EXTRA VALUE FOR THE MEMORIAL!
Designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1974, Muirfield Village, named after Muirfield in Scotland where Nicklaus completed the first of his three career Grand Slams.
At just shy of 7,400 yards, this Par-72 has become a serious test of approach play, with the best iron players around tending to go well here on small, fast greens.
Nicklaus has redesigned this course to make it a much sterner test though, and no matter how dialled in you are with your irons, both the size and toughness of these greens mean that you are going to miss on occasion, and whoever can get up and down out of this tricky rough is going to right at the top of this leader board come Sunday evening.
Indeed, five of the last six winners have ranked in the top 10 for scrambling, while the exception (Jason Dufner in 2017) more or less negated his need for a good scrambling game by leading the field in greens-in-regulation, hitting nearly 74% of them over the week.
Two of the last three (Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau) have led the field for scrambling and that’s certainly something to be keeping an eye on this week.
Memorial Betting Tips
All things considered, there are certainly reasons why Jon Rahm leads the betting here, though his price seems too short to get behind for someone who hasn’t really looked like winning despite a string of top-10 finishes.
His consistency is what keeps him up and around the top of the world rankings, though he’s still yet to win since the change in clubs and considering no-one has won this back-to-back since Tiger Woods in 2000, we’ll look elsewhere for more value.
Xander Schauffele 20/1
There are a few names near the top, though we have our reservations on most of them and the one who stands out here is Xander Schauffele (20/1).
The American didn’t quite get to grips with the pace of these greens last year, though the rest of the course he seems to have down to a tee, and we’d expect him to push on here.
While his scrambling hasn’t been good around here, he ranked first and fourth for greens-in-regulation in his last two visits, in which he recorded top-15 finishes.
With the roughs being a treacherous combination of Kentucky Bluegrass, fescue, and rye, finding the fairway counts for a lot and no one found more than Schauffele here last year.
It’s difficult to get behind someone at this price who’s not technically won for a year and a half, though the rejigged Tour championship format robbed him of a victory at the back end of last year and he’s still produced four top-five finishes in his 10 events this year so it’s only a matter of time before he converts.
He’s a player that relishes the big occasion and there have been fewer fields stronger than this one so far this season.
While his accuracy off the tee has been one of his downfalls recently, these fairways are fairly forgiving provided you don’t go off course too much, while he ranks in the top-20 on tour for each of the other four key metrics on a 12-month average (Distance, GIR, Scrambling and Putting Average), so he could take some beating here.
Kyle Stanley 80/1
This has often been an event for outside winners that are nigh-on impossible to pick, though there’s certainly one that stands out at a longer price and that’s Kyle Stanley (80/1). T
he American loves this course and has proven this season that when on song, he’s one of the best approach players around. He’s finished in the top-six in three of his last five renewals of this event and while his putting can be very hit or miss, he’s ranked fifth or better for putting average in two of his last three memorials.
Another factor which isn’t necessarily a banker for picking a winner, though it does lend its hand, is pedigree at Firestone, where form crosses over exceptionally well. Justin Thomas and Adam Scott have both won at firestone and finished runner-up here, Justin Rose has done the opposite while Tiger Woods and Hideki Matsuyama have taken the crown at both venues.
Stanley has already finished runner up at both Muirfield Village and Firestone, implying his success here is no one off and that the course ultimately does fit his game very nicely.
His form has also shown some progression in recent months, finishing 14th in Texas having been in fourth heading into the weekend, he also competed at the Wells Fargo, finishing fourth after day one and was in seventh heading into the final round before dropping off, while he put in a strong final round at the Charles Schwab last week to finish eighth, so at his price he’s certainly worth getting behind too.