It's not too often you will find a golfer win a PGA Tour event when he shoots 77 in one of his four rounds, but that was the case on Sunday as Jason Dufner took Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament for his fifth career PGA Tour victory. He also joined Nicklaus as the only Ohio natives (Dufner was born in Cleveland) to win the event in Dublin, outside of Columbus.
Dufner looked like he was going to go wire-to-wire at Muirfield Village after opening with a pair of 65s that set the 36-hole tournament scoring record to lead by five. However, he then shot a 77 on Saturday and started the final round facing a four-shot deficit. Dufner was back on his game Sunday with a 68 - four birdies and no bogeys on the back-nine -- to win by three shots over Rickie Fowler and Anirban Lahri.
Inclement weather halted play twice Sunday, the second time when Dufner and Fowler had just teed off on the 18th hole, with Dufner ahead by two. For 77 minutes, Dufner had to wait to play his second shot from the thick rough. He would eventually drain a 33-foot par putt. Since the Memorial Tournament began in 1976, only one winner had shot higher than 75 in any round: Roger Maltbie, who closed with a 76 but still beat Hale Irwin in a playoff. Dufner arrived at the Memorial having missed only two cuts this season, but he hadn't finished any better than T11 in an individual stroke play event. Of course, his biggest career victory was at the 2013 PGA Championship.
Third-round leader Daniel Summerhays ballooned to a final-round 78. He remains without a PGA Tour win. Lahiri was out early Sunday and posted a bogey-free 65 to grab a share of second. He had missed the cut in his past three tournaments and hasn't qualified for next week's U.S. Open. It was Fowler's 10th career runner-up. For the week, Fowler led the field in driving accuracy, hitting 45 of 56 fairways. He also led the field in sand saves, converting 8 of 11 attempts. He and Dufner are good pals.
My winning pick at the Memorial was the prop of Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott and Fowler at +700 vs. the field (-1400). Matsuyama (T45) and Scott (T31) both disappointed. Do did Dustin Johnson, who missed the cut after rounds of 78-74. I did get Matt Kuchar for a Top 10 and a few head-to-head props.
This week the Tour heads to TPC Southwind in Memphis for the St. Jude Classic. It's the 60th anniversary of this event, and it has been held at the par-70, 7,244-yard TPC Southwind since 1989. It has a par-3 11th island hole that's similar to the famous island hole at TPC Sawgrass.
It's not a great field because most players are preparing for next week's U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. I think more than usual are doing so because Erin Hills is hosting an event for the first time so players want to get as familiar with it as possible. Some guys simply don't like playing in a tournament the week before a major. No winner of the PGA Tour event preceding the U.S. Open has gone on to capture the Open.
The defending St. Jude Classic champion is Daniel Berger, his first PGA Tour win. Berger began the final round with the lead but played his first 10 holes in even par. Berger then got hot with three birdies on Nos. 12-15, a stretch that gave him a three-shot lead. He finished at 13 under, three shots ahead of Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka.
Golf Odds: St. Jude Classic Favorites
Fowler is the +800 favorite at Bovada . He finished 13th here in his most recent visit in 2014. I actually didn't like him last week as he had struggled at Muirfield in his career.
Scott and Koepka are each +1200. Scott finished 31st last week and plays here for the first time since 2007. Koepka was also 31 st last week. In addition to his runner-up here last year, he was third in 2015.
Mickelson is +1600 with Francesco Molinari at +1800. Since 2013 in Memphis, Lefty has two T2s, a T3 and a T11 with a scoring average of 67.88. Molinari was just recently second at the flagship BMW PGA on the European Tour. He was 34th here in 2016.
Golf Odds: St. Jude Classic Picks
For a Top 10, I like Koepka (+120), Mickelson (+150) and Billy Horschel (+250), who has three straight Top 10s here (didn't play last year). Head-to-head, go with J.B. Holmes (-115) over Russell Knox (-115), Koepka (+110) over Fowler (-140), Ryan Palmer (-120) over Danny Lee (-110), Horschel (-115) over Kyle Stanley (-115), and Mickelson (even) over Scott (-130).
I'll be honest that I want Mickelson to win this week because I'm so impressed he is planning to skip the U.S. Open to attend his daughter's high school graduation next Thursday. There's simply not time for him to go to that in California and then make a tee time in Wisconsin. I'm impressed because Mickelson wants so badly to win the U.S. Open after finishing second a record six times. It's the only Grand Slam he hasn't won.
I'm holding out hope for a Mickelson/Koepka prop vs. the field as I think one of those guys takes this home. Koepka's scoring average in 12 rounds at TPC Southwind is 68.17.
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