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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: Memorial Tournament (2024)


When you think of picturesque, pristine golf courses, you think of Augusta National and then Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.


We’re back for another installment of one of the most storied non-majors on the PGA Tour schedule in The Memorial Tournament.


Known as “Jack’s Place,” Muirfield is the crowning achievement of Jack Nicklaus’ post-playing career.


Although an already prestigious event, annually being one of the biggest drawing non-major events of the year, the added element of the Signature Event status ensures the World’s best will be on tap this week. 


This tournament dates back to 1976 and as previously mentioned, sits upon one of the most breathtaking and visually-appealing backdrops the sport of golf has to offer.


The Field

Being a Signature Event, a limited field of 72 of the World’s best golfers will be in attendance this week to take on the storied Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.


Headlined by World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, the field this week is what we are accustomed to seeing when it comes to these Signature Events with all of the PGA Tour’s best in one place.


Rory McIlroy, the winner of the last Signature Event in the Wells Fargo Championship, makes the trip from last week’s RBC Canadian Open to Ohio and Xander Schauffele makes his first appearance since winning the PGA Championship a few weeks ago.


Viktor Hovland comes in as the defending champion after holding off Denny McCarthy in a playoff a season ago. Hovland found some form in his last outing at the PGA Championship where he finished third and looks to a familiar venue to get his season` back-on-track.


Other notable names teeing it up this week include Collin Morikawa, Ludvig Aberg, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama and Wyndham Clark.


As The Memorial Tournament has drawn the world’s best for years despite being a non-major event, there are many past-champions returning this week.


Those names include Billy Horschel (2022,) Patrick Cantlay (2019 & 2021,) Matsuyama (2014,) Matt Kuchar (2013) and Justin Rose (2010.) 


The Course

Success at Muirfield Village is simple. Hit the fairways to avoid the long penal rough, hit pure iron shots and have a strong around-the-green game. Simple enough, right?


It plays as a par 72 at 7,571 yards while featuring 68 sand bunkers and having water in play on 13 of the holes.


Muirfield Village is known for its long rough that is some of the most penal on all of the PGA Tour. 


It is nearly impossible to hold the firm, fast and tight Bentgrass greens while hitting from the rough. This adds a massive incentive on hitting the fairway.


It also adds an emphasis to around-the-green play with the inability to hold the greens from such positions.


This course also features the longest proximity-to-the-hole from inside 100 yards from the rough and the second lowest going-for-the-green rate of any course in the regular rotation. Additionally, it features the second lowest birdie rate from the rough.


With the need to play from the fairway, players must be precise with their approach shots and hit the necessary landing areas to hold the greens.


Despite the greens being firm and fast, they don’t play hard at all. Actually, Muirfield has the third lowest three-putt rate of any regular PGA Tour course and is inside the top five in makes from five feet to ten feet. In 2021, the field made 89-percent of its putts from inside ten feet.


In all Muirfield Village plays more to major conditions than not.


Along with the known long-penal rough, another unique aspect to Muirfield is the fact that all four par-fives are the only holes on the entire course to play at a scoring average below par. Scoring low on these holes is a must for any potential winner.


The greenside sand traps annually result in the longest proximity-to-the-hole lengths of any course on the regular PGA Tour rotation. You combine that with these lightning-fast greens, you have a big focus on those who are among the Tour’s best in sand saves percentage.


With all of this added, Muirfield also sits inside the top five of courses with the lowest scrambling percentage at just 53-percent.


It has been a few seasons since Muirfield had undergone a massive renovation as work began directly following the conclusion of the 2020 Memorial Tournament.


Come 2021, a full 100 yards was added to the course, pushing it to that 7,571 previously mentioned yard mark. 


Brand new greens complexes were among the restorations as well.


The Weather

For the first time in some time, the weather appears to be on our side this week. As of the time of writing this, there is at most, a 20-percent chance of precipitation across all four days this week. There is a significant chance of precipitation for Wednesday at 70-percent with thunderstorms. The wind will be a factor this week, more so early on. Winds are currently set at 16 miles-per-hour on Thursday, 15 miles-per-hour on Friday, 12 miles-per-hour on Saturday and nine miles-per-hour on Sunday. Temperatures will be at the highest on Thursday at 79-degrees before dipping to 71-degrees on Friday and gradually climbing to 76-degrees come Sunday. In all, it looks to be a great four-day stretch for some golf!


Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Hit Fairway Percentage

  • Strokes Gained Putting on Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Scrambling / Scrambling from the Rough

  • Par Five Average Scoring

  • Bogey Avoidance

  • Approach Shots from 175-200 Yards

  • Sand Saves Percentage


DFS Suggestions

$10,000+

In recent articles I’ve simply been penciling in Scottie Scheffler in this price range for obvious reasons. However, his pricing has fallen to $12,500 this week and I’m afraid we’re going to see a darn-near 50-percent ownership mark on him there. Due to this, I’m going to shift gears and go with Xander Schauffele ($10,900.) Sure, you’re still spending up on Schauffele and he’s fresh off a PGA Championship victory, but at just $600 more, most people will be opting for Scheffler. Schauffele is currently second on Tour in both scrambling and bogey avoidance, third in par five average scoring, fourth in SG: APP, sixth in SG: OTT, eighth in GIR%, 25th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 28th in SG: ATG, 35th in hit fairway percentage, 36th in sand saves percentage, 42nd in scrambling from the rough and 93rd in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards. Outside of winning the PGA Championship, he also took second at the last Signature Event in the Wells Fargo Championship. On top of that, if we throw out the rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his worst finish on the season was a T25th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In other words, in 12 72-hole events, he has placed top 25 in all of them. He also has placed top ten in nine of them and top five in six. So, he has placed top ten in 75-percent of events he’s played this season and top five in 50-percent of them. To tie it all together, in his last five outings here at this tournament he has gone T24th, T18th, T11th, T13th and T14th.


$9,000-$9,900

I don’t do this often but I think the timing is right to roll out Ludvig Aberg ($9,500.) On name value alone, his ownership is higher than I’d like but with a recent missed cut at the PGA Championship, I think we’ll find a nice sweet spot. Beyond that outing at the PGA Championship, his worst finish in a run of eight events dating back to the Farmers Insurance Open in late January was a T25th. He placed T10th in his last outing at a Signature Event at the RBC Heritage. He placed solo second at The Masters, T14th at the Valero Texas Open, eighth at THE PLAYERS Championship, T25th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T19th at The Genesis Invitational, second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and T9th at the Farmers Insurance Open. He is also currently eighth on Tour in bogey avoidance, 13th in scrambling, 14th in SG: OTT, 15th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 17th in SG: APP, 20th in GIR%, 35th in par five average scoring, 49th in scrambling from the rough, 50th in sand saves percentage, 73rd in hit fairway percentage, 90th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 114th in SG: ATG. His downfall this week is that this will be his debut at both The Memorial Tournament and Muirfield. Also consider Hideki Matsuyama ($9,000.) A tremendous value here in my opinion for the 2014 champion. Although not in crazy form, Matsuyama has placed T35th at the PGA Championship and T38th at The Masters in his last two outings. Prior to that however, he had a run of form where he placed top 12 in four straight events. He went T7th at the Valero Texas Open, T6th at THE PLAYERS Championship, T12th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and of course, won The Genesis Invitational. He is currently first on Tour in SG: ATG, tenth in scrambling, 11th in scrambling from the rough, 17th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 18th in bogey avoidance, 29th in SG: APP, 35th in both par five average scoring and sand saves percentage, 37th in GIR%, 43rd in SG: OTT, 113th in hit fairway percentage and 153rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. The putting stat scares me slightly but when Matsuyama is on, he doesn’t require a putter as he places the fall within feet of the hole. He also placed T16th here a season ago.


$8,000-$8,900

Like I talked about with playing Aberg, now is also the sweet spot to play Alex Noren ($8,100) following his first missed cut of the season. The recent form here at Muirfield isn’t anything to write home about but he did make the cut here last year and placed T13th in 2021. He is also first on Tour in both scrambling and scrambling from the rough, third in bogey avoidance, seventh in sand saves percentage, ninth in SG: ATG, 11th in par five average scoring, 20th in hit fairway percentage, 26th in SG: APP, 42nd in SG: OTT, 52nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 81st in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards. In other words, he’s above average in each of the 12 statistical categories I took into consideration this week. Like I mentioned previously, he did miss the cut at his last outing at the RBC Canadian Open but prior to that made the cut in each of the 12 tournaments he played this season. Also, his worst finish in his last eight starts prior to the RBC Canadian Open was a T24th at the Wells Fargo Championship. That run of form included a third place finish at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson, T9th at the Cognizant Classic, T11th at the Texas Children’s Open and T12th at the PGA Championship. This is one of those bounce back plays that we love in DFS. Also consider Russell Henley ($8,000.) We simply can’t go through the breakdown of a course that requires strong driving accuracy without mentioning Henley. Henley has quietly been very good this season and as of late. He’s made the cut in each of his last five outings with performances such as a solo fourth at the Valero Texas Open, T10th at the Wells Fargo Championship and T12th at the RBC Heritage. He also placed T4th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Sony Open in Hawaii this season. He also placed T16th here last year. Henley is currently first on Tour in sand saves percentage, 14th in both hit fairway percentage and scrambling, 16th in bogey avoidance, 17th in scrambling from the rough, 35th in SG: APP, 73rd in par five average scoring, 102nd in SG: OTT, 106th in GIR% and 114th in both SG: PUTT Bentgrass and proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards.


$7,000-$7,900

This is a price range I could mention, probably ten guys in and leading that charge is none other than Si Woo Kim ($7,700.) Kim’s recent form here at Muirfield has been insane. He placed fourth here last year, T13th in 2022, T9th in 2021, T18th in 2020 and T41st in 2019. Kim is also ninth on Tour in SG: APP, 11th in hit fairway percentage, 14th in bogey avoidance, 21st in SG: OTT, 23rd in scrambling, 26th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 29th in SG: ATG, 48th in GIR%, 64th in sand saves percentage and 86th in scrambling from the rough. Of course, his downfall comes on the greens as he ranks 143rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. We know what we’re getting with Kim when it comes to putting but on the season he has nine top 25’s and that’s with losing strokes with the putter each week. On a course that doesn’t necessarily require a lights-out putter to win, I like his chances. Kim also had a run of events between THE PLAYERS Championship and the Wells Fargo Championship where outside of a T30th at The Masters, he placed T18th or better in five events. He placed T6th at THE PLAYERS Championship, T17th at the Texas Children’s Houston Open, T18th at the RBC Heritage, T13th at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson and T16th at the Wells Fargo Championship. I’m also playing a unit on Kim at +5500. Also consider Shane Lowry ($7,900.) This is also a fantastic value in my opinion. In his last three outings at The Memorial Tournament, Lowry has placed T16th in 2023, T32nd in 2022 and T6th in 2021. Lowry is also ninth on Tour in hit fairway percentage, 11th in SG: APP, 21st in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 25th in GIR%, 38th in SG: OTT, 45th in scrambling from the Rough, 59th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 88th in par five average scoring, 91st in SG: ATG, 112th in sand saves percentage, 116th in bogey avoidance and 118th in scrambling. Lowry has also not missed the cut in 11 consecutive events coming into this week. He placed T6th recently at the PGA Championship and won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside Rory McIlroy. He also placed T4th at the Cognizant Classic and third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this season. I’m also playing a unit on him at +6600.


$6,900-

My favorite play in this price range is Andrew Putnam ($6,500.) Putnam is currently fifth on Tour in bogey avoidance, 15th in hit fairway percentage, 17th in scrambling, 20th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 47th in GIR%, 49th in SG: ATG, 56th in sand saves percentage, 73rd in SG: APP, 90th in scrambling from the rough, 123rd in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 150th in par five average scoring and 158th in SG: OTT. Now a bad resume for someone in this price range. He also placed T5th here a season ago and placed T17th back in 2019. Although he’s fresh off a missed cut in his last outing at the Charles Schwab Challenge, Putnam has played well at these Signature Events this season. He placed T8th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T18th at the RBC Heritage and T29th at the Wells Fargo Championship in his last three. He also made the cut at the PGA Championship, not bad for someone who lacks distance off the tee. I’m also playing a unit on Putnam at +18000. Also consider Davis Thompson ($6,400.) Thompson is currently 18th on Tour in GIR%, 22nd in bogey avoidance, 32nd in SG: ATG, 35th in par five average scoring, 41st in SG: APP, 52nd in scrambling from the rough, 63rd in sand saves percentage, 78th in SG: OTT, 84th in scrambling, 108th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 111th in hit fairway percentage and 139th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. He also made the cut here last year in his one appearance. Although he missed the cut last week in Canada, he placed T17th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T2nd at the Myrtle Beach Classic. He also placed T18th at the Corales Puntacana Championship and T21st at the Texas Children’s Houston Open. 


Betting Card

  • Collin Morikawa (+1600) - 2u

  • Patrick Cantlay (+2800) - 2u

  • Si Woo Kim (+5500) - 1u

  • Shane Lowry (+6600) - 1u

  • Andrew Putnam (+18000) - 1u


Collin Morikawa (+1600)

Outside of Scheffler and Schauffele, there may be no hotter golfer on Tour than Morikawa. In his last two outings he’s gone fourth at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T4th at the PGA Championship. Prior to that he also placed T16th at the Wells Fargo Championship, T9th at the RBC Heritage and T3rd at The Masters. He withdrew from this event a season ago but placed solo second here in 2021. He is also second on Tour in hit fairway percentage, sixth in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 14th in SG: ATG, 17th in SG: OTT, 24th in scrambling from the rough, 35th in par five average scoring, 35th in both scrambling and par five average scoring, 71st in SG: APP, 112th in GIR%, 123rd in sand saves percentage and 124th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Don’t let the approach number fool you, Morikawa is still one the best ball strikers in the world and when he’s on, there are very few golfers who can beat him. We also know his struggles on the greens which took him out of the PGA Championship in the final round but again, this is a course that doesn’t require elite putting. I like Morikawa’s chances this week.


Patrick Cantlay (+2800)

My gut is telling me to play Cantlay but my head is telling me not to. I guess you can see who won there. Cantlay simply loves this golf course. He’s a two time champion here, winning in both 2021 and 2019. He also placed T3rd here in 2022. Now, this hasn’t been the season we’d expect out of someone like Cantlay but he still has great finishes such as a T3rd at the RBC Heritage, T4th at The Genesis Invitational and T11th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the season. The approach numbers aren’t what we are accustomed to with Cantlay this season but he is still elite on the par fives, is well above average around-the-greens and out of the sand, a great scrambler and can putt on Bentgrass. If he comes into this week with strong iron play to go along with his course history, this very well could be the week he gets his season on the right track and gets his ninth PGA Tour victory. 

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