PGA Tour Odds and Predictions: The Memorial Tournament
by Alan Matthews - 6/1/2011
After back-to-back weeks of watered-down fields in the PGA Tour’s mini-Texas swing, almost all of the American and European big-name players are in the field this week for Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
Of course, Nicklaus grew up in Ohio and wanted to bring a major championship to the Columbus area. This tournament was a long-time vision of Nicklaus, who grew up playing the famous Scioto Country Club, which hosted the 1926 U.S. Open. But that course wasn't large enough to hold a major championship so Nicklaus built Muirfield Village in the early 1970s. This is the 36th annual Memorial Tournament and it has always been played at Muirfield Village, which also hosted the 1987 Ryder Cup.
This event always draws a strong field because obviously the players respect Nicklaus and honor him by playing there. In addition, every year the course is voted one of the five best sites by PGA Tour players. And that’s not just for the course itself, but because every player is treated like royalty. For example, this is the only tournament on Tour that bans equipment manufacturers, tournament representatives and the media from the practice facilities and locker rooms. And you know the players like that. Finally, it’s often the final warm-up tournament the majority of big names play before the U.S. Open.
Tiger Woods is the biggest name not here. Tiger did not enter after aggravating injuries to his left knee and Achilles’ tendon during the Players Championship a few weeks ago. He originally suffered the injury at the Masters. Tiger is hoping beyond hope to be ready for the U.S. Open in two weeks, but he reportedly recently told Nicklaus that “I don’t know whether I’m going to make the U.S. Open or not.” It’s too bad Tiger isn’t here because he might finally have broken his winless drought. Woods has won the Memorial a record four times, most recently in 2009.
Six of the world’s Top 10 and 15 of the Top 25 are in the field. It is led by England’s Luke Donald, who last week won the signature non-major event on the European Tour, the BMW PGA Championship, in a playoff over Lee Westwood. That win jumped Donald past Westwood to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in Donald’s career. As good as Donald has been – he has 15 Top-10 finishes in his past 17 events worldwide, that was only his second win in stroke play in the past five years. He won the Madrid Masters on the European Tour last year. In February, he won the WGC-Match Play Championship. Donald is the 9/1 favorite, according to PGA Tour odds, to win this week, but it’s just too hard to win back-to-back, even on separate Tours (plus he has been bouncing around the globe and might be tired). He does seem like a lock to finish in the Top 10, which is at -140 for ‘yes’ and +110 for ‘no’. Donald didn’t play this event last year and has one Top 10 in six tries at the Memorial.
Phil Mickelson is the second favorite at 14/1. Lefty hasn’t missed a cut yet this year, which is impressive. If you throw out 2007, when Mickelson left early with a wrist injury, he has three Top 10s and five Top 20s in his past five starts at this event.
Another good prop bet, according to my Memorial Tournament predictions, would be on Matt Kuchar to finish in the Top 10 – that pays +150. He finished T-13 in 2007 and has been in the Top 10 in each of the past three years. Plus he enters off a T6 at the Byron Nelson.
Can Justin Rose (33/1) win this tournament for the second year in a row? A final-round 66 last year brought his first PGA Tour title. Rose led the field with 14 putts from outside of 10 feet. He also has a runner-up and fourth-place finish here. Rickie Fowler torched Muirfield for the first two rounds last year with a 65-66 but ended up finishing second to Rose after a final-round 73 (Fowler led by three entering Sunday). Fowler (33/1) might be ready to win his first tournament.
For our longshot this week let’s go with Bo Van Pelt at 50/1. He has two Top-3 finishes at this tournament in his career (including last year) and finished third at Colonial two weeks ago.
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