As noted last week, the Memorial Tournament will be the second consecutive tournament played at Muirfield Village Golf Club. The Memorial will have fewer golfers in the field than last week, but the 133-man field will still be larger than last season, up from the usual 120-man field. Some golfers who were not in the field last week but are playing in the Memorial this week are Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
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The changes we’ll see from last week’s layout should be minimal with different tee boxes, thicker rough and tougher pin placements. Your DraftKings strategy when looking to roster a particular type of golfer should be similar to the Workday Charity Open, with Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green the most crucial statistic to weigh for potential success. The golfers who finished inside the top five gained just under six strokes with their irons, as opposed to 3.2 Off-the-Tee.
Since coming back from the shutdown, we’ve seen the field eclipse 150 golfers, putting a premium on getting all six of your players through the cut. Last week’s DraftKings Millionaire maker contest had less than five percent of lineups get all six golfers through to the weekend. 15 percent of lineups got five of six golfers through, and about 30 percent of lineups had only four golfers in their lineups make the cut. In most weeks, your lineups must have all six players playing on the weekend to maximize their opportunity to score, but it won’t be as crucial for the Memorial Tournament.
This week is a little different with fewer golfers in the field, which, in theory, should result in a higher percentage of lineups getting all six golfers through the cut. We won’t see the six-of-six percentage double from last week, but we should be expecting an increase. The strategy should then be to find consistent golfers and build a balanced lineup, using golfers who’ll be more expensive and in turn will have a higher probability of playing well. We should still be rostering golfers who’ll be volatile with high upside, but we should be more selective than usual this week.
Viktor Hovland ($9,500)
He doesn’t look like he’s slowing down even though it’ll be his sixth tournament in a row. Once again, he ranked first in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green last week, but could not putt, especially on the weekend. He’s now ranked first in Tee-to-Green in three straight tournaments but has given a lot back on the greens, losing strokes over his previous four tournaments dating back to the RBC Heritage. Being back on the same course and on the same greens should help him, because it’s only a matter of time until Hovland wins.
Jon Rahm ($9,300)
It wasn’t pretty for Rahm during the first two rounds last week, losing strokes Off-the-Tee and only gaining .85 strokes on the greens. It didn’t get much better on Saturday, where he lost nearly three strokes Tee-to-Green. However, Rahm turned it around on Sunday, shooting an eight-under (64), the low round of the day. Rahm also gained the third most strokes with his irons in round four behind the winner, Collin Morikawa ($10,000), and Patrick Cantlay ($9,800), who finished inside the top 10. His salary dropped $1,600 from last week, which is a considerable discount we should be taking advantage of, especially when he was the second-most expensive golfer last week on the same course.
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Xander Schauffele ($9,200)
A similar story to Rahm, Xander had an outstanding weekend, shooting eight-under on Saturday and Sunday and finishing at 10-under for the tournament. His top 15 finish last week can be attributed to his strong iron-play, ranking sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green over the weekend, along with gaining just over two strokes putting. Xander may be looking over his shoulder with some of the younger golfers like Matt Wolff ($7,400), Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa ($10,000) closing the talent (and win) gap, which seems like the type of motivation Xander needs to get him back into the winner’s circle.
Abraham Ancer ($8,500)
It’s easy to forget about how good (or bad) a golfer has played if we haven’t seen them for a while. This may be the case for Ancer, but don’t let it be. Before Morikawa and Hovland, it was Ancer lighting up the stat sheet with his hot irons, gaining 4.2 strokes at the Travelers Championship and 4.7 strokes at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Those numbers are fantastic, but not as astronomical as the 11.8 strokes he gained at the RBC Heritage, finishing runner-up to Webb Simpson ($9,600). Ancer has three runner-up finishes in the last year and has shown he can handle pressure golf under the proverbial bright lights, posting a top five and a top 15 finish at the WGCs along with solid play at the President’s Cup. He’s played this tournament twice, and although his finishes are not great (57, 65), he’s gained strokes through approach in both.
Corey Conners ($7,400)
We should be looking for outstanding ball-strikers at every salary tier, and Conners may be striking it the best right now among golfers in the $7,000 to $8,000 range, ranking 21st in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and sixth in approach over the last two months. Conners ranked inside the top 15 in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green last week and finished just inside the top 40. His irons were better over the first two rounds, gaining 5.5 strokes, and he has now gained an average of 3.5 strokes Tee-to-Green over his last five tournaments. His putting has been terrible, but putting is going to be difficult for everyone at Muirfield this week, not just him. Harris English ($7,300) has been one of the better ball-strikers this season and will be making his first start since testing positive for COVID-19. He should be the pivot play in this range.
Sepp Straka ($7,000)
Straka is a birdie machine and he showed it this past weekend, ranking inside the top 10 in total birdies while finishing inside the top 15 for the first time since The American Express back in January. Straka shot all four rounds under-par and only accumulated nine bogeys throughout the tournament.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is reidtfowler) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.