The Confidence Factor: Memorial

Big boy field in action this week at Jack’s place outside Columbus.

As always, I’ll add my picks on Wednesday just after lunch.

(Ed: Picks added 1:20 pm Wednesday; DFS picks added 3:50 pm Wednesday)

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide

Muirfield Village Golf Club

Dublin, Ohio

 

Muirfield Village Golf Club Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,392
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bentgrass; 5,000 sq. ft. on average
Stimpmeter: 13′
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass, rye at 3″
Bunkers: 78
Water Hazards: 13
Architects: Jack Nicklaus & Desmond Muirhead (1974)
Purse: $8.9 million/$1.602 winner/500 FEC Points
Defending Champion: Jason Dufner (-13, 275)
Fact of the Week: Kenny Perry is the only player to do the Colonial-MVGC double (2003).

 

Notes:

  • Invitational field of 120.
  • Top 70 and ties will play the weekend.
  • Winner receives a three-year exemption.

 

2017-18 Winners

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)

 

The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM and contains plenty of angles on the track and those who have aced this exam. Take a look here: 

You need course form? Read the above.

You need keys to victory? Read the above.

You need course preview? Read the above.

Every week.

Every column.

Previous Champions last 10 years

*- playoff

x- first-time winner on TOUR

Year Winner Total (Par-72)
2017 Jason Dufner 275 (-13)
2016 x- William McGirt* 273 (-15)
2015 x- David Lingmerth* 273 (-15)
2014 x- Hideki Matsuyama* 274 (-14)
2013 Matt Kuchar 276 (-12)
2012 Tiger Woods (5x) 279 (-9)
2011 Steve Stricker 272 (-16)
2010 x- Justin Rose 270 (-18)
2009 Tiger Woods (4x) 276 (-12)
2008 Kenny Perry (3x) 280 (-8)

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 268; Tom Lehman, 1994
Course Record: 61; John Huston, 1996
Defending Champion(s): Tiger Woods 1999-2001
Multiple Winners: Six; Woods (5x), Perry (3x)
First TOUR Win: William McGirt (last) 2016; seven all-time in 42 events.
First Win in First Appearance: Hideki Matsuyama (last) 2014
Low Round Last Year: 65; Jason Dufner shot 40% of them in the first two rounds.
Rookies of Note Last Year: Patrick Cantlay, Grayson Murray T35;
Odd Fact: 25 of the 42 events have been delayed by weather.

 

 My Favorite Section: The 54-Hole Graveyard

These players either had the outright lead or co-led after 54 holes. This trend is following us throughout the month of May.

 

  • 2017: Daniel Summerhays led by three and shot 78 (T10).
  • 2016: McGirt was one of three co-leaders but the only one to get into the playoff. Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland both finished T4.
  • 2015: Justin Rose was beaten by three shots in the final group by David Lingmerth. Rose was then beaten on the third playoff hole.
  • 2014: Bubba Watson led Scott Langley by one and finished third. Langley shot 79 to finish T28.
  • 2013: Matt Kuchar led by two, shot 68 and won by two.
  • 2012: Spencer Levin led Rory Sabbatini by one. Tiger Woods posted 67 to win, coming from four shots behind. Levin (75) was T4 and Sabbatini (72) cashed T2.

Looks like there’s enough pressure coming down the stretch to hit small-ish greens and keep the ball out of the tree line. If there’s no weather on the weekend, the greens should be lightning as well.

 

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament; LTO= LAST TIME OUT; LW= Last week; LY= Last year this event. I’m tired of typing all that out!

Justin Rose: He broke his maiden here in 2010 and lost a three-shot lead in 2015 so he’s been on both sides of the tracks. Hit it pure last week and has the class to go where only Kenny Perry dares to tread. With six top-10 finishes from eight weekends at MVGC, I’m not exactly going out on a limb. Why should I?

Rory McIlroy: He played in the final group last week at Wentworth but was knocked out by soon-to-be Ryder Cup teammate Francesco Molinari. That should be the exact sniff he needed to get it together this week on a course where he’s gone close before but never made it across the finish line. He was second in SG: putting the last time he played here and was T4. Looks a perfect storm…

Dustin Johnson: Enters the week lightly raced, as usual, this time of year but this year he’s not knocking off the rust from a back injury. His 75% is really, really good and with four Par-5 holes, he’s probably the safest play in the field this week. His metrics are off the charts, unsurprisingly.

Justin Thomas: I don’t think anyone has been worse than I have keeping tabs on Thomas so I’m just chucking him into the top five each week and pretending I’m smart. I think that’s the point; he’s a wonderful player so don’t over-think it.

Tiger Woods: For those of you who read this regularly will know that I don’t waste your time pandering Woods if he’s not worthy. I’m not click-driven so I don’t care if you read or not so thanks for reading Mom! Woods will get serious consideration across the board in every format this week because he’s earned it. It tends to be feast-or-famine with the large cat but after his tease at TPC Sawgrass, this is the PERFECT landing for the next step: winning.

Branden Grace: Smoldering at the moment as he backed up T3 at Trinity Forest with T5 at Wenworth last week. The only shocking part of his T5 last week was it didn’t include a 62 on the card. He’s 14th SG: total and 4th SG: putting. First trip to MVGC since playing 2012-14 but he had never played Trinity Forest!

Patrick Reed: He rattled off six top-10 finishes before T41 at THE PLAYERS. I’d expect him to be fresh and his short game to do the work again this week.

Matt Kuchar: Other than Woods, I’d suggest he’s the hands-down course horse this week. Unlike Woods, his recent form concerns me as he broke a streak of 30 cuts made at Trinity Forest and backed that up with ho-hum T32 at Colonial. His record says he’s automatic this week but his form suggests otherwise. Nobody said this would be easy but he’s earned the benefit of the doubt from me.

Charl Schwartzel: He’s taken the chance to replace Grace at the Zurich Classic and has run with it. He’s hit the top 10 in three straight on TOUR and 9/10 at MVGC.

Jordan Spieth: I swung and missed on the Dallas-Fort Worth combo so yeah. The perfect greens at Colonial couldn’t coax his putter back to action and he knows those surfaces inside-and-out. I don’t think the second-fastest greens on TOUR (his words), weather delays, etc. are going to get him out of his funk this week but he’ll hit enough greens to have a chance.

Marc Leishman: He should be ready to bounce back after losing in match play to Wise at TF two weeks ago. He’s landing in a soft spot as he’s played the weekend in eight of nine at MVGC, including the last seven he’s played. His last 12 rounds here are 72 or better.

Emiliano Grillo: Hot. This is a recording. Of his eight rounds here, five are in the red. He gave it a run last week at the B Flight picking up solo third, his third top-10 finish in his last six.

Bubba Watson: He’s cracked the code here recently with top 10’s in two of his last three. I know he’s not a huge fan of TPC Sawgrass so I’m throwing that out. This track will sit right in front of him and he’ll be able to work his magic. Ride Watson where he’s comfortable and this fits. Plus, he’s a fantastic lag putter and hits GIR for fun.

Jason Day: This used to be an automatic fade as the hometown hero’s best finish in his first eight tries was T27. Last year he opened with 75 but rallied to post T15. If Watson can figure this place out, surely Day can as well. The week is setting up PERFECTLY for him as he missed his Pro-Am this morning with a fever. I might have to change my OAD mind…

Kevin Na: He’s 30-under in his last two events, both resulting in top-six finishes. He fired 61 last Sunday at Colonial. He should have won here in 2014 but Matsuyama birdied the 72nd hole and beat him in a playoff. Nobody will even notice he’s in the field this week and that’s music to his ears.

 

Next Tier

Just missed the list above because of a wart or two.

Henrik Stenson: I’d love to hear the reason why he didn’t play this event from 2013 until this season. I’d love to hear the reason why he’s playing this week. His fantastic ball-striking always gives him a shot but he’s only played twice since the Masters.

Jason Dufner: The only player to defend his title here is Woods so that’s something. Dufner arrived early after 68-77 at Colonial where his hot TPC Sawgrass putter went ice cold. Somewhere in the middle is probably the answer but he hits it well enough to hang around.

Kyle Stanley: He’s hit the top 25 in eight of 11 weekends this season and rakes from tee-to-green. Of his last three here he’s finished third and T6. Last year he closed 10-under over the final 54 holes in less-than perfect conditions.

Kevin Kisner: Of his 14 career rounds here, 12 are 72 or less as he hit the top 10 in 2015 and last year. He’s destroyed lineups in his last three events so let’s just make it four in a row! I’m hoping he rides the momentum of his Sunday 66 at Colonial into town.

Adam Scott: Speaking of, Scott closed with 64 last week so his T52 included something. He’s appealing because he’s been close and GIR works a charm this week. The broomstick needs one really good round to make this work.

Tony Finau: He’s three-from-three here but each year has gotten worse (T8, T11 and T40). I like that eight of his 12 rounds are red figures and his scoring average is 70.25. The negative side is his best finishes are in the historically easy years of 2015 and 2016. I’m taking guys who can rip it and paint GIR and he qualifies easily.

Ryan Moore: His last two years have been his worst (T48, MC). Last time we saw him he signed for a Sunday 66 at TPC Sawgrass.

Luke List: The more Par-5 holes, the better. The longer the course, the better. He’s 20th in scoring average and has 10 top 25-finishes this year.

Rory Sabbatini: Every single roster. He’s finished outside of the top 30 once in 10 events here when he’s made the cut.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat: Hopefully you’ve quit reading by now. He jet-sets so I’m not worried about any travel. He’s also a wonderful putter who won’t mind a bit of room off the tee.

Louis Oosthuizen: T5 last week but only his second attempt at Memorial. Something will give so I’ll lean on the class of Oosthuizen.

Adam Hadwin: He’s cashed 18 consecutive checks.

Chesson Hadley: Another form play as he’s cashed eight straight with seven going for T20 or better.

Bryson DeChambeau: He shows up in too many metrics to leave off. Bentgrass has given him problems this year at the Masters and Colonial but he played the weekend at both.

 

Off the Beaten Path

Great flexibility for multiple games, formats; course horses, hot players, etc.

Pat Perez: Let’s see if he can back up his 65 last Sunday on a track where he’s made the weekend in his last eight.

Gary Woodland: I’m not a slump-buster but maybe some room to move it off the tee will snap him back to life. After his win his best finish in nine events in stroke play is T49. He has a pair of top-10 finishes here and NOBODY should be on him this week.

Ben An: His annual Wentworth-MVGC usually produces results. I’m banking it does for a third year running.

Kevin Streelman: He’s 25-under the last three years here.

David Lingmerth: He never MC at Colonial in four tries before last week but he wasn’t a former champ either. He’s backed up his title with T27 and T15 and is 5-5 lifetime.

Charley Hoffman: In nine tries he’s cashed nine checks but the richest one is just T19.

Jamie Lovemark: T52 two years ago was followed by T10 last year. He came storming home LTO at Sawgrass 67-68-67 for T17.

Bill Haas: This will be year 13 in a row and four of the last five have cashed T4, T8, T18, (MC) and T25. His 64 on Sunday LW pushed him in.

Peter Uihlein: Hit it. Find it. Hit again.

Aaron Wise: No questions this week about anything as the big boys will take the cameras and microphones. I’m expecting a nice bounce-back performance.

 

Proper Long Shots

With 32 of the top 50 OWGR in the field this week, let’s dig deeper:

Kevin Tway: He’s finished in the top 10 his last two starts. #Obvious.

Joaquin Niemann: Four starts, two top 10’s, running out of exemptions to qualify so let’s see how he handles the pressure.

Trey Mullinax: Hit it far, find GIR, and take advantage of Par-5 holes.

Keith Mitchell: Big ball-striking week for T3 at TF LTO.

Austin Cook: He has the chops to putt these greens.

Ryan Armour: Everyone loves the Ohio State guy. His best finish of the year, T14, was LW so he’s in proper nick.

Robert Streb: T28, T18 and T20 in three tries here. He’s flashed enough signs the last two weeks to grab my eye.

 

Fades:

The road to success is filled with potholes. You drive your car over them so why put them on your fantasy team?

Hideki Matsuyama: I guess if you take him every week you’ll be right eventually. The casual glance will show he had 63 and 66 to cash T16 at TF. A deeper dive shows you he wasn’t hitting the biggest fairways or greens on TOUR with any consistency. He lost strokes approaching the green in three of four rounds that week. Wut? The last four years he’s finished the season in SG: approach in the top 10. He’s currently 110th.

Phil Mickelson: He’ll make the cut but his last top 10 was 2010. #FORELEFT. He only has three top 10’s in 17 starts here.

Rickie Fowler: Threw the fade one him last week and he popped up for T14. His scorecard wasn’t flattering as his putter bailed him out from a tough ball-striking week. Fowler has been second here twice (2010, 2017) and beaten by three shots each time, the only two times in the last eight years where the winning margin has been more than two shots. Interestingly enough, the rest of his performances in that range are GAWBIDGE. I’m saving him for Shinnecock.

Cameron Davis: I love “hot golf” but this field is awfully thick. Tread carefully here.

Anybody older than 45 not named “Stricker”: Yes, Kenny Perry has won three times. Yes, Vijay Singh won on the PGA TOUR Champions earlier this season. Yes, Jim Furyk has a proud history here. I’m not. You can.

For the DFS Crowd

Memorial2018

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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