The Memorial Tournament Fantasy Preview

After the Texas Two Stop, it’s time to leave the wind and head to Ohio.

Speaking of wind, we saw the early forecasts hold true last week and the result was a huge tee-time advantage on Thursday and Friday. The winds look calm this week in Dublin, Ohio, which is nice to (finally) see. Keep an eye on the Friday precipitation forecast, as there may be some rain landing which is never fun to predict on whether they will play through or suspend play.

The course this week is Muirfield Village Golf Club AKA Jack’s Place. As you might expect from the nickname, it is a Jack Nicklaus Design. It’s a par 72 that stretches out to just under 7,400 yards. It’s well-known for it’s wide fairways and speedy bentgrass greens, usually the quickest greens the TOUR plays outside of Augusta National.

That means Performance on Fast Greens is something we should definitely take a look at this week.

From a setup perspective, we notice six par 4 over 450 yards so that is a nice bucket we can hone in on. Golfers that score well from this range: Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Jason Day and William McGirt. From a DraftKings point-of-view, golfers with the best birdie-or-better percentage from this range (since start of 2015): Ollie Schniederjans, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Grayson Murray, Stewart Cink, and Hideki Matsuyama.

Last week we saw scrambling as a key stat, but this week it is more about hitting the greens. The fairways are quite generous here, so there is no excuse for poor approach play. For key stats, that means I want to target GIR percentage or strokes gained approach. As usual, Driving Distance grades out as a nice advantage, as well, since three of the four par 5s are reachable with a decent drive and one is only reachable in the right conditions or with a great drive/long drive.

One of the strongest course correlations I’ve seen in a long time is Firestone CC this week, home of the WGC-Bridgestone which is also played in Ohio. Four others that could also have a connection include: East Lake GC, TPC Sawgrass, Augusta National, and Sea Island (RSM Classic).

Check out the Fantasy Golfanac for more tournament angles and golfer quotes.

Players to Watch

Dustin Johnson PGA
Dustin Johnson… His recent finishes of 12th and 13th can be considered a slump when you look at the rest of his seasons. Playing some scary-good golf and there is no reason he shouldn’t be the man to beat this week. Has a pair of top 5s here in 9 tries.

Matt Kuchar… You can make all the backdoor-top-10 jokes about him that you want, but he’s walked right through the front door here at Jack’s Place. He’s positioned himself inside the top 10 after 20 of his last 36 rounds here. That includes a win in 2013 and runner-up finish in 2011. Had this to say about his success here, “my track record on Jack Nicklaus courses and Pete Dye courses are pretty good. They like kind of a high fade. Certainly, Nicklaus was that guy. My shot is a left-to-right ball. A lot of holes where I feel awfully comfortable teeing off out here.” The data supports that claim as he’s gained the most strokes over the field on Nicklaus-designed courses since 2014.

Tony Finau… Has taken a quick liking to Muirfield Village, posting finishes of T8 and T11 in two tries. Has to love the wide-open fairways that allows him to put his ball-striking to work. Got the raw end of the weather last week, but should be able to rebound at a comfy venue.

Emiliano Grillo… Much like Tony the Tiger above, Grillo is another golfer that we’ve seen feast on bentgrass greens. During his debut he entered the finale in a share of fourth place before drifting to T11. Looking for consistent ball-striking? He’s gained strokes off-the-tee AND approach in 8 of his last 10 lasered events. The two that he didn’t were near misses as he lost 0.5 strokes off-the-tee in Mexico and lost 0.1 strokes approach in Phoenix.

Keegan Bradley … His current from is nothing to write home about, but he’s posted back-to-back top 10s here and is also the course horse at Firestone CC (the #1 correlated course as mentioned above). I’m willing to fire him up in DraftKings GPPs.

Ryan Ruffels… If we’re looking for a long shot with home-run potential, the young Aussie fits the bill. He’s going to breeze through the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica to earn a spot on the Web.com Tour. I assume he will then collect a handful of top 5s there to play his way onto the PGA TOUR. However, he could save a lot of time by just popping during one of his sponsor invites. Was T8 after R1 here last year. Was also T6 after the API, co-led with Kyle Stanley at the Zurich team event, was T12 after R1 of the 2016 AT&T Pro-Am, and was T4 after R1 of the 2015 RBC Canadian Open. That is A LOT of quick starts for someone that has just 10 PGA TOUR starts under their belt. If FanDuel wasn’t revamping their product, he’d be the perfect R1-2 play this week.

Jason Day… Speaking of Aussies, Day looks ready to return to form after a playoff loss at the Byron Nelson. However, this may not be the week given his track record here. Despite Muirfield Village being his home course, he’s failed to record a top 25 in 8 tries. Over his last 5 visits he has lost 13.2 strokes approaching-the-green! Much like Spieth at the Byron Nelson, Day wouldn’t be playing here if it weren’t so close to home. He’s also lost strokes approaching the green in each of his last five ShotLink-measured starts, meaning he’s got quite the uphill battle this week. The Day family is really ready to return to the winner’s circle, but I would be a bit surprised if that happened this week.

Steve Stricker… He’s taking a break from the Champions Tour in an attempt to play his way into the U.S. Open which is being played in his home state of Wisconsin and his request for a special exemption got denied. A highly-motivated Stricker is someone I am always interested in. Add in a win here in 2011 and a T6 in 2014, and we know he can handle the course.

Stewart Cink… Sticking with the old guys, Cink is locked in with his irons. Over the last 10 weeks of stroke play, he’s gained strokes approaching the green on 60% of the holes he’s played, which is the best in the field ahead of Graham DeLaet, Rickie Fowler, and Adam Scott. Cink also has a 2004 victory at the highly-correlated Firestone CC.

Hideki Matsuyama… We can’t let Hideki-bot slip through the cracks this week. He missed the cut here last year but before that he won in his debut and returned to post a T5. With generous fairways, he is able to let his stellar approach play go to town. He has gained 14.6 strokes approaching-the-green in 10 rounds at Muirfield Village.

My Top 25 for the 2017 Memorial

1. Dustin Johnson
2. Matt Kuchar
3. Adam Scott
4. Hideki Matsuyama
5. Jon Rahm
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rickie Fowler
8. Tony Finau
9. Emiliano Grillo
10. Brooks Koepka
11. Steve Stricker
12. Patrick Reed
13. Jason Day
14. Stewart Cink
15. Phil Mickelson
16. Bud Cauley
17. Keegan Bradley
18. Kevin Kisner
19. Jason Dufner
20. Webb Simpson
21. Kevin Chappell
22. Marc Leishman
23. Pat Perez
24. Adam Hadwin
25. William McGirt

This article has 14 comments

    • If you take out his course resume I think he deserves the second spot in the rankings behind only DJ.

      When I dove into his stats at Muirfield Village I saw he’s lost strokes approaching the green in four of his last five visits which tells me there is something about the layout that doesn’t quite fit his eye.

      Even with his horrendous recent course history his upside is still huge which is why he only dropped to 6th.

      Reply
  1. First I want to say I enjoy these articles every week and enjoy the content you put out.

    Secondly, I wanted to get your perspective on Cantlay this week. I think this course fits him well just eye balling it and his game. No stats to back that up so correct me if I am wrong. I view him as a young Justin Rose so I would think this course would suit his game with how he has struck the ball thus far in the season.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    • From a strokes gained perspective his closest comps in this field are OHair, Smylie, ZJohnson, Harman, N Taylor, and CT Pan.

      A bit of a step down from Rose ?

      A lot of his early success has actually come on less-than-driver courses which Murifield Village doesn’t really fit that bit.

      Still small sample or him though, excited to see how his game grows but I’m not as high on him as a lot of others are.

      Reply
  2. Hey Josh,
    Read your stuff on Rotoworld great stuff…. You picked Finau as OAD but I still have Kuch as a play… would you go Kuch over Finau if you had your Kuch pick left?

    Reply

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