This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
THE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT
Winner's Share: $1.638M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Dublin, Ohio
Course: Muirfield Village Golf Club
2018 champion: Bryson DeChambeau
In some ways, Muirfield Village is the perfect golf course. Of course, it's not St. Andrews, it's not Augusta, it's not Pebble Beach. We don't mean it like that. As Jack Nicklaus' signature design, it demands a golfer to use all facets of his game, all the clubs in his bag. While Nicklaus always put a premium on driving in his playing days, everything about Muirfield gets harder later. The holes tend to get harder closer to the green. The back nine is harder than the front, with the five hardest holes from a year ago all coming after the turn. Nos. 16, 17 and 18 don't have a cutesy animal nickname, but they all were among those five hardest holes on the course. Just perfect.
The field, while not perfect, is pretty dang sweet. The Memorial annually features the top field in a "regular" Tour event – non-major, non-WGC, non-playoff – and this year is no different. Seven of the top 10, 15 of the top 25 and 30 of the top 50 golfers in the world rankings are on hand. That doesn't include Nos. 1 and 2 Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, but we know that golf fans – and we suspect Nicklaus himself – would trade those two for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, both of whom are entered. This is one of the stronger fields in the history of the Memorial, which dates to 1976 – when none other than Roger Maltbie won it!
With an invitational gathering of only 120 golfers like last week at Colonial, roughly 60 percent of the field will make the cut. It's another good opportunity to take some gambles on lower-priced options – maybe go with a stars-and-scrubs approach – as a golfer will have to best only 45 or so guys to make the weekend, unlike the 80 or so in a field of 156. Further, Nicklaus annually issues berths to some lesser guys – top amateurs, money leaders from international tours and all members of the most recent Ryder and Presidents Cup teams – no matter what their games look like today. One of those amateurs is Jovan Rebula, the South African who won the 2018 British Amateur, attends Auburn and is the nephew of Ernie Els. We'll also see him at the next two majors, the U.S. Open and Open Championship. For the record, we're not advocating for or against Rebula; we're just highlighting an interesting invitation. More on lineup construction: If deciding between two similar guys, we wouldn't find fault with picking the guy starting at No. 1 on Thursday as opposed to No. 10. Getting off to a good start can boost momentum, just like getting off to a bad start can snowball the wrong way. As we said, the back nine featured the five toughest holes a year ago.
Another interesting caveat at Muirfield is the difficult collection of par-3s. All exceed 180 yards, and three of them (Nos. 4, 12 and 16) were among the seven hardest holes on the course last year. No. 16 is traditionally the toughest, a 201-yarder to a narrow green alongside a large pond. Oh, that's another thing – there is water on more than half the holes, not to mention a boatload of bunkers. The greens have undulations and are super fast, with some saying they're Augusta-like fast.
Weather-wise, there is rain in the forecast every day of the week through Thursday, when there is a 100 percent chance. So the course will be longer and there won't be as much practice time as desired. You'll want to check closer to lineup lock to see whether there is any advantage to early/late or late/early tee times. The rest of the week looks like warm and not so windy, with just a chance of showers on Sunday morning.
Fun Memorial factoid: Judy Rankin, the beloved first female golf announcer and two-time LPGA Player of the Year, is this year's Memorial honoree. Rankin follows an impressive recent list: Hale Irwin (2018), Greg Norman (2017), Johnny Miller (2016) and Nick Faldo (2015). The PGA Tour's website notes that England's Peter Alliss, the longtime broadcaster and former player who is now 88 years old, will also be honored in the Wednesday ceremony.
Key Stats to Winning at Muirfield Village (in order of importance)
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting
• Par-3 scoring
2018 - Bryson DeChambeau
2017 - Jason Dufner
2016 - William McGirt
2015 - David Lingmerth
2014 - Hideki Matsuyama
2013 - Matt Kuchar
2012 - Tiger Woods
2011 - Steve Stricker
2010 - Justin Rose
2009 - Tiger Woods
If you look at the 10 names above, a few things stand out. One is that aside from DeChambeau and Matsuyama, there were no youngsters; seven of the 10 were over 30 at the time of their victories. Secondly, you don't have to be a big hitter to win at Muirfield Village. Driving distance and, to a degree, driving accuracy aren't as important as iron play, both from the fairways and off the tee at the par-3s. The four par-5s are all gettable by just about everyone in the field – two of them aren't even 530 yards. Getting on the green in regulation is always important, but this week especially so. There's no one way to win at Muirfield. We've seen some big names, we've seen some surprises. You rarely can go wrong with guys possessing a strong iron game.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Justin Rose - $10,800 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 16-1)
It's not that we don't like Tiger Woods; we do. What we don't like is Woods' price: $11,200, No. 2 on the board behind Rory McIlroy – by now, most of you have caught on that we don't want to pay for McIlroy, either. DraftKings, just like Vegas, knows that people will pay a premium to back their favorite. We get it, it's fun to root for Tiger. So go for it, and enjoy, as long as you know you're overpaying. It sure seems as if Rose has had a bumpy spring, with that horrid missed cut at the Masters, never contending at the PGA and last week's sleepwalk through his Colonial title defense. But there has been some good, too: a tie for eighth at THE PLAYERS and a tie for third at the Wells Fargo. Now Rose arrives here, where he won in 2010, was runner-up in 2015 and tied for sixth last year, with a couple of more top-10s earlier in the decade. In this on-again, off-again stretch, seems as this is a prime week for Rose to be on.
Patrick Cantlay - $10,200 (18-1)
It didn't take long for Cantlay to get the hang of Muirfield Village, tying for fourth last year in just his second visit. Unlike Rose, Cantlay's arrow has been pointing straight up this spring, with a top-10 at the Masters and top-5s at both the PGA and Harbour Town. And going back to late winter, he had another top-10 in another elite field at the WGC-Mexico.
Tony Finau - $9,600 (20-1)
Finau sure is starting to look the like the top-10 machine of old. Actually, based on Colonial last week and the Masters, a top-5 machine. The last four years at Jack's Place, he's had a top-10 and two more top-15s. Finau is ranked T20 in par-3 scoring.
Matt Kuchar - $9,400 (18-1)
We often joke about Kuchar's uncanny ability to sneak a backdoor top-10. He did it again at the PGA Championship. But of course, gamers don't care how it happens, just that it does, in fact, happen. Kuchar has a spectacular track record at Muirfield, with a win in 2013, five more top-10s in the past decade and even a tie for 13th last year when his game was floundering.
Tier 2 Values
Justin Thomas - $9,300 (18-1)
When was the last time Thomas has been this cheap? Before DraftKings was even invented? We know he's been battling a wrist injury, and his results before taking time off weren't all that great (probably because of the wrist injury, duh). If Thomas pulled out of the PGA because his wrist wasn't right, he'd hardly have any difficulty bypassing the Memorial. So connecting the dots, we think he's ready. And for a guy with a tie for eighth and a tie for fourth the past two years here, at a price closer to $9,000 than $10,000, we're buying. Thomas is ranked T32 in par-3 scoring.
Hideki Matsuyama - $9,100 (20-1)
Matsuyama is another former champ in the field, his win coming in 2014. He tied for fifth the next year, then was grouped with Finau and Kuchar last year as they shared 13th place. He has not missed a cut in 10 months, 23 events stretching back to the Open Championship. Fifteen of those 23 have netted top-25s, though there have been only four top-10s. Matsuyama coming off a tie for 16th at the PGA. He is top-10 in some key strokes-gained metrics: eighth in approach, fourth in tee to green, ninth in total. Even his putting isn't as bad as in the past, ranked 139th. He's even T11 in par-3 scoring.
Gary Woodland - $8,800 (30-1)
Woodland has been a mixed bag at the Memorial, with a pair of top-6s since 2011 and a top-25 last year but also some lesser results/missed cuts. He's coming off a very quiet top-10 at the PGA. Woodland remains one of the straightest of the long drivers, ranking sixth on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee and seventh in tee to green. He's 39th in SG around the green, and he better be all of that this week with his terrible putting.
Phil Mickelson - $8,100 (60-1)
Just the thought of being $200 cheaper than Rory Sabbatini should spur Mickelson to great heights this week (really, DraftKings, Phil has a reputation to uphold). Mickelson has cashed top-25 the past three years, and he was part of the law firm of Finau, Kuchar, Matsuyama and Mickelson that tied for 13th last year. We saw signs at the PGA that Mickelson was taking his foot off the gas a little bit with his driver, shooting 69-71 to start. But he blew up to a 76-76 weekend that should jolt some sense in him. On the other hand, Muirfield does have wide fairways.
Tier 3 Values
Marc Leishman - $8,000 (60-1)
Leishman has been far from his best of late, but with the low price tag and course history, he gets a nod here. The big Aussie has made eight straight Memorial cuts, with a string of three top-15s from 2015-17. Leishman has not been a great driver this season, but he still manages to deliver from the fairway, ranking 15th in strokes gained: approach and 37th in greens in regulation. He's also ranked T4 in par-3 scoring.
Emiliano Grillo - $7,900 (60-1)
The Argentine tied for 23rd last and is somehow $500 cheaper this year. He also was T11 in 2016. Grillo has missed only one cut since the Open Championship last July (the Honda) and is coming off top-25s at both the PGA and Colonial. Grillo has some great numbers – before getting on the green: 28th in strokes gained: off the tee, 10th in approach, 20th in tee to green and 16th in greens in regulation. That could all add up to a very good week, though when he gets on the green, that's when you cover your eyes.
Kyle Stanley - $7,800 (60-1)
After a horrendous start to 2019, Stanley has been recovering, as he tied or 21st at the Masters and for eighth at Quail Hollow. He's got a great track record at Muirfield Village. Stanley was runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau last year, tied for sixth the year before and for third way back in 2012. We can't look at his season-long stats, they're terrible. Safe to say, they're not as bad as they were two months ago.
Jim Furyk - $7,500 (80-1)
You could say that Furyk is playing "senior golf." He's 204th on Tour in driving distance, first in driving accuracy and 15th in greens in regulation. He's not quite a senior, still 49. Furyk played great here for years, but after a tie for fifth in 2015, he tied for 52nd and then missed two cuts. This year, his game is clearly different. He has three top-10s, eight total top-25s. He was runner-up at THE PLAYERS. And he tied for 13th last week at Colonial.
Peter Uihlein - $7,200 (80-1)
By any metric, Uihlein has not had a good 2019. Entering the year ranked 82nd and in position to get back into the top-50, he's plummeted to 119th. In the first four months, he didn't beat a T60 in any tournament (except an opposite-field event). That is some sorry golf. But he surprised with a top-5 at the Nelson, then surprised even more with a tie for 13th last week at Colonial. As we said above, Uihlein has to beat only 45 or so guys to get to the weekend.
Matt Every - $6,800 (150-1)
Every has missed his last four cuts at the Memorial since a tie for sixth in 2012. Entering this season, he probably had missed his last four cuts everywhere. But the 35-year-old has found a second act this season, making 6-of-9 cuts with top-25s in all six of them. You read that right: 6 made cuts, 6 top-25s. We're not including the Zurich but are including a runner-up at the Nelson earlier this month and a tie for 17th last week at Colonial. Every's strokes-gained numbers are pretty good, inside the top-100 in all of them. And he's top-50 in greens in regulation.
Cameron Champ - $6,400 (150-1)
We wrote a few weeks back as Champ's game was in a free fall that we couldn't jump back on the board until we saw some evidence. Well, we have. He made the cut at the PGA, likewise at Colonial. Now, they were baby steps, as he didn't so much as finish in the top-50. But the wide fairways this week should allow the long-hitting Champ to attack, and his better-than-average putter could make it a fruitful week.
David Lingmerth - $6,300 (Field, 12-1)
We're guessing DraftKings is not in the camp of believers in course history. The Swede is the 2015 champ, and while he's never come close again, he hasn't missed a cut in six total visits. Lingmerth's worst finish since winning was last year's T29. He hasn't been playing all that much on the PGA Tour, just seven starts all season, but his most recent was his best, a T43 at the Nelson. We suspect he couldn't wait for this week to come.