Off the Record – The Memorial

The Memorial

            Memorial Day is an extremely important time for us to reflect on those who gave their life serving our country. The PGA Tour pays homage this week by hosting one of its longest-standing tournaments since the 1970s, The Memorial. Jack Nicklaus spent most of his early life in the Columbus area and he had the desire to create a tournament that had a global interest, like The Masters, and was inspired by the history and traditions of the game of golf. He then designed Muirfield Village in 1974 and two years later it hosted the first Memorial Tournament. Muirfield Village Golf Club is Jack’s highest-rated course. The Memorial is an invitational tournament that will have a field size of 120 players, barring no withdrawals. The field strength will be one of the best we see all year excluding major championships. Even before the tournament was over in 2020, Jack Nicklaus started his final renovation of Muirfield Village which helped modernize the course for today’s game.

Muirfield Village is a par 72 that will play over 7500 yards. Off the tee shouldn’t present much of an issue because the fairways are wider than the Tour average. The biggest issue off the tee will be the rough which will lead to harder approach shots to the greens and will limit scoring opportunities. Stronger approach players will have better opportunities to score as these greens are tiered and flag placements will require precise shots. If approach shots are offline and find the greenside rough then players will be forced to get up and down from long thick rough and not closely mown areas as we have seen recently. The greens are undulated and will feature Bentgrass. This course will resemble a major championship venue as it will test every aspect of a player’s game. The cut line has ranged anywhere from +7 to -1.

 

Past Winners

2021 – Patrick Cantlay (-13)

2020 – Jon Rahm (-9)

2019 – Patrick Cantlay (-19)

2018 – Bryson DeChambeau (-15)

2017 – Jason Dufner (-13)

2016 – William McGirt (-15)

2015 – David Lingmerth (-15)

2014 – Hideki Matsuyama (-13)

2013 – Matt Kuchar (-12)

2012 – Tiger Woods (-9)

 

Key Stats

  • SG: APP
  • SG: OTT
  • P4: 450-500
  • SG: ARG
  • SG: Par 5
  • Putting (Bentgrass)
  • Recent Form
  • Course History

Top 10 SG: APP Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Cameron Smith
  2. Viktor Hovland
  3. Will Zalatoris
  4. Shane Lowry
  5. Max Homa
  6. Hideki Matsuyama
  7. Jordan Spieth
  8. Mito Pereira
  9. Collin Morikawa
  10. Aaron Wise

 

Top 10 SG: OTT Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Jon Rahm
  2. Cameron Young
  3. Brendan Steele
  4. Rory McIlroy
  5. Luke List
  6. Corey Conners
  7. Will Zalatoris
  8. Joaquin Niemann
  9. Cameron Champ
  10. Mito Pereira

 

Top 10 P4: 450-500 Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Shane Lowry
  2. Max Homa
  3. Jon Rahm
  4. Cameron Young
  5. Gary Woodland
  6. Rory McIlroy
  7. Aaron Wise
  8. Jordan Spieth
  9. Seamus Power
  10. Brandon Wu

 

Top 10 SG: ARG Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Matt Kuchar
  2. Danny Willett
  3. Pat Perez
  4. Chris Kirk
  5. Joaquin Niemann
  6. Matt Jones
  7. David Lingmerth
  8. Jordan Spieth
  9. Matt Fitzpatrick
  10. Peter Malnati

 

Top 10 Course History:

  1. Patrick Cantlay
  2. Matt Kuchar
  3. Adam Scott
  4. Patrick Reed
  5. Jordan Spieth
  6. Jason Dufner
  7. Ryan Palmer
  8. Collin Morikawa
  9. Xander Schauffele
  10. Bryson DeChambeau

 

My Thoughts

10k+

Jon Rahm is the highest priced golfer in the field this week after his 48th place finish at the PGA Championship where he lost 1.4 strokes with his approach and over 2 strokes around the green. You could argue that Rahm should be the defending champion this week after he had a 6 shot lead walking off the green during his third round only to find out he had covid and was forced to withdraw. That would’ve given him two consecutive wins at this tournament so you know his game fits this course. The biggest worry I have with Rahm is his recent form. Aside from his win at the Mexico Open, which was one of the weakest fields of the entire year, Rahm hasn’t shown us the typical upside we usually see from him. Maybe coming back to a course where he has had proven success will be enough for him to get a strong finish. Early ownership projections are showing him coming in as one of the lower-owned players in this range. I love the idea of going to him over Rory in tournaments.

Rory McIlroy has three top 10 finishes in a row after his most recent 8th place showing at the PGA Championship. Over the course of Rory’s career, he has had decent finishes at the Memorial with a couple of top 10s. There is also rain in the forecast on Wednesday/Thursday before play begins which should soften up the course and Rory loves playing on wet tracks. In fact, all of his major championship wins have come on courses that played slow because of rain. You can even look at his performance at the Wells Fargo this year which was also a course that got softened up because of the weather. The biggest argument I always have against Rory is his putting but he is actually one of the strongest putters in the field on Bentgrass. In his last two appearances at the Memorial, he has lost almost 8 strokes around the greens which is worrisome. I actually thought Rahm would come in higher owned than Rory but early projections are showing Rory as the most popular play in this range. I understand the ownership because Rory has been in great form as of late. I will more than likely fade because I plan to go overweight on Rahm.

Patrick Cantlay is coming off a missed cut at the PGA Championship where he got the bad end of the weather draw. To be 100% honest, I don’t even think being on the correct side of the draw would’ve helped Cantlay with the way he looked. He just sucks in major championships for some reason but now he returns to Jack’s place where he has held the trophy twice and shows some of his best form every year. He has never missed a cut in five tries and his worst finish came in his very first appearance, a 35th. If you’re a course history truther, I don’t think you can find a better play than Cantlay this week. Jack Nicklaus and Patrick also have a very close relationship which probably helps explain why Cantlay always wants to show up here and play well. I can also see him being one of the lower owned players in this entire range and he makes for an excellent tournament play with his upside.

Collin Morikawa is coming off a 40th place finish at the Charles Schwab where he lost strokes off the tee for the first time this season. Last year, Morikawa lost to Cantlay in a playoff after he gained over 5.4 strokes putting during the week. That putting performance was the third-best of his entire career. Does that mean Morikawa has figured out these greens? I find it hard to believe he has after only seeing the course three times but who really knows. In 2020, Muirfield Village hosted back-to-back tournaments during the covid lockdown. Morikawa won the Workday Charity Open in 2020 which happened on this course so at least he has a good history here. We know he is one of the best ball strikers in the entire world and his upside is holding the trophy. He will be one of, if not, the lowest owned player in this entire range. I worry about his recent form and short game at a course like this but if his approach game is on point then he won’t have to rely on that part of his game as much. I love the idea of getting to Morikawa in tournaments if the rest of the field doesn’t want to.

Xander Schauffele has put together two great performances after his missed cut at the Masters. He had a 5th place finish at the Byron Nelson and followed it up with a 13th place finish at the PGA Championship. Throughout the course of Xander’s career, he has shown up at the Memorial and played well with his worst finish in his last three starts being a 14th. He has improved on his finish every year he has shown up at this tournament which is encouraging to see as well. He did miss the cut in his first appearance back in 2018. Just in his last two outings at the Memorial, he has gained over 20 strokes of ball-striking. What this tells me is maybe the sightlines and holes just suit his eye and he really enjoys the course. The thing I love about Xander is if he makes the cut he will typically flash some upside with his worst finish in his last seven tournaments being a 13th. He will come in as one of the more popular plays in this range but for good reason.

 

9k+

Cameron Smith kicks off the 9k range for us this week after his 13th place finish at the PGA Championship where he lost 3.8 strokes putting. That putting performance was the worst he has had since the 2019 Memorial. Over the course of Cam’s entire career, he has struggled at this tournament with his best finish being a 65th. He has also missed four cuts in six tournaments. I can’t figure out why he has struggled at this tournament because from a stats perspective you would think it would suit his game. This course is very similar in a lot of ways to Augusta and we know how much Cam loves that place. I was kind of surprised when I saw his projected ownership because I figured the course history would scare some of the field away. I’m not quite sure what I want to do with Cam just yet because I was really hoping he would come in lower owned.

Jordan Spieth is playing his fourth tournament in a row this week after his most recent 7th place showing at the Charles Schwab. His results at the Memorial have been good with only one missed cut in nine tournaments and six top 20s during that span. Oddly enough, the worst part about Jordan’s game has been putting lately. It’s the shorter putts that have been giving him the biggest issues. He missed seven putts last week inside 6 feet. If he only missed five of those he would’ve made the playoff. His form is some of the best in this entire field. I have been on Spieth ever since his missed cut at the Masters and I just can’t quit him now. I can see him being one of the most popular players in this entire range but I will still try and get above the field.

Will Zalatoris followed up his playoff loss to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship with his second missed cut of the season last week at the Charles Schwab. He lost over 3.1 strokes with his approach which was his worst performance since the last time he played at the Charles Schwab. I am beginning to think his approach game just doesn’t line up with Colonial for some reason. His only appearance at the Memorial came back in 2018 when he missed the cut. We all know the story with Zalatoris. He is without a doubt one of the best ball strikers in the entire world and he just struggles with his short game. I just don’t know if his approach play will be strong enough here to mask his short-game issues. He projects to be one of the more popular plays in this range and I love the fade.

Viktor Hovland had a 21st place showing last week at the Charles Schwab. He is on a run of some good form with his last missed cut coming at the beginning of the year in Phoenix. He just hasn’t shown us any upside with his best finish being a 21st in his last four tournaments. He also hasn’t played well at this tournament with his best finish being a 48th. You could echo the same sentiments I had about Zalatoris for Hovland. I worry if he can be good enough with his short game around here when his approach play gets him in trouble. He projects to be one of the more popular plays in this range and I will more than likely fade.

Hideki Matsuyama hasn’t missed a cut yet this season and he actually had his worst finish at the PGA Championship with a 60th. Besides that 60th place finish at the PGA Championship his worst finish this season was a 39th place at the Genesis. He has had six top 20s in nine tournaments this year. His career started off with a bang at the Memorial where he won in his first appearance. Since then he has had a mixed bag of results with two missed cuts and a couple of top 10’s. In his last two appearances, he has lost 15 strokes putting. I don’t mind getting to Hideki in tournaments because his upside is holding the trophy. I think he may be too cheap in this field and I don’t expect him to be too popular.

Matt Fitzpatrick is doing his best to prove he is one of the top golfers in the world after his impressive 5th place finish at the PGA Championship. That finish also came with having the worst of the weather draw. He has shown some of the most upside out of anyone in this field without a win over the course of the entire season. His worst finish this year came at the Masters with a 14th. He has also had six top 10s in just nine starts. His best finish at the Memorial came back in 2020 when he finished in 3rd place. The other two starts he had were a 68th and a missed cut. Fitz has been someone I have liked as a player for a while and it’s finally nice to see some good results come his way. I think the biggest improvement in his game has been some added distance. The one worry I do have is the fact that we may see a soggy golf course and that worries me with a guy like Fitz because he rarely misses fairways and I like getting that extra rollout. I don’t expect him to be too popular because I’m sure people will get sticker shock seeing his price. I think it’s justified because he’s been one of the best players so far this season.

Shane Lowry had his worst finish of the season his last time out at the PGA Championship with a 23rd-place finish. He hasn’t missed a cut yet this year and he has had three top 3s in just six starts. His best finish at the Memorial came last year with a 6th place finish. Lowry has been extremely impressive so far this year and he projects to be one of the most popular plays on the entire slate. The only reason you would fade Lowry would be the ownership. He checks every other box you could want.

 

8k+

Sungjae Im had a good showing last week at the Charles Schwab with a 15th-place finish. His results at the Memorial aren’t very good with two missed cuts and a 57th place finish. I don’t understand the results because I would think this could be a course where he could have success because he’s a good all-around player. He hasn’t gained strokes with his approach in any appearance he has had at the Memorial. Bentgrass is also his worst-putting surface. I don’t expect him to be that popular so he would make for excellent tournament play.

Cameron Young had another great performance at the PGA Championship with a 3rd place finish. It’s his third top 3 in his last three starts. He is a rookie on Tour so he has yet to play in the Memorial but that hasn’t slowed down previous debutants. I don’t see any issues with his game to make me not want to play him at this course. The only reason you would fade him would be ownership. Augusta and this course have a lot of crossovers and some would say Muirfield is Augusta North. Young did miss the cut there this year so if you need a reason for a fade I guess that could be one.

Max Homa continued his run of good form last week with a 23rd place finish at the Charles Schwab. Aside from his Masters performance, that was the worst finish he has had since January. He has had six top 20’s in his last eight tournaments. He also had his best finish at the Memorial this past year with a 6th. I expect him to be one of the more popular players in this range but for good reason.

Davis Riley is playing in his fourth tournament in a row this week and he has been on a run of some very impressive form. Since his missed cut at the RBC Heritage, his worst finish came at the PGA Championship with a 13th. He is really putting up a fight for the rookie of the year race with Cameron Young. I have been extremely impressed with Riley’s game over the course of this run he has been on. He has been crushing it with his approach and he ranks 2nd in this field over the last 12 rounds. He will be making his Memorial debut this week but that doesn’t worry me with a guy like him because he has shown us that he can handle tougher tracks. I don’t think he will be that popular since the players around him will grab a lot of ownership. I wouldn’t mind getting to him in tournaments if he comes in lower owned than I think he should.

Daniel Berger followed up his missed cut at the PGA Championship with a 23rd place finish last week at the Charles Schwab. His results at the Memorial haven’t been good with his best finish being a 67th. He has also missed two cuts in three appearances. I’m just not 100% sure Berger is healthy with his back issues. As I was watching the broadcast for the Charles Schwab, even the announcers were mentioning how he would grab his back or try to stretch it. I will fade and just hope he doesn’t burn me.

Corey Conners had his worst approach numbers of the season the last time he played at the PGA Championship. This resulted in his first missed cut since the Genesis Open during the California swing. The good news for Conners is he has never missed a cut in three tries at the Memorial. His best finish was a 22nd that came back in 2020. This course and Augusta have a lot of comps and he has had proven success at the Masters. I’m just not quite sure he has the upside I want at this price compared to other players in this range.

Joaquin Niemann had a 23rd-place finish at the PGA Championship his last time out despite losing 1.4 strokes with his approach shots. He also lost 2.4 strokes with his approach at the Byron Nelson the week prior and still finished 25th. His worst finish over his last five starts was at the Masters with a 35th. The last two times he has played the Memorial he has missed the cut. The two times previous to the missed cuts he had a 27th and 6th. Niemann as of late has started tournaments extremely strong over the first two rounds and he has faded over the weekend. I may hope he doesn’t see the weekend this week and just fade altogether because he does project to be popular.

Abraham Ancer missed the cut on the number last week after he made a bogey on his final hole. This came after his 9th place showing at the PGA Championship where it looked as if he found some form and was going to get his season back on track. I was heavy on Ancer last week and that course should’ve fit his game a lot better than this week. If he couldn’t make the cut at that course I doubt he sees the weekend here. He has had three appearances at the Memorial and he has made the cut each time but his best finish was a 57th. I want more upside for his price.

Keegan Bradley finished 48th at the PGA Championship his last time out. Prior to the PGA, He finished 2nd at the Wells Fargo and had an 8th place at the Valero. He has had some really good form this year with his only missed cut coming at the Valspar. He has struggled at the Memorial in recent years with three missed cuts in five appearances. He does have two top 10 finishes in his ten appearances at this tournament. I wouldn’t mind going to Keegan in cash games just because I really do think he can make the cut this week. I just question his true upside because he struggles with his short game and I think that will be important this week. He won’t be that popular though so I guess the feeling is mutual.

Mito Pereira followed up his very impressive major debut at the PGA Championship with a 7th place finish at the Charles Schwab. Since the Genesis Open in February, his only missed cut came at the Players and his worst finish was a 30th place at the Honda Classic. Throughout that entire stretch, there hasn’t been one tournament where he has lost strokes ball striking. That’s extremely impressive for anyone on Tour let alone a rookie making his first appearance at many of these courses. I am not alone as he projects to be one of the more popular players in this range. I don’t mind the play because I’m having a hard time finding players around his price range that I like more than him.

Seamus Power will be making his Memorial Tournament debut this week after his very impressive 9th-place finish at the PGA Championship. Power is another one of those players that flashes some big upside as long as he makes the cut. His worst finish when he has made the cut this year has been a 33rd at the Players. He has had six top 20’s in the twelve tournaments he has played in but he has also had four missed cuts. He projects to be under 10% owned so I don’t mind taking a shot in tournaments.

7k+

Patrick Reed ditched his PXG driver and the results improved immediately. He had a 34th place finish at the PGA Championship and followed it up with a 7th place finish at the Charles Schwab. That’s surprisingly his best finish this season. His history at the Memorial is very good with no missed cuts in six appearances and three finishes inside the top 10. He does project to be one of the more popular plays in this entire range which is kind of shocking for one of the villains in the sport. I can see him coming in lower owned than projections but I still love the play.

Chris Kirk followed up his first career top 5 in a major championship at the PGA with a 15th place finish at the Charles Schwab. Kirk is another one of those players that flashes huge upside when he makes the cut, especially at his price. Since the Phoenix Open, he has had five top 20’s in nine tournaments with only three missed cuts. He has also played at the Memorial eight times with his best finish coming back in 2014 with a 4th place finish. In his most recent appearance last year he finished 26th. I would sign up for a 26th place finish at his price right now if you would let me. He does project to be the most popular play in this range but I will still at least match the field in tournaments.

Aaron Wise is coming off a 23rd place finish at the PGA Championship where he gained almost 5 strokes putting. He is on a string of four made cuts in a row but his best finish that entire time came at the Mexico Open in one of the weakest fields of the entire year. He did have a 9th place finish last year at the Memorial so I guess that’s why he is projecting to be popular for his price range. I love the fade because Wise just hasn’t shown any upside so far this year. I would rather take Leishman or Noren at the same price over him and both project to be lower owned.

Marc Leishman had a decent finish at the PGA Championship with a 34th place finish. In ten appearances at the Memorial, he has never missed a cut. He has also had two top 5 finishes throughout that span. I love the idea of getting to him as a safe value play with some upside.

Gary Woodland has developed a pattern over the past seven tournaments with a missed cut and decent finish then another missed cut followed up by another decent finish. Well, guess what? He missed the cut at the Charles Schwab so what does history tell us? Decent finish this week incoming. He has played in this tournament ten times and has never lost strokes with his approach shots. In ten appearances, he has three missed cuts and only four top 25s. He does project to be popular but I love his upside for the price.

 

6k+

Ryan Palmer followed up his missed cut at the PGA Championship with a 40th place finish at the Charles Schwab. His only appearance at the Memorial came back in 2020 where he finished 2nd. I doubt you can find someone with that type of proven upside at his price. I plan to get overweight in tournaments. The one worry you can have with Palmer is that this course does have a lot of water and there’s no doubt in my mind that if Palmer wasn’t a professional golfer he would be a swimmer. The dude loves him some water.

Kevin Streelman missed the cut last week at the Charles Schwab but he still projects to be one of the more popular plays in this range because he has some great course history. He missed the cut in his first three appearances but since then he has made seven cuts in a row at this tournament. In those seven finishes, he has had five top 20s. He makes for an excellent value play if you’re a course history truther.

Brendan Steele has made five cuts in a row and just had his best finish in that span in his most recent appearance at the PGA Championship with a 9th place. He hasn’t missed a cut at the Memorial in his last six tournaments and his best finish was a 13th. He does project to be popular for this price range so I don’t mind the fade in tournaments.

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