The PGA Tour will head north for the first time this season as the players compete at “Jack’s Place,” the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. The field is strong as players will undoubtedly have one eye on Oakmont as they look to hone their game ahead of the U.S. Open two weeks later.
Yeah…the U.S. Open is in under 3 weeks.
So who will play well enough to get the handshake from the Golden Bear as they walk off the 18th on Sunday?
Of the six multiple winners, five of them are major champions. Tiger has won here five times, but still will be on the sidelines recovering from injury. Justin Rose won in 2010 and lost in a playoff last year. His game is rounding into form nicely ahead of Oakmont and his exceptional iron play will serve him well at Muirfield Village.
Matt Kuchar also has a win and runner-up finish recently. He hits a lot of greens and makes a lot of putts. That’s a good combination. The past two years have seen some first-time winners as David Lingmerth from Sweden and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan both claimed their maiden PGA Tour win at the Memorial.
Last Year’s Top-10
Click here for a link to the entire 2016 Memorial field via PGATour.com.
Last 5 Champs
- 2015: David Lingmerth
- 2014: Hideki Matsuyama (Recap)
- 2013: Matt Kuchar (Recap)
- 2012: Tiger Woods (Recap)
- 2011: Steve Stricker
Course Overview: Muirfield Village
Although Nicklaus won his first professional major at nearby Oakmont in 1962, it’s his love affair with Augusta National that is clearly evident when you play Muirfield Village.
Created in 1974, the course has undergone many changes since then. Many of the holes have been lengthened, bunkers have been added, a large pond was built for the par-3 16th and the stream on the 18th has been rerouted to make it more in play. Despite all that, several things at Muirfield Village will always remain a constant.
Immaculate conditioning, generous room off the tee, an emphasis on precise approach shots, undulating and lightning fast greens where being above the hole is a sure way to make bogey or worse. Oh, and the milkshakes are the best on Tour. The course has been the only home of the Memorial Tournament since Roger Maltbie won the inaugural tournament in 1976. Routinely rated one of the top 30 courses in the country.
It is the only course to have hosted a Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and Solheim Cup. It’s also played host to a U.S. Amateur back in 1992.
— #MyMemorial (@MemorialGolf) May 31, 2016
This Week’s Picks
Three From the Fairway
When does the hot streak end? Who knows. But right now, he’s playing some of the deadliest “Kuchar-golf” on the PGA Tour, with top-10s in his last 3 and 5 of his last 7.
At Muirfield Village, Kuchar has been inside the top-15 in 7 of his past 8 showings, with last year’s T26 being the only outlier. His game, the consistent type to hit fairways, greens and make convertible putts is a formula which has served him well over time.
I don’t know when the hot play ends, but the guy who is top-20 in the Tee-t0-Green, Par-5 and Par-4 scoring totals on the 2015-2016 PGA Tour will be a player I have in lineups until I hear otherwise.
Back to a venue where the “let it fly” mantra should play true again.
Having only played twice in the past 7 weeks, DJ should be well rested heading into the meat of the season here, starting with the Memorial. It’s a stretch of play which looks to suit his game and style of play very well.
Surprisingly, Johnson’s performances here at Muirfield haven’t been as elite as one would assume, holding only one top-10 in his career here. But a total of four finishes inside the top-20 in his past eight appearances means he’s not just slapping it around. His birdie-or-better percentage (a ranking of 2nd) should aid him well at a course this week where scoring chances are more limited than in weeks past.
He’s lost strokes with the putter each of the past two events he’s played, but was on a tear with the flat stick before that. Last year at the Memorial, Johnson had the greens figured out, gaining .810 strokes. That putting will bode well for him this week.
In two events here, his worst finish is a 5th place finish in 2015.
Matsuyama’s game fits this venue wonderfully. Two top-10s in his past 3 starts indicate he’s playing well, although when isn’t he. His one handed finishes and looks of disgust slowly climb him up the leaderboard each and every week. (As a quick side note, when it’s all said and done, Matsuyama will go down as the greatest Japanese golfer in history.)
Anyways, he’s 5th in the Tee-to-Green statistic, ranks well in par-4 scoring and ranks 3rd in the Approach-to-Green statistic. All of that, while still gaining strokes (quietly) with his putter. Matsuyama is a player to look to with a keen eye this week.
Draft Kings Picks from the Sports Monte:
by the Sports Monte
Muirfield Village is constantly changing, as Jack loves widening and narrowing fairways, adding bunkers if players start getting aggressive and cutting corners, and moving around tee boxes to keep players on their toes. That’s why we’re targeting solid all around players this week who are good ball strikers and good from around the greens.
These names shouldn’t be among the highest-owned players this week, but should offer both value and the ability to score on the tough Columbus, Ohio course.
5. Spencer Levin ($7,000) – Levin doesn’t excel at any one aspect of his game, but he doesn’t have any glaring holes either, which should fit the bill for variety of shots needed at Muirfield. He finished fourth the last time he teed it up at Jack’s place, and also finished fourth his last time out at the ATT Byron Nelson. He’s finished inside the top 30 in three of his last five, and should fly under the radar in most games, making him an ideal GPP target.
4. Smylie Kaufman ($6,700) – Smylie hasn’t been smiling much since #SB2016 (I couldn’t help it), but I believe this is the week he gets back on track. Jordan, Rickie, and Justin will be here which will allow him to relax and rediscover his game. He’s missed three straight cuts, but we’ve seen that he has the game to win on tour and he’s been making steps toward finding his swing recently. Scores well on par fours and par fives, and he’s priced at under $7k. It’s not unreasonable that he could find his way into the top 10 by the end of the week.
3. Luke Donald ($7,200) – Last week I had Ian Poulter ranked here, and he shot +10 through two rounds and failed to make the cut. This week, I’m going to lean on another Englishman who has had a bit better of a track record at Muirfield. Donald is seven for seven in cuts made, and controls the ball well from the tee which will allow him to set up and attack this course. He only has two top ten finishes in his seven tries here, but with the fairways running hard this week, Donald should be playing from fairways and giving himself chances to score. I really like his consistency on this course, making him a great DFS play.
2. Kyle Reifers ($7,400) – Reifers grew up down the street in Dublin, Ohio, and his game has been peaking leading up to this week. He’s missed the cut two out of three times here, but will have one of the biggest followings and I think he’ll parlay the success he’s had these last two weeks (both top 10 finishes) into another strong showing this week in front of his home crowd. My worry is that he’s not a great scrambler, which will make for some difficult up and downs on a course where there is so much slope around the greens. Still, he’s been striking the ball well lately and I think he’ll hit enough greens to be a factor.
1. Charl Schwartzel ($8,000) – Schwartzel is a great scrambler who has had a lot of success at Muirfield Village (MC last year, but top 25 each of the previous four years). He’s cooled off a bit since his win at the Valspar three months ago, but he has started to play better netting a T25 last week. The South African ranks inside the top 50 on tour in scrambling, strokes gained tee to green, and par four scoring. If he can take advantage of the par fives, he could easily be the one shaking Jack’s hand come Sunday evening.
Ryan Rauch is the owner and lead writer for Sports Monte, a fantasy sports website that provides proven research for season-long and DFS games. He has played golf his whole life and lives and works out of Columbus, Ohio. For more information, follow @SportsMonte on Twitter.
One from the Rough (Sleeper)
He’s a player to consider given his play here over history.
Having dropped off the map somewhat in recent weeks (only playing three times in eight weeks, all missed cuts), now is a time to buy low on Ryan Moore. Since 2010 at the Memorial, Moore has finished outside the top-25 only once in 6 starts. It’s a course he clearly has a level of comfort with.
And remember, earlier this year he was playing some of the best golf on Tour. Before a run in the Dell Match Play, Moore recorded a stretch of golf where he was in the 70s only three times in 10 rounds. His game isn’t too far away, and we have to believe he’s been working to peak during this time of the year.
He’s a sleeper to consider this week if you’re looking for one.
The Man with the Trophy
Two weeks ago (or more like 8 days ago), McIlroy was a winner at the Irish Open in front of his home fans. He comes into Muirfield as the third ranked player in the world, and perhaps the hungriest of the top ranked players.
First in par-5 scoring and 3rd in the Tee-to-Green stat, McIlroy enters Jack’s event having played a tough stretch here in recent years with a 57th and a MC in two starts before his T15 in 2014. He skipped this event in 2015, but looks to return to the event refreshed and looking to regain the form here that earned him two top-10s in both 2010 and 2011.
Putting has been the question in past weeks for the Irishman. This all, because the PLAYERS he was horrible with the putter and still finished T12. But in three events prior, McIlroy’s left-hand low had him hitting a lot of nice putts and posting a positive strokes gained putting three weeks straight. A win since then should give him the confidence needed to keep holing putts.
I’m placing my money on the fact that he will, this week.