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PREVIEW: 2023 PGA Tour – Memorial Tournament

The PGA Tour heads to Muirfield for teh Memorial Tournament after the the mad events at Colonial last week. Damien Kayat previews.

Jon Rahm - DP World Tour - PGA Tour

The PGA Tour heads to Muirfield for teh Memorial Tournament after the the mad events at Colonial last week. Damien Kayat previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022/2023 US PGA Tour
Memorial Tournament
Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio
1st-4th June

This great game always has something new to offer. Last week’s events at Colonial were proof of that. Emiliano Grillo teed it up at the 72nd hole with a commanding two-shot lead, perfectly poised to end an eight-year trophy drought.

But he blocked it out to the right, setting up one of the most surreal periods of televised golf in recent years. His ball went into a stream that slowly ran back to the tee. The cameras followed the path of the ball as it agonizingly made its way back towards the tee-box.

Grillo took a drop and ultimately made double-bogey. Adam Schenk could only par the 18th, forcing a playoff that Grillo remarkably won. It was a sensational victory for the Argentine, securing him a spot at this year’s Open Championship.

The Memorial Tournament

The tour moves to Ohio this week for another star-studded designated event: the Memorial Tournament. The lovechild of ‘Golden Bear’ Jack Nicklaus, the Memorial Championship always attracts one of the most elite non-Major fields in golf.

This is especially true now that it has been granted elevated status. It is an invitational event that only guarantees participation for the top-75 on the previous year’s money list.

Billy Horschel will be back to defend his title this year while Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm continue to duke it out for the World No.1 spot. Rahm will feel like he still has unfinished business after the melodramatic events of 2021. Rahm was playing sensational golf, coming into the final round with a mammoth six-shot lead. But he was forced to withdraw after testing positive for Covid.

Muirfield Village Golf Club

Designed by Nicklaus and opened in 1974, Muirfield takes its name from Nicklaus’ favourite Open Championship venue. It hosted the 1987 Ryder Cup as well as the 2013 President’s Cup (not to mention the 1998 Solheim Cup).

It’s a classical test, strong yet fair. The fairways are pretty generous. But the rough- a blend of Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and rye- can be devastatingly penal. Distance will obviously be useful on a course that measures over 7,500 yards.

But it’s just as important to keep the ball in play this week. Long, straight hitters tend to flourish here. As always, the key to success here will be approach play. The smaller-than-average bentgrass greens provide a stern test of one’s iron-play. Course form has also proven to be telling on this exacting layout.

The Contenders

Scottie Scheffler leads the markets this week after contending once again at Colonial. The World No.1 has the type of effortless swing that looks almost incapable of error. He remarkably finished T3 last week while ranking 70th in Strokes Gained: Putting. Just imagine what will happen when the flatstick starts to respond.

Jon Rahm will look to get back into the groove after a disappointing showing at Oak Hill. The Masters champion is a course specialist with some real unfinished business.

Two-time champion Patrick Cantlay has the right combination of power and accuracy to tame this course. Rory McIlroy flirted with contention at Oak Hill and will be hoping that can reenergize his season. Elsewhere, the likes of Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland have to be respected due to their approach play.

Past winners

2022: Billy Horschel (-13)
2021: Patrick Cantlay (-13) *playoff
2020: Jon Rahm (-9)
2019: Patrick Cantlay (-19)
2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-15) *playoff
2017: Jason Dufner (-13)

To win outright:

Scottie Scheffler 13/2 | Jon Rahm 7/1 | Patrick Cantlay 10/1 | Xander Schauffele 12/1 | Rory McIlroy 12/1

Value bets

Corey Conners- To Win 45/1 | To Place 19/2

I think Corey Conners has exactly the sort of tee-to-green game that could propel him to success this week. The Canadian hits plenty of fairways and is lethal on approach. Sure, his flatstick isn’t among the strongest out there. But this is a week where putting isn’t integral to success. He won the Valero Texas Open earlier this season and comes into this in pretty decent form, finishing T8 at the Wells Fargo Championship and T12 at the US PGA Championship. He did capitulate quite badly when in contention at the season’s second Major. But the pressure won’t be quite so intense this week (especially without Brooks Kopeka breathing down his neck).

Matt Kuchar- To Win 90/1 | To Place 19/1

I’m liking the chances of veteran Kuchar this week (especially to place). The American had a streak of four straight results of T23 or better snapped at the Byron Nelson. And I think it’s easy to forgive Kuchar for missing the cut at a humongous Oak Hill. I think he could possibly reclaim his recent form at a venue where he has collected seven top-10 finishes. This included a victory all the way back in 2013.

The Man to Beat- Patrick Cantlay- To Win 10/1 | To Place 22/10

10/1 doesn’t look fantastic for a player who is winless this season. But Cantlay has remained consistent and returns to a course where he is a two-time champion. Obviously, his 2021 success is mitigated somewhat by the Rahm withdrawal. But he still managed to beat Morikawa in a playoff. He also has 3rd and 4th place finishes here (in 2022 and 2018 respectively). He is fresh off a T9 in a Major Championship and I think his combination of power and accuracy will see him contend again.

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