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From one iconic PGA Tour venue to a tournament hosted by an icon of the game: Jack Nicklaus conceived of the Memorial Tournament as both a platform for top talents and a means of honoring the game's rich history. It has certainly been both. Muirfield Village has been in the PGA Tour rotation since 1974 and has seen many retouchings by Nicklaus' design company in an almost Augusta National-ian pursuit of course perfection.
The 7,392-yard, par-72 track Ohio course hosts its usual invite-only affair this week. Water is in play on more than half the holes. Most golfers will be able to reach all four of the courses par 5s in two shots. Fairways are much wider than we saw last week at Colonial, but fairway bunkering adds a slight challenge off the tee. Memorial's bentgrass greens are notoriously fast, rolling in excess of 12.5 on the stimpmeter.
The priority ranking of skills this week is clear: approach play, work on/around the greens, and play off the tee last. Drilling down further, in addition to the usual statistical suspects, look at approaches from 150 to 200 yards, greens in regulation, and proximity to the hole as you make your picks.
Creme de la creme
Hideki Matsuyama: $10,000
Certainly a horse for the course, after Dustin Johnson, there's no top-tier play as appealing as Matsuyama this week at his $10,000 price tag. As DJ is both the highest-priced player and will be the highest owned, he's a fade in this contrarian piece. In three tries at the Memorial, he's won and finished fifth (in addition to a bizarre blow-up to miss the cut last year). Recent form includes top-25 showings at the Masters and The Players. Matsuyama is eighth on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee, 19th in strokes gained: approach, and seventh in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He's also third in birdies and stellar from the 125 to 175-yard range.
Adam Scott: $9,800
Scotty arrives in Ohio with top-10 finishes in two of his last three starts (Masters, Players). He hasn't played the Memorial since 2014 when he finished fourth. A cut-maker in five of his six Memorial starts, the Australian has shown an aptitude for Jack's track. 26th in strokes gained: tee-to-green, and 15th in strokes gained: total, Scott has been predictably sound with woods and irons this season. Ninth in birdies, too.
Kevin Chappell: $7,800
A winner at the Valero Texas Open two starts ago, Chappy has made his last six cuts. A second-place showing at Muirfield Village in 2013 is his best work in seven tries. Approach play is the strength of Chappell game, and he's presently 37th in strokes gained: approach. He's 37th in strokes gained: tee-to-green and 38th in greens in regulation. Solid play, attractive price, proven aptitude at Muirfield Village.
Phil Mickelson: $7,700
While he should be priced at $8,000 or more, Phil Mickelson bears a $7,700 price tag this week. Take advantage. Mickelson has finished inside the top 30 in three of his last four starts. He has a pair of top-15 finishes in his last 6 tries at the Memorial and finished tied for 20th last year. Mickelson is 24th in strokes gained: approach and 21st in strokes gained: total. 15th in birdies, third in eagles, making him an attractive GPP play.
Marc Leishman: $6,900
Since his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Marc Leishman has made four of five cuts. More compelling, however, from a course form standpoint, Leish has notched top-15 finishes in his last two starts. Leishman is 23rd in strokes gained: tee-to-green and 14th in strokes gained: total this season. He does well with approaches from 150 to 200 yards and is 19th in scoring average.
Steve Stricker: $6,900
On a mission to improve his OWGR and make it into the U.S. Open field, Steve Stricker is an attractive play at $6,900. Strick is a hot hand, tying for seventh at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational thanks to a ridiculous final-round 63. His recent work also includes a tie for 16th at the Masters. Oh, and he tied for sixth at the Memorial just three years ago. Always solid with the flatstick, Stricker is 16th in strokes gained: putting. He's 24th in strokes gained: total and 22nd in scoring average this season.