With the U.S. Open right around the corner, golf’s finest head to Muirfield Village to compete in Jack Nicklaus’ hometown event, the Memorial Tournament.
Following his missed cut at the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods is back in action as the second favorite to win the Memorial at +1150. Woods has won the event a record five times, the last of which came in 2012. He’ll take on current favorite Rory McIlroy (+750), along with other top names, including Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar, all listed at +1600.
The 7,392-yard, par-72, Nicklaus-designed course is regularly listed as one of America’s top 20 courses and one of the top 50 in the world. Consistent approach play, scrambling and putting are often rewarded at Muirfield, with its tree-lined fairways, undulating greens, multitude of bunkers and Kentucky bluegrass rough.
One player who should perform well, assuming he’s back to full strength, is Justin Thomas (+1800), who has been out with a wrist injury and will tee it up for the first time since the Masters. Thomas finished eighth at the Memorial in 2018 and fourth in 2017. He’s also fifth on tour in strokes gained around the green, second in greens in regulation behind Matt Kuchar, No. 1 in par 5 scoring average, No. 1 in birdie average and No. 2 in strokes gained tee to green.
Ten of the last 12 Memorial winners ranked in the top 60 in par 5 scoring, while 11 of 12 ranked inside the top 60 in strokes gained tee to green. Birdie average is also a strong indicator of who should climb the leaderboard, as the average winning score since 2015 is 14-under.
Based on the above categories, McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay (+1600), 2014 Memorial winner Hideki Matsuyama (+1750) and Adam Scott (+2450) should each finish strong. If you’re looking for a longer shot to bet on, though, consider Gary Woodland (+3300). He’s tied for fourth in par 5 scoring, seventh in strokes gained tee to green, second in birdie average and 10th in greens in regulation.
As for the best shot to win at Muirfield, the pick is Kuchar. The FedEx Cup points leader is sixth in scoring average, ninth in birdie average, 12th in strokes gained tee to green and is one of the best at accuracy from the fairway, hitting greens in regulation and scrambling. Kuchar also finished 13th at the tournament last year, fourth in 2016 and 2017, and won the event in 2013. Look for the 40-year-old to soar toward the top of the leaderboard by Sunday and become just the seventh player to win multiple times at the Memorial.
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