Weekly Preview: the Memorial

Weekly Preview: the Memorial

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

the Memorial Tournament

Muirfield Village Golf Club
Dublin, OH

The PGA Tour heads to Ohio once again for Jack's event. 

Though we are returning to a familiar site, there's a kicker this year – the course has been completely renovated. Well, "completely" might be an overstatement, but a lot of work has certainly been done in the past 12 months. I won't go into detail here with all the information a Google search away, but plenty has changed since we last saw Muirfield Village. 

The question, of course, is how much will the changes affect the players? While the track will look different in spots, I'm still going to lean on course history this week in my picks. I might not lean as heavily on those numbers as I normally do, but I think it's a mistake to completely discard track records because of the new surroundings. I could be wrong – maybe the track will play completely different – but when you build a course, you have a certain idea in mind. Although there have been many changes, that original thought still remains. I have a feeling that those who have felt comfortable on this course in the past will have that same feeling when they return this year. Even if things look a little different.

LAST YEAR

Jon Rahm shot a final-round 75 on his way to a three-stroke victory over Ryan Palmer.

FAVORITES

Jon Rahm (11-1)

This is a somewhat interesting entry as this week's favorite,

the Memorial Tournament

Muirfield Village Golf Club
Dublin, OH

The PGA Tour heads to Ohio once again for Jack's event. 

Though we are returning to a familiar site, there's a kicker this year – the course has been completely renovated. Well, "completely" might be an overstatement, but a lot of work has certainly been done in the past 12 months. I won't go into detail here with all the information a Google search away, but plenty has changed since we last saw Muirfield Village. 

The question, of course, is how much will the changes affect the players? While the track will look different in spots, I'm still going to lean on course history this week in my picks. I might not lean as heavily on those numbers as I normally do, but I think it's a mistake to completely discard track records because of the new surroundings. I could be wrong – maybe the track will play completely different – but when you build a course, you have a certain idea in mind. Although there have been many changes, that original thought still remains. I have a feeling that those who have felt comfortable on this course in the past will have that same feeling when they return this year. Even if things look a little different.

LAST YEAR

Jon Rahm shot a final-round 75 on his way to a three-stroke victory over Ryan Palmer.

FAVORITES

Jon Rahm (11-1)

This is a somewhat interesting entry as this week's favorite, as there are a lot of elite players in the field, most of who have played better than Rahm this season. He is the defending champion, but it's never easy to defend and it's just strange to see him as the top guy on the board. Rahm has only played this event twice and he missed the cut in his other start, so my belief that there's little value here is solidified.

Jordan Spieth (14-1)

Okay, so Spieth is back, but he's not all the way back. If we needed more evidence of that, we got it this past week at Colonial. Spieth returned to the winner's circle earlier this year and contended at the Masters, but it's clear that he's not quite back to being the golfer that has won multiple majors. That guy holds on to win this past week. I'm not saying Spieth can't get back to where he was before, it's just that he's not there now. With that said, he has been one of the best performers on Tour this year, so a win this week definitely wouldn't surprise me.

Rory McIlroy (16-1)

Speaking of players that are "back, but not back," McIlroy is again listed among the favorites. Unlike previous occurrences, though, I'm not going to bash his chances, because he won earlier this year and this isn't a major. McIlroy is completely back in the mix in regards to regular Tour stops, and while this isn't necessarily a run-of-the-mill event, he certainly could win it. McIlroy has four top-10s here in nine starts, but his track record is a bit scattered. He looks like a decent option to win, but not a great pick in OAD leagues.

THE NEXT TIER

Patrick Cantlay (22-1)

Where exactly is Cantlay right now? Not literally, but where is his game? He started the season on a high note, but he uncharacteristically missed a handful of cuts starting with the Masters in April. His most recent start resulted in a top-25 at the PGA Championship, so it looks like he might be on the way back. This week should tell the tale, as he usually plays well here. Cantlay won this event in 2019 and he finished solo 4th the year prior. He has yet to finish worse than T35 in his four starts at Muirfield.

Hideki Matsuyama (25-1)

Matsuyama has not been at his best since his Masters win in April, but that was to be expected. What was not expected, at least from me, is that he's actually played okay in his two starts since. Most players would take a mental hiatus after such a big victory, but to Matsuyama's credit, he has managed to make the cut in each of his two appearances. He's had enough time to come back to Earth and he's returning to a site where he's had a lot of success, including a win in 2014.

Matt Fitzpatrick (35-1)

Fitzpatrick is usually a trendy pick heading into majors, but he's done most of his damage outside them this season. His best showing was a T4 at the RBC Heritage, but he has a total of four top-10s on his ledger. His track record here is limited, but it does include a solo 3rd.

LONG SHOTS

Sam Burns (40-1)

With the way Burns played the past couple months you should not be getting 40-1 on him to win, but that's what happens when there are injury concerns. Burns pulled out of the PGA Championship with a back injury a few weeks ago, but he's slated to play this week, so hopefully he's near 100 percent. If so, you are getting a steal for a guy who finished no worse than second in the last two events he finished.

Adam Scott (80-1)  

If you believe that the changes made to the course will not have much of an impact, then Scott is where you should be placing your money as far as long shots are concerned. Scott is nowhere near the player he once was, but he can still flash from time to time, and if he's going to do, this would be the place. Scott has made the cut here in 11-of-12 starts with four top-10s, including a runner-up in 2019.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Jon Rahm - We are getting to that point in the season where the picks in this section are getting dramatically altered by previous picks. I'm referring to the absence of Spieth in this spot, as he'd likely be the most popular pick this week if he hadn't been used already by so many. As I can't imagine many OAD players still have him available, I'm listing Rahm here. Since he hasn't been on top of his game for parts of the season, I'm assuming he is still an option for most making picks.

Moderately-owned Pick: Patrick Cantlay - If he hadn't posted a top-25 at the PGA Championship he would not be listed here, but that result might be an indication that his game is coming back. If so, this is a great spot to deploy Cantlay. He is mainly in play for those that aren't overreacting to the changes to the course, as his track record is the driving force behind this selection.

Lightly-owned Pick: Sam Burns - From experience I can tell you that OAD players tend to shy away from players who withdrew from their previous start, which should open some opportunity here with Burns. He has been one of the best players on Tour this season, and if he's healthy, this would be a great spot to use him with him unlikely to be on many other rosters.

Buyer Beware: Justin Thomas - Thomas won the PLAYERS Championship in March but hasn't done much of anything since then. He's still making cuts, but he has just one top-20 in his past six starts. That's not terrible, but over the past couple months he has been nowhere near the player we are accustomed to seeing. He's been through a stretch like this as recently as last year and he obviously pulled through, so he's going to get it back at some point. However, we don't know when that will be, so it's wise to just wait and see.

Last Week: Tony Finau - T20 - $68,438

Season Total: $4,048,001

This Week: Matt Fitzpatrick - I feel like I need the "all things being equal" disclaimer from here on out, because if I was in better position I'd probably go with Cantlay this week. However, since I am near the bottom of the pack I need to make a move, and I'm not expecting many players to be on Fitzpatrick. It's not because he's a poor pick, but rather because there is a lot of firepower in the field and most OAD players won't want to go this far down the list with their selection.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Patrick Cantlay ($11,100)
Middle Range: Matt Fitzpatrick ($10,400)
Lower Range: Stewart Cink ($8,900)

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: Zach Johnson - T32

Streak: 4

This Week: Corey Conners - I generally reserve this spot for a golfer that has a lengthy resume at the course of the week, but this time around most of the golfers that fit that profile are past their prime and generally unreliable on a regular basis. Instead, I'm going with a young golfer who is currently on a run of 10 consecutive made cuts and has not missed a cut in two appearances at this event.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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