Sam Burns stunned the world with a clutch tournament-winning putt on Sunday, but the PGA Tour wastes no time in moving on. The U.S Open is within reach and we now head to Muirfield Village for the Memorial Tournament.
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Designed by Jack Nicklaus himself, Muirfield is one of the more challenging courses on tour. It was designed as a homage to Augusta and it’s safe to say it carries a lot of the same traits. There’s water on 11 of the 18 holes, deceptively challenging greens protected by bunkers and thick rough.
It did undergo a renovation before last year’s event, but at the heart and soul of it all remains a course that rewards Golf in its purest form.
What we’re looking for
There are two key areas where golfers will have to gain strokes if they are to thrive this week – Approach, and around the green. Driving well off the tee is going to be critical, but the distance won’t be. This is very much a second-shot course where the attempts into the green count more than the extra 30 yards you can push the ball off the tee.
To run my custom model, I used data from RickRunGood.com and focused on these metrics before then looking at courses that profile similarly to Muirfield.
Those were: TPC Southwind, TPC Scottsdale, Harbour Town, and Whistling straights. I looked at each golfer’s metric in the desired categories while playing these courses and added them into the model. This gives us a final grade on golfers who are trending well recently and have played well at courses that demand similar skillsets in the past.
John Rahm comes in as a favorite here, but after fading him last time out, I’m happy to do so again. He grades out as my 9th best Golfer in terms of value and while it’s not to say he won’t win, the value just isn’t there at +800.
Patrick Cantlay is a much more intriguing name at +1000. He’s my second highest value golfer due to his incredible form at correlated courses. In his last five starts at this event alone, he’s won it twice, came 4th once, and had two top-35 finishes. If you do want a chalk play, Cantlay should absolutely be the guy.
Rory Mcilroy at +1100 is the third highest-priced golfer this weekend. He grades out as the 4th best value play, which is right in line with his price. This is a fair price to play McIlroy. If you’re bullish on his recent run of form (three top-10’s) then this is a good spot to bet behind him.
The next tier at the Memorial
My best value play this week is Hideki Matsuyama. He’s my best-valued golfer and has odds of +2800. There is absolutely some juice to squeeze here on a guy that quietly goes about his business. He’s had a bumpy 2022 campaign due to some injury setbacks, but the flashes like we saw a few weeks back are still bright enough to warrant confidence. If we get the Hideki who finished 14th at the Masters, look out. It’s a coin-flip as to which version we get, but it’s a risk absolutely worth taking when the value is that high.
Jordan Spieth has been a frustrating name to bet, but at this point it’s hard to not keep doubling down. It’s the same thesis. Arguably the best short-game player on tour but he cannot figure out the putter consistently. He’s +2200 this week, and my 10th-best valued player, which is about right.
Shane Lowry(+2000) and Will Zalatoris (+3000) are both intriguing plays here who each come with their own risks. For Willy Z, it always has been and likely always will be the putter until there’s a fundamental change. We faded him last week after his second-place at the PGA Championship and this could be a nice spot to bounce back. As for Lowry, he ranks 1st in strokes-gained total over the last 50 rounds, and 10th in correlated courses. It’s worth a punt.
My PGA crush this year continues to be Matt Kuchar. I can’t stay away from backing him as we go through a run of similarly profiled courses. He’s been profitable for the most part and we’re at a course where he’s so accurate with his driver, he may actually be able to gain where others have to take a 3-wood. He’s my 11th-graded golfer this week, which at +7500 I’m going to be all over. In Kuch we trust.
Alex Noren (+8000) is another play who grades out similarly to Kuchar, but the fact he missed the cut two weeks ago and cost me big time in DraftKings lineups lives rent-free in my head. I might dabble with him this week, but it won’t be a lump.
Finally, I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m willing to get behind Rickie Fowler (+10000). I’d rather be early than late to the Rickie rampage and I feel like it’s coming. He’s had two top-25’s in his last 3 events and has gained strokes in all the metrics we value historically at these courses. It’s a super longshot but one that may be worth taking.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt York