2021 Memorial Tournament Preview & Picks: Patrick Reed Among Players to Target at Muirfield Village

2021 Memorial Tournament Preview & Picks: Patrick Reed Among Players to Target at Muirfield Village article feature image

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Reed.

The PGA TOUR heads to Jack's place to play the 2021 Memorial Tournament. In an event that is regarded as one of the most prestigious non-majors of the PGA TOUR season, we should be in store for plenty of fireworks at Muirfield Village this week.

Muirfield Village is a 7,392-yard par 72 located in Dublin, Ohio, and features bentgrass greens. A Jack Nicklaus design, the course was built in 1974. The course can play extremely difficult due to its long rough and lightning fast greens.

The Memorial Tournament is one of five "invitationals" on the PGA TOUR schedule and will play host to 120 golfers this week. Unsurprisingly, the field is excellent and features many of the stars on TOUR including Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland.

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Past Winners at Memorial Tournament

  • 2020: Jon Rahm (-9)
  • 2019: Patrick Cantlay (-19)
  • 2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-15)
  • 2017: Jason Dufner (-13)
  • 2016: William McGirt (-15)

6 Key Stats For Muirfield Village

Let's take a look at five key metrics for Muirfield Village to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Jack Nicklaus designs all have one thing in common: They reward the best iron players on TOUR. When designing Muirfield Village, Jack had a second-shot golf course that strongly benefited golfers who could really dial in the approach shots in mind. With that in mind, does it surprise anyone that Tiger Woods won this event five times?

Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Collin Morikawa (+43.7) (+2000)
  2. Charley Hoffman (+33.7) (+5000)
  3. Emiliano Grillo (+32,6) (+6600)
  4. Stewart Cink (+29.1) (+10000)
  5. Jordan Spieth (+27.6) (+1600)

2. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking does include approach but if there is any week to over emphasize Strokes Gained: Approach, this is the week. The statistic also incorporates Strokes Gained: Off the Tee which will be important considering the rough at Muirfield Village can be exceedingly penal. Morikawa, Jason Dufner and Hideki Matsuyama are some great examples of the prototypical ball strikers who have won at Muirfield Village. I envision another elite ball striker winning this week.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Collin Morikawa (+57.9) (+2000)
  2. Corey Conners (+46.4) (+2800)
  3. Charley Hoffman (+42.1) (+5000)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+37.3) (+1800)
  5. Jordan Spieth (+34.4) (+1600)

3. Par 4: 450-500

Muirfield Village has some long and difficult par 4s. With four par 5s on the course that should be reachable in two for most of the field, the holes that will separate the contenders from the pack are these difficult par 4's. There are six par 4's between 450-500 yards on the course.

Par 4: 450-500 Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Collin Morikawa (+24.1) (+2000)
  2. Louis Oosthuizen (+19.1) (+3300)
  3. Matt Wallace (+17.7) (+8000)
  4. Bryson DeChambeau (+17.0) (+1600)
  5. Shane Lowry (+16.1) (+5000)

4. Good Drives Gained

Driving the ball well will be an important factor. Bombing it off of the tee is not a requirement at Muirfield Village, but distance always helps. The rough was very long last year and golfers who couldn't put the ball in the fairway fell out of contention quickly. Balanced and consistent drivers of the golf ball should be the targets this week.

Good Drives Gained Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Corey Conners (+43.0) (+2800)
  2. Doug Ghim (+30.4) (+10000)
  3. Collin Morikawa (+29.4) (+2000)
  4. Keegan Bradley (+25.4) (+5000)
  5. Matt Fitzpatrick (+25.1) (+3300)

5. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass) (Lightning)

The bentgrass greens at Muirfield are lightning fast. Last year we saw Jon Rahm win the Memorial Tournament, and he is one of the best putters on exceedingly fast greens. This is certainly not a coincidence and whoever can master these difficult putting surfaces has a major advantage at Jack's place.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass) (Lightning) Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Si Woo Kim (+19.6) (+10000)
  2. Marc Leishman (+19.5) (+5000)
  3. Jason Day (+17.1) (+6600)
  4. Bryson DeChambeau (+16.3) (+1600)
  5. Brendon Todd (+15.8) (+8000)

6. Strokes Gained: Nicklaus Designs

We often see similar leaderboards when events are hosted by Jack Nicklaus designed courses. The model this week will look to incorporate those golfers.

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+50.6) (+2200)
  2. Justin Thomas (+45.2) (+1600)
  3. Tony Finau (+44.5) (+2500)
  4. Jon Rahm (+41.6) (+1000)
  5. Collin Morikawa (+34.5) (+2000)

Strokes Gained: Nicklaus Designs Over Past 24 Rounds

The Memorial Tournament Model Rankings

Below, I've compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the six key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (25%), SG: BS (18%), Par 4: 450-500 (13%), Good Drives Gained (18%), SG: Putting Bentgrass Lightning (13%), and SG: Total Nicklaus Designs (13%).

  1. Jordan Spieth (+1600)
  2. Collin Morikawa (+2000)
  3. Kevin Streelman (+5000)
  4. Matt Wallace (+8000)
  5. Jon Rahm (+1000)
  6. Patrick Cantlay (+5000)
  7. Corey Conners (+1000)
  8. Emiliano Grillo (+10000)
  9. Charley Hoffman (+1800)
  10. Viktor Hovland (+5000)
  11. Hideki Matsuyama (+2200)
  12. Justin Thomas (+1600)
  13. Joaquin Niemann (+4000)
  14. Xander Shauffele (+2000)
  15. Rory McIlroy (+1600)

2021 Memorial Tournament Best Bets

Justin Thomas (+1700, PointsBet): Thomas has been a roller-coaster lately. He has been inconsistent from week to week since his PLAYERS Championship win, but I am looking for him to steady the ship this week.

Thomas is one of the best iron players in the world, and Nicklaus designs always reward the best iron players. I always look to courses that both Tiger and Morikawa play well at as corollary courses for Thomas; Morikawa won the Workday Charity Open last year at Muirfield and Tiger has five wins at Jack's place.

Thomas' approach play wasn't stellar last week, but he has shown the ability to have an incredible iron performance the week after a poor one. In fact, his best iron performance of the season was +9.5 strokes gained at WGC Concession and that was following a week where he missed the cut and lost 0.7 strokes on approach.

To win the event, JT needs to get his putter figured out. Bentgrass greens are historically his preferred putting surface by far, so Muirfield Village is a realistic spot where he can gain strokes on the field.

Patrick Reed (+4000, DraftKings): When Patrick Reed wins, it's often in very strong fields. He seems to play his best golf when there is a lot on the line, and that will be the case this week at Muirfield Village.

Reed missed the cut last week at Colonial, which isn't a concern for me; in fact I see it as a point in his favor. Reed is a golfer who doesn't necessarily need to be coming into an event in peak form in order to win. His most recent win at Torrey Pines was following a missed cut at PGA West. The next two times he missed the cut, he had finishes of 22nd (THE PLAYERS) and sixth (Wells Fargo) in his next start.

The course should be a good fit for him considering he plays long par 4's very well and bentgrass is his best statistical putting surface. His course history would agree, as he has finished in the top 10 in two of his four most recent trips to Muirfield.

Additionally, the sweet spot for Reed wins seems to be in the 30-50 to 1 range so this feels like a perfect bounce back win spot for the mercurial star.

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