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The Memorial Tournament: Odds to Win and Expert Picks

This Memorial Tournament won’t have the same look as years past as major renovations have taken place at Muirfield Village. In just three short months, Jack Nicklaus redesigned the golf course, hoping to provide a better test for the world’s best.

A stern test and one of the few invitationals left on the PGA Tour schedule, the Memorial Tournament and Muirfield Village Golf Club have been a staple on the professional golf calendar for the past couple of decades. Last year, the club had the honor of holding tournaments in back-to-back weeks. Muirfield Village played host to the Workday Charity Open the week before the Memorial due to COVID-19 scheduling complications.

As players were wrapping up their 2020 Memorial, instead of sitting back and relaxing, Nicklaus and his team had other things in mind. Bulldozing the front nine just as the final pairing made the turn, Nicklaus left no time wasted as he prepared for major renovations. In just three short months, Muirfield Village was transformed. It will be a major storyline this week as Nicklaus’s goal to “make the golf course better, not necessarily harder” will be put to the test.

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At Bovada, defending champion Jon Rahm leads the way at +1000, with an implied probability to win of 9.09 percent. If successful, a $100 bet on the Spaniard would net you $1,000 profit. Close behind is the 2018 Memorial champion, Bryson DeChambeau, at +1400. Collin Morikawa, the 2020 Workday Charity Open champion, sits at +1600. Alongside him is Justin Thomas, the man Morikawa defeated in one of the more dramatic playoffs in recent memory.

2021 Memorial Tournament Odds
Jon Rahm+1000
Bryson DeChambeau+1400
Jordan Spieth+1400
Rory McIlroy+1400
Collin Morikawa+1600
Justin Thomas+1600
Viktor Hovland+1800
Patrick Cantlay+2200
Xander Schauffele+2200
Hideki Matsuyama+2500
Tony Finau+2800
Corey Conners+3500
Matt Fitzpatrick+3500
Louis Oosthuizen+4000
Patrick Reed+4000
Sam Burns+4000
Scottie Scheffler+4000
Shane Lowry+4000
Cameron Smith+5000
Sungjae Im+5000

Odds as of June 1 at Bovada

How will a new-look Muirfield Village play?

This will be the biggest question coming into the Memorial Tournament. In a three-month process that culminated in early October, Nicklaus completely rebuilt his home. New bent grass was implemented into newly constructed greens. The majority of the greens will look different and break different, and should surely give players fits. Every fairway and every greenside bunker was rebuilt with some taking a completely new shape and position.

The most glaring change? The par-5 15th hole, famous for Tiger Woods’ second shot in the 2013 Presidents Cup and Bryson DeChambeau’s quintuple bogey in last year’s tournament. The hole has been completely redone, boasting new fairway bunkers, a new green complex and a more penal creek greenside. In total, I expect Muirfield Village to play a touch more difficult. Players will need to grow accustomed to the design changes tee-to-green and subtle nuances on the greens.

Can Jon Rahm find his way back into the winners circle?

It’s been an up-and-down 2021 for recent new father Jon Rahm. After winning the 2020 Memorial, Rahm ascended to world No. 1 for a brief moment. A battle between he, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas for world dominance unfolded. A dramatic victory at the BMW Championship was Rahm’s final blow before Johnson went on a fall rampage.

Since then, Rahm has failed to make his way into the winner’s circle. In fact, of those players ranked inside the top 10 in the official world golf rankings, only he and Xander Schauffele have been held winless in 2021.

He has been able to rise to the occasion in big tournaments thus far this season. He holds top-10 finishes at the 2020 Masters, Sentry Tournament of Champions and Players Championship. After a top-five finish at this year’s Masters and a top-10 finish at the PGA Championship, Rahm will look to change the narrative as he defends his title this week at Muirfield Village.

Course and Analysis:

A par 72, this Jack Nicklaus design located in Dublin, Ohio, has long favored ball strikers who are precise with their irons. Measuring nearly 7,400 yards, the cream tends to rise to the top of the leaderboard year in and year out. With seven out of the top 10 in the world playing this week, it would be no surprise if that comes to fruition yet again this year.

In addition to your typical ball-striking metrics, those players who are able to avoid the big numbers, while taking advantage of their scoring opportunities on the four par 5s, should like their chances. Past history shows that being an elite putter is not a necessity to get around this course. That will be something to look into as completely new greens should level putting to some extent. Based on the latest odds, these are my Memorial best bets.

PGA Memorial Tournament Expert Picks:

Patrick Cantlay (+2200 to win):

Patrick Cantlay and Jack Nicklaus designs go together like peas and carrots. A friend of Nicklaus, Cantlay has shown the knack to play his best golf on his hero’s properties. Two of his three wins on the PGA Tour have come on a Nicklaus design, those being the Zozo Championship at Sherwood Country Club in October and here at Muirfield Village in 2019.

Cantlay had a dream start to his 2021 campaign, posting a runner-up finish at the American Express and a top-three finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. After withdrawing from the WGC Workday Championship at the Concession Club due to dehydration concerns, Cantlay has not looked the same. That was until his last start, the PGA Championship, where a triple bogey on the 71st hole of his tournament negatively skews his strong showing.

On the heels of four consecutive missed cuts, Cantlay came to Kiawah Island looking completely out of sorts. A T-23 finish was on the shoulders of strong ball-striking as he gained 12.2 strokes on the field in the category. If he is able to bring those numbers to the Memorial, Cantlay should be right in the mix. The kicker will be his putter as he’s been cycling through different models for the better part of a month. Muirfield Village has been kind to poor putters in the past, and while I wouldn’t necessarily lump Cantlay in the same realm as someone like Jason Dufner on the greens, it’s comforting to know nevertheless.

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Xander Schauffele (+2200 to win):

After a strong early part of 2021, Schauffele has run into some troubles. Some may still have a sour taste in their mouths after a surprising missed cut at the PGA Championship. I implore you to forget about Schauffele’s chipping woes at the Ocean Course as I believe it is finally time that the world No. 5 gets the monkey off his back and captures his first victory since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Before the PGA Championship, Schauffele was seemingly trending in all the right directions. A podium finish at the Masters could have been much more if not for an inexplicable tee shot on the 70th hole of the tournament. He followed up his major disappointment with a top-15 finish at the Wells Fargo Championship. Schauffele has had issues to close of late, but coming in under the radar should do wonders for him.

He has a strong history at Muirfield Village, posting three top-15 finishes in four appearances. In last year’s Memorial, Schauffele started about as poorly as one could, opening with a first-round 6-over 78. He battled back over the next three rounds to finish at 1 over for the tournament. The main downfall of his week was his putter as he lost five strokes with the flat stick. Newly contoured greens may be a sight for sore eyes and could be the eventual difference-maker that pushes Schauffele over the finish line.

Patrick Reed (+4000 to win):

This number feels a touch too long for a player of Reed’s caliber. The 2021 Farmers Insurance Open champion has long been known for playing difficult golf courses well. Coming off a surprising missed cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge, this is a perfect opportunity to buy low on Reed and his world-class short game.

t wasn’t all that bad in Fort Worth. After opening with a 2-under 68, Reed shot 4-over 74 in the second round to miss the cut by one stroke. When looking at his first-round numbers alone, he was actually quite good, gaining nearly two strokes in SG: Approach and another three strokes in SG: Putting. If he is able to carry that form over to Muirfield Village, then a rebound should surely be in his future.

He has shown the knack for being able to bounce back after a prior week’s poor performance. After missing the cut at the American Express, Reed won the following week at Torrey Pines. A shocking missed cut at the Valspar Championship was the precursor to a T-6 finish at the Wells Fargo Championship a month ago. The Memorial could very possibly be one of those spots and at this number, I will gladly bet on that being the case.

Live Betting

Live Betting is arguably one of the most exciting and sometimes even profitable ways to bet on golf. If a player that you placed a pre-tournament bet on is out of the running at any point during the 2021 Memorial Tournament, don’t be afraid to hitch your wagon to a different horse to have some more stake in the tournament. 

By utilizing Strokes Gained metrics, we are able to make informed, analytical decisions that can help predict outcomes of tournaments. By combing through live odds, we are able to select those players whom we deem undervalued while the tournament is well underway.

These helpful pages will assist you in handicapping your golf wagers: 

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