This week’s stop on the PGA Tour brings us to Dublin, Ohio for The Memorial Tournament at The Muirfield Village Golf Club. It’s a Jack Nicklaus designed par-72 course and is just under 7,400 yards. Looking for some key stats? Matt Jones already did all the hard work, so check out his key stats and course breakdown write up. Key Stats I’m targeting this week are Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG:OTT) and Strokes Gained: On Approach (SG:APP). I’ll also be taking a look at players who putt well on bentgrass greens as well as fast greens. And, as always, I’m taking a look at players course history too. Not only here at Muirfield Village but also at similarly designed Nicklaus courses that host The Honda Classic and the RBC Heritage as well.
A quick note on the weather: The weekend looks good for those who make the cut, but both Thursday and Friday look like they’ll be impacted by some wet weather. Thursday in particular looks to be getting the worst of it with a 60% chance of thunderstorms while Friday’s forecast is calling for a 50% chance of showers. Both days are not predicted to be particularly windy, with projected gusts topping out at 15 miles-per-hour. It looks like everyone will be affected equally, so I’m not sure we’ll see the typical morning/afternoon splits we often do when weather impacts a specific tee time grouping. As always, predicting the weather is tricky business, so be sure to double check the forecast before your lineups lock.
Luke List ($7,400) is my dark-horse sleeper pick to win this strong field event. He’s 4th on tour in SG:OTT and his recent form has been solid logging four top-10s in his last nine tournaments. He’s a strong putter on fast greens, and although he missed the cut in his one try at this course, he’s played well on other Nicklaus designed courses in the past with a 2nd, and 3rd place finishes at Honda and the Heritage in the past. List is also 54th in SG:APP, but missing two cuts in two of his last three starts should depress his ownership.
Sometimes, despite how important you think the key stats you’re targeting, you need to throw everything out the window. Matt Kuchar ($8,500) is only 127th in SG:OTT and a respectable 59th in SG:APP, but he is gaining strokes on both fast and bentgrass greens. Kuchar’s recent form hasn’t been lights out either. His best finish in his last seven tournaments was a T17, and he missed his first cut of the year two weeks ago. The important thing here is how Kuchar has crushed this track, and how he’s performed on other Nicklaus designed courses over the last decade. He’s averaged an 8th place finish at Muirfield Village in 9 tries including a win and five top-5s and is coming off back-to-back 4th place finishes the last two years. Over that span, he’s also never missed a cut at Honda or the Heritage and has recorded a win with an average finish just outside of the top 20.
Coming off of a missed cut at THE PLAYERS Kyle Stanley ($7,600) should probably be a lower owned option this week. I was a little shocked to see his price this high as his recent form has not been great. Stanley did finish 6th here last year and 3rd three years ago and has only missed the cut once in five tries. Stanley is currently 21st in SG:OTT and 81st in SG:APP and is a good putter on fast greens. He’s performed ok on the other Nicklaus courses, but Muirfield seems to fit his eye.
There’s not much I can tell you about Tiger Woods ($9,400) that you don’t already know. He’s coming off of a T11 at THE PLAYERS and seems to be rounding into form. No better place for him to log his first comeback win than here at Muirfield Village where he has five victories in the past. Woods is only 105th in SG:OTT but is among the leaders in SG:APP, currently sitting 14th on tour. Did I mention he has five wins here?
A total dart throw in GPPs, Kevin Tway ($7,000) is priced right given his recent form. Tway is coming off of back-to-back top-10 finishes with a T9 at the Byron Nelson and a T5 last week at Fort Worth. He’s missed the cut here in his only try, but this is arguably the best he’s ever been playing in his career. He’s a strong bentgrass putter and is ranked 47th in SG:OTT and 76th in SG:APP. I wouldn’t expect much, but if you want to squeeze in some higher priced guys, you could do a lot worse in the $7,000 range this week.
Returning to the site of his first PGA Tour victory, the 2014 Memorial Champ Hideki Matsuyama ($9,100) looks to be returning to form after an early season injury set him back a bit. He missed the cut at THE PLAYERS, but minus that blip, he’s got two top-20s in his last four starts. Matsuyama is 71st in SG:OTT, and only 110th in SG:APP, however, I think his injury is to blame for that poor showing in approach numbers. The previous four years he’s never finished lower than 9th in SG:APP and twice finished 3rd. If he’s healthy, his approach game is one of the best in the sport.