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The Memorial Tournament Betting Tips: Back Morikawa at Muirfield

The Memorial Tournament tips: Our man Jamie Worsley likes the look of Colin Morikawa in Ohio.
The Memorial Tournament tips: Our man Jamie Worsley likes the look of Colin Morikawa in Ohio.

In a chaotic final round, which saw player after player eject from the event, it was of little surprise to see two of the winning most players on tour this season last out longer than anyone else in the Charles Schwab Challenge. 

Sam Burns pulling back a 7-shot deficit at the start of the day to tie with world #1 Scottie Scheffler, after he gave back the advantage he started the day with, making a series of important par saves on the back nine to stay in it and take it to a playoff. 

Burns then proceeded to make an incredible 38 footer for birdie from just off the green on the first playoff hole, picking up his 3rd title of the season and enhancing his reputation as a player, much like Scheffler, who has now learned how to win.

Attention now turns to Dublin, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. Jack Nicklaus founded this invitational event in 1976 and it has taken place at this, his course, affectionately known as ‘Jack’s Place’ every year.

Many of the game’s greats have tasted victory here, including Tiger Woods being a five-time champion and Nicklaus himself has won the event twice.

Last year we saw an incredibly dramatic edition, as Patrick Cantlay triumphed over Collin Morikawa in a playoff to pick up his 2nd Memorial title. Though this not telling the whole story, as Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw before the 4th and final around because of a positive covid test, this after building up a huge 6-shot lead after his 3rd round.

The Course

The immaculate Muirfield Village is a 7543 yard par 72, designed by Nicklaus in the early 70s. It underwent significant renovation in 2020, where they recontoured 14 of the 18 greens at the course, whilst also editing the greenside bunkers. In addition to this some of the fairways were tightened slightly and fairway bunkers repositioned to ask more questions of the modern player off the tee.

Fairways are generous for the most part and rank as some of the easiest to hit on tour, something that saw little change last year. Though they are incredibly penal should you miss the short grass, with some of the most demanding rough on tour and large tactically placed bunkers awaiting errant tee-shots. This, in contrast, was even more in display last year after the renovations. 

The course had an average of 46% of greens hit when missing the fairways in events from 2016-2020. This dropped to under 40% last year, with just 39% of greens hit after missing fairways, a lower number than any of those previous five editions and after the course has had a further year to mature, there is the potential for it to be even tougher this year. 

Not just the penalties aside the fairways that can make the greens tough to hit, as these heavily sloped and firm bentgrass putting surfaces are tricky in their own right, and greatly varied in both size and shape. These protected by further thick rough, bunkers and plenty of water in-play in the shape of the creek that runs throughout the course.

The thick rough, deep bunkers and sloped greens makes it the absolute most difficult regular event course in which to scramble around, asking serious questions of the short-game if the ball-striking isn’t up to scratch.

This is a tough but fair all-round test of golf, and you will find it difficult to win this week if just one area of your game isn’t firing. Though with the length of the course and the amount of tough, 450+ yard par 4s, my instinct is to favour strong ball-strikers. Something which has been key to success over the most recent renewals. 

Approach play in particular has been the biggest pointer. Looking at the top two from last year, we find winner, Patrick Cantlay ranking 5th in approach, whilst runner-up, Collin Morikawa ranked 4th.

Jon Rahm ranked 4th in approach, when winning in 2020, whilst runner-up Ryan Palmer ranked 1st and the week prior to Rahm winning the Memorial, Morikawa overcame Justin Thomas in the Workday Charity Open, an extra event at Muirfield organised because of the covid pandemic, with Morikawa ranking 3rd in approach and Thomas 4th

Further to this we look at 2019, where Patrick Cantlay ranked 5th in approach when picking up the first of his two titles here and Adam Scott, in 2nd, ranked 1st for the week with his irons. 

The driver has also been key in those previous four events at Muirfield Village, with none of the four winners ranking worse than 8th off-the-tee and of the runners-up, only Ryan Palmer failed to produce quality with the club.

Correlating Courses

We come into this week with the benefit of having three of our last four events being played around tough courses with tricky bentgrass greens. So form at the Wells Fargo at TPC Potomac, the PGA Championship at Southern Hills and last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial could all provide pointers to likely contenders this week.

The Wells Fargo and PGA Championship particularly standout out as they both played incredibly similar tee-to-green to the way Muirfield Village usually plays. 

In addition to this Augusta National and the Masters is a no-brainer. Generous fairways, tricky, undulating bentgrass greens and tough to get up and down. Memorial has always been seen as a good guide to someone potentially wearing that green jacket. Tiger Woods and Hideki Matsuyama winners of both events in the last decade with a bunch of high-class form at both courses possessed by the likes of Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.

A couple of events in Florida can provide further clues, in the form of the Honda Classic at PGA National, another Nicklaus design/renovation and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

Aside from the Nicklaus link, PGA National is similar to Muirfield Village in the shape of being relatively generous off-the-tee but very penal should you miss the fairways. Whilst also being one of the tougher courses on tour on which to scramble. We find plenty of correlating form there from the likes of Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland, Ryan Palmer and Mackenzie Hughes, amongst many more.

Bay Hill is one of those classic longer championship like tests. Though over recent years it’s getting tougher to find fairways there, it has usually been generous off-the-tee. With an almost identical level of penalty for missing the fairways to Muirfield Village. Bryson DeChambeau has won at both events, whilst Justin Rose has been 2nd at both. With the likes of Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Marc Leishman, Matt Jones and Billy Horschel providing further form-ties.

A couple more to add are the Houston Open, since moving to Memorial Park Golf Course in 2020 and the one off Palmetto Championship at Congaree in 2021.

Both events on tough, long courses with wide fairways and tricky green complexes. They rate similar for greens in regulation, both from the fairways and when you miss, whilst also being very demanding around the putting surfaces.

In just two years on tour, plenty of form-ties have emerged between Memorial Park and the Memorial Tournament. Hideki Matsuyama is a past champion here at Muirfield Village and was runner-up in Houston in 2020, whilst Mackenzie Hughes has top 10s at both courses. Further ties are found from Sepp Straka, Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland and Aaron Wise.

As it has only hosted one tour event, correlating form at the Palmetto is hard to come by, though there are some signs. Runner-up  at Congaree, Bo Van Pelt has a good record at Muirfield Village, finishing 3rd there in 2010, whilst Ryan Armour has two top 25s here and was 8th in the Palmetto. Pat Perez has a good record in the Memorial and was 10th at Congaree, joined in T10 there by Matt Fitzpatrick, who finished 3rd at the Memorial in 2020.

The Weather

As mentioned, we look set for some kind conditions this week, which means the golf course will have to do all the hard work in making this a test. Some wet weather on Wednesday and potentially into Thursday could soften the course up, though as of now, the rest of the week looks calm and moderately warm, at least by UK standards!

The Field 

As usual, we have a stellar field teeing it up in this 120-man invitational event. No fewer than 7 of the world’s top 10 will be descending upon Muirfield Village, with a further 6 from inside the top 20. These include defending champion, Patrick Cantlay and the man who almost certainly would’ve won had he not had to withdraw, Jon Rahm, who’ll feel like he has unfinished business here this year. 


The Memorial Tournament Tips

Golf Odds
Collin Morikawa - Each Way 8 Places
Odds correct as of 2022-05-30 16:10 Odds subject to change.


Jon Rahm heads the market at 10/1 and is followed by Rory McIlroy at 11s. Preference here would be for McIlroy, as despite his win in Mexico, Rahm still looks off to me. However neither appeal at the prices.

Instead I start with a familiar name from last week’s selections at the Charles Schwab and have been tempted to give Collin Morikawa another try this week, at a course in which he’s finished 1st and 2nd on just three visits.

Collin Morikawa 22/1 – 1/5 8 places (Williamhill) – 2.5 pts ew

Morikawa finished 40th last week and was never really involved in the tournament. Despite this he was solid tee-to-green, particularly excelling in approach, where he ranked 9th, with the majority of his issues coming from the putter, a common theme with Morikawa since he turned pro.

He actually started the year putting quite well but has dipped in recent starts, though did find something on the greens in yesterday’s final round. Something I’m hoping he can carry over into this week.

As far as the ball-striking goes and that ever high-quality approach play, Morikawa is still one of the absolute best around, ranking 5th in approach, 25th off-the-tee and 25th in greens-in-regulation on the PGA Tour this season. Much like the putter, he can be hit and miss around-the-greens, though it is noticeable that the short-game has been good on each visit he’s had here to Muirfield Village, where it doesn’t need to be of the highest quality to compliment his long game.

This is shown with him winning on his first try at the course in 2020, when he won the Workday Charity Open, producing a sublime performance of ball-striking and an excellent week on the greens. He followed that with a 48th place finish the following week in the Memorial Tournament, once again showing quality tee-to-green but this time the putter deserted him. 

However, he came back last year and showed once again just how well suited he is to this course, tying Patrick Cantlay for the lead after 72 holes, only losing out in a playoff. 

In addition to his quality record at Muirfield Village, Morikawa has some nice correlating form. The most recent of which came at this year’s Masters, where he finished 5th and has finished 18th there before. Also possessing a top 10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

The form figures aren’t as he’d want but the game is still there. He’s shown plenty of times in the past that he’s capable of figuring out his game quickly from one week to the next and with his innate ability to win, I had to give him another try here this week.

Will Zalatoris - Each Way 8 Places
Odds correct as of 2022-05-30 16:10 Odds subject to change.

Will Zalatoris 28/1 – 1/5 8 places (Williamhill) – 1.75 pts ew

Will Zalatoris is having a fabulous season so far and can be forgiven for both a missed cut last week, as well as a missed cut on his only try at Muirfield Village, to finally find that breakthrough win much of his play this year has warranted. 

Zalatoris’ missed cut at Colonial last week is so easily forgiven when you consider he was involved in that epic final round at Southern Hills in the PGA Championship, that’s without mentioning he was the losing man in the playoff. What he showed once again was with his electric ball-striking, better than he’s given credit for short game and a gritty attitude, he’s a player destined for big things at this highest level of the game.  

That 2nd at Southern Hills was the latest result in an excellent season for Zalatoris, with other notable performances coming courtesy of a 6th place finish in The Masters and 2nd place finish in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

We know ball striking is his bag, as he ranks 3rd in approach, 6th in greens-in-regulation and 10th off-the-tee on the PGA Tour this season. He can be a little wayward off-the-tee but should appreciate the generosity on display on many of the holes here this week.

As mentioned, his short-game is better than it’s given credit for, seeing him rank 69th around-the-greens this season. Though the putter is the obvious weakness, he has produced his two best putting performances of the year on recent starts, in the PGA Championship and at The Masters, both on bentgrass greens, like this week. Which gives added encouragement. 

As mentioned, he’s played here once and missed the cut but that came all the way back in 2018 on just his 5th start as a professional, so is of little concern. Instead we can take confidence from that 2nd place finish at Southern Hills and his excellent record at Augusta, which includes another 2nd place finish as to his ability to perform around Muirfield Village.

It is surely only a matter of time before Zalatoris finds that breakthrough PGA Tour victory. With the quality of his ball-striking, that recent ability he’s shown on bentgrass greens and the clear liking he has for tough, championship golf, he can finally make that happen this week.

Sunjae Im - Each Way 8 Places
Odds correct as of 2022-05-30 16:10 Odds subject to change.

Sungjae Im 35/1 – 1/5 8 places (Williamhill) – 1.5 pts ew

After an enforced six-week absence following a positive covid test at home in Korea, Sungjae Im returned to action at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial. Showing the quality tee-to-green form he’d been in when we last saw him in The Masters and RBC Heritage, he finished 15th there and can go even better this week. 

That quality tee-to-green game last week saw Sungjae ranked 2nd in the field. The ball-striking in fine form, ranking 12th off-the-tee and 14th in approach, though around-the-green he was even more impressive, ranking 5th. This following on from being 4th tee-to-green on his last start at Harbour Town and ranking 20th T2G at Augusta.

He’s driven the ball excellently all season, ranking as the 11th best driver on the PGA Tour for 2021/22, whilst also showing excellence around-the-greens, ranking 4th. Though it’s been the upturn in approach play that has stood out most in recent starts, gaining strokes in three consecutive events for the first time this year. The putter was the only concern last week, though it has fired more often than not this year and he has shown plenty of form on bentgrass in the past.

This is why it’s such a surprise to see Sungjae possess a pretty unimpressive record at Muirfield Village, recording finishes of 57-63-MC-MC on his four visits. With the quality of his tee-to-green game, it’s a record I have no doubt he will improve in the future. 

This confidence is enhanced by Im’s superb record at Augusta, where he’s finished 2nd and 8th. In addition to this we have the Nicklaus link with his victory in the Honda Classic and he’s twice finished 3rd at Bay Hill. There really is little reason why he shouldn’t be able to perform here, particularly while he’s hitting the ball so well.

Sungjae is a classy player and two-time PGA Tour winner. Last week’s high-class performance after such an absence shows there’s little worry about sharpness in his game and he’s playing well enough to improve considerably on that underwhelming record he has at the Memorial Tournament.

US Open golf odds
Brendan Steele - Each Way 10 Places
Odds correct as of 2022-05-30 16:15 Odds subject to change.

Brendan Steele 150/1 – 1/5 10 places (Boylesports) – 1 pt ew

Following a poor start to the year Brendan Steele has recently found form, making his last six cuts on the bounce. Coming off a superb top 10 at the PGA Championship last time out, where he finished 9th thanks to a superb iron performance, ranking 4th in the field, he can improve on an already strong record here at Muirfield Village.

Steele had been driving the ball very well all year and ranks 8th on tour off-the-tee this season, though its no surprise that in that recent upturn in form, that started with a 26th place finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, includes a 13th place finish in THE PLAYERS Championship and most recently saw him achieve that 9th place finish at the PGA Championship, that his approach play has seen significant improvements.

That improvement has seen Steele gain in approach in 5 of his last 6 starts (Not including the Zurich Classic team event). Quality all-round ball-striking has always been the key for him, for all he may generally excel with the driver and once he finds it he does show an ability to keep it going. 

He’s been solid around-the-greens on recent starts too, no surprise to see confidence in the long game bring about better showings in other areas and though the putter is the clear concern, he does generally putt the greens here at Muirfield Village well, at least over the most recent renewals. 

This has enabled Steele to build of a strong record here. After missing a couple of cuts in the event in 2013 & 2014, he’s made every cut since, with bests of 20th in 2016 and 13th in 2020. With his ability to putt these greens well on show as he’s gained strokes with the putter in each of his last five starts in the Memorial Tournament.

Further to this we have that 9th at Southern Hills just two weeks ago, which should correlate well, also possessing a strong record in the Honda Classic, recording 4th and 3rd place finishes in the event.

Steele hasn’t won since 2017 but is a three-time PGA Tour winner. This is a big ask in such a strong field but coming in here off the back of that career best major performance in the PGA Championship, he has shown he can go well amongst esteemed company and if able to reproduce the excellent ball-striking that has been on show in recent starts, can improve further on the 13th place finish he achieved here in 2020.

Golf betting tips
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