Last year we didn’t enjoy one week of golf from Jack’s Place, we got two. The enforced lockdown in spring led to some tournaments being cancelled, others postponed, and others created. Amid all that confusion the PGA Tour found itself enjoying an unprecedented double visit inside a month to Dublin, Ohio at Muirfield Village. The first week was the Workday Charity Open, the second was back to normal: the Memorial Tournament. The history of the event stretches back to 1976 and everything about it is a celebration of the great Jack Nicklaus: He hails from the region, he built the course, he performs hosting duties, he won the second edition in 1977, and then again in 1984. It’s a popular stop and since last year there have been changes.
Muirfield Village Golf Club
Named after the scene of his first British Open triumph, this Nicklaus layout complies with all of his standard design principles. He likes to offer width from the tee box, but deceptively so: One side of the fairway will always offer a better line into the green. He then shapes the putting surfaces so that the four hole locations fully test the field’s control of distance. The final factor centers on those green: They are super-swift, but note that this was not the case for the Workday Charity Open last summer. In order to create some kind of differentiation, they were kept in check that week and then allowed to run fast later in the month.
There is another important consideration ahead of this week because as soon as the last putt dropped, a renovation project began. Every green was reconsructed with new bent grass and significant re-contouring (indeed, only four greens retain similarity with the past), three tournament tees were added ahead of last year and another five are now in operation, the fairways have been resurfaced, and the bunkers rebuilt and often modified. Just a few tweaks here and there, in other words (not).
Ahead of making the changes, Nicklaus said: “All courses are in continual evolution and Muirfield Village has been that way, but it is intrinsically the same golf course.” It will be intriguing to see what the field make of such extensive renovation. One constant is likely to be the advantage to faders. Tiger Woods said: “Over the course of my career I’ve done well on Nicklaus courses. I’ve always felt the high fade or just high shots in general are suited on them. I’ve always hit the ball high and that has always been advantageous.”
The weather for Dublin, Ohio has distinct potential for disruption. Every day has a forecast 40 percent chance of rain with thunderstorms also expected Thursday through Sunday. The wind is unlikely to get up above 10 MPH which is a further problem because it won’t drive that bad weather through the region. Temperatures will rise all week from high 70s to mid 80s.
Past Champions in the Memorial Tournament
It didn’t take long for the cream to rise to the top at Muirfield Village. Between those two wins for Nicklaus he was joined on the honors board by Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd and Hale Irwin. Shortly after his second triumph, Curtis Strange, Greg Norman twice, Paul Azinger and Tom Lehman would be victorious.
Either side of 2000 Tiger Woods was dominant, winning three times in succession and adding another two successes in 2009 and 2012. When they got the chance Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Fred Couples and, on no less than three occasions, Kenny Perry grabbed hold of the trophy.
In recent years there has been much international truimph, with wins for KJ Choi (2007), Justin Rose (2010), Hideki Matsuyama (2014) and, last year, Jon Rahm, plus rather more unexpected fun for the Swedes Carl Pettersson and David Lingmerth in 2006 and 2015. Prior to Rahm’s win, however, William McGirt, Jason Dufner, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay flew the home flag for four consecutive years.
The yardage can be stretched to 7,543 (up nearly 90 yards) with a par of 72. In the 2019 tournament, and also at the Workday Open last year, 19-under 269 was the winning score, but before that the previous eight winners needed between 272 and 279 shots – and the big number was repeated by Jon Rahm when he won by three last July. Nicklaus tracks are often called “second shot” layouts so look for strong Strokes Gained Approach and/or Greens in Regulation numbers. Winners here also need to cash in on the par-5s. If a player on your radar has little course experience don’t be afraid to go looking at performance on other Nicklaus tracks (the likes of PGA National, Harbour Town, Glen Abbey, Sherwood, Montreux, Valhalla).
Here’s an entirely FREE lineup for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|Player #1||C. Morikawa||$10,400|
|Player #2||P. Cantlay||$9,500|
|Player #3||G. Woodland||$7,900|
|Player #4||K. Streelman||$7,500|
|Player #5||M. Wallace||$7,400|
|Player #6||R. Henley||$7,200|
Remaining cash $100
Collin Morikawa ($10,400) It’s a tricky business, then. Do we count course form this week or not? I will continue to factor it, but ultimately there are precious few in the field with no experience of the track, so everyone is pretty much in the same boat and, as such, good course form still counts for a little. However, I will add riders to all that follows. In Morikawa’s case, I like that he won when the set-up was different for the Workday Charity Open and then made the cut a fortnight later. He’s had limited exposure, in other words, and it was different enough not to have settled patterns in his mind. Eight top 20s in his last 12 starts is persuasive, too.
Patrick Cantlay ($9,500) Finally rediscovered his scoring touch at the PGA Championship after missing four consecutive strokeplay cuts. Indeed, at one point in the final round at Kiawah Island he looked like he might set a decent clubhouse target. There is lovely symmetry to his Muirfield Village record: top 30, top 10, win, top 10, top 30. So what comes next? I like that he has three top seven finishes at Nicklaus design Harbour Town and was a winner of last October’s Zozo Championship at Nicklaus’ Sherwood creation.
Gary Woodland ($7,900) The unlikely benefactor of Rory McIlroy getting coach Pete Cowen over from England – because he also helps Woodland and has righted a few swing wrongs. T–6 in the Texas Open, T–5 at the Wells Fargo Championship and T–14 in the PGA Championship makes for nice form, and now he returns to a track where he is 9-for-11 and has six top 25 finishes.
Kevin Streelman ($7,500) A fine T–8 at the PGA Championship, snug in-between top 30s at Quail Hollow and Colonial, and ahead of a return to a fond hunting ground. He’s made his last seven weekends when visiting Jack’s Place and, in all, he owns six top 20 finishes on the layout.
Matt Wallace ($7,400) The Englishman has chutzpah. At the moment, not quite as much as Ian Poulter, but he’s built of similar stuff. He’s also churning out the weekend finishes in this first full term on the PGA Tour. He’s on a run of 7-for-8 and has twice run close for the win. He played the course for the first time last year, finishing T–39 in the Workday Charity Open and then added T–4 when it all speeded up for the Memorial.
Russell Henley ($7,200) Henley is a big fan of the Nicklaus design at PGA National (8-for-9 including a win in 2014). He was also fourth at Sherwood in last year’s Zozo Championship. He was T–15 the only time he played Montreux and he’s had two top 10s at Harbour Town, including this year. He also made the top 10 on debut at Muirfield Village and was T–7 in last year’s Workday Charity Open.
Now what do you get if you sign up now for $99?
- One week of our articles for free to test us out and then continued all-access to every sport that we do for a year after that!
- Check out another fully different line up for this PGA Tour event including a sneaky $6,300 pick.
- Different options to prepare for breaking news if and when it happens.
- A couple of good alternative picks to help you build out GPP options based around not one but two CORE lineups.
Here’s Another Alternate Lineup For the Memorial Tournament
|Player #1||V. Hovland||$9,900|
|Player #2||T. Finau||$9,200|
|Player #3||B. Horschel||$8,100|
|Player #4||M. Leishman||$7,800|
|Player #5||S. Cink||$7,500|
|Player #6||M. Kuchar||$7,400|
$100 leftover salary
Viktor Hovland ($9,900) He had his problems with Muirfield Village last year (notably closing the Memorial 77-79) but he was T–3 at the Workday Charity Open and carded a second round 66 in the Memorial. He’s also just a bit of a cut-making monster these days: He’s played four rounds at a strokeplay event in all but one event since the first week of March last year.
Tony Finau ($9,200) He’s made 18 top 30 finishes in his last 25 starts which is pretty good all on its own really. But nice guy Tony also really likes Muirfield Village, going 5-for-6 with four finishes of T–13 or better. And also, the added length? Not going to bother him. He’s as laid back as they come. He’ll be chilled about the changes.
Billy Horschel ($8,100) Hungry Billy wants to play the Ryder Cup and he needs to keep playing really, really good golf because the fight for this year’s Team U.S.A. is a really tough one. Horschel has played the weekend in 21 of his last 24 strokeplay starts, that run also includes victory in the WGC Dell Match Play. He’s 6-for-8 at the course, with five top 20 finishes, including in each of his last three appearances.
Marc Leishman ($7,800) The Aussie didn’t think much of the greens being slowed for the Workday – he missed the cut. He righted that later in July last year by playing all four rounds of the Memorial and he’s 11-for-12 in all at the event, a superb return. He missed the weekend at Kiawah Island but was in lovely form before that with three individual top 30s and a win in the pairs event with Cam Smith.
Stewart Cink ($7,500) Last time the veteran played a Nicklaus track he lapped the field, winning The Heritag by four shots when still on the bridle. It was a third triumph on that Nicklaus track and he likes Muirfield Village too. In fact, he’s missed just two cuts in his last 24 visits stretching back to 1996.
Matt Kuchar ($7,400) An absolute machine at the course. From 2007 to 2018 he went 10-for-11 at finishing in the top 20 with seven of them top 10s including second in 2011 and a win 12 months later. This year he has been third at the WGC Dell Match Play and landed three top 20s since then. Phlegmatic enough to deal with changes.
Other Player Options For the Memorial Tournament
• Justin Thomas has compiled five top 20s returns from his last six visits to Muirfield Village, including play-off defeat in the Workday Charity Open.
• Beware China’s Haotong Li. He might be a two-time European Tour winner and third placed finisher at the 2017 British Open, but he’s made one cut in 11 starts and was T–56 in the exception. He’s struggling right now.
• Charley Hoffman has made the cut in his last 10 starts and he’s in even better form that that: eight of them have been top 20s including a fast-finishing third last week at Colonial.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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