2023 The Memorial Final Round Picks: Continue Backing Viktor Hovland and Patrick Cantlay

2023 The Memorial Final Round Picks: Continue Backing Viktor Hovland and Patrick Cantlay article feature image

Pictured: Viktor Hovland. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

There are some tournaments each year that bring the best players together toward the top of the leaderboard and while some less established names are in the mix heading into the final round, there are also a bunch of stars within a handful of shots of the lead. The biggest star sits in a three-way tie up top as Rory McIlroy looks to break through for his first 2023 PGA Tour win. He's locked alongside Si Woo Kim and David Lipsky at 6-under, with the former setting up as his playing partner in the final group from Muirfield Village.

Our Saturday buy of Viktor Hovland puts us in good position at +3500 as he is the headlining name at 5-under through three rounds. He's joined by recent Wells Fargo Champion Wyndham Clark and a couple of guys seeking their first win on Tour in Denny McCarthy and Lee Hodges. The crowded groups mixed with stars and potential breakthroughs goes on from there as 31 players are within four shots of the lead.

This is a course where players can make up ground on Sunday. In fact, not including the odd Jon Rahm scenario in 2021, four of the past 11 winners of this tournament erased four-shot deficits in the final round.

This year, it may be a little tough for someone to come from that far back with so many players near the lead.

Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer has truly played by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.
Using the millions of data points it collects, the Tour calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field. Every situation in golf is different. Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation. In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics:
  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)
In general, SG: Ball Striking and SG: Tee-to-Green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility. You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but are just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

2023 The Memorial Final Round Best Bets: 3 Golfers to Buy

I'm going to stick to my guns on Hovland as he was someone I liked to turn things around in Round 3. He did just that, though not quite to the extent I imagined. Hovland nearly gained a stroke and a half on the field with his ball striking on Saturday, but it was the continuation of a hot putting stroke that really kept him climbing toward the top of the leaderboard. He has now gained better than two strokes on the greens in consecutive rounds and that kind of consistency may be something that can stick with him on Sunday. The Norwegian's biggest area for improvement is still his ball striking, and I think we'll see that in the final round. We've all been waiting for the first big win for the young and talented Hovland, and I'll keep my cards in his corner going into Sunday.

Actually, I'm going to double down twice. This time with Patrick Cantlay, who enters one of my writeups for the third time this week. He admittedly didn't have the Saturday I hoped for as his two-over dropped him to 4-under on the week and two shots off the lead going into Sunday. There are many reasons I am willing to look past that, starting with the fact that one bad swing really did him in during the third round. His triple bogey at the par-4 6th was the result of a poor approach from the rough that landed in the creek. That single swing lost him more than two shots on approach and the three actual strokes he dropped were too much to climb back from. I don't expect we'll see a big mistake like that again from the veteran. With his history as one of the top-four players in this field in Sunday scoring, as well as his final round averages at Muirfield, I think he'll be there at the finish. The good news is that with this belief, we can get him at odds right where he was pretournament — several sites have him at +1200 before Round 4.

When I look for someone who can erase a more significant spread in the final round, I try to focus on the elite players that won't be looking for just a top finish. They are the ones that are going to pin seek and try to be really aggressive to go all out for a win. Jon Rahm fits that bill, but the player for me to target is Jordan Spieth. He gets the nod in this scenario as he has an extra shot to work with over Rahm, but also longer odds as he's +4500 on PointsBet.

Spieth has been great in final rounds of big events this year, firing 66s in the final rounds at both The Masters and RBC Heritage, as well as a 69 on Sunday at the PGA Championship. When I combine that with the good trends he showed Saturday, where he gained nearly four shots on the field with his ball striking, I really like his chances to get in the hunt down the final nine with just three shots to erase. I am always interested in Spieth when he shows he has his ball striking, and right now that is carrying him as both aspects of his short game lost strokes in the third round. He is certainly a player I expect to bounce back on and around the greens, and if that comes — along with his continued play both off the tee and on approach — then we may see him with the trophy on Sunday evening.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players After Round 3

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