PGA Tour Picks: The Memorial Tournament Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/29/2013
Thankfully, the PGA Tour is out of Texas this week as I haven't had much luck in the few Lone Star State events in 2013. At least last week's winner at Colonial I definitely had heard of: Boo Weekley, who won for the first time in five years. He edged Matt Kuchar, the 36- and 54-hole leader, by a shot. Ironically, Weekley has won a tartan jacket now in all three career victories (RBC Heritage the other two).
On the Top-10 prop, I hit on Zach Johnson at +120 as he nearly won at Colonial for a third time. It was Johnson's first Top-10 this year. I missed on Kevin Streelman (missed cut) and Martin Laird (T54). On head-to-head, I hit on Henrik Stenson at -130 over Ben Crane and Charley Hoffman (-105) over Hunter Mahan. I was pretty satisfied with how my top value choice to win fared as Tim Clark shot all four rounds in the 60s to finish T7, four shots behind Weekley.
This week at Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, we have the best field on Tour since the Players Championship. Nearly every top European has flown back across the pond following last week's big-money BMW PGA Championship. They will stay here to prepare for the U.S. Open. Tiger Woods loves this tournament -- he loves anything involving Nicklaus -- and is playing for the first time since his Players Championship victory. Unfortunately, Sergio Garcia is not, so that story will have to be on hold until the U.S. Open (I dare that event to pair Tiger and Sergio the first two rounds). Overall, 17 of the world's Top 25 are playing the invitational field: i.e. it's not open to everyone. Phil Mickelson decided to pass this week but should play next week. Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, and 2011 winner Steve Stricker are the big names not entered. Lee Westwood is playing the event for the first time in a decade.
Last year, Tiger closed with a flurry, birdieing three of his final four holes to shoot 5-under 67 to turn what was a two-shot deficit into a two-shot win over Rory Sabbatini and Andres Romero. That was Tiger's fifth Memorial win, easily the most all-time, and, perhaps fittingly, it was the 73rd career PGA Tour win of Woods' career, tying Nicklaus' total for No. 2 (Tiger was 10 years younger than when Jack won his final event, the 1986 Masters, at age 46). Woods has now blown past that and could catch Sam Snead's record of 82 this year the way Tiger's going.
The only other players to have won this tournament multiple times are Kenny Perry (three), Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman and Tom Watson (twice each). Perry will detour off the Champions Tour to play this week. Americans have dominated this overall, winning four of the past five and 11 of the past 15. This isn't one of those tightly-lined courses. Four times in history a player has played 72 holes without missing a fairway. Three of those were at Muirfield Village. The greens will be tough, however, and the scoring on par 3s was 3.24 last year, No. 1 on Tour in terms of difficulty. The Presidents Cup will be held at Muirfield later this year.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Memorial Tournament Favorites
Do I even need to mention who the favorite is? Eldrick is at 9/4 at Bovada. When Tiger wins Arnold Palmer's tournament in March at Bay Hill, he also usually wins this one: He has five "Arnie/Jack" season doubles. Tiger also has three Top 5 finishes at Memorial in addition to those five wins and hasn't finished outside the Top 25 since 1998.
Rory McIlroy is at 16/1. He seemed to have found his game but missed the cut at the European Tour's flagship event last week. McIlroy has had three Top-10s in his past four PGA Tour starts. He was struggling around this time last year and missed the cut at the Memorial. He was T5 the year before.
Masters champion Adam Scott is 18/1. Masters winners tend to struggle for a few months as they are usually exhausted after all that winning entails (media appearances, etc.). Scott finished T19 at the Players in his first start post-Augusta. He has two Top-5s in his career at Muirfield but was T46 a year ago.
Kuchar (20/1) and Justin Rose (28/1) round out the favorites. Kuchar enters off that runner-up at Colonial and has Top-10s in his last four trips to Muirfield. Rose won here in 2008 but missed cuts in 2009 and '11. Rose was T8 last year. He missed the cut in his last PGA Tour event at the Players.
PGA Tour Picks: Memorial Tournament Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I obviously like Tiger even at a ridiculous -500. The only big-name European in the field who played well last week was Westwood, but he barely knows this course, so I won't be picking a Euro for a Top 10 (plus the whole jet lag thing). I also like Keegan Bradley at +250 for a Top 10. He finished runner-up at the Byron Nelson last time out, including an opening 60. He will be paired with Tiger (and Fred Couples) in the first two rounds. Yes, I know Bradley has missed the cut both times he's been at Muirfield.
Head-to-head, take obviously take Tiger (-275) over McIlroy (+200). I'd also take Scott (-110) against McIlroy (-120). An interesting one is Couples (-140) against Perry (+110) in a Champions Tour showdown. I like Perry there, although it wouldn't shock me if both miss the cut.
I want to give you someone other than Tiger here, I really do. Maybe throw a few long-shot bucks at Rickie Fowler at 50/1. He played really well last year before an epic final-round 84. Fowler is overdue for a second win. But it will be a surprise if Woods doesn't win.
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