The Memorial Tournament Betting Preview

Tiger Woods by myophoto, on FlickrCreative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License by myophoto
With wins in three of his last four starts, Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour this week to defend his title at Muirfield Village and the Memorial Tournament.
 

2013 Memorial Tournament Fact Sheet

  • Course: Muirfield Village
  • Location: Dublin, Ohio
  • Yardage: 7,386 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Tiger Woods
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and Justin Rose

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 12:30 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday –  12:30 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

Key Storyline This Week
 
This one’s obvious, isn’t it? Woods is looking for his fifth win of the season, something he hasn’t done since winning six times back in 2009, and keep in mind that back then when he won the Memorial, it was only his second win of the season. The start he’s had to his campaign, although not without controversy, is the kind the season that we came to expect years ago and there’s no reason to think that he’s going to slow down any time soon. If that’s not enough, Muirfield Village is considered a “Tiger Track”, with five wins, a third, T-3, T-4 and three other top-25 finishes, he’s the logical favourite this week. If you’re looking for something non-Woods related, everyone is preparing for the U.S. Open at Merion in a couple of weeks and the field is loaded as usual for the Memorial, with the only absences from the top-10 in the world rankings being Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen.
 
Muirfield Village
 
Muirfield Village was the vision and construction of Jack Nicklaus, first opening for play in 1974 and since that opening, Nicklaus has constantly tweaked the design to keep it relevant with changes in technology. The course was a beast in the mid-70’s too, playing at just over 7,000 yards, with Roger Maltbie coming away victorious in the inaugural event in 1976 after beating Hale Irwin in a playoff. Maltbie’s winning score of even par, which was 32 strokes better than last place finisher Leonard Thompson, made it obvious to the players that they had to be at their best the week of the Memorial to have any chance. The course has consistently ranked inside the top-25 in America as ranked by Golf Digest, and is currently sitting at number 14 in the rankings released earlier this year. In addition to the Memorial, the course will also play host to the President’s Cup in the first week of October.
 
The key stretch of holes will be the final three, especially after the much talked about re-design that Nicklaus performed on the 16th two years ago, which has now made the 215 yard par-3 the hardest hole on the course in each of the last two events. 17 and 18, two medium length par-4’s, were always two of the more difficult on the layout, but the additions to the 16th make the final three holes one of the toughest finishing stretches in all of professional golf. Geoff Shackelford of Golf Digest took a look at the new hole going into last year’s event:
 

 
Of course, the 16th was also the site of one of last year’s most memorable shots, as Woods managed to hit a ridiculous flop shot and hole out for his second consecutive birdie in Sunday’s final round. After another birdie on the 18th, Woods was able to win the event by two shots over Andres Romero and Rory Sabbatini.
 

 
Thoughts on the Favourites

    • Tiger Woods: We’re pretty much at that point of a few years ago where Woods is such an overwhelming favourite, that you can get good value everywhere else, and he’s almost not even worth betting unless he runs into some bad form. No more getting him at 12-1 like we did a few months ago at the Farmers. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be in the mix at the end of the week, but the price isn’t there at roughly 2-1, and realistically, he won’t win every week.
    • Rory McIlroy: McIlroy is coming off of a missed cut at Wentworth, which I think is causing his price to be higher than it should be, but that’s good news for people who like his chances this week. Finished tied for tenth in 2010 and had a solo fifth in 2011 before missing the cut here last year when he fired a second round 79.
    • Adam Scott: The reigning Masters champ hasn’t been playing much, which really isn’t a surprise as he doesn’t usually play a full schedule anyway, but his results at Muirfield Village have been hit and miss. He had back-to-back top-5’s in 2006 and 2007, but in his other five appearances, he hasn’t finished better than a tie for 29th. Keep in mind that he usually plays better coming off of a break, with his stroke average being more than half of a stroke better when he’s taken more than two weeks off compared to playing in the previous week.
    • Matt Kuchar: Five consecutive top-15 finishes, including a runner-up in his last appearance in 2011. In those five events, only three of those twenty rounds have been over par. Combine that with the fact that he’s coming off a runner-up last week, and you can see why he’s listed the way he is.
    • Justin Rose: If you think Scott is hit and miss here, take a look at Rose’s finishes since 2004: 4th-T75-T14-T2-MC-1-MC-8. That’s a lot of variance, including his win back in 2010, which isn’t something he’s used to since his consistency is usually his hallmark. Strangely, he’s coming off of a missed cut and a T50 in his last two weeks, ending his run of 14 consecutive top-25 finishes.

Suggested Plays
 
Rory McIlroy (Best Odds 16-1 at bet365)
I’m ignoring the missed cut last week at Wentworth, and the one here last year simply because I don’t think you should be able to get a player of McIlroy’s talent at 16-1. Prior to that missed cut, he had four consecutive top-25’s and his game looked to be in order. He kinda got the short end of the stick with the weather last week, so I think he’s a good play this week.
 
Lee Westwood (Best Odds 35-1 at Betfair)
It’s the first time back at Muirfield Village since 2003, but he’s had success in the Ohio area before, with three top-10’s at the Bridgestone. He’s on a run of five consecutive top-10’s after last week at Wentworth, and probably should have won that event if he could have hit any putts on Sunday.
 
Rickie Fowler (Best Odds 66-1 at Spreadex)
Everyone remembers the 84 he fired in Sunday’s final round last year when he played with Tiger Woods, but I don’t think he’s the type of guy to be affected by that kind of thing. That 84 caused him to finish tied for 52nd, but outside of that he’s got a T-22 and a runner-up at the Memorial. He hasn’t had a ton of success recently, but it’s an easy play at that kind of price.
 
Zach Johnson (Best Odds 67-1 at BETDAQ)
Johnson finally had a top-10 last week, which was his first since the Open Championship last year, and I’m banking on seeing him near the top of the board again this week. In his post-round interview on Sunday, he mentioned that the third round at the PLAYERS was the only thing that pushed him down the board, and he’s right, as that 76 killed him. He’s getting back into form, and I think an each-way bet is the way to go here with Johnson.
 
Hunter Mahan (Best Odds 90-1 at BETDAQ)
After missing three consecutive cuts, Mahan has gotten it back a little bit in the last two weeks. With three top-20’s here in his career, Mahan seems like a solid play. He’s my longshot play of the week.

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