We are coming off another highly profitable tournament at the Charles Schwab Challenge where Sam Burns pulled off a wild comeback on Sunday.
Burns came back from seven strokes down to win in a play-off over Scottie Scheffler and cash us a very nice 30-1 ticket on him in the process.
That was our second outright winner in a row and third in four weeks.
We now turn our attention to the Memorial, which features a loaded field and we will look to cash our third outright winner in a row.
This week features Muirfield Village Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus design. Known as “Jack’s Place” after its aforementioned designer, Muirfield Village demands elite ball-striking — Nicklaus’s specialty.
Similar to last week it is a heavily tree-lined course and the greens are small and surrounded by bunkers. There will be an emphasis on players who hit long and straight plus those who have a reliable recovery game.
It is going to take a combination of accurate driving, solid approach shots, good around-the-green play, bunker skills and bentgrass putting to contend at Muirfield this week.
Statistics to Look At
As a result, this week we are placing a premium on players who excel at hitting fairways and greens and have success scrambling around the green.
This week the key metrics that our model is using to compile our portfolio are: Strokes-Gained: Approach, Strokes-Gained: Par 4’s 400-450, Good Drive Percentage, Greens in Regulation, Strokes Gained: Around The Green, Strokes-Gained: Par 5’s, Sand Saves, Putting 5-10 Feet, Putting 10-15 Feet.
2022 Memorial Tournament Outright Winner Picks, Odds
If it wasn’t for his around the green play, Viktor Hovland could very easily be the No. 1 player in the world right now.
He is an elite ball striker, ranking second in this field in strokes gained on approach and third in total strokes gained ball striking. He is also third in par 4 scoring average and his elite long- and mid-iron shots suit this course perfectly.
However, he is 205 out of 205 in strokes gained around the green and it’s not even close — losing more than 15% more strokes than the next closest.
The good news is he actually gained strokes putting the last two weeks, including picking up four strokes putting in each of his last two starts.
Hovland is too talented to not break through soon and his ball striking alone should set him up for a top 20 finish — if he can avoid losing strokes around the green again he has a great chance to get his first win on U.S. soil this season.
We have seen lots of young players get their first PGA win at the Memorial and Will Zalatoris could very easily be the next one to be shaking Jack Nichlaus’s hand after his first win.
As I mentioned above, Viktor Hovland is the second-best ball striker in this field. The No. 1 rating belongs to Zalatoris.
He is No. 1 on the entire Tour in SG: Approach-the-Green and SG: Tee-to-Green, a truly elite ball striker. He is also ranked No. 5 on Tour in greens in regulation, which is second to only Jon Rahm in this field.
Zalatoris is coming off a missed cut, but I give him a mulligan for that after a very emotional PGA Championship where he came up just short of getting his first win in a playoff loss to Justin Thomas.
Two weeks ago, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler also missed a cut for the first time in seven months and afterward he said that it was a blessing in disguise and having a few days off helped refocus him. One week later, he nearly won at Colonial, losing to Sam Burns in a playoff.
I envision a similar bounce-back performance from Zalatoris this week — before his missed cut last week he had four top-six finishes in his last six starts and his elite ball striking is suited perfectly for success at Muirfield this week.
His only weakness is his putting stroke, which has looked downright ugly lately. But Zalatoris’ ball-striking is so good that he only needs to putt to the field average to contend.
Zalatoris has shown his mettle against fields just as tough as this with two runner ups in majors, so he won’t flinch against this field.
If he can avoid losing strokes putting, we love his chances to be in one of the final pairings come Sunday.
Hideki Matsuyama has been the most unpredictable player on Tour as of late.
One week he says he is injured and plays well, then the next he says he is healthy and plays miserably. There is inherent risk and variance backing him, but there is tremendous upside as well.
Matsuyama already has two wins this season and he has historically played well at Muirfield Village — the site of his first career win on Tour.
Nicklaus designs reward golfers who have accuracy with their long irons and that is the best part of Matsuyama’s game. He is in the top three in the field in par 5 scoring average, par 4 scoring average and strokes gained on the approach, so he is the full package this week stylistically.
Like Zalatoris, his weakness is with the putter, but his iron game is so elite that as long as he can avoid losing multiple strokes on the green, he will be in contention come Sunday.
Patrick Reed’s form for the majority of this season has been horrendous so his season-long stats are skewed. However, he has finally gotten into some solid form gaining 6 and 6.5 strokes from tee-to-green over his last two starts.
He decided to ditch his PXG driver and went back to the one he used during his heyday and it seems to have been a good decision for him.
Reed has had success at Muirfield Village in his two starts here — finishing 10th in 2020 and fifth last year — so his course history is certainly there.
Historically, the mercurial Reed has been at his best on bentgrass greens and we’ve seen him have a lot of success on that surface the past two weeks.
He is a strong player around the green (55th strokes gained) and out of the sand (15th in saves), and he can make his putts (32nd in strokes gained). Those are three of the key metrics we are prioritizing most this week.
Reed is a veteran with nine wins on Tour and his skillset and course history both set him up nicely as a great value play this week.