A marquee field makes its way into Dublin, Ohio for Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Check our betting preview and golf picks for the event.
For the third week in a row we are treated to a tournament on The PGA Tour schedule that is associated with one of golf's greatest off all time. Three weeks ago, it was Byron Nelson. Last week it was Ben Hogan and historic Colonial Country Club. This week we visit Jack's place. Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio was the dream of Jack Nicklaus, to build, design, and to hold major golf championships. After buying the land with his own money, Muirfield has been hosting The Memorial on The PGA Tour since 1976. It has also been host to The President's Cup, The Solheim Cup, The Ryder Cup, The U.S. Amateur and The U.S. Junior Amateur. Nicklaus named it after Muirfield in Scotland, where he won his first British Open and he designed it after one of his favorite all time venues, Augusta National.
In looking at The Memorial and Muirfield Village, one will find many similarities to Augusta. The fairways are relatively wide, the greens are extremely fast and undulated, and creativity and scrambling around the greens is vital to success. One of the big differences however, is the presence of rough off of the fairways. What one will not find much of at Augusta National, will very much be a factor this week at The Memorial. As many of Nicklaus' designs are, Muirfield Village is a second shot golf course. One must hit the right spot in the fairways off of the tee, and then hit the relatively small greens in regulation.. and then of course, putt well in order to win. The golf course and the tournament have been amongst the most revered by Tour players since their inception. Scoring at The Memorial has typically been very demanding but it was not the case last year with the rain softening up the course - and that may be the case again this year with rain in the forecast for the weekend.
The Memorial is a tournament that sees the cream rise to the top. Winners here are typically Major Champions or those that have gone on to win Majors. Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Paul Azinger, Tom Lehman, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk… have all had the honor of shaking Jack's hand coming off of the 18th green on Sunday, victorious. With 29 of the Top-50 players in the world all here this week, it sets up to be another marquee week in golf.
Jason Day (13-2 betting odds) "The Big Three," Day, Spieth, and McIlroy are all coming off of victories and each is looking to make it two in a row. Jason Day, a member at Muirfield Village, has never fared well at The Memorial, missing the cut three times and never finishing higher than 27th. Oddly enough, his track record at The Arnold Palmer and The Players was not exceptional either - and he went on to win both of those events earlier this season.
Rory McIlroy (13-2 at Bovada) McIlroy comes in off of his win at The Irish Open and while he has played well here at The Memorial with a 5th, 10th, and 15th in three of his five tries, it has been over a year since he has won in The United States.
Jordan Spieth (7-1) The Golden Child was back in a familiar spot last week - his home state of Texas and the winner's circle. This was a big move for Spieth as he looks to shed the memories of this year's Masters and move forward to the upcoming U.S. Open. In three trips to Muirfield Village, he's gone 63rd, 19th, and 3rd last year.
Hideki Matsuyama (15-1) Matsuyama seems to have quite an affinity for this golf course. He had success here in The President's Cup, won The Memorial in 2014, and defended his title with a 5th place finish last year. Coming in, he has finished 7th at The Players, 11th at The Wells Fargo, and 7th at The Masters.
Matt Kuchar (20-1) In this column last week, Kuchar was one of our "Contenders" and he lived up to expectations, finishing 6th at Colonial. This man is on a tear right now as we head toward The U.S. Open at Oakmont. He is a past winner at The Memorial and should once again be right in the mix this week on Tour.
Dustin Johnson (20-1) Of the Top-10 players in the world, it is Johnson who seems to be flying under the radar a bit but maintaining excellent success. He was 4th at The Masters, 28th at The Players, and 12th at The Byron Nelson. Putting continues to be his nemesis but he does have three Top-15 finishes here including a 13th last year.
The Long Shots
Daniel Berger (40-1) Berger missed the cut at The Memorial last year in his first ever visit but he has been playing some outstanding golf this season with eight Top-25 finishes including a 10th at The Masters and a 9th at The Players.
Jason Dufner (50-1) Dufner has been trending nicely since missing the cut at The Masters, going 54th, 49th, 24th, and 6th last week at Colonial. In his last two trips to Dublin, Ohio, the Cleveland native has finished 24th and 19th.
Charl Schwartzel (50-1) The sweet swinging South African had never missed a cut here at The Memorial until doing so last year. Prior to that he had four straight Top-25 finishes including an 8th in 2014 and in 2013.
Bill Haas (60-1) is our betting pick. Haas has been pretty average coming in but did finish 24th at The Masters, a venue much like Muirfield as we have mentioned. In the last three years here, he has finished 18th, 8th, and 4th. Haas is 26th on Tour in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 10th in Strokes Gained Around the Green, and he drives the ball very straight. With the greens possibly being softened by the rain, his putting just may be good enough this week to have him shaking hands with Mr. Nicklaus coming off of 18 on Sunday.