2021 The Memorial First-Round Leader Bets & Picks: Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay Among Top Options
Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Spieth.
The PGA TOUR heads to Muirfield Village for the 46th playing of the Memorial Tournament. This course sets up nicely for good ball strikers, so it's no surprise to see the best in game eager to tee it up at Jack's Place.
Muirfield Village is a tough track, but 65 and 66 have been pretty popular numbers for guys on Thursday. However, this is a week where par is your friend. It's a good tune up for the US Open, which is just beyond a fortnight away.
And here's a little inside info: Jordan Spieth is only my second favorite FRL bet this week. My favorite is actually the last guy on this list.
Jordan Spieth (+2800)
Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".
I'm not insane (hear me out) for picking Spieth FRL these last few weeks. Why? Because he led after round one two of his last three starts.
Here, I'm doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting the exact same result: Jordan Spieth FRL. However, if you want a reason other than recent results, he also leads the field in Strokes Gained: Total during the first round at this event.
Tony Finau (+3300)
Finau led last year after round one with a 6-under 66. He had a good showing for three days, before shooting 78 on Sunday to finish eighth. Finau is a great FRL bet. He often plays great unless the day has the word "sun" in it.
Finau's stats are good around Muirfield Village, which means he plays well here. His ball striking, in particular, has been solid here over the years.
Patrick Cantlay (+3300)
It's not surprising to see Cantlay is second in the field this week in SG:TOT (for Thursday) at this course. When he won the Memorial in 2019, Cantlay opened with a 68. He also gained more than 14 strokes on the field in SG:T2G. That's evident in his last three Thursdays round at Muirfield Village: 70-68-68.
When his ball striking is on, Cantlay is one of the best iron players in the world. It appears he found his form again at the PGA Championship (where he finished inside the top 30) after a string of missed cuts.
Matt Fitzpatrick (+4000)
My favorite Englishman to bet (just fractionally ahead of Matt Wallace) is Matt Fitzpatrick. He had a string of great opening round scores in the winter, but has faded a bit since then. That, to me, means he's about to boil over soon and find that spark from a few months ago.
When I talk about a ball strikers' course, Fitz is the player that comes to mind. He finished solo third here last year with the brutal conditions and high scoring. The 2013 US Amateur champ always seems to show up on these tough weeks where elite players continually to find their way to the top.
Joaquin Niemann (+4500)
Niemann comes into this event playing some decent golf. However, he's one of the best ball strikers in the world, a fact that bodes well for him this week. He finished sixth in his 2018 maiden appearance, opening with a 65 to share the first round co-lead.
If Joaco can get his putter hot on his best surface (bent), he stands a good chance of starting the week on a strong note.
Keegan Bradley (+5000)
Here's why Keegan Bradley is my favorite FRL bet this week: his last three starts on the PGA TOUR were the PGA, the Wells and the Valspar. All those places were difficult venues with tough scoring. He shot 69-66-64.
Over his last 10 events, Bradley has gained an average of four strokes a round on the field. In his last five starts, he's averaging 7.5 strokes on the field per round.
His game is coming back and it's time to start taking Bradley on Thursdays. We've seen him shoot some low numbers on in round one, but he doesn't seem to hang around for the weekend. I think he's close to figuring out the marathon, but for now, I'm going to keep betting him for the sprint.