This week’s tournament will be played at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The course is a Par 72 that plays just a shade under 7,400 yards. The golfers will contend with 13 water hazards and 73 bunkers as they make their way around the course. The greens are bentgrass/poa annua, and the greens will be running fast at 13 feet on the stimpmeter. Last year, Muirfield played as the 13th most difficult course on Tour at +0.797 to par. If you want a deeper dive into the stats I’m targeting, and how the course plays, check out the preview article here.
Expensive Golfers ($9,500 and Up)
Justin Thomas ($10,300) is my favorite play above $10,000 this week. He’s 1st in DK Points over the past 50 rounds and is #1 in the world, but comes in as a $1,000 discount from the top priced golfer this week. Thomas’ last 10 starts have resulted in no worse than a 22nd place finish. I’m targeting ball-striking, as usual, and he has finished in the Top 25 of Strokes Gained: Tee in 73% of his starts this year.
We hear it all the time for cheaper golfers, target ball-striking. There’s a golfer that’s the 6th most expensive in the field, 5th OWGR, and 5th in Strokes Gained: Approach. Many DFS players have been fading him as the most expensive golfer most weeks because they’re scared of his putter. I will continue to take one of the best ball-strikers on Tour, who gains strokes everywhere else and assume that one of the best golfers in the world will cure his putting woes. Since the start of 2017, Jordan Spieth ($9,800) has finished in the Top 25 of each major Strokes Gained category in at least 50% of his starts. If that seems over the top, it probably is, and for good reason- play good golfers, win money, easy game.
Mid-Range ($9,500 – $8,500)
Marc Leishman ($9,000) makes a ton of sense this week since he seemed to have cured his woes off the tee a bit at the Byron Nelson. Golfers who finish in the Top 25 of Strokes Gained: Off the Tee at Muirfield Village average 9.4 more DK Points than those who don’t. Leishman relies on his strokes gained from the tee box almost as much as his approach game. If the Australian can dial in off the tee, he could post a great finish this weekend in Ohio.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Matt Kuchar ($8,500) is a cash-game lock. He played at a course he hated for the AT&T Byron Nelson and then headed over to the Fort Worth Invitational directly after that for a T32. He finishes in the Top 25 of Strokes Gained: Approach at the 3rd highest rate in this range. At his price, you could do way worse from a cut equity perspective.
The guy I’m most nervous about is more from a narrative perspective, but Branden Grace ($8,800) is concerning because of his travel lately. He’s been back and forth across the ocean for European Tour and PGA Tour events over the past month.
Value Golfers ($8,500 – $7,000)
If I’m targeting Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Approach this week (which I am), then I have to be in on Tony Finau ($8,100). The price is very enticing. In this range, Finau finishes in the Top 25 of SG: OTT at the highest rate, and SG: APP at the 3rd highest rate. Over the past 36 rounds, he is 14th in DK Points and 15th in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green.
Chesson Hadley ($7,900) is my pick for Strokes Gained: Approach in this range at the Memorial Tournament. He’s gained 3+ strokes on approach in seven of his last 10 starts. Hadley has six straight Top 20 finishes and has DK Point upside. Eight of his eighteen starts have resulted in 80+ DK Point performances.
If I’m going after Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, I’m looking at a guy like Byeong Hun An ($7,800) who has finished in the Top 25 of that category in over 60% of his starts dating back to the beginning of 2017. An is also 13th in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee over his past 36 rounds.
Cheap Golfers (Sub – $7,000)
This is a week where you don’t necessarily have to drift down into this range if you don’t want to. Many a lineup will be built with a more balanced approach, but if you’re going to try to squeeze in Dustin Johnson or Jason Day, you’ll need a guy to rely on down here. Stewart Cink ($6,900) saw his ball striking improve quite a bit last week. He’s steadily been performing better off the tee but hasn’t been putting well. We’ve seen bad putters win on fast greens before so if we’re going to say that putting is neutralized, Cink could be in for a big week.
I’ll take a couple of shots with Jhonattan Vegas ($6,800) and Gary Woodland ($6,900) in GPPs this week as well. For this range, Vegas has some pretty solid longer-term approach numbers, and when he’s right off the tee, he can score in bunches. I’m going to be a week early on Woodland, and I’m taking shots at him starting this week. If the course is wet and distance becomes an advantage, then you can do a heck of a lot worse than Gary Woodland at his price this week.