This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
the Memorial Tournament
Course: Muirfield Village Golf Club (7,543 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,674,000 and 550 FedExCup points
As the leaders made their way through the golf course on Sunday of the Memorial Tournament last year, the grounds crew was actively tearing up the greens on the holes they had just played. We will get our first look at the renovated Muirfield Village Golf Club this week, which is expected to challenge the best in the world even further. Some of the changes include rebuilding the bunkers, reconstructing the greens, adding over 140 trees in various places of the golf course. All in all, the course can play up to 100 yards longer. Last season two events were held on back-to-back weeks at Muirfiled Village. The first was the Workday Charity Open that saw Collin Morikawa defeat Justin Thomas in an epic playoff battle, then Jon Rahm won the Memorial Tournament the following week to reach No. 1 in the OWGR for the first time. All of those players just mentioned are back in the field this week, meaning that 11 of the top-15 players in the OWGR will be teeing it up in Dublin, Ohio. This is one of five tournaments on Tour that has invitational status, meaning the winner will receive a three-year exemption and the field will be down to just 121 players. For many of the top ranked players in the world this will be their final tune up before the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in a couple of weeks. Around half an inch of rain is expected to fall on the property on Wednesday, which should lead to good scoring early on at least. Temperatures will increase as the week goes on and wind is not expected to be a significant factor in any round.
2020 – Jon Rahm (-9)
2019 – Patrick Cantlay (-19)
2018 – Bryson DeChambeau (-15)
2017 – Jason Dufner (-13)
2016 – William McGirt (-15)
2015 – David Lingmerth (-15)
2014 – Hideki Matsuyama (-13)
2013 – Matt Kuchar (-12)
2012 – Tiger Woods (-9)
2011 – Steve Stricker (-16)
2010 – Justin Rose (-18)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Off-the-Tee
There might not be another course on Tour that puts as much emphasis on approach play as Muirfield Village. While there have been some changes this year, the fairways are typically pretty generous, but missing a green comes with a massive penalty. Last season's Memorial Tournament had the lowest scrambling percentage of any PGA Tour event last season. The second hardest was the Workday Charity Open held the week before at Muirfield Village as well. All things told, you have to have an excellent week with your irons and wedges if you hope to contend come Sunday afternoon. Over the last 10 years at this tournament, the average SG: Approach rank of the winner was 6.4. With brand new putting surfaces, and many greens that have been straight up reshaped, the greens may not quite reach their typical 13+ speed on the Stimpmeter. The unfamiliar surfaces should place even more importance on ball-striking on a course that has traditionally never required the winner to have a huge putting week. With over 100 yards added to the golf course, length may play more of an importance than usual, especially if it plays soft like it should early in the week. Some of the tees and bunkers have been strategically moved to protect the integrity of the lines you can take off the tees and the rough at Muirfield Village is no joke. Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest driver of the golf ball in the history of the game, so it makes sense that his tournament would require you to hit it both long and straight.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jon Rahm ($12,300)
Speaking of the best driver of all-time, Rahm may be the best driver of this generation. This season he ranks third in SG: Off-the-Tee and second in total driving. Rahm also leads the ball striking stat, and is 24th in SG: Approach and sixth in GIR percentage. Even at a slightly different course than what he saw when he won last season, it's hard to argue anyone being a better fit for Muirfield Village and what Jack wants to test in the that play his course.
Viktor Hovland ($11,400)
Hovland has a strong profile for Muirfield Village. His one weakness as we all know if he short game, but the thick rough around the greens will bring the skill gap closer together scrambling-wise. Not many are better from a ball-striking perspective, as Hovland ranks fourth in SG: Off-the-Tee, ninth in total driving, 22nd in SG: Approach, 27th in GIR Percentage, and ninth in SG: Tee-to-Green. He also leads the PGA Tour in scoring average and is second in birdie average. Hovland finished third at the Workday event last year.
Hideki Matsuyama ($10,900)
The Masters champion has a great record at Muirfield Village, with a win back in 2014 and four other top-25s. It's no surprise he has done well here considering his strong ball striking. Matsuyama ranks 19th in SG: Approach and 17th in SG: Tee-to-Green this season. He still tends to struggle with the flat stick at times, but everyone should be scratching their heads on the new surfaces this week.
Corey Conners ($10,500)
Even with the strength of the field this week, Conners is at an excellent number as possibly the best ball-striker on Tour. I've been in on the Canadian for the last couple months almost every week, and when you put up 15 top-25s in your last 20 starts it's kind of hard to argue with that strategy. Conners ranks eighth in SG: Off-the-Tee, fourth in SG: Approach, seventh in SG: Tee-to-Green, 12th in driving accuracy, seventh in GIR percentage, and 22nd in proximity to the hole.
Longer Shots with Value
Charley Hoffman ($9,800)
Hoffman's record at the Memorial leaves plenty to be desired, but he was never coming in riding the hot streak he is on now at age 44. Hoffman has finished inside the top-20 in eight of his last nine starts, including a T3 last week at Colonial. He is striking the ball so well right now, ranking 30th in SG: Off-the-Tee, fifth in SG: Approach, 14th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 28th in GIR percentage, and 16th in proximity to the hole. Hoffman is also scrambling and putting pretty well right now too, which is why he is No. 8 on Tour in SG: Total.
Keegan Bradley ($9,700)
Another veteran that is hitting the ball so well right now is Bradley. The St. John's product has finished top-30 in each of his last eight starts. He currently ranks 29th in SG: Off-the-Tee, eighth in SG: Approach, fourth in SG: Tee-to-Green, third in total driving, and 21st in GIR percentage. The only weakness in Bradley's game is the putter, but unfamiliar greens should play to his benefit. Bradley has a pair of top-8s at Muirfield Village.
Stewart Cink ($8,900)
Maybe the biggest surprise on the PGA Tour this season has been Cink's resurgence at age 48. He is one of just three players so far this season with multiple wins and he currently sits eighth in the FedExCup standings. Cink's iron play has been the main catalyst, as he ranks 18th in SG: Approach, third in GIR percentage, and 45th in proximity to the hole. He is also still able to get it out there, as evidence by his 26th ranking in driving distance this season. Muirfield Village has always been one of Cink's favorite venues, as he is 22-for-24 with six top-10s and 11 top-25s.
Doug Ghim ($8,600)
The former Texas Longhorn has shown already in his short career that he is a very strong iron player. This season Ghim ranks 11th in SG: Approach, 16th in GIR percentage, and eighth in proximity to the hole. He is also no slouch with a wedge, ranking 58th in SG: Around-the-green and 16th in scrambling. Ghim is coming off a T14 last week at Colonial, which is one of eight top-25s already this season for the 25-year-old.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
The strategy this week is pretty simple, load up on elite iron players. There more players that rank highly in SG: Approach/GIR percentage/Proximity that you can get on your team, the better. There is so much evidence that strong approach play is what define winners at Muirfield Village, and even with the renovations that will still be the case in 2021. If a player has good course history that is always a plus, but recent form and profile should play a bigger factor this week with the course changes. The heart of the field this week is between $9,000-$10,500.