Sobel’s Memorial Betting Preview: Why It’s Schauffele’s Turn to Shine, You Shouldn’t Overthink Bryson, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Bryson DeChambeau and Xander Schauffele
- Jason Sobel breaks down his preview of the 2020 Memorial Tournament.
- Find Sobel's favorite outright picks, top-5 bet, matchup player and more below.
Your move, Memorial Tournament.
This week’s event is going to have to do some serious work to beat out its baby cousin from last weekend.
Played on Muirfield Village with some subtle differences from the upcoming tourney, the first-ever Workday Charity Open was brilliant theater, with moved-up Sunday tee times leading to a terrific leaderboard and amazing drama down the stretch, with Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa combining to make nearly 75 feet worth of birdie putts on the first playoff hole before Morikawa ended things on the third extra hole.
In a bubble, it might seem like a tough one to top, but a better field on a more treacherous layout could do the trick.
The biggest question in the prognostication business this week is how much we should weigh players’ performance from the previous week. After all, we collectively tend to give current form its just due on normal weeks, but it could mean even more when playing the same course for a second time.
There’s something about being comfortable that could help more than half of the field this week. These guys will not only be sleeping in the same beds and grabbing coffee from the same place each morning, already having that daily familiarity, but more importantly they’ll have a continuing sense of things like sightlines off the tees and how balls will react out of the rough.
What if, however, playing last week is actually a disadvantage?
Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a minute here.
Unlike last week, this week’s Memorial will see all tee boxes moved back to their usual location, ostensibly about an inch more rough than previously and much quicker greens.
That last one is the real issue. After putting on surfaces which measured 11-11.5 on the Stimpmeter, these players will have to adjust their strokes and lines to greens which reportedly will run somewhere in the 13-13.5 range.
That doesn’t mean last week’s competitors won’t be able to adjust, but subconscious memory can be a vital intangible on the golf course — and those who didn’t play the Workday won’t have to deal with the reliance on hitting putts with less speed than before.
Anyway, it’s just a theory. I’ve got plenty of leftover competitors from that event on this week’s list, but it’s at least worth considering whether they really own an advantage or not.
With that in mind, let’s get to the picks.
One player to win the tournament.
Xander Schauffele (+3300, $10 bet wins $330)
A big-boy field this week should bring out the best of the best and few elevate their games to a higher level against the stiffest competition than Schauffele, who’s had some of his best results in the biggest events.
When X-man doesn’t have his best results is right before he wins, with finishes of 35-20-48-8 in the starts before each of his four victories, which should have those fretting about a T-14 result during which he never contended feeling better about his prospects this week.
This wasn’t an easy choice — and if your pre-tourney pick to win is named Bryson or Rory or Justin, I have no problem with it — but Schauffele has been gradually trending toward his first win in a year-and-a-half, and it’s certainly within reason to think it could happen this week.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Viktor Hovland (+2500)
He came up short this past Sunday, but that shouldn’t negate the fact that Hovland is the only player to make all five cuts since the restart. In fact, he’s finished top-25 in each of them and hasn’t posted a single round over par.
At some point, the bubble is going to burst for Hovland. He’s going to run out of gas and suffer an off week. For now, though, might as well keep riding him until it happens.
Brooks Koepka (+2800)
Guess how many other contestants in your OAD pool are going to pick Koepka this week. I’ll set the over/under at 0.5.
Fresh off a week when many were jumping on the Brooks bandwagon, presuming his social media trolling could awake his major championship persona, those people were burned when he failed to make the Workday cut.
We can use that to our advantage, though. Plenty of those people will be jumping off the bandwagon this week, at a tournament he wasn’t going to play until a late decision Friday afternoon. I’m an admitted Koepka truther and usually only like him at majors, but I think he’s undervalued this week, which should make him an intriguing play in all formats.
Patrick Cantlay (+1500)
As if everyone wasn’t already going to jump on the defending champion, he posted a final-round 65 on Sunday to finish in a share of seventh place. That’s now seven of the last eight at 17th-or-better for Cantlay, who is proving himself as one of the biggest “sure things” in golf — a guy who consistently shows up, week-in, week-out.
He’s a solid play for those leading (or close to it) in OAD pools, who want the easy paycheck, but he’s similarly strong for top-fives, top-10s and DFS lineups, especially cash games.
Cameron Champ (+15000)
Yes, I listed him as my outright winner last week, and no, he didn’t win, posting a final-round 78 to finish DFL of all those who made the cut. But … I’ve developed a little personal trend lately which is equal parts costly and infuriating.
I picked Webb Simpson to win at Colonial; he won the next week at Harbour Town. I picked Bryson DeChambeau to win in Hartford; he won the next week in Detroit. While a poor weekend might keep any potential Champ supporters from backing him this week, I’m going to chase my losses with more bets, based solely on my own disturbing recent pattern.
One player to finish top-five.
Tony Finau (+1100)
Hearts began fluttering around #GolfTwitter this past weekend, when a video from Finau’s longtime coach, Boyd Summerhays, went viral, showing Finau’s clubhead speed at 206 mph with a distance carry of 383 yards.
Of course, this is nothing new for one of the PGA TOUR’s most athletic players, but it’s a reminder that Bryson DeChambeau isn’t the only one who can bomb it off the tee — and perhaps more importantly, it’s a reminder that Bryson isn’t the only one who understands this distance advantage.
I’ve already suggested that with more success from DeChambeau this year, we could see other top players bulking up and swinging harder at some point, but maybe it’ll happen sooner rather than later.
It would certainly be fun to watch Finau start swinging out of his shoes, too, especially if it starts leading to more birdies and better results, as it has for Bryson.
One player to finish top-10.
Bryson DeChambeau (+163)
I’ll admit it: I don’t offer you guys enough sure things in my weekly preview columns. That’s just my nature. I’d rather suggest a +1000 bet for a top-10 and hope we can ride a four-day heater than tell you something you already know.
In this case, though, I’ll gladly choose the latter. As you already know, Bryson won the Memorial two years ago. As you already know, he won in his most recent start two weeks ago. And as you know, he’s posted seven consecutive top-10 results.
At such a low price, you’ll have to spend money to make money here, but sometimes the most obvious option can still be the best option.
One player to finish top-20.
Harris English (+500) and Lucas Glover (+400)
Once again, I’m grouping these two solid ball-strikers together for what should be yet another underrated, unassuming stripe show from the two of them.
English has cashed top-20 bets in four of his last five starts and eight of 13 this season. Glover has only done so once in his last four starts, but that includes a pair of T-21s and a T-23 as heartbreakers that left him one shot shy of cashing in each instance.
On a course which prioritizes consistent drives and approach shots over anything around or on the greens, expect each of these guys to have yet another good week.
One player to finish top-30.
Shane Lowry (+250)
Are you a fan of biorhythms and body clocks and things like that? Can’t say I’ve ever really thought much about when players play their best golf, but I’ve started considering it lately.
When Daniel Berger won at Colonial, it was his third career win during that exact week. Koepka contended at Harbour Town on the same date he’s usually winning the U.S. Open.
So why not Lowry, who won The Open during this week last year, is fresh off a final-round 69, has won before in Ohio and might own an advantage if summer rain again impacts this week’s event.
One player to finish top-40.
There aren’t many oft-forgotten Masters champions, but Schwartzel has largely become an afterthought nine years removed from his biggest victory. He’s not the same player he was then, but on any given week, he can spring to life and post a strong finish, as he did with a T-3 at last year’s Dunhill Links and a T-5 at Pebble earlier this year.
Despite MCing last week, he’s made the cut in seven of his last nine Memorial starts, with finishes of 35th-or-better in each of them, plus a couple of top-10s. This feels like a nice play on a course horse here.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
When Tiger tees it up Thursday, it will have been exactly five months since his most recent competitive round of golf. That fact alone should limit expectations for any other player, but of course, this is Tiger and this is Jack’s place and that bar is always going to be set pretty high.
Even though we’ve heard whispers about Woods’ game being in good shape, I don’t think the five-time winner of this event is going to make it six this week, but I do think he fits this category — a safe option for DFS lineups.
In fact, this feels like a week where we can almost script Tiger’s performance, so let’s try it: He’ll open R1 steady if not spectacular, hitting the ball well, but struggling to hole all those putts of mid-range length and invariably shoot 71, which is hardly a poor start after so much time away; in R2, he’ll appear a little more comfortable and play a bit more aggressively, which helps in some circumstances and hurts in others, resulting in a 70, which has him safely inside the cut line, yet needing a weekend charge to chase down the leaders; in R3, aided by an early tee time, his irons look dialed in, the game looks easy and even on a fan-free Muirfield Village, there’s a buzz in the air as he shoots up the leaderboard with a 65, tying his lowest career third-round total at this course.
In R4, though, he struggles to rekindle that Saturday magic, as putts that fell the previous day instead burn the edges, leading to a disappointing closing 70 which secures a top-10 finish and offers plenty of reason for optimism toward Tiger throughout the remainder of the summer. It should also qualify him as a strong DFS anchor this week.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
Since winning this tournament five years ago, Lingmerth has lost his full-time playing privileges on the PGA TOUR and is currently ranked just inside 1,000th in the world.
He did, though, just have his best result on the Korn Ferry Tour in nearly a year and if there’s one constant in Lingmerth’s world, it’s that he always shows up at the site of his lone victory.
Since that win, he’s finished 27th-15th-29th-41st in the past four years, which makes him a nice low-owned, low-cost play for another decent result this time around.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Abraham Ancer (+5000)
This is as inexact science as it gets, but (as I hinted at in the intro) I feel like those players who didn’t play at Muirfield Village last week might own an initial advantage on a course which should play so much differently this week.
Ancer is a guy I like in every format and I’ll take him for an outright wager — he fits the profile of recent up-and-coming winners at this event, like Cantlay and DeChambeau — but I especially like him for FRL, as he tends to get off to hot starts, including Thursdays of 64-69-67 since the restart.
One player who should beat comparable players.
I once asked Moore if there was one annual tourney where we should pick him every year and he barely hesitated before saying the Memorial would be the one. (By the way, when I’m back on the road covering PGA TOUR events on a regular basis, having every – or nearly every – player on the record with their answers to this question will be a project you’ll want to check out someday.)
This was right around halftime of the Super Bowl we were watching when my Patriots inevitably beat his Seahawks at the end – and let’s just say, I’m glad I didn’t save this question until after it was over; the extended Moore family are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but they weren’t exactly in a festive mood after that game.
Anyway … it’s been a bit of a struggle for Moore recently, with MCs in each of his last three starts, but eight top-25s in 14 career starts at this event could point to a player who’s very undervalued this week.
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
I originally had Jon Rahm scheduled for this section, but his final-round 64 has me doing a 180. Instead of fading him, I’m more inclined to believe his irons are now dialed in and he could be ready to go on a little run.
That round by Rahm made me pivot to Niemann, who continues to hit the ball like Ben Hogan and putt it like Hulk Hogan — even if his strokes gained putting number last week was somehow just above average.
I do have a sneaky suspicion that as soon as I start fading the youngster for his flatstick foibles, he’s going to burn me, but as someone who’s had some Niemann plays lately, I’ve gotten too used to seeing things like “Shot 2 174 yds to green, 6 ft 7 in. to hole” on his scorecard, only to invariably see a par pop up a few minutes later.
I think he’s super talented and one of the best young ball-strikers around, but he’s going to start getting a reputation for being part of the Keegan Bradley/Ben An/Corey Conners Putting crew. With full trepidation, I’m going to stay away until things turn around for him on the greens.
My favorite non-PGA Tour play of the week.
Korn Ferry Tour: Dylan Wu (+6600) and Brett Coletta (+6600)
This week on the Korn Ferry Tour is the TPC San Antonio Championship at the Oaks, not to be confused with last week’s TPC San Antonio Challenge at the Canyons.
Like on the big tour, KFT players will remain in the same location for a second consecutive week, but unlike at Muirfield Village, they’ll be playing a different course for this one. Even so, it’ll be tough not to look at players who contended — or at least came close — last week.
Wu is a guy who already has four finishes of seventh-or-better this year and is looking to follow fellow Northwestern product David Lipsky into the winner’s circle.
Coletta was the best Aussie on the board last week; if the wind blows in San Antonio this week, it’s always nice to have a guy from Down Under on the card.