Fantasy Golf Picks: 2017 The Memorial Tournament Predictions, Sleepers & Preview
The Memorial Tournament
Defending Champ: William McGirt
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The Memorial: Show Index
The Memorial Tournament Field
120 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make The Cut
We’re out of Texas and on to Ohio for the last tune up event for many of the game’s elite before the US Open. Sure, players will have one more opportunity to fine tune their games next week at the St. Jude Classic, but you’re not getting the same quality of field. I guarantee the galleries in Memphis won’t be seeing six of the world’s Top 10 - Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, and Adam Scott - or another hefty dose of the Top 25:
Justin Rose (Rose has decided to skip the event), Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Charl Schwartzel, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner, and Phil Mickelson. If St. Jude can draw a fourth of those names, I shall be stunned.
As a draw, The Memorial has a few things working in its favor. It’s the logical event for those serious about winning at the US Open in two weeks to keep their swings fresh. So that’s important. But, an even greater draw, Jack Nicklaus designed Muirfield Village and he’ll be on site for the event. If you didn’t know, players like hanging out with The Golden Bear. Plus, it’s an invitational tournament, so there’s the exclusivity that goes along with playing. That can’t hurt either.
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Since The Memorial is one of five non-Majors/WGCs to have invitational status (along with the Colonial, Heritage, Arnold Palmer, and Quicken Loans), the field is smaller than a regular TOUR event which generally features 144 or 156 players. With the cut rules being the same as those events, a higher percentage of the field will get to play the weekend - At least 59%. From a Fantasy standpoint, this means you can take more risks in your lineup and suffer fewer consequences. That applies for both season-long and Daily Fantasy. Considering the past three champions (McGirt, Lingmerth, and Hideki) were all first-time PGA winners, risk may be worth exploring.
Beyond hosting The Memorial every year, Muirfield Village has also played home to a bevy of large tournaments: 1986 US Junior Amateur, 1987 Ryder Cup, 1992 US Amateur, 1998 Solhiem Cup, and 2013 Presidents Cup. Jack’s course is the only venue to have welcomed the team trifecta too: Solhiem, Ryder, and Presidents Cups. Since most of those are from way back, the 2013 Presidents Cup is really the only event that will have relevance for players’ experience with this iteration of the layout. From that year, Phil, Spieth, Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, and Webb Simpson are all here representing the American contingent. From the international squad, Day, Scott, Charl, Hideki, Marc Leishman, Brendon de Jonge, and Graeme DeLaet will be in action this week.
Also, ten players competed in the EURO TOUR’s flagship event over the weekend at Wentworth and have jumped a quick flight back stateside:
Rose (T12), Tommy Fleetwood (MC), Russell Knox (MC), Shane Lowry (T6), Ross Fisher (T9), Luke Donald (T65), Byeong-Hun An (T24), Soren Kjeldsen (T30), Padraig Harrington (MC), and Peter Uihlein (T30). I wouldn’t hold the lack of turnaround time too much against them though. We’ve seen plenty of instances of players coming back from The Open Championship over the past few years and dominating at the Canadian Open.
Finally, we’ll get another peek at British amateur Scott Gregory. It’s Gregory’s first PGA event since this year’s Masters.
The Memorial Tournament Key Stats
The Memorial Tournament Course
Muirfield Village | Par 72 | 7392 Yards
Based on the differing styles of past champions, almost any skill-set of player can excel at Muirfield Village. There are common threads, though. Like hitting the fairway. Normally, that would favor the Kuchar/Kisner types, however, the fairways are very wide, so even bombers can find themselves in the short grass more often than not. Just don’t get stuck in the rough. That shit is thick. Like, US Open thick, another reason why so many players use The Memorial as the final piece of their US open prep.
If you’re not gaining strokes with your irons, you’re finished. Simple as that. Quality proximity on approaches, particularly long iron shots, will generate more birdie opportunities (Duh), but they will also keep you out of the treacherous green side sand traps. In total, 79 bunkers populate the grounds, however it’s the ones around the greens that will do the most damage. The hazards surrounding the greens produce some of the lowest proximities of any course in the world. So, the game plan is: Make birdies on the easy Par 5s, try to gain a few stokes on the Par 3s, and tread water on the lengthy Par 4s. There are six Par 4s measuring between 450-500 yards (with another at 447), that will do the majority the damage to the field. It’s not required to score on those holes, but you simply cannot start making crooked numbers. There are so many of them that bogey trains have a frequent schedule.
For corollary courses, all the Nicklaus layouts will provide a piece of the puzzle: PGA West (CareerBuilder), Montreux G&CC (Barracuda Championship), PGA National (Honda Classic), Glen Abbey GC (Canadian Open), and Harbour Town (with Pete Dye) but it’s The Masters that has the biggest crossover in results. However, players have stated the courses aren’t overly similar, so it’s likely due to both fields attracting such quality names. Elite players tend to win a lot. Shocking, I know.
The Memorial Tournament Picks (Yahoo Game)
Dustin Johnson & Shane Lowry - DJ’s played this event nine straight years, produced a T5 finish twice in the last six, and has only missed a lone cut. And that was before he started playing like vintage Tiger. You know, Tiger before the back problems and the glug, glug, vroom, vroom… Lowry MC’d in his only appearance in 2013, but has begun trending towards a win. He’s just keeping that info on the down-low for now. Always a better player in strong fields, the Irishman enters following a T6 at the BMW PGA Championship last week and owns second best rating on Par 4s from 450-500 yards (Trailing only Kyle Stanley) over his past 12 rounds. Lowry’s making the sixth most birdies compared to the field over his last 24 rounds as well. If he can simply harness his around-the-green game, and quit making so many fucking bogeys, surely, he’ll be in contention.
Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar,
Justin Rose, Kevin Chappell & Ryan Moore - Keeping things pretty chalky in the B-List, with a troika of former champs and a player on the ascent. Kuch has made nine cuts in a row at The Memorial, highlighted by a win in 2013, six Top 10s, and no finish worse than T26. If the course was designed by Pete Dye or Jack Nicklaus, you always play Kuchar… Hideki missed the cut last season following a win and a T5 in his first two appearances. The worry is on the greens at the moment, but that can flip quickly when you’re striking the ball cleanly and gaining strokes everywhere else… It’s a missed cut or top finish for Rose in Ohio - 2nd/MC/T8/T8/MC/1st/MC/2nd. I’m going to side with that upside… Finding the shortgrass off the tee is imperative, but all the players will tell you this is a second-shot course. And Chappell is one the best with his irons. Since a horrible stretch in February when he was shanking everything, Chappy has string together five consecutive outings gaining strokes on the field on approaches. Not just gaining a few, gaining massive amounts. In that time, he’s gaining an average of 4.83 strokes on the field just through his iron play. If he can come close to that number again, he’ll churn out an easy T10.
Byeong-Hun An & Tony Finau - Yes, it’s probably stupid not taking Jon Rahm in this spot. Actually, there’s no probably about it, it is stupid not taking Rahm right now. But I’m kinda stupid, so it works for me. Needing to catch up in the standings, I’ll have to gamble Rahm doesn’t win, and my pair of Tee-to-Green, shitty putting monsters can finally figure out the flat stick. Over past 12 rounds, Finau is 100th of 119 players in this field in SG: Putting. However, he’s 4th in SG: Tee-To-Green. Getting to the green is a consistent skill; putting can come-and-go at a moment’s notice. Hopefully this is the week he can just not lose strokes with his putter… Ditto for Benny An. He continues to crush from tee-to-green (7th in the field over his past 12 rounds) and from the key P4 distance (7th over last 36 rounds), and the putter has finally ignited in his past two PGA events. He gained strokes at the Wells Fargo and Byron Nelson, and, prepared to be blown away, he came T5 and T8. He’s close, and this has been spot where debut wins have occurred in the past.
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