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The Memorial Tournament Tips & Predictions: Five of the best from Muirfield Village

Hideki Matsuyama features amongst our tips & predictions for the Memorial Tournament.
Hideki Matsuyama features amongst our tips & predictions for the Memorial Tournament.

Memorial Tips

The PGA Tour returns this week with The Memorial from Muirfield Village in Ohio and our man Jamie Worsley has another five golf betting tips for this week's tournament...

After waiting nine years for a third professional victory and a first on the PGA Tour, Jason Kokrak didn’t have to wait long for his next, as he saw off the challenge of Jordan Spieth at Colonial Country Club yesterday. Challenge may be a little too strong a word to use about Spieth’s performance in the final round, where he did little right but still, Kokrak was solid and ran out a deserved two shot winner in the end.

A slow week for selections but Emiliano Grillo did stay on late to snatch some place returns, though the payout was heavily reduced due to being in a six-way tie for 8th.

Onto this week for the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

The Jack Nicklaus designed Muirfield Village is a 7543 yard par 72. Tricky, contoured bentgrass greens and thick penal rough, it has typically provided a demanding test of golf. Where every facet of a player’s game is tested and quality ball-strikers thrive.

We don’t have to look far for evidence of this with Spanish superstar, Jon Rahm, last year’s victor in testing conditions. Added to that we have the Workday Charity Open, which took place the week before at this course, as the PGA Tour held a double header in a bid to kickstart the season after returning from the pandemic. Collin Morikawa was victorious in a thrilling playoff over Justin Thomas, with Viktor Hovland back in 3rd. Two events at the course last year and four of the best ball-strikers in the game dominating the top of the leaderboards.

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The players won’t quite find the course exactly as they remember, as it has gone through extensive renovations in the last ten months. All green complexes were reconstructed with 14 out of 18 recontoured and significant changes to bunkering made. They also made changes on the fairways, with all bunkers rebuilt and a handful repositioned to ask the players more questions off the tee.

It’s hard to know exactly what difference this will make, though I’d be inclined to say not a great deal in terms of looking at the personnel you’d expect to go well around here. If anything, I expect it to enhance further the need to have an excellent long game. It’s an advantage to find fairways, as the rough is typically thick and due to the contouring of the greens it’s important to not just find them but find the right spots, providing an emphasis on precision iron play.

A theme on the PGA Tour of late, the weather is expected to play its part over the course of the week. Heavy rain predicted before and at the start of the event, with a mild breeze throughout.

The field is strong, with 7 of the world’s top 10 turning up and 13 of the top 20. These include last year’s two winners, Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm. As well as other past champions; Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay and Hideki Matsuyama. 

Many of these players will be looking to find some form before the US Open in just two weeks time and this week’s event represents as good a test as any to tune up those skills in time for that third major of the year.

Hideki Matsuyama each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-06-01 08:00 Odds subject to change.

Though I don’t think the front of the market is necessarily wrongly priced, there’s enough question marks over most up there that I’m willing to start this week’s selections a little further down the betting, in the shape of 2021 Masters Champion, Hideki Matsuyama.

After the attention that inevitably comes with winning the Masters, let alone for someone from Japan, Matsuyama could’ve been forgiven for hitting a bit of a lull, as many players do following such a success. But he’s continued to play some good golf in the two events he’s played since he returned from a five week break. 

He hit the ball well enough at the Byron Nelson, though was lacking in sharpness around the greens. He then went on to hit the ball even better in the PGA Championship two weeks ago, ranking 9th tee-to-green, 11th in approach and was right there in contention at the halfway point, before finishing 23rd.

He’s a past winner here and has also recorded 5th and 6th place finishes in the event to go with multiple top 25s. I believe that the win at Augusta will have given him the belief that he does still belong at the very top of the sport and think he can go in again at Muirfield Village.

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Gary Woodland each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-06-01 08:00 Odds subject to change.

Woodland had been struggling for form since the back end of 2020, largely down to a hip injury but has shown signs recently that he’s over that and is starting to play some eye-catching golf.

The main reason he appeals so much this week is that the usually excellent long game which deserted him last year is starting to come back, particularly his approach play but is also now putting up some positive numbers off the tee. This has resulted in an upturn in form over the last couple of months, where he’s recorded finishes of 6th at the Texas Open and 5th at the Wells Fargo. The only blip a MC at the Valspar Championship.

His record here is good, where he hasn’t missed a cut since 2016, recording four top 25s, including in both of the events here last year, with finishes of 5th and 22nd. 

A former major champion and multiple tour winner, when he’s on form he’s one of the best ball-strikers about and I think he’ll relish teeing it up at Muirfield Village this week now his long game is in better shape.

C.T Pan each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-06-01 08:00 Odds subject to change.

C.T Pan has a really interesting book of form which says he could well go well here at Muirfield Village at some point and is this week’s longshot selection.

When we look at his best career performances, it’s littered with tough, traditional tests. A winner at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in 2019, he’s also finished 2nd at Torrey Pines in the Farmers Insurance in 2017, 7th at the Masters last year and 3rd at the Honda Classic this year.

He’s a little in and out with the irons but when he’s on he can be excellent and also ranks high in scrambling from the rough, something that is typically important around here due to thick rough surrounding the majority of the putting surfaces. 

His recent form is solid, including a 32nd place finish at Colonial last week, where his inconsistencies in approach were highlighted in him losing strokes in rounds 1 and 4 but gaining in rounds 2 and 3. That was following on from an 18th place finish at Quail Hollow in his previous start. Another tough, long course.

He hasn’t set the world alight here in three visits but has made the cut every time, each time recording a finish in the 40s. It’s a course which fits with the type of events he excels at and I consider him a lively outsider here this week.

Marc Leishman each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-06-01 08:05 Odds subject to change.

Similarly to Woodland, Leishman was struggling for form mid to late of 2020 but has gradually been recovering it this year. I feel he’s a big price this week, at a course he has recorded multiple top 25s, including a couple of top 5s and is the type of course he usually plays well on.

Another quality performance at the Masters this year, where he finished 5th, he’s since finished 21st in the AT&T Byron Nelson and only narrowly missed the cut in the PGA Championship.

There’s no doubting the improved form is being helped massively by the putter but he’s putting together some decent numbers in approach and around the greens, though not all at the same time, in the same week.

He will need to rectify that this week, as the putter alone won’t be enough to carry him through but he’s a gritty competitor, who knows how to win and typically loves this type of test. If he does find some consistency this week in his game, he could make that price of 66/1 look big by Sunday evening.

Emiliano Grillo each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-06-01 08:05 Odds subject to change.

Grillo was the best of the lot last week with that 8th place finish and I feel that he’s worth chancing again this week at a similar price.

As mentioned in last week’s preview, Grillo is among the best ball-strikers on tour. Meaning it comes as no surprise that he has a good record at Muirfield Village. Six times he’s played at the course, recording three top 25s, with bests of 9th and 11th.He missed the cut in the two events here last year but was severely out of form, so I’m willing to overlook that.

The reason I overlook it is because of how well he played last week, particularly in approach but he was once again good on the greens. The most striking stat of the week came on Sunday where he was the best iron player in the field, gaining almost a full shot more than his nearest competitor. He was also the third best player in this respect in the second round. 

I feel he’s close to a big week if he can find a little more consistency with the long game over the four days, whilst keeping up this improvement with the putter, where he’s recorded positive strokes gained results in four of his last five events.

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