The 2019 Memorial Tournament is sure to get most of the attention in the world of golf this week, as tournament host Jack Nicklaus get to welcome back five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods with Tiger now just three majors short of Nicklaus’ current major-winning record after his win in the 2019 Masters.
Woods may be turning up on the back of a missed cut in the USPGA Championship but, around a course he last won at in 2012, the cameras are sure to follow his every shot around the unique 7,392 yards par 72 Muirfield Village Golf Course that Nicklaus designed to test all the skills he thinks a golfer should possess.
The players know what to expect. Wide fairways mean there is plenty of room off the tee, but penal rough awaits those that stray off the short grass, whilst there’s also plenty of water hazards. The fairway is also where players need their ball to be if they’re to attack the flags with regularity on the smaller than average greens. Even then, they’ll still need to hit these fast and undulating putting surfaces in the right spots if they’re to set up genuine birdie chances.
The presence of a back-to-form Tiger Woods will take the focus away from some of the other players and most bookies have made Rory McIlroy favourite in front of the 15-time major champion. McIlroy could go close too, as he’s posted top-8 finishes in three of his last six visits to Muirfield and has been in cracking form for most of the season.
However, he looks a bit short at about 9/1, whilst Woods may have lost a little bit of focus after winning The Masters. Jordan Spieth is third favourite this week, but he surely isn’t hitting it straight enough to contest here, whilst Justin Thomas has yet to produce his best this season. Justin Rose is another to consider but the 2010 winner looks to have gone off the boil a little recently having failed to get his major preparations right this season.
That could open the door for Patrick Cantlay to pick up the biggest win of his career to date. The youngster has showcased his talents in finishing ninth at the US Masters and third at the USPGA and his fourth place here last year, after finishing just one-shot short of a three-man play-off, showed he has what it takes to conquer Muirfield.
Another in-form player that simply loves Muirfield Village is Matt Kuchar, whose form here since 2007 reads 13, 10, 5, 8, 2, 1, 15, 26, 4, 4, 13. His current form is also a model of consistency 2, 7, 12, 2, 8 and it will a major surprise if Kuchar isn’t towards the top of the leaderboard this week.
Tony Finau is another player that will be fancying his chances this week after playing well for second behind Kevin Na at the Charles Schwab. The tight fairways weren’t really in his favour at Congressional, and the wider fairways at Muirfield Village could see him go close this week after three top-13 finishes in his four visits so far.
Other players that also deserve a mention on past form at the Memorial Tournament include last year’s winner Bryson DeChambeau, but The Scientist’s experiments appear to be going wrong at the moment as he’s missed his last three cuts. Byeong-Hun An also warrants a second-look after finishing top-25 three-times but he’s another out of form at present, as is two-time runner-up Rickie Fowler.
That’s why the final place in this week’s betting strategy goes to Kyle Stanley, despite him missing the cut in the USPGA. He had finished eighth in his previous start and had posted a further two top-25s in his four previous tournaments. That suggests he could be in for a good week returned to a course where he has posted three top-six finishes in his last four visits.