The Memorial Betting Guide: Finding Value in the Mid-Tier
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Emiliano Grillo
With the U.S. Open just two weeks away, the Memorial represents the final warmup for many of the star players.
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village presents a stern test where accuracy with the driver matters a little more than distance thanks to difficult rough. If a bomber is on with the driver, he can take this course apart. But the last three winners here are Jason Dufner, William McGirt and David Lingmerth, so 325 yards off the tee isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for a champion.
Muirfield Village measures 7,392 yards for a par-72 where a score in the low-to-mid teens under par is usually good enough to hoist the trophy. The course has water in play on 11 holes and nearly 80 bunkers, so trouble awaits for any player who strays off line.
Par-4 scoring and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green are the key stats for me this week. Nine of the past 10 winners entered the week inside the top 50 in both of those areas.
With so many of the stars here this week, we’re getting balanced odds among the favorites similar to what we saw a few weeks ago at The Players Championship.
Seven players at the top are between +1200 and +2000. Dustin Johnson and Jason Day open as the co-favorites at that +1200 number. Last week’s winner Justin Rose, along with Rory McIlroy and the newly minted world No. 1 Justin Thomas, are right behind at +1400. Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler are still looking for their first wins of the season. They’re next in line at +1800 and +2000.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are just outside of the elite group with opening odds of +2200 and +4000, respectively.
Despite the star power, the top players haven’t been winning here in recent years. Tiger had five wins on Jack’s track, but since his last in 2012, players have been coming from off the radar to win.
Dufner cashed at +6600 last year. The two years before that McGirt and Lingmerth were 200-1 and 400-1 when they cashed in their victories. Before that, it was Hideki Matsuyama picking up his first PGA Tour win at +6600.
The stars will draw the attention, but the longer shots can take this one down.
The top names have all played well here, except Day, whose best finish is 15th last year. But only Rose has claimed this title. Johnson, Spieth, Thomas and McIlroy all have finished in the top five here at some point, but their results are pretty inconsistent. Statically, they’ll always check out, but it’s tough to back any of them at their prices because they haven’t consistently contended at Muirfield Village.
Instead, I’m dropping below that group to Henrik Stenson at +2500. Stenson ranks No. 1 on Tour in par-4 scoring and No. 5 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. So we’re getting an elite player who is playing very well and getting some extra value over the group at the top.
Two of the previous four winners were priced at +6600, so this has been a good area to find value in the past.
Emiliano Grillo tops my list in this range at +5000 on Sportsbook. He’s been close to winning on numerous occasions this year with four top-10s in his last eight starts, including third last weekend. It’s been a few years since he’s pulled out a victory, but he’s trending in the right direction.
I’m also taking a look at Marc Leishman at +4000 on Bovada. He’s inside the top 10 in par-4 scoring this year and is coming off a second-place finish a couple weeks ago at the Byron Nelson.
One final play in this range is Ryan Moore at +7500. He fits that Dufner/McGirt plodder mode: He’s going to find a lot of fairways and hit a lot of solid iron shots. If the putter is rolling, he can contend on this course.
I’ll be placing top 5s on each of these three players with Leishman and Grillo checking in at +800/+1000 and Moore in the +1500 range.
The Long Shots
I already mentioned it with McGirt and Lingmerth, but long shots have had more success than we’d expect in a field of this caliber.
So this week, I’ll go back to my normal strategy of firing at a few extra bombs down at the bottom of the board and see if anyone can get into contention.
First up is Zach Johnson at 140/1 on Sportsbook. Johnson has cooled a bit with two missed cuts recently, resulting in a dip in the number. But he’s actually had a pretty solid season and is in the top 30 in both Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and par-4 scoring.
I also like Jamie Lovemark at 175/1 and Kevin Streelman at 240/1. Both are having good seasons in the ball-striking categories; it really comes down the putter for both of them.
I’ll have top-20 plays on each ranging from +500 to +800.