The PGA Tour returns to Jack’s Place this week where things will look and feel different for the Memorial Tournament.
A year ago, Muirfield Village hosted a pair of tournaments as part of the return to golf following the Tour’s COVID-19 pause. The Memorial was played in mid-July one week after the Workday Charity Open with both tournaments taking place in Dublin, Ohio.
After Collin Morikawa tore it up to the tune of 19-under to win the Workday, crews tightened the screws to make the Memorial a far more challenging task.
This week, we’ll probably see things somewhere in between. Here’s our betting preview and picks for this week’s Memorial Tournament.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Jon Rahm (9-under)
THE COURSE — Muirfield Village Golf Club
Yardage: 7,543 yards
Rahm comes back looking to defend his crown after holding on for an exciting Sunday finish a year ago. The Spaniard shot a 3-over 75 on the final day but was able to hold off his friend (and Zurich Challenge partner) Ryan Palmer to claim the trophy. That 3-over was, of course, affected by the two-stroke penalty he ultimately was assessed on a memorable hole-out on the 16th hole.
Another highlight from last year’s tournament was the expediency with which the ground crew worked to tear up the course as the final group made its way around the track. Muirfield Village immediately got to work on a renovation that will be the talk of the town this weekend.
Among the changes is the addition of about 100 yards, so it will play a little longer. “The Tour Junkies Podcast” also spoke to caddies on-site who say the greens have been flattened some, taking away some of the crazy undulations in the putting surfaces.
There also will be no shortage of talk about how it’s a ball-striker’s course or a second-shot course or something of that variety this week. Approach game is big every week, and the Memorial is no different.
Rahm gained five strokes on approach shots at the 2020 tournament, and Palmer overcame problems off the tee to gain 10.2 strokes on the field witih his approach. Patrick Cantlay, who won in 2019, gained 7.4 strokes on approach for the weekend, and second-place finisher Adam Scott gained nearly 12 to offset an iffy putting performance.
Because the Memorial is an invitational, it’s a star-studded 120-player field with seven of the top 10 and 14 of the 20 top players in the world teeing it up.
(Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook)
Jon Rahm +1000
Bryson DeChambeau +1400
Rory McIlroy +1400
Collin Morikawa +1600
Jordan Spieth +1600
Justin Thomas +1600
Viktor Hovland +1600
Patrick Cantlay +2000
Xander Schauffele +2000
Hideki Matsuyama +2200
Tony Finau +2200
— Rahm, as mentioned, is the defending champion. He used a very nice Sunday round to sneak into the top 10 at the PGA Championship, but he did miss the cut at Wells Fargo before that. In two stops at the Memorial, he has a win and a missed cut.
— Spieth is coming in on some sort of a tear, despite falling short on Sunday at the Charles Schwab to Jason Kokrak.
— Cantlay, who missed four straight cuts — including the Masters and The Players — heading into the PGA, finished 23rd at roughly 40-1 odds. It didn’t take long for that number to be cut in half this weekend.
Charley Hoffman to win (42-1): Hoffman is playing really, really well right now. He grinded it out for a 17th-place finish at the PGA Championship and he’s coming off a third-place finish last week at the Charles Schwab. If it’s a ball-striker’s tournament, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone hitting it better than Hoffman right now. He’s gained at least 6.6 strokes on approach in each of his last three starts.
Russell Knox, top 10 (9-1): Knox missed the cut last week, which seems bad might give us a little value here. Only four players in the field have gained more fairways over the last 12 rounds than Knox. He has just one missed cut at the Memorial. He’s also very good around the green, which could make up for some occasional putting issues.
Keegan Bradley, first-round leader (41-1): Few players have been better in the last month than Bradley, who has a top-20 finish in his last three appearances. He certainly could win, but maybe the cream rises to the top over the course of four days, and Bradley is edged by one of the higher-ranked studs. But a first-round leader dart is worth a throw on Bradley, who also ranks fifth in Tour in first-round scoring average.