The PGA Tour moves to ‘Jack’s Town’ in Ohio this week for the Memorial Tournament held at Muirfield Village. Nicklaus had to design a course in his backyard and it is widely considered to be his baby.
It is an interesting layout – a par 72, measuring at 7,300 yards and as always with a Nicklaus track, the challenges will lie on the approach and in and around the greens. The fairways are relatively wide, so the big hitters can loosen their arms slightly, but if completely brash and wayward off the tee, you will have absolutely no chance in finding even a greenside bunker. But the scoring will need to be found on the 4 par 5s on offer, so anyone who gives themselves chances for eagle will have a chance come Sunday. With the difficulties of finding the tight greens, scrambling will certainly play a part, up and downs to save par or find a birdie will go along way. There are water hazards on 13 holes, so as always, we feel top quality iron players will prosper.
The PGA Tour website had an interesting paragraph in their build-up that you might find very useful
“Muirfield Village ranked seventh-lowest in greens hit in 2012 at 58.05 percent. Adding to the challenge is that it checked in at fifth in scrambling (51.61%) and fifth in conversion percentage (85.52) inside 10 feet. Its scoring average of 73.677 was second-highest among par 72s in non-majors.”
As for the field, we will be able to see Tiger in action alongside McIlroy who will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing missed cut last week. Tiger has won here 5 times and as we have seen this year already, he is playing out his skin on tracks he loves. So, we will be honest with you. He could absolutely batter this tournament! We have tried to find some real value in an otherwise tough field, so lets be hoping Tiger decides to leave his game at home with the new misses.
Matt Kuchar (22/1 BetVictor, w/o Woods 12/1)
“Koooch” is a player that can definitely be considered one of the ‘top’ boys in the game, made evident by his relatively low odds in a top class field. His form this season has warranted this – no missed cuts, 5 top 10s, a win at the WGC Match play and a 2nd place at the Crowne Plaza Invitational last Sunday. He only made 4 bogeys all week and probably should have won, but his game really looks slick at the moment. He will be confident with his irons coming into this tournament, having been T9 for GIR last week, especially on a course that he has played well at before. His last 4 outings have all returned top 10s, 2nd back in 2011 and 5th in 2009 being his highest. However, most crucially he is 14th for scrambling on tour and you would trust Kuchar to get up and down and he may need to be doing that on this course. He is also 27th in proximity to the hole and 5th in par 5 birdie or better leaders but it is his putting abilities that set him apart even more. 21st in putts per round, 20th in one-putt % and 55th in putting inside 10 ft. Out of all the big names competing, we feel confident Kuchar will give us all good value and a run for our money.
Bo Van Pelt (70/1 SportingBet, w/o Woods 40/1)
We have backed Van Pelt a few times this season and he has never quite got up there to get a return, however this just feels like the right week to stick our necks out once more and plump for the American. He is available at superb odds considering his talent and ability on a course he has consistently played very well at. 13th the last 2 years, before a 3rd in 2010 and a 3rd back in 2005. His recent form has been up and down but a T6 a few weeks ago at the Wells Fargo Championship and a solid T31 at the Crowne Plaza will help his confidence. Although his stats do not excite, Van Pelt is a naughty prospect on this course, his mid season form will have let him down in the rankings. Still, 36th in proximity to the hole, 59th in par 5 birdie or better leaders and in 55th driving accuracy certainly help the cause! An interesting prospect…
Matt Every (125/1 BetVictor, w/o Woods 90/1)
Matt Every has had a mixed season, missing the cut 7/17 times so far. However, 4 stunning rounds in the 60s last week will give him unheralded confidence as he embarks upon the Nicklaus challenge – a course that he played for the first time last year and finished T6. He wasn’t driving the ball particularly well in this tournament and neither is he this year, but he finished 10th for GIR in 2012 and he is currently 44th on tour this season. He is also 18th in proximity to the hole and 39th in going for the green, so he will attack at most opportunities and if he swings like last week, he will be in the with a big outside chance. There Every chance he could end Sunday looking back at his big name rivals.
Bubba Watson (66/1 various, w/o Woods 40/1)
If you were to tell us this time last year that Bubba would be 66/1 for a PGA event in 1 year’s time, we would have told you to eat some skittles, stay in a corner of the room and wait for the psychiatrist. He is an incredible talent, who should be tailor-made for this course but his history here has actually not been hugely encouraging. He is yet to make a top 10 but there is no reason he shouldn’t this week when you think he is 13th for driving distance, 37th for ball striking, 6th GIR and 4th in going for the green. And even though he has not been impressive recently, he has hardly been playing awfully. T15 at the Zurich Classic and T14 at a very difficult Arnold Palmer track, show there is that mercurial genius hiding away somewhere. Put it this way, if Bubba brings his a-game then he could run away with it, arguably like only Tiger can in this field. Plus, we all love watching Bubba, don’t we?!
Brendan de Jonge (100/1 various, w/o Woods 66/1)
For someone that has been as low as 33s this season, the 3-figure odds of de Jonge look too good to turn down this week. He is a player we have looked at many times in 2013, but his all-round ability from tee to green really excites us for this particular challenge. 89th in driving distance, 32nd driving accuracy, 26th in scrambling, 12th for ball striking, 17th GIR, 67th proximity to the hole and 42nd for par 5 birdie or better leaders. Basically, those stats are outrageous for someone of such high odds and pedigree. He hasn’t been in the worst form either; T22 last week after a superb 66 start, but no round over par will help the confidence. He was also T15 at The Players Championship on a relatively similar layout, so the South African could really cause an upset this week
Another one of our ‘quick mentions’ must go to Jason Kokrak (250/1 various) who could be a very interesting outsider. He played very consistently last week to finish T18 and with his power off the tee, anything can happen. 8th in driving distance, 43rd in GIR, 27th going for the green and 4th par 5 birdie or better leaders. You never know!