The PGA TOUR will again be in Dublin, Ohio at Muirfield Village as the players get ready for the Memorial Tournament, an invitational event hosted by Jack Nicklaus. DraftKings has a $1,000 free-to-play pool on DraftKings Sportsbook that enables their users to get in on the action. Additionally, you can create private pools to play with friends or family. To participate in the pool, choose winners on each of 10 unique props offered up by the contest and compete for free prizes. Play the free pool here: DraftKings Sportsbook Pools.
The Memorial is a regular PGA TOUR event on the schedule that Muirfield Village has hosted every season since 1976. If you didn’t read my article last week, or missed last week’s event, Muirfield sets up as a Par 72 that plays around 7,456 yards and features Bentgrass greens. It also hosted the Workday Charity Open last week, where the winning score was set by Collin Morikawa, who won in a playoff over Justin Thomas at 19-under.
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While Muirfield does have some scoring holes, mainly the four short Par 5’s, it is reportedly going to be set up quite a bit tougher this week than last as they set-back some of the tees, cut the greens a bit shorter and let the rough grow out. This should lead to more “major-championship-like” conditions and allow some of the best ball-strikers in the game to flourish.
Regardless of how you’re approaching things, I’ve written up my thoughts on this week’s DraftKings Sportsbook pool and have tried to give you decisive picks and strategies to employ at each level. Hope you enjoy.
Will Tiger Woods finish in the top 10?
Woods is coming into this week off a hiatus of more than four months. His last action was at the Genesis Open back in February where he finished a disappointing T68. Still, this factor alone doesn’t give us a good reason to fade him. Tiger came off a two-month layoff in November last year and promptly blew away the field at the Zozo Championship by three strokes. He’s also been a master of Muirfield over his career, winning the event five times (his last came in 2012), and finished T9 here last season. The only debate here is does the competitive rust and super elite field Muirfield is hosting hold him back from a top 10 finish?
Choice: Soft No
· I think Tiger likely comes very close to achieving this feat but falls just a touch short. A T-15 finish would be a pretty solid week for a 44-year-old player who is coming in cold on a tough course, against a field stacked with elite 20 and 30 year olds.
Will Tiger Woods make the cut?
Over the past two seasons, Woods has played in 10 events with a weekend cut and only missed the cut twice in that span. Those events also happened to be the PGA TOUR Championship and Open Championship from last year, so it’s not like he was losing out to a soft field when that happened. The truth is, since his return in 2018, when Tiger has been healthy, he’s almost always at least threatened to get himself into contention and has rarely had issues with making cuts. Then there’s the Memorial factor. The five-time winner did blow up here in 2015 but finished a tidy T23 and T9 in his last two visits.
Choice: Emphatic Yes
· The rust factor will be real, but many players came off just as long a hiatus as Tiger and began playing well right off the bat. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t necessarily expect Tiger to contend this week (it would be great if he did), but I don’t think he’ll turn into a shrinking violet here, either. He should make the weekend.
Who will have the best finishing position? Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau or 2 or more tie
It’s tough to fade last week’s hard luck loser Justin Thomas, but he’s up against tough competition here. Thomas looked set to bring home the 13th win of his career last week before netting two bogies in his last two holes and ultimately falling in a playoff. He ranked second in SG: Tee to Green for the week though and could have easily won the event by multiple shots. While Bryson DeChambeau is coming off a win of his own, he did struggle a bit with his irons in his last few starts, losing strokes on approach during his win in Detroit. That could factor in more at Muirfield this week, which features small and tough to hold greens. The wildcard is McIlroy, who has looked inconsistent since the restart but has finished T8 and T4 at this week’s venue in two of his three visits.
Choice: Rory McIlroy
· I’m going with the player who has the highest win odds of the group here, but I think Rory should be in for a big week soon. He looked more comfortable his last time out and is going to be the freshest of the three from a competition perspective. It’s risky fading the others, but you’ll gain a big advantage of Rory takes the day here.
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Who will have the best finishing position? Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa or 2 or more tie
Dustin Johnson hasn’t played since his win at the Travelers three events ago. He putted extremely well that week and has also shown way better consistency with his irons over his last two events. Dustin’s only negative here is that he has struggled at Muirfield Village at times. He has finishes of T3 and T8 here but also missed the cut badly in 2017. Cantlay has found Muirfield more to his liking than perhaps only Tiger Woods, as he won this event last season, finished T4 here in 2018 and also posted a strong T7 finish at Muirfield last week at the Workday. There doesn’t need to be much written about Collin Morikawa at this point. He hit the ball better than anyone in the field last week by a wide margin and also showed improved putting statistics. To win his first time out at a tough venue like Muirfield shows real class.
Choice: Patrick Cantlay
· As good as Morikawa was last week, I’m not going to expect him to repeat what was a nearly flawless performance from the Workday. If Cantlay just improves a little, he’ll be the one challenging this week.
Who will have the best finishing position? Jon Rahm, Tiger Woods, Webb Simpson or 2 or more tie
I already rambled on enough about Woods, so what about the other two? Simpson could make the claim for being the best golfer in the world right now and he’s up to number five in the OWGR. Webb’s gained +4.5 strokes or more on his approaches his last two starts and certainly seems to be brimming with confidence right now. His only fault is a poor record at Muirfield, which has seen him miss two cuts in four starts here. Rahm has been inconsistent since the restart, but things may not be as bad as they look. He’s made three cuts in a row and shot a final round 64 last week to end things, gaining an absurd +4.3 strokes on APP in the process. Either of the two will likely need a huge week to beat Tiger, but both seem more than capable at the moment.
Choice: Jon Rahm
· “Rahmbo” finally showed us some form at the end of last week and I’m all about capitalizing on that momentum. He’s been upstaged lately by some of the newer golfers on the scene but is fully capable of putting in a monster week at a tough venue like Muirfield himself.
Who will have the best finishing position? Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka or 2 or more tie
Hovland has been on a tear since the restart began. He’s played in all five events, finishing inside the top 25 in all five while also leading the field in SG: Tee to Green stats in his last three starts. He got beat by two ridiculously good performances last week and seems destined to grab a trophy of his own soon. That’s not to say he’s a lock here. Fatigue could play a factor with Hovland and there’s also the fact the two other golfers in this range are no slouches. Brooks Koepka missed the cut last week, but he rallied late Friday and only failed to get to the weekend thanks to a wonky putter. Schauffele might have had the most underrated week of anyone, as he grinded out a T14 and was striking the ball great on the weekend.
Choice: Xander Schauffele
· Much like Collin Morikawa last week, Xander Schauffele has been dangerously close to winning events in 2020. He gained over +2.0 strokes on approaches in his last two rounds last week and gets my vote in what will likely be a hotly contested group.
Who will have the best finishing position? Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Daniel Berger or 2 or more tie
Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama both had a nice week going at Muirfield last week until some late bogies pulled them down in the standings. Both have great records at Muirfield, with Matsuyama winning this event in 2014 and Fowler finishing as the runner-up here in 2017. Berger has outplayed both this season though and has now finished win-T3 his last two outings. Still, the former top-20 player in the OWGR hasn’t found much success at Muirfield over his career, going missed cut and T67 in two appearances. For me, the decision comes down to Hideki and Fowler, two players who have been hard to figure this year.
Choice: Rickie Fowler
· Hideki and Rickie both feel like they’re close to a big week, but I’ll side with Rickie for the simple fact that his putting has been much better of late. Hideki has lost over -2 putting on the greens in four straight events and Muirfield’s fast greens seem unlikely to cure this leak.
Who will have the best finishing position? Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland, Abraham Ancer or 2 or more tie
Gary Woodland had a phenomenal weekend at the Workday, shooting 66-69 to move into T5 position. He did gain +7 strokes putting though, which could be a cause for concern if he regresses in that area for round two at Muirfield. Patrick Reed finished well back at T39 at the Workday, but he’s a player who could see some improvement on the greens as he’s typically one of the most reliable putters on Tour despite losing -1.5 strokes putting last week. The wildcard here is Ancer, who didn’t play last week but has been in insane form of late. Having already collected two runner-up finishes on the year, he was an unlucky loser in the PGA TOUR’s second event at Hilton Head, where he lost out to Webb Simpson late. Ancer’s only played at Muirfield twice before and hasn’t finished higher than T57 here.
Choice: Abraham Ancer
· Despite being the lowest ranked golfer of the bunch, I’ll side with Ancer. He’s had the best ball-striking stats of this group of late and could benefit from the course playing tougher this week as a result.
Who will have the best finishing position? Jason Day, Tony Finau, Justin Rose or 2 or more tie
Despite Justin Rose having a great overall record at Muirfield, I don’t feel any need to pick him here. He’s missed the cut in two straight starts now and was +10 last week after two rounds. The decision here is between Day and Finau. Day really flashed some form last week, putting up a T7 finish off the back of a final round 67. While he’s yet to find that next level of play, that helped him reach number one in the world. Day’s now gained strokes off the tee in eight straight rounds and also seemed to find a ton of confidence with his putter over the weekend at the Workday. Finau missed the cut in his last start but has three finishes of T13 or better at Memorial over his career. He also apparently shot a 59 in a practice round last weekend, which he posted about on social media.
Choice: Jason Day
· It’s a tough call on this one as I think Finau could be in for a big week. Still, the fact Jason Day has found some confidence with his putter makes him too tantalizing to ignore. I think we see a big effort from him here.
Who will have the best finishing position? Matt Kuchar, Paul Casey, Billy Horschel or 2 or more tie
This group contains a semi-struggling Matt Kuchar, a player who is making just his second start since restart in Paul Casey, and Billy Horschel, who is coming off a great week at the Workday. There’s lots to choose from here and Horschel could prove to be the popular play as he closed last week with a 66 to finish T7. Horschel certainly outdueled Matt Kuchar last week, who finished T39 and didn’t strike the ball well at all, losing -1.9 strokes with his irons to the field. The wild card here is Casey, who is likely the best player of this group when in top form. He’s only played the Memorial twice before but did finish T13 here in 2014. The lack of course experience shouldn’t be a huge factor, but it is worth noting.
Choice: Paul Casey
· Despite the lack of competition under his belt, I’ll still side with the Englishman here. Casey was fine his last time out at the Travelers, gaining +5.9 strokes tee to green. The tough venue should suit him just fine.
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