PGA Core Plays
By Derek Hill – @DerekHillGolf
For the first time since 1957 we will witness a golf course hosting PGA Tour events in back to back weeks. While Muirfield Village GC (7,456 yard, par-72) is hosting the Memorial Tournament the week after hosting the Workday Charity Open, the course is expected to present a very different challenge for this event. The setup last week was more player-friendly, while this week’s event is expected to be more viewer-friendly. That means that conditions will be a little tougher. The rough will likely be grown out all week. The greens will increase in speed from the 11-12 that they were running last week up to 13-14 this week. We may see some wear and tear from the Workday Charity Open make an impact this week. The setup will likely try to avoid this impact, but surely there will be more than one instance where a guy’s ball lands in a divot made the previous week. Hopefully that is limited.
The top 5 in the FedEx Cup standings are in the field this week, as is Patrick Cantlay, who is defending his title as 2019 Memorial Champion. Most importantly, we get to see THE BIG CAT back in action. We haven’t seen him play since the charity event at Medalist GC where he put on a clinic, specifically off the tee. Being a 5x winner at Muirfield definitely means he could go out there and win this week.
Muirfield seems to produce guys who have sustained success here. I’d lean toward players with a history of success at this course. Going off of statistics, I would have to say that driving accuracy will be important with the longer rough, but everyone will miss some fairways. Likely the most important stats this week will have to do with longer rough and really quick greens. I assume those will be rough proximity, scrambling, SG:around-the-green, and SG:Putting.
Bryson DeChambeau: Not sure what else there is left to say about DeChambeau…7 consecutive top 10s. He’s almost a lock for a top-10 at this point regardless of the course or the field. He is better than he was in 2018 when he won this event. 3rd in scrambling. 12th in SG:Putting.
Justin Thomas: He is just too much of a competitor to not have a strong bounce back after losing in a playoff last week. A little hit/miss at Muirfield Village, but 2 top 10s at the Memorial show he can win here. Not to mention he has 3 top-10s in 4 events since the restart.Patrick Cantlay: Defending champion and coming off T7 at the Workday. In his last 12 rounds at Muirfield, his stroke average is 68.33. Hasn’t missed a cut on this course. Also has a 4th place finish in 2018.
Collin Marikina: Nothing left to prove for this young buck. He is one of the best players on tour already. More wins than missed cuts. Very solid tee to green game. He showed last week that when he putts well he is hard to beat. May struggle just a little with quicker greens this week, but still likely a good pick.
Top-End Maybes: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson
Kevin Streelman: Must-have player this week. Finished T7 last week at the Workday. Runner-up finish at the Travelers. Top 20 finishes at Memorial in 4 of his last 5 appearances including 4th place last year. T14 in Rough proximity
Tiger Woods: Never would I have thought you could get a 5-time winner of an event for Mid-Tier value when he is still playing so well. Tiger doesn’t play many events anymore which makes him more unpredictable, but when we have seen him lately, he has impressed.
Xander Schauffele: 3 top 20 finishes since the restart. T14 at workday. Led last year’s event in total driving and SG:Off-the-tee.
Rickie Fowler: Top 15 finishes in each of the last 3 years at the Memorial. Two different second place finishes. Has the short game to score well on slick surfaces.
Mid-Tier Maybes: Daniel Berger, Byeong-Hun An, Gary Woodland, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth
Value Play Loves:
Jason Dufner: Dufner has defied logic and has improved his play at the Memorial as he has aged. He won at Muirfield Village in 2017 and placed 7th last year.
Ryan Moore: Has made 12 of 14 cuts at Muirfield Village including 3 top 10s and 8 top 25s. Ranks first in Rough Proximity.
David Lingmerth: 7 for 7 at The Memorial. Winner over Justin Rose in 2015.
Value Play Likes:
Rory Sabbatini: Sabbatini has become a staple player in the last few months. He continues to play well. He is valuable because he rarely misses the cut. Has made 10 of 12 cuts in this event with 2 top 10s and 6 top 25s.
Troy Merritt: Co-leader after 36 holes last year en-route to a T17 finish. Has made 4 consecutive cuts and has back to back top 25 finishes.
Value Play Maybes: Matthew Wolff