By Michael McGill ( @MickSportsNews )
The PGA Tour rolls into Dublin, Ohio this week for the time honoured Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club, commonly known as Jacks Place.
Muirfield Village GC was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1974. It is a Par 72, 7265 yard course with 73 sand bunkers and 13 water hazards. Last year it ranked 19th most difficult from 51 courses played on the tour. The greens are Bentgrass. The Memorial Tournament was established in 1976 and has seen many great winners over those years.
Tiger Woods has won here on five occasions which includes three in a row from 1999-2001. His win in 2001 was by a whopping 7 strokes. Kenny Perry is next with 3 Victories in 1991, 2003 and 2008. Jack himself has been successful here on two occasions. His first win was in 1977 then again in 1984. His 1977 win gave him a winners cheque of US$45,000. This year the winner takes home US$1,116,000 from a prize pool of US$6,200,000. Other two time winners have been Hale Irwin, Tom Watson and Greg Norman.
This years field is once again choc full of World Class players. The Top 5 in betting are- 7/2 Tiger Woods, 17/1 Rory McIlroy, 22/1 Matt Kuchar, 22/1 Adam Scott and 26/1 Justin Rose.
The field would stand up well in any Major. Luke Donald, Keegan Bradley, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker and Rickie Fowler are just a few of the big names teeing it up this week. Then you have international players such as Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson, KJ Choi, Brendon De Jonge and Jason Day.
A lot of the crowd is sure to be found on the 18th hole which has room for 20,000 spectators around the green. It is the most difficult hole on the course and has 4 bunkers surrounding it. Two to the front of the green and two to the rear so you dont want to be missing the green on your second shot. So what does it take to win here? Looking at the past winners of the tournament they have all had one thing in common. Experience.
The Top players all play well here. You don’t find first timers fairing to well. Look at the last 6 winners- Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, Kenny Perry and KJ Choi. All great players and all with experience on the big stage. These guys are all great ball strikers as well.
Keeping the ball in play is also very important. Driving accuracy will take you a long way in this tournament. Past winners have all ranked highly in driving accuracy and ball striking. Past winners have also ranked highly in Greens in regulation stats, so keep this in mind when looking for the winner.
So now we come to our selections. There are several players who are coming into this tournament with good form and have also got good course form. None more so than our first selection.
Matt Kuchar 22/1
Thirteen starts this season with no missed cuts. Eight Top 25 finishes, five Top 10’s and a Win! Another fantastic season is under way for Matt.
He started the season in great style with T9th Hyundai Tournament of Champions, T5th Sony Open and then victory in the WGC Accenture Match Play in February.
Kuchar was a respectable T8th last month in The Masters Tournament and is coming into this event off a 2nd place in the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
This will be Matt’s eighth start at The Memorial. His first start was in 2002 when he finished T32nd. A year later he missed the cut. He didn’t return again until 2007 when he was 13th. He then chalked up a 10th in 2008, 5th in 2009, 8th in 2010 and 2nd in 2011. That’s some pretty good form!
Stats wise his game is looking good. 25th in strokes gained putting, 8th in scoring average, 5th in par 5 birdie or better, 14th in scrambling and 4th in 3 putt avoidance.
At 20/1 Kuchar represents an excellent each way bet.
Matt Every 150/1
My second selection this week is another Matt.
Matt Every is not in the same league as Matt Kuchar however there is a good chance he can show up this week at big odds.
The reason for selecting him this week is simple. He has had two Top 10’s this year. The first one was back in February at the Phoenix Open where he finished T9th. The other was a T4th last week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. So his confidence will be high heading into this week.
This will be his second start at The Memorial after finishing T6th last year. So that’s another positive for the week. He has good memories of this event.
If he can play like he did last week we can expect to see him up there on the leaderboard. Last week he hit 76% of greens in regualtion, was ranked 31st in ball striking and was 8 under par on the Par 4’s.
Confidence will be the key factor this week. If he gets off to a good start then anything is possible.
Good luck and good punting.