Winner’s Share – $1,116,000
Course – Muirfield Village GC (7,392 yards Par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Luke Donald – T49, Phil Mickelson – T49, Gary Woodland – T57, Michael Thompson – T37, Daniel Summerhays – T28
It was one of those weeks on the PGA Tour where most people were left scratching their heads. Steven Bowditch at 400/1 was easily the biggest winner on Tour this year. Odds any higher than that are usually in the Sandy Lyle, Sir Nick Faldo bracket when they decide to tee it up. Winning by 4 shots, this was a man who had given up the game 10 years ago – but in ’05 he chucked some clubs and a tent in the back of his missus’ car and went off to make something of himself in the game. Yeah, we think that decision was justified.
These months on the calendar are certainly the best for golf fans with majors around the corner and both Tours in full swing. The Memorial tournament this week is definitely one of the best and most prestigious. Jack Nicklaus has built a little beauty here but when doesn’t he? Expect plenty of stints in the commentary box from the golfing legend.
So what do we know about Muirfield Village? Well first and foremost you have to be GOOD to win here. We’ll go out on a limb and say someone at 400/1 won’t be winning this week. Look at the previous champions here – Woods, Rose, Stricker, Matsuyama, Kuchar, Perry, Els, Singh, Couples, Watson, Norman, Lehman – the list goes on. They’re all quality players and if they weren’t prior to winning, the went on to be so.
Matsuyama went against the form book somewhat last year having been the first ‘first-time’ winner in quite a while. But we can counteract that and say he put in an impressive display on the same course at the 2013 President’s Cup. So knowing this, they need at least a top 20 around here to be considered. Coming into last year’s event, the last 7 winners and recorded a top 17 or better prior to their victory.
Then the course itself. Obviously it’s just a superb test of your all round game but there are a few key things to really consider. The greens are lightening fast. We’re talking Augusta sort of stuff. Scrambling is massive and most say actually tougher than Augusta. Certain pin positions will make it almost impossible to hold the green so getting up and down could be the difference. So your Tim Clark’s of this world won’t be winning.
Tee to green is vital. The ‘total drivers’ out there will have the advantage. The fairways are generous considering the toughness of the course but it’s all about where you put the ball in the fairway as this is regarded as a ‘second shot course’. Bombers need to use their length wisely because if they’re left in the rough or with the wrong angle of attack these greens are impossible to hold.
As ever, it’s always good to note the par 5’s around Muirfield. You won’t see a winner here who isn’t birdieing at least a couple of them a day, if not more. They’re risk-reward and those who conquer the longer holes at this tournament usually do okay.
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Bill Haas (33/1 Various)
It’s an event for big names and Haas is certainly in that bracket, his name is 8 letters long. With the players around him at similar prices it was only really him and Woods that took our fancy. Now we’re not discounting Woods by any means but can he come here and win this thing after all that has gone. Not just yet.
It seems the American has finally figured out Muirfield after 1 top 30 in his 7 starts here prior to 2013. That year saw him finish 4th and then he followed that up with an 8th last year. Certainly a turnaround.
2015 has been pretty impressive for Bill – a win at the Humana, T7 WGC Cadillac, T12 Masters and T4 at the Players. Not since 2010 has he won 2 events in the same season but we feel like he’s upped it a gear and is more than prepared to win on Jack’s track. 25th scrambling and 22nd par 5 are the pick of his stats.
Brooks Koepka (60/1 Coral)
After a brief appearance over in England for the BMW PGA, Brooks came back over to America last week and finished an impressive 16th. It was more his stats for the week that impressed us more. He ranked comfortably first in GIR stats, finding over 80% of greens over all 4 days. On a ‘second shot’ course that will certainly work.
We’re going against the grain in terms of never playing here before but who can deny this guy could push on and be a top 10 player in the not too distant future. A win at the Memorial would be the perfect way to push on.
Tee to green there aren’t many better at the moment and we
know he can tear apart the par 5’s (7th on tour this year). All that needs dialling in for the week is the scrambling. Argubaly the weakest part of his game but he’s done it around Pinehurst and Valhalla in the majors so why not here?
Daniel Berger (80/1 Stan James)
This man is arguably the shining light of the new batch of youngsters we’re seeing out there this season and we think he could well do a ‘Matsuyama’ this week.
Tee to green he’s already established himself as one of the best on Tour and now he just needs a win to cement his place in the top bracket of golfers. Stat-wise you should know the drill with Berger – 16th par 5, 25th tee-to-green and 24th par 4. He even scrambles too, 33rd in that.
We thought after his T6 at the Zurich Classic we might see a dip in form but last week he got back on it with a top 10 at the Byron Nelson, getting back in the top 70 in the world.
Regardless of the prestige of this event, Dan has the potential to make plenty of birdies around here which would put him right in the mix.
Kevin Chappell (125/1 Paddy Power)
It’s been a really, really poor season for the American we can’t deny that but finally he seems to be getting back to the sort of form that saw him finish in the top 10 of the US Open at the first two times of asking.
Kevin has played at Muirfield 5 times and done nothing barring 2013 where he finished outright 2nd – his best career finish on the PGA Tour to date. So plenty of happy memories and positives to take from that performance.
Chappell has recently welcomed a new child into the family and found a new found maturity that he felt was lacking in his game. So it’s no coincidence that the new addition sees him record back-to-back top 20’s after his worst run of form on the PGA Tour. Chappell is a new man and we like the look of him this week.
Cameron Tringale (125/1 Coral)
A few swing changes and a dip in form has seen the American fall of many people’s radar but he looks to be firmly back to his best in recent months. His 2nd at the Zurich Classic was comfortably his best finish for a while which also saw him play tee-to-green as good as we’ve come to expect.
There are plenty of people in and around him at similar odds who we could could easily discount but the American kept ticking boxes. Ranks 52nd this year in scrambling and has made the cut in his last 3 appearances at Muirfield with a best of 16th in 2013.
Zac Blair (300/1 Coral)
Bit of a wildcard this but hear us out. His T16 last week was his best finish for nearly 4 months and in there included stats such as T20 putting and T22 GIR. Then we look wider at his stats for the season – He ranks 6th scrambling, 2nd strokes gained-putting and 52nd par 5 performance. If he can genuinely bring this all together then he could definitely bag a top 5, if not more.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£2.00 e/w on Bill Haas at 33/1 (Paddy Power 6 Places)
£1.00 e/w on Brooks Koepka at 60/1 (Coral)
£0.75 e/w on Daniel Berger at 80/1 (Stan James)
£0.50 e/w on Kevin Chappell at 125/1 (Paddy Power 6 Places)
£0.40 e/w on Cameron Tringale at 125/1 (Coral)
£0.35 e/w on Zac Blair at 300/1 (Coral)
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish unless stated otherwise.
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 20 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly