 has seen him answer some serious questions and undoubtedly go from strength to strength. 2nd at Riviera Country Club, 3rd at Harbour Town, 2nd at TPC Potomac, plus 3rd at the PGA Championship a fortnight ago highlights an amazing rise. Tough tracks, classical tree-lined courses, strong fields, long or short courses, wind or rain, nothing seems to phase Cameron. Confident and at the peak of his powers, a first PGA Tour title seems a very logical next step and Muirfield Village should suit, as should both the agronomy and geography this week.

Located in Dublin, Ohio, the Tour visits the northern United States for the very first time this year. Cameron Young grew up on the banks of the River Hudson in Scarborough, New York, just 25 miles or so from Manhattan. He won the 2017 New York State Open as an amateur and his Korn Ferry results are also worthy of note. 2nd at the 2020 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship came just 11 miles down the road from Muirfield Village at the Ohio State University Golf Club. He had to wait until 2021 for his first win, and that came at the Advent Health Championship played in Missouri, before adding a second win a week later at the Evans Scholars Invitational played at The Glen Club in Glenview, Illinois. All in all, I think that Young will be more than comfortable this week in Ohio and on Jack’s Bentgrass greens. RESULT: T60

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Mito Pereira 1pt EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

A ‘FOMO’ bet on Mito Pereira also makes sense. His 7th spot finish last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge showed real heart after his 72nd hole collapse at the PGA Championship, and you have to face facts that the Chilean is playing the very best golf of his life after finding his way to the Bentgrass part of the PGA Tour season.

It’s worth noting that 2 of his 3 Korn Ferry Tour titles came on Bentgrass at the Rex Hospital Open and the BMW Charity Pro-Am. And a synopsis of his PGA Tour top 10 finishes – there have been 5 – reads like this: 5th at the 2021 Barbasol Championship played at Keene Trace = Bentgrass greens;  6th at the 2021 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities = Bentgrass greens; 3rd at the 2021 Fortinet Championship at Silverado = Bent Poa mix greens; 3rd at the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills = Bentgrass greens; 7th at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial = Bentgrass greens. Pretty stark I’ll think you’ll agree.

6th in this week’s PGA Tour Predictive Model, the World Number 45, who is now qualified for both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship, across my 8-week Strokes Gained tracker ranks in this field 9th for Off the Tee, 3rd for Approach, 3rd for Tee to Green and 3rd for Strokes Gained Current Form. RESULT: T13

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Keegan Bradley 1pt EW 55/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

Keegan Bradley has played some outstanding stuff of late. 11th at Bay Hill, 5th at TPC Sawgrass, 8th at TPC San Antonio, 4th at TPC Louisiana (paired with Brendan Steele) and 2nd at TPC Potomac. There aren’t many in the field that have been so consistent over recent times – so much so that he has now got back in the OWGR top 50 for the first time since 2019. Season to date Strokes Gained-wise he ranks 16th for Off the Tee, 30th for Approach and 18th for Tee to Green – elite-level play, especially as his Strokes Gained Putting number – his nemesis for many a year – has jumped from 186th last season to 98th this. Indeed at TPC Potomac, just 3 weeks ago, his 9.74 Strokes Gained Putting across the Wells Fargo Championship was his best since the 2019 Travelers Championship.

Comfortable on ‘up-state’ golf courses, Keegan’s last win on the PGA Tour was at the 2018 BMW Championship played at Aronimink, and his win prior to that was the 2012 WGC Bridgestone Invitational played at Firestone South. That’s 2 wins across Ohio and Pennsylvania and he’s always been the sort who has played well in these climes – which makes sense as he grew up in the north-east of the United States and went to university in New York. I’ll take the maximum places available on Keegan with Boylesports, but the sort who can contend this week at Jack’s Place, where he has played every year since 2011 and landed a couple of top-8 finishes back in 2015 and 2016. RESULT: T37

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 15:50BST 30.5.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.