The PGA Memorial Tournament – Weekly Picks & Preview
This week sees the Memorial Tournament from Muirfield Village – Jack Nicklaus’s event. With the US Open just a fortnight away, this tournament is a good form guide for the second Major of the season, and this year boasts a stellar line up in a smaller field than usual on the PGA Tour – just 120 players.
Memorial Tournament – The Field
The two biggest names in the field this week are Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy. Adam Scott became world number one last Monday without picking up a club, but on his first outing as the planet’s best golfer, he beat Jason Dufner in a playoff to win in Fort Worth, and cement his place at the top of world golf. Rory McIlroy was making headlines off the course in the early part of last week, but those headlines became about golf when he won European Golf’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, on Sunday with a stunning 66. Other notables in the field include Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson – quite a line up.
Memorial Tournament – The Course
The course is played over 7392 yards, and is a par 72. Last year’s winner was twelve under par, and in 2012 the winning score was nine under, so it isn’t a particular birdie fest – a good warm up event for the US Open.
Memorial Tournament – Past Tournaments / Course History
Last year American Matt Kuchar won the Memorial by two strokes from Kevin Chappell. Adam Scott finished in a tie for 13th, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth finished way down the field, eighteen and nineteen shots back respectively and Dustin Johnson failed to make the weekend.
In 2012, Tiger Woods won the event, two shots ahead of Andres Romero and Rory Sabbatini. Adam Scott finished fourteen shots back of Tiger, Rory McIlroy missed the cut, and Phil Mickelson withdrew after an opening round of 79.
Memorial Tournament – What the Stats Tell Us
Taking a look at the top three players from the last two years and their stats for that year will give us an insight in what it takes for players to be successful In the event.
In 2013 the top three were Matt Kuchar, Kevin Chappell and Kyle Stanley. The first thing that jumps out is that all the top three weren’t particularly successful with driving accuracy in 2013 – none of the three were in the top 80 in that stat. One stat that all three players feature solidly in are approach shots from >200 yards – Stanley 4th, Kuchar 33rd and Chappell in 55th.
Looking at 2012 the top three were Tiger Woods, Rory Sabbatini and Andres Romero. Once again, we can note that the driving accuracy of all three players here in 2012 was not great, 53rd, 103rd and 169th. Both Tiger Woods and Andres Romero feature highly in approach shots>200 yards again, in 3rd and 14th – however Sabbatini is in 131st.
Overall, there doesn’t seem to be a particular emphasis on either long or accurate driving, the short game or putting in general. However it does seem that the players who shoot nearest the pin after their longer second shots are the players who can win here, even if they are not great from the tee.
Looking at 2014 so far, players who are performing well in the approach shots >200 yards in the field are Russell Knox, Matt Every and Keegan Bradley.
Memorial Tournament – The Betting
Rory McIlroy is the early favorite for the event at 8/1, slightly ahead of Aussie Adam Scott (10/1), with Matt Kuchar a clear 3rd (16/1). In a group just behind are Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson, all around the 20/25 mark.
Eight Players worth Consideration in the Memorial – My Picks And Previews
Adam Scott – This player will be a popular choice having just become world number one, and followed that by winning last week. Scott has proved this year that he can go on a hot streak, with an impressive run in Australia, and in recent years has never missed a cut the week after winning. He finished 13th here last year – so even though a player commanding the highest salaries on both Draftkings and Draftstreet, he has to be considered.
Luke Donald – A player in a rich vein of form – the former world number one is aiming to get to the top again. Has two top three finishes in his last three outings and solid form at the Memorial in both of the last two years – finishing in 12th and 21st. A player with an amazing short game, this player will score a lot of birdies.
Keegan Bradley – Bradley has been a bit up and down recently, two top tens and two missed cuts in the last six outings, however he features highly in the approach > 200 yards statistic which appears to be an important stat at the Memorial based on the last couple of years. Ranked 12 on par breakers, he is a player you want to consider, especially on Draftkings where there is more of a premium on breaking par.
Russell Knox – Knox is a player who is improving and another player who features highly on the approach > 200 yards stat (6th in 2014). This mid salary player is at a career high world ranking and has had three top tens this year, and his scoring average before the cut ranks 7th in 2014, which sees him make lots of weekends (10 of 13 this year).
Robert Garrigus – Garrigus is another player who has a solid approach>200 yards stat in 2014. Two top tens this year so far and makes plenty of cuts. A player not in a particularly rich vein of form, but does make a lot of birdies (ranked 13th in par breakers) so will gain you a lot of points, especially on draftkings.
Potential High Scorers
Brian Stuard – This player is a good cheaper player for your roster, especially on Draftstreet. A bit of a gamble, as this player has had two consecutive missed cuts, however he scores many birdies (ranked 22nd in 2014) and has had two very good performances recently directly after missing cuts – 5th in the RBC Heritage and runner-up in the OHL classic.
Carlos Ortiz – Near the bottom when it comes to salary on both Draftkings and Draftstreet, this is a player who has made great strides very quickly on the web.com tour – leading the way after two victories already this year, with amazing consistency having achieved five top tens in nine outings. A player making his debut on the PGA tour – how he will hold up on his debut is a big question, but if you want a player full of confidence, this could be your man.
Mike Weir – A player who has been in the wilderness in recent times, but amazingly bounced back with a second place in the Byron Nelson championship last time out. This is a gamble, and worth more consideration in a fantasy tournament with lots of players – not a solid pick at all, but anything like a repeat of his efforts last time out will see you rack up lots of points for a small salary.
Top Players Rundown
Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth are two players who can obviously rack up big points, however they both command large salaries – Kuchar missed the cut last week, so of the two, Spieth is the better pick of the two. Rory McIlroy very nearly made the list after his impressive win last week, and has shown after a win that he is capable of a decent streak. However, he made the newspapers for more than his golf last week, and the exposure he has had might be a bit too much – and not particularly impressive here in the last couple of years. Justin Rose was somewhat disappointing at the weekend in the BMW PGA championship,however he is a player in form and has a good record here – could be a decent high salary pick, just failed to make my list. Masters champion Bubba Watson is a consideration, but holding fire and seeing how the Major win affects him could be a good option, and Phil Mickelson is too up and down to consider this week.
I’ll be battling it out with the rest of the weekly fantasy golf fans this weekend at DraftKings and DraftStreet (Sorry FanDuel golf doesn’t exist). You are invited to join me in this weeks DraftKings $2 entry PGA $4k Chipshot. You can play for $2 so let’s see how you do!