What to Know About Muirfield Village Before Betting the Memorial Tournament


Photo credit: Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Muirfield Village

Jul 14, 2020, 02:29 PM EDT

Muirfield Village, let’s roll it back for another week.

If you haven’t been following, we have the rare golf doubleheader: This week’s Memorial Tournament will take place at Muirfield in Dublin, Ohio, the same course Collin Morikawa won at last week at the Workday Charity Open.

There will be some differences, notably it will play a little longer, the rough will be a little higher and the greens will play a little faster. A slightly tougher challenge all around, although I’d expect scores to still be quite low in the teens.

Below I highlight the metrics that have best predicted success at this track, although note that I am including data from last week. If you want to remove that and just look at which stats have best predicted the Memorial, just look at last week’s piece for the data. It’s similar as you’d expect, but not identical.

The Most Predictive Stats at Muirfield Village

Using FantasyLabs data, we can look at how golfers in the 90th-plus percentile for each stat entering Colonial have historically performed. It measures their performance against a salary-based expectation. And while that might seem like a weird way to go about it, note that DFS salaries in golf are highly correlated with odds to win.

That means we can lean on DFS data and the baseline it provides to measure stats.

One challenging thing about course metrics this year is that the schedule has been completely moved around. Note that I’m not looking at how the winners have performed after the fact; I just don’t find that data super useful. “Collin Morikawa nailed greens and putted well, so you’ll need a golfer to do the same.” Well, of course the winner did those things.

Instead, I’m looking at the golfers who excel in a particular stat coming into the week and then how they perform relative to expectations. We’re removing survivorship bias that way, which is critical for handicapping.

But that introduces other challenges, notably the schedule and the COVID-19 layoff. As you’ll notice above, the most predictive metrics the last six years at Muirfield have been long-term ones, but perhaps recent form will matter more given that the Tour just played this course and because the layoff really affected current form for guys.

Thus you’ll have to use some discretion with the data, although I do think you can lean on broad trends. Notably, like last week, ball-strikers will excel here. Guys like Bryson DeChambeau will probably still be able to gain strokes on the field off the tee, but overall it’s going to remain a second-shot golf course.

I’d lean on the accuracy metrics like Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking, SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, Driving Accuracy, par-3 scoring, etc. The greens will be a little faster so putting might be slightly more important than it was last week, but it’s still not really going to be a part of my model.

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