GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour from Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio.
Memorial Tournament | 30th May – 2nd June 2019 | Sky Sports
A pretty subdued end to the Charles Schwab Classic at the weekend saw Kevin Na victorious by four-strokes to pick up a second PGA Tour win inside a year. Over the pond, Bernd Wiesberger put his injury woes in the past to record his first win in over two years.
Emilliano Grillo and Brandt Snedeker faltered over the weekend to put to bed any chance of a return there but Oliver Wilson managed to secure us a nice 80/1 place and probably could have competed for the trophy had he played better on the front nine all week.
The warm-up for the US Open begins here in Dublin, Ohio as we head to Jack’s place, Muirfield Village Golf Club. Last year, Bryson DeChambeau picked up his second PGA Tour victory and first of four different titles in 2018. I’m not a fan of the Belgian knockout on the European Tour so we’ll be focusing on this event only this week.
- Muirfield Village Golf Club.
- Par 72 – 7,392 yards.
- ‘Jack’s Place’ – owned and designed by 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.
- Severely undulating parklands test – tree-lined.
- Very penal rough with 77 bunkers and water in play.
- Wide bentgrass fairways & bentgrass greens.
- Demand for quality, precise ball-striking and shot-making.
- Par-5s are all makeable scoring opportunities.
- Par-4 scoring key to success here – 6 of them 450-500 yards long.
- Fairways are wide but still crucial in finding, don’t want to be playing out of that rough.
- Last five winners were ‘longshots’ (60/1+). Matt Kuchar in 2013 last winner below that at 22/1.
- Form here and at other Nicklaus designs: PGA National (Honda Classic); PGA West (Desert Classic/CareerBuilder); Harbour Town (Heritage); Glen Abbey (Canadian Open); Montreux (Barracuda).
- Sneaky comparisons: Augusta National (Masters); East Lake (Tour Championship); TPC Sawgrass (The Players); Quail Hollow (Wells Fargo); Firestone (WGC Bridgestone); TPC Louisiana (Zurich); Aronimink (2018 BMW, 2010/11 AT&T).
Matt Kuchar (20/1 SkyBet)
I just can’t escape Matt Kuchar this week, and the same for Patrick Cantlay but he’s far too short without the win equity to show for it (that said, he is going to win very soon but I’m hoping he stays hot for the US Open.) Kuch rates out well in every aspect for this week – current form, course form, correlated form, key stats and so on.
The 40-year-old rates sixth in SG: Approach on tour this year, first in GIR, fifth for Par-5 scoring and 19th in proximity from the 175-200-yard range. In this field for par-4 scoring 450-500 yards (over last 50 rounds) he ranks fourth behind the elite Justin Rose, Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas.
A T8 at Bethpage Black on a course which doesn’t suit him is a surprise but maybe a sign of just how well Kuch is playing. It’s been five straight top-12 finishes with that 12th coming at Augusta. He has won round Muirfield Village in the past with eight top-15 finishes from nine starts here. It may look short at 22/1 but he has a great case to win here especially after having two wins to his name since November alone.
Xander Schauffele (25/1 SkyBet 8 places)
Xander is a classy operator who often gets forgotten in fields like this. A missed cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge has given us a nice price this week for a player who always contends at the bigger events. A T16 at Bethpage Black the week before highlights that but it was the T2 last month at the Masters which pays testament to it. He also came second to Molinari at The Open and T6 in the US Open last year.
This event is an invitational so only 120 players will tee it up and Xander shows form in events that have a less-than-usual number of competitors. Three of his four victories on tour have come at the WGC-HSBC, the Tour Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Last year he finished in a tie for second at TPC Sawgrass, a T7 defending his title at East Lake and a T13 at Firestone in 2017.
Schauffele has every facet to contend here – top 30 on tour for SG: Approach, SG: Off-the-tee, Par-4 and Par-5 scoring as well as in the 175-200 proximity stats. He’s one of the more reliable putters on tour so provided he bounces back from last week; he should be able to swing himself back into contention at Jack’s place.
Adam Scott (35/1 Betfair 8 places)
The Aussie is playing a slimmer schedule this year, maybe a new emphasis for him as he looks for his first win since 2016. He's won at multiple Jack Nicklaus designs and correlated courses – Augusta National, Firestone, PGA National, East Lake, TPC Sawgrass.
There's further motivation for Scott as he is outside the automatic qualification places for the Presidents Cup – maybe due to his scheduling – he's only three spots away so a win would do him the world of good. The competition will be held in his home country in December so I am sure he'd like to qualify automatically.
The former world number one is playing some of his best stuff this year with five top-20s in his last seven tournaments including a T8 last time out in the USPGA, T18 at the Masters, a T7 at Genesis and a solo second at the Farmers. In this last 50 rounds he ranks out the best for scoring on par-5s in this field as well as in the top-20 for ball-striking and proximity from 175-200 yards.
Scott is an exceptional ball-striker who has firmly put to bed his putting woes, gaining strokes with the flat stick in 10 straight events. He's made six straight cuts here which includes a fourth in 2014 and 13th in 2013 – a time he was playing at his best, right now he's as close to that as he's ever been. If he can just eradicate that one bad round over the course of all four days then I expect to see the Aussie competing come Sunday.
Emiliano Grillo (70/1 Betfair 8 places)
I’m going to have to back the Argentine yet again this week. It’s a stronger field so we’re getting longer odds but it’s still overpriced for me. You can go back and read what I put about him last week but I’ll highlight how good he is on approach (10th on tour), in GIR (16th), proximity from 175-200 (14th). He putts better on Bentgrass greens, ranking 10th in the field for these lightening/fast bent greens.
His 19th last week didn’t get us any place money although it looked as if he might at one stage but it shows he is continuing to trend in the right direction. Last year he showed from at Quail (T9) and the PGA National (T3).
Aaron Wise (100/1 Betfair 8 places)
Wise has missed just one cut in his last eight appearances and probably would have contended at a few of those events had he putted better. He’s been gaining considerable strokes tee-to-green in his last three events but has been heavily let down by the flat stick. It is often a volatile part of someone’s game thus he could click at any moment. We’re back on Bentgrass which he favours slightly too.
A T17 at The Masters this year is a superb effort from the 2018 Rookie of the Year. Wise has also shown up on other correlated courses over the past 18 months or so – A T2 at the Wells Fargo (Quail), a T6 at the WGC Bridgestone (Firestone) and a T15 at the Tour Championship (East Lake).
It really is just the putter that has let down the 22-year-old in his short career. He’s 25th for GIR, 14th for Par-4 scoring (fifth in last 50 rounds in 450-500 yards) and gains considerable strokes off the tee. I think he mounts up a good challenge this week and who knows, if the putter obeys, he could win his second tour title.
Talor Gooch (150/1 SkyBet 8 places)
This Web.com tour graduate was all the rage earlier in the season with a fourth and third back-to-back at the Desert Classic (PGA West) and the Farmers Insurance Open. He also notched up a T20 at PGA National a few weeks later in between three missed cuts. He has shown that he hasn’t gone completely off the boil with a decent showing with a top-30 last week at Colonial. A T13 at Quail Hollow in 2018 further shows his liking for this sort of test.
His recent form is reinforced by the fact he ranks eigth for GIR, 13th for Par-5 scoring and inside the top 25 for ball-striking in the last 24 rounds. These sorts of longshots aren’t afraid to get their first win around Jack’s place, maybe Gooch can continue that recent trend.
Bud Cauley (175/1 SkyBet 8 places)
Another longshot who pops at the right courses is Bud Cauley – T12 at PGA National (2019 Honda); T24 at Quail Hollow (2019 Wells Fargo), T14 (2018) & T3 (2017) at PGA West (CareerBuilder), T9 at Harbour Town (2017 RBC Heritage).
Cauley has been gaining a lot of strokes tee-to-green in three of his last four events and his missed cut last time out can be put down to the -5.2 strokes he lost putting. A seventh event where he has lost strokes with the flat stick. At some point this must change and when it does, it will put him in contention. With some familiarity at the correlated courses, maybe it is this week in which that happens.
Cauley is a brilliant around-the-green player who can minimise bogies and score on par-5s. He’s worth a dabble at these odds this week.
Memorial Tournament – Matt Kuchar (20/1 each-way SkyBet)
Memorial Tournament – Xander Schauffele (25/1 each-way SkyBet)
Memorial Tournament – Adam Scott (35/1 each-way Betfair)
Memorial Tournament – Emiliano Griillo (70/1 each-way Betfair)
Memorial Tournament – Aaron Wise (100/1 each-way Betfair)
Memorial Tournament – Talor Gooch (150/1 each-way SkyBet)
Memorial Tournament – Bud Cauley (175/1 each-way SkyBet)