DraftKings PGA: the Memorial

DraftKings PGA: the Memorial

This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.

THE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT

Purse: $9.3M
Winner's Share: $1.674M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the winner
Location: Dublin, Ohio
Course: Muirfield Village Golf Club
Yardage: 7,456
Par: 72
2019 champion: Patrick Cantlay

Tournament Preview

On the surface, it may not appear that things will be much different with the PGA Tour playing at the same course on consecutive weeks for the first time since 1957. But there will be one huge difference: Tiger Woods. Finally, in the sixth event of golf's restart, Woods will make his second season debut. It has been five months since we last saw Woods in tournament action, when he finished 68th at his Genesis Invitational. He has played only twice – twice! – in all of 2020, putting aside the late May charity match, so who knows what we'll see. Yes, Woods looked spot-on playing with Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, but that was hardly a rigorous test and came at his home course. Of course, Muirfield Village could be considered one of the many "home" courses for Woods, given that he's a five-time champion of the Memorial.

Woods presumably waited to play for a couple reasons. First, perhaps he wanted to see how the PGA Tour reacted to the pandemic, and it has been handling the situation better from week to week. Second, and likely more of a factor, the schedule is about to be flooded with big events the next two months, and Woods needs to pace himself. We could see him again in two weeks at the WGC event in Memphis and then immediately afterward at the PGA Championship. Then in short order come the three-event playoffs and the U.S. Open in mid-September. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's focus on this week. It will be interesting to see how Woods reacts to playing without fans cheering him on. He could be more affected than anyone else. He will be paired with Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka. At $9,100, Woods is the 13th golfer on the DraftKings board.

We have often used the term "loaded" to describe the fields since golf returned, but this week it's super-loaded. Nine of the top 10 in the world rankings and 43 of the top 50 will be on hand. It's safe to say that never have there been so many top-50 golfers in one PGA Tour event before. In fact, noted OWGR expert @VC606 on Twitter said that this will be the strongest non-major Tour event ever in the OWGR era, and that includes the playoffs. He also said that this Memorial will have a stronger field than the past eight Masters. Wrap your head around that one.

We don't want to repeat what we wrote last week but, um, it's still the same golf course. Paraphrasing (plagiarizing?) ourselves from last week's DraftKings preview, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village has always demanded that golfers use every club in the bag. However, with the incredible driving distances these days, that theory may be a bit antiquated. But what still holds true is that everything gets harder later. The holes get harder closer to the green. The back nine is harder than the front, with the five hardest holes from a year ago all coming after the turn. Nos. 16, 17 and 18 were all among those five hardest holes. Last week at the Workday Charity Open, five of the six hardest holes were on the back, including the three closing holes. It's really a beautifully thought-out track from Holes 1 to 18. The par-5s are gettable but the par-3s are brutal – where Jack giveth, Jack taketh away.

The par-5s are all short, and golfers will likely have to destroy them to contend. We'll take a closer look at that in the Champion's Profile. Meanwhile, all the par-3s exceed 180 yards, and three of them – Nos. 4, 12 and 16 – are usually among the hardest holes on the course and were in fact among the six hardest holes last week. No. 16 is traditionally the toughest, a 201-yarder to a narrow green alongside a large pond. Oh, that's another thing – there is water on more than half the holes, not to mention some six dozen bunkers. The greens have undulations and will be super fast. Really, don't expect the scores we saw last week, when Collin Morikawa won at 19-under-par in a playoff over Justin Thomas. Tour officials purposely made Muirfield Village easier to differentiate it from this week. Expect the rough to be higher and the greens to be slicker, perhaps reaching 13 or above on the Stimpmeter. The course will also play about 60 yards longer, based on the official scorecards. And to further drive home the fact that the Workday event does not equal the Memorial, the total purse will be $3 million more this week.

While the field has expanded from the usual 120 to 132, likely more than half the players will make the cut. That means a lot of guys under $7,500 and well into the $6,000s could be a part of a 6-for-6 week. As for lineup construction, if deciding between two similar guys, we wouldn't find fault with picking the one starting at No. 1 on Thursday as opposed to No. 10, what with the back nine playing so difficult. Getting off to a good start can boost momentum, just like getting off to a bad start can snowball the wrong way.

Weather-wise, there's a lot more rain in the forecast this week than last. Afternoon thunderstorms on Thursday and morning storms on Friday could really disrupt things. Morning T'storms could also affect Saturday and Sunday. Otherwise, it'll be hot in the upper-80s to the low-90s. With so much precipitation anticipated, check the forecast closer to lineup lock to see if there's a benefit to the early or late Thursday tee times.

Fun Memorial factoid No. 1: The winner of the inaugural tournament back in 1976 was none other than the lovable Roger Maltbie, who notched the third of his five PGA Tour wins in a playoff victory over Hale Irwin.

Fun Memorial factoid No. 2: The tournament annually has "honorees," and this year one of them is Nick Price, who won 48 times worldwide, which includes 18 victories on the PGA Tour and three majors. Two others will be honored posthumously: Hall of Famer Gene Littler, who died only last year, and Englishman Ted Ray, who passed more than 75 years ago but not before winning the 1912 Open Championship and, at age 43, the 1920 U.S. Open in nearby Toledo, Ohio.

Fun sorta Memorial factoid No. 3: As mentioned above, this marks the first time since 1957 that the PGA Tour is playing at the same course consecutive weeks. The last time that happened was at Tam O'Shanter Golf Course outside Chicago. The Aug. 1-4 All-American Golf Tournament was won by Roberto Di Vicenzo and the Aug. 8-11 World Championship of Golf was won by Dick Mayer.

Key Stats to Winning at Muirfield Village

The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.

• Greens in regulation/Strokes Gained: Approach
• Scrambling/Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
• Putting average/Strokes Gained: Putting
• Par-3 and par-5 500-550

Past Champions

2019 - Patrick Cantlay
2018 - Bryson DeChambeau
2017 - Jason Dufner
2016 - William McGirt
2015 - David Lingmerth
2014 - Hideki Matsuyama
2013 - Matt Kuchar
2012 - Tiger Woods
2011 - Steve Stricker
2010 - Justin Rose

Champion's Profile

Last week, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas both shot 19-under-par. Morikawa played the par-5s in 10-under and Thomas in 11-under. While Thomas played the par-3s in 1-under, Morikawa was better at 4-under. That speaks to his incredible iron play. While Cantlay won the Memorial at that same 19-under total, it was an aberration. The winning score the previous five years was either 13- or 15-under, and we'd expect that to be in line with this year's result. For years, mostly 30-somethings took home the title, but with Cantlay and DeChambeau taking home titles, the tide has turned. The same could be said about driving distance, which traditionally hadn't been important before Cantlay and DeChambeau both ranked fourth in the field. But they both also brought the rest of their game: DeChambeau ranked 12th in the field in GIR, first in scrambling and sixth in SG: Putting. As for Cantlay, he was 11th in GIR, fifth in scrambling, seventh in putting. On the par-5s, Cantlay was 12-under last year; DeChambeau was only 7-under en route to 15-under. Two of the par-5s are around 520 yards and the other two are in the 560s. All of them are short, so we're focusing on the 500-550 efficiency category in the Key Stats. All that said, there's no one way to win at Muirfield. As we saw last week, you can rarely go wrong with guys possessing a strong iron game.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS

Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap

Tier 1 Values

Bryson DeChambeau - $11,100 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)  
We would usually see the top guy on the DK board priced at $11,700, maybe $11,800. Not the past two weeks, however. The best golfers are so tightly bunched. Deservedly, DeChambeau has the most expensive price tag this week. He's been the best golfer since the restart and capped it off with a win two weeks ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. And DeChambeau has shown he can navigate Muirfield Village, winning in a playoff in 2018.

Justin Thomas - $10,900 (12-1)  
This was a tough call. Thomas lost in the playoff here last week, so he obviously played well. In his past five Memorials, he notched two top-10s – but also three missed cuts. So for Thomas this week, it's all about his mindset, and whether he can forget about losing a three-stroke lead with three holes to play last week.

Patrick Cantlay - $9,800 (14-1)  
We would've expected Cantlay to crack five figures, not only being the defending champion but on the heels of a 7-under 65 this past Sunday. So, you could call this price a bit of a bargain, though of course not much. We think the more difficult track this week will help Cantlay finish better than the T7 he posted in last week's event.

Webb Simpson - $9,600 (25-1)  
It's hard to go wrong with consistency, and that's the epitome of Simpson's game. He played this event only twice in the past six years, placing 67th in 2017 and 11th the year before. Simpson was a different golfer then, and a far better golfer now.

Tier 2 Values

Viktor Hovland - $9,500 (25-1)  
Hovland was relegated to a side show, a third wheel, this past Sunday. There's no shame in finishing third, especially when it was your fifth top-25 finish in five starts since the restart. It's all a question of how much Hovland has left in the tank before he finally, presumably, takes next week off. He is ranked second – along with Lucas Glover – in Strokes Gained: Approach since golf resumed.

Hideki Matsuyama - $9,400 (25-1)  
After playing only once in the first four tournaments, Matsuyama teed it up the past two weeks and turned in a pair of top-25s. His tee-to-green game was in midseason form at the Workday event and, um, so was his putting. Well, that's not completely fair. He ranked 58th in the field in SG: Putting – not good by any means, but not horrid. This week, there should be a little less emphasis on putting, and that could open the door for a Matsuyama top-10. As noted above, he was the 2014 champion here.

Daniel Berger - $8,700 (40-1)  
What's harder to believe: that Berger started the golf reboot by winning at Colonial and then tying for third at Harbour Town, or then taking the next three weeks off while his game was red-hot? As much as the second question was a surprise, we have to go with the former. Berger was playing great back in the winter and spring, and three months off did nothing to change that. So, three weeks off seems like no big deal.

Abraham Ancer - $8,500 (50-1)  
While the likes of DeChambeau, Hovland, and Morikawa have been flourishing, no one has had a better iron game since the restart than Ancer, as determined by him leading in SG: Approach. He was T14 at Colonial, runner-up at Harbour Town and T11 at the Travelers before taking a two-week breather. A tough course and an otherworldly field will make it tough for Ancer to notch his first PGA Tour win, but that's not what you need from a guy priced at a mere $8,500.

Tier 3 Values

Joaquin Niemann - $7,900 (60-1)  
Niemann is a very good iron player but not quite as laser-like as some of the guys in Tiers 1 and 2, which is why he's under $8K. This is a fair price to pay for a guy who has played four times of late, made four cuts, notched a top-5 and just missed two more top-25s. Niemann was sixth here in his debut two years ago and 27th last year. Having played the course just last week can only help the 21-year-old, even though there will be some changes to the setup.

Kevin Streelman - $7,600 (60-1)
We know what you're thinking: Come back to the well once too often, and it'll bite you (or something like that). This is the second week in a row we're jumping on Streelman. Hey, he likes the course. He was T17 last week, fourth last year and top-20 three of four years before that. If Streelman likes a course, he's a safe bet. To wit: He was runner-up at the Travelers Championship three weeks ago.

Billy Horschel - $7,500 (60-1)  
Could it be? Could Horschel be finding his long lost post-quarantine game? After coming out the break T38-MC-MC, he tied for seventh at Muirfield Village, where he finished ninth a year ago and 11th in 2015. Horschel missed the cut twice in between and has been boom-or-bust this season as well, with five top-10s in 15 starts but also four missed cuts.

Adam Hadwin - $7,400 (80-1)  
We picked Hadwin last week, and that selection looked a lot rosier after Thursday's round than it did after play came to a close. His week went like this: 66-73-76-68. That 68 offers hope for a guy whose game is well suited for this track, even if he only has one top-25 in five Memorials. Hadwin is $800 cheaper than he was a week ago.

Long-Shot Values

Lucas Glover - $7,100 (125-1)  
Something's gotta give this week. A rejuvenated Glover arrives with four straight top-25s since the restart, but he hasn't had a top-25 at the Memorial in 15 years. He does make cuts here, running off five in a row leading up to the latest edition. Glover has been one of the preeminent iron players of late and is now ranked 37th on Tour in greens in regulation.

Chez Reavie - $6,700 (200-1)  
You don't need to be a math whiz (a Chez whiz?) to see that MC-T74-T47-T17 is heading in the right direction. Those are Reavie's past four results, with the top-20 coming at the Workday Charity Open. He ranked ninth in greens in regulation and 13th in SG: Tee-to-Green last week.

Troy Merritt - $6,600 (200-1)  
Merritt tied for 17th here last year. Even though the field was not as strong as this year's, it's always loaded. After missing the cut at Colonial, Merritt has run off four straight cashes, the last two being a T8 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and a T22 last week. Those are his two best showings all season. Merritt ranked fifth in the field at the Workday event in both SG: Approach and scrambling. It was odd then that the guy ranked 25th on Tour in SG: Putting was done in by his putter. It's safe to expect a better performance on the greens this week.

Henrik Norlander - $6,300 (250-1)  
The pride of Augusta University and a former teammate of Patrick Reed is riding three straight cashes, including last week's tie for 31st in his Muirfield Village debut. How valuable this must be for a first-timer to play the course again the very next week. The 33-year-old Norlander ranked third in the field in GIR at the Workday Charity Open.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Len Hochberg plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DK: Bunker Mentality.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.
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