This week we have the main course at Muirfield Golf Village after last week’s starter of the Workday Charity Open at the same course.
July 16-19 at Muirfield Village Golf Club – Dublin, Ohio
Par 72, 7392 yards
For this tournament, the purse has increased by 50% from $6.2 million to $9.3 million and this week Jack Nicklaus plays host to the long-standing fixture on the PGA Tour established 44 years ago. The course will have tougher pin positions on the well-contoured greens that are expected to play faster. The rough will be slightly more penal if the players hit off-line and this week sees Tiger Woods return to the sport after the Covid-19 hiatus. Also back this week are Rory McIlroy, Bryson Dechambeau, and Dustin Johnson, bringing nine of the world’s top 10 playing, making the quality close to that of a major championship field.
What did we learn from last week at Muirfield Village?
We learned what we have been learning since the PGA Tour resumption that one or two bad tournaments (missed cuts) do not mean a player is far from his best form. Young star’s, Collin Morikawa and Joaquim Niemann putt dreadfully at the Travelers Championship two weeks ago at TPC River Highlands when both were fancied strongly by many. In fact, the Travelers Championship was Morikawa’s first missed cut since turning professional the year previous, a run that stretched back for a phenomenal 24 events. That acted as a spur for Morikawa for last week’s winning debut at Muirfield Village where is well-known laser-like iron play was seen to great effect allowing his improved putting to spread-eagle the field over the opening two rounds.
Morikawa might win again but I think we have value siding with Joaquim Niemann at three times the price. Like Morikawa, his putting improved last week but he already had the experience of Muirfield Village when a 5th on debut two years ago, enabled the fresh out of college Niemann temporary PGA Tour status. Already a winner on the PGA Tour at last year’s Greenbrier if he builds on last week’s confidence and draws on 2018s good memories he could be champion at the tender age of twenty-one this week.
What Can We Expect From Tiger Woods on His PGA Tour Return This Week?
Tiger Woods is a five-time champion at Muirfield Village with his last victory coming in 2012, mainly, I suggest to the long-enforced injury breaks he has endured. 2020 was a reminder of what a force the great champion still is with the win at the Masters and the season-ending Zoso Championship. He plays off a lighter schedule than ever in the modern game to look after his troublesome back condition, with preparation for the major championships in the back of his mind. He is straight back in the Lions Den with a featured three ball of Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy but that I inadvertently may focus the Big Cat from the start. There is no player more competitive when he gets in contention and no player in the sport has ever been able to close the deal like Woods. You discount him at your peril!
Only Tiger Woods has ever defended his title at the Memorial Tournament. Can Patrick Cantlay be the second player to do that this year?
I do think that it is plausible that Patrick Cantlay wins this week, especially after a fast-finishing 7th Workday Capital Open. As we have already discussed it can be premature to write off a player after one below-average tournament and he finished strongly in the final round on Sunday. His opening event, the Travelers Championship showed his high functioning consistency was still apparent and we can expect him to sharpen up considerably in the coming weeks. The world number 8, was 4th here in 2018 when holding every chance then last year showed his metal with a blistering last round of 64 to steal victory at the tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus. Cantlay has had an affinity with Golf’s greatest starting in 2011 when he won the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Trophy and we can expect a strong defense this week.
Last year’s US Open champion Gary Woodland looks a solid each-way pick in Ohio this week having finished last week’s event strongly. In 2016 he missed an opportunity to win here when a poor final round let in unknown William McGirt for victory. He has become a more accomplished and confident player in recent years and the way he held off Brooks Koepka when Koepka was at the peak of his powers at last year’s US Open on the final day is still fresh in the memory.
PGA Golf Picks
- Gary Woodland – Win @ +3300
- Joachim Niemann – Win @ +6600
- Gary Woodland – Top 10 @ +400
- Joachim Niemann – Top 20 @ +275
After Armour and Streelman land our banker bets two weeks running, who do we choose for the hat trick this week?
PGA Golf Banker
The last two week’s Ryan Armour and Kevin Streelman have landed our banker bet in the Top 20 market. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, applies this week as we put Kevin Streelman again. Last week an outstanding eight-under-par 64 underpinned his effort and ensured an easy return. At a venue that he loves over many years last week’s 7th place finish was his fourth top 10 and sixth top 20 in a dozen outings at Muirfield Golf Village. One round of 64 or 65 will again go along way to landing this week’s PGA Banker Bet again.
PGA Golf Banker
- Kevin Streelman – Top 20 @ +250
PGA Golf Longshot
With such strength at the top of the market this week it is more difficult than ever to imagine a longshot winner but there was one I do like. Danny Willett the former Masters Champion has what it takes to win big events, when in contention and has proved that on numerous occasions in recent years. Last year’s debut at Muirfield Golf Village was full of promise for the Sheffield man from England and twinned with a promising effort in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last time we have the potential of a winner in waiting. Tough classical golf courses are what Willett excels on and only last September he won the European Tour’s flagship event; the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
PGA Golf Longshot
- Danny Willett – win @ +12500