We have reached that time of year when Jack Nicklaus hosts the PGA Tour at The Memorial. 120 of the best players in the world head to Muirfield Village to battle it out for a decent title which is made even more prestigious by the host.
There is a big tournament in Europe which has taken some of the runners from this tournament away but in the main anyone who is anyone on the PGA Tour tees it up here and they will all be here to win too.
2017 – Jason Dufner
2016 – William McGirt
2015 – David Lingmerth
2014 – Hideki Matsuyama
2013 – Matt Kuchar
2012 – Tiger Woods
2011 – Steve Stricker
2010 – Justin Rose
2009 – Tiger Woods
2008 – Kenny Perry
As with almost every Jack Nicklaus layout the course at Muirfield Village provides the test with the second shot. The course is pretty easy off the tee but then the test begins. Hitting into the greens is a challenge and if you miss the greens you’ll need to work very hard for a par.
The course is a par 72 which stretches to 7,392 yards and with the inclement weather in the area this week it may well play every one of those yards so the longer hitters could have a bit more of an advantage but even then I wouldn’t want to be taking one who hasn’t got a pinpoint short game that is going strong.
It is more of a case of who isn’t here this week as opposed to who is. Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose all tee it up as does the defending champion Jason Dufner and popular stars such as Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and a certain Tiger Woods.
If that isn’t enough quality throughout the four days we have The Masters champion Patrick Reed, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama and Branden Grace are all here as is the Presidents Cup captain Steve Stricker and the Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk. Phil Mickelson just adds the cherry on top of the cake.
It is Justin Thomas who is the tournament favourite this week. The USPGA champion is a solo favourite in some places and he is a 12/1 joint favourite with Dustin Johnson in other places. Thomas looks like a guy who is ready to win again to me but I’m not sure I like the price here. I don’t particularly like DJ as much although there is no doubt the soft conditions suit him much better so he can’t be ruled out.
We then have three players at 14/1 who are Justin Rose, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. All three look to be in fantastic form. Rose was quite sublime in winning last week but I’m no fan of backing players to win back-to-back especially in this company. Day has already won twice for me this year while McIlroy knows he should have won at Wentworth last week. All three can have cases made for them here.
Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods come next in the betting at 18/1. I’m convinced we are going to see a decent putting display from Spieth soon and when we do I fully expect him to go on and win whichever tournament it is that he delivers it in. If the course was a little firmer I’d have Woods as a huge runner here but conditions might just favour others enough to bring them in ahead of him.
Rickie Fowler is a 20/1 shot to win this tournament for the first time. I don’t think he is firing on full gas but as we saw at Augusta, if there is a course that could bring out his full game it could be one like this. The only reason I would dismiss him is the strength of the field. It is 28/1 bar those named.
I’m going with two main bets this week with the first one being for Rory McIlroy to get redemption for his poor weekend at Wentworth. I think this course has gone into his hands with it playing very soft and the one thing we did see at Wentworth when the course played soft was his iron play was near perfect, especially in that second round. He never really suffered with the irons at any point to be fair. His bad shots were horrible drives but he’ll get away with those in the main this week. I think we’re getting to the point where McIlroy will win again and on a soft course that is there for the taking this is as good a week as any for him.
I took Emiliano Grillo last week and while I’m not a huge fan of taking players in successive weeks he was so good I just have to take him again. He was really unlucky to run into Justin Rose in the form he was in and if Rose hadn’t carried Koepka along with him in the final round Grillo may well have finished second behind a monster performance. He fitted last week’s track well and he’s perfect for this course too. I’ll go in again in the hope he performs like last week and Rose doesn’t.
I’ll chuck a few quid at three outsiders with the first one being one I’m on quite regularly in Kyle Stanley. This track should shape up well for him because he can get it in play off the tee and then his iron play comes to the fore. To be fair to Stanley he is improving all the time in the short game department and with no major weakness to his game anymore I’m expecting Stanley to be very competitive around here.
Adam Hadwin is another who has a good record on second shot golf courses, as he should do with the quality of his iron play. He’s had a quiet month or so but before that he was on fire and if he can get back to that form he’ll go well here. He’s twice been in good shape around this course but been blown to pieces in the final round but he has plenty more experience of being in the mix now so if he is well placed after 54 holes I fancy he might land us some reddies either with the win or a place.
Chris Kirk is someone who is trending into form and we saw when he had that massive year of his that courses like these are perfect for him. Kirk has now been inside the top 10 for greens hit in four of his last six stroke play starts and his putter is beginning to warm up. That is usually the strength of his game so if it all comes together this week he is entitled to perform as well as, if not better, than his fourth placed finish in 2014 which was that magical season of his when he played his best golf.
Back R.McIlroy to win The Memorial (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 15.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-6)
Back C.Kirk to win The Memorial (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-6)
Back E.Grillo to win The Memorial (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
PLACED – Back K.Stanley to win The Memorial (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back him here:
Back A.Hadwin to win The Memorial (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 91.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-6)