It was hit-and-miss last week at the PGA Tour’s stop at Colonial. Zach Johnson was the 14/1 favorite at Bovada and won the tournament. I wrote that “Johnson should be the favorite as no one has played Colonial as well as Johnson the past three years. In that stretch, all 12 of his rounds have been in the 60s, including five of 65 or better, for an average of 66.58. He won in 2010, finished fourth last year and T9 in 2009. Colonial has narrow fairways, which suits the short but accurate Johnson off the tee.”
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Unfortunately, I didn’t have the stones to choose Johnson – I took Bo Van Pelt at 28/1 as the best value and he was in contention entering the weekend but faded to 19th. I did hit on two Top-10 props: Johnson to finish inside it at +150 and Hunter Mahan to finish outside it at -270. I also rolled the dice on defending champ David Toms to finish inside the Top 10 at +250 but he missed the cut.
It’s a much stronger field this week, with seven of the world’s Top 10 in action as the Tour visits Jack Nicklaus’ place: Muirfield Village Country Club in Dublin, Ohio, for Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament. There are many comings-and-goings this week. On the coming side, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are all back in action on Tour.
Also playing this weekend is Bubba Watson. Of course, he won Masters in April but has not played on Tour since April 29. He spent the past month at home recovering from all the Masters fallout interviews, etc., and to spend time his wife and their newly adopted son. And Dustin Johnson plays this week for the first time in more than two months as he recovers from a back injury – there were rumors that Johnson actually was suspended but his agent denied that (Tour suspensions are kept private). DJ needs to get his game going soon if he’s going to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team as he has fallen way down the U.S. standings.
Missing this week is Matt Kuchar, who originally was going to play but withdrew. And the hottest golfer in the world, Jason Dufner, also is sitting out. Dufner has won twice in the past four weeks and finished second to Johnson at Colonial. Both guys probably want to rest up for the upcoming U.S. Open. In fact, the newly married Dufner will only play the U.S. Open and British Open in the next two months or so. Kuchar, Dufner and Lee Westwood are the only Top-10 players missing at Muirfield.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: The Memorial Tournament Favorites
Luke Donald will take the first tee on Thursday again as the No. 1 player in the world, and he’s the favorite this week at 9/1. Donald reclaimed the top spot in the rankings Sunday after an impressive victory at the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the European Tour. McIlroy had occupied the top spot for the past several weeks. Donald won the BMW by four shots at 15-under 273. He had four rounds in the 60s and since 1990 that has only happened 12 times in that tournament. Donald was the third player to defend his BMW PGA title and it’s the first time he ever defended a title. Donald entered this tournament last year off a win at the BMW and he finished seventh at Muirfield. Donald has only one other Top-10 finish there in seven overall visits.
McIlroy is the second-favorite at 12/1 and he’s slumping. Last week at the BMW he imploded in the second round with seven bogeys and two double bogeys in a 7-over 79 to finish two rounds at 9-over and miss the cut. He also missed the cut in his previous tournament, the Players Championship. McIlroy does have a great track record here: No player who has played the Memorial at least twice has a better average finish than McIlroy’s 7.5. He was fifth last year and T10 the year before.
Lefty and Tiger are next at 14/1 each. Tiger is still trying to master his new swing and since his win at Bay Hill in late March has two T40 finishes and a missed cut. Woods won this tournament three consecutive years starting in 1999 and again in 2009. He didn’t play last year. Mickelson, who now reportedly is part of a group hoping to buy his hometown San Diego Padres, comes off a T7 at the Byron Nelson. Outside of the majors, this is one of the events Mickelson wants to win most because it’s Nicklaus’ tournament. Mickelson has three Top-10 finishes in 12 stops here, with a best of T4 in 2006.
Justin Rose at 16/1 rounds out the Top 5 favorites. Rose finished runner-up to Donald at the BMW last week to move from 10th to sixth in the world rankings. Rose hasn’t really come close to winning since his victory at the WGC-Cadillac but also hasn’t missed a cut all year. He missed the cut here last year but won in 2010 and was runner-up in 2008.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: The Memorial Tournament Predictions
Steve Stricker (22/1 to win) is the defending champion here and has only missed the cut at the Memorial once, but last year's win was also his only Top 10 in this event. Therefore I would take him to finish outside the Top 10 at -275. Some other favorite Top-10 props this week are McIlroy to finish outside it at -140, Tiger to do the same at -165, Mickelson to finish inside at +125 and Rose to finish inside at +135.
As far as player to win, I am so tempted to take Rose but it’s probably hard to have to fly all the way back to the U.S. after a late Sunday finish in England. I still think he contends.
Rickie Fowler is interesting at 18/1. In his past four tournaments he hasn’t finished outside the Top 10, including a win at the Wells Fargo. And Fowler was runner-up at Muirfield two years ago.
But purely on value I’m going with Jim Furyk at 25/1. He was the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s last week at Colonial, where he finished fourth. He hasn’t finished worse than T26 since early March. Furyk missed the cut here last year but won in 2002 and has two runner-up finishes. Thus I would also take Furyk at +250 to finish inside the Top 10.
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