Jack Nicklaus' new-look Muirfield Village once again hosts The Memorial - but who will win?
The Memorial Tournament Golf Betting Tips 2021
The Memorial Tournament Golf Betting Tips 2021
We’re back at Jack’s Place this week for the Memorial at Nicklaus’s favourite creation, Muirfield Village, on his home patch at Dublin, Ohio – but it won’t be the same course that hosted consecutive PGA Tour events last July during the Covid emergency.
Down the years since it first hosted the Memorial in 1976 Nicklaus has regularly tinkered with his beloved ‘baby’ to keep pace with developing technology but now unveils a more in-depth revamp featuring rebuilt bunkering, reconstructed greens, the addition of 140 trees, narrower fairways and a little more length.
The yardage increases from 7,392 to 7,543 with the Golden Bear insisting it “won’t make it harder, only better”.
At 81, this could be his last roll of the dice in leaving this legacy to the golfing nation.
This was the second of the 400-plus courses Jack and his team of four sons and one son-in-law have designed.
The work was beginning just as last year’s tournament, won by Jon Rahm, was finishing.
The new-look Muirfield Village looks sure to produce a worthy winner.
As ever with Nicklaus courses, it favours faders, is reasonably generous from the tee but precise in its approach-play requirements.
Rahm’s victory elevated him to world No. 1 for a while but this week the current No. 1 Dustin Johnson is one of three top-ten absentees, the others being Brooks Koepka and Tyrrell Hatton.
Sunday’s 50-1 winner Jason Kokrak is not there either or Justin Rose, the 2010 champion, a shame as Muirfield Village, named after Scottish links where Nicklaus won his first Open in 1966 has always been a great favourite with the Europeans.
It was there in the 1987 Ryder Cup that they first whipped the USA on their own patch.
Just as the European Tour did at Celtic Manor last year and in Tenerife this campaign, so did Muirfield Village in hosting the Workday Charity Open as a warm-up for the main event, taking on the blank week at short notice following the Covid-related cancellation of the John Deere Classic.
And what a difference a week made! Rahm could finish only 27th as Collin Morikawa took the Workday after a playoff with Justin Thomas after they had tied at 19 under but in firmer, faster conditions for the Memorial the Spaniard’s nine-under total was more than enough for the fourth of his five American wins.
The three-shot margin would have been more but Rahm incurred a two-shot penalty for his ball moving at address in holing a chip for what he thought was a birdie two but turned into a bogey four on the card.
Eight shots clear with nine to play, he used up five of them in taking 41 blows on the way home but on a tough final day when only Matt Fitzpatrick broke 70, nobody was able to challenge the leader.
Rahmbo is still winless in 2021 and there have been a couple of dodgy performances recently, missing the cut at Quail Hollow and a down-the-field effort at the Nelson, which suggest he has yet to adapt to the change of routine after becoming a first-time dad in pre-Masters week.
His top-ten at Kiawah last time out was flattering as he was never in the hunt but even so, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as there are also question marks about his main market rivals Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Spieth and Thomas.
Punters don’t know where they are with Rory, winner one week at Quail Hollow, not sighted the next at Kiawah, another course where he had won easily before.
Since winning at Sawgrass, Thomas’s putting and driving have been a source of concern.
JT missed the cut at Kiawah and will take no adrenaline from Sunday’s 40th place at Colonial.
Spieth was out-driven and surprisingly out-putted by Kokrak at Colonial.
Starting with three fives, two of them bogeys, handed the initiative to the only man who could stay with him for the first three rounds.
Five bogeys, when for once his putter couldn’t rescue him when the driver misbehaved, and failure to birdie the two par fives was a surefire recipe for defeat but there was plenty of good stuff in there as well and second place was no disgrace.
On his over-all form since his startling comeback got up a head of steam, he rates another chance.
Seventh and 13th in the last two Memorials read well enough in the context of his struggles those past two years.
DeChambeau’s crusade to change the face of golf stalled after his victory at Bay Hill and third place at Sawgrass.
An early exit at the Match Play has been followed by dismal efforts in two Majors and at the Nelson.
As with McIlroy, it is hard to know which DeChambeau is going to turn up although on the credit side is a Memorial triumph three years ago after a playoff with Benny An and Kyle Stanley. But it was a very different DeChambeau then.
Young bucks Morikawa and Viktor Hovland, first and third in the first of the two Muirfield Village tournaments last summer, have plenty to recommend them and this could be a big week for last year’s third Fitzpatrick, winner of the Race To Dubai finale in December.
He keeps knocking at the door in the States and another European with a serious shout is Open champion Shane Lowry whose fourth at the PGA was his third top-ten from his six latest starts.
Don’t rule out a strong showing from Jason Day who is a club member and will be more au fait with the changes than most.
The Aussie, fourth last year, is not the player who became world No. 1 but the Memorial has a habit of throwing up an unlikely winner – how about Will McGirt beating Jon Curran in a 2016 playoff or David Lingmerth outlasting Rose in another shootout the previous year?
McGirt and Lingmerth had not won before nor have done since.
Good outsiders this year could be Kevin Streelman, Charley Hoffman and Patton Kizzire, the latter pair both making the frame at Colonial.
Streelman was third here in 2019, eighth in 2016 and 13th in 2017.
He’s been in decent form lately, notably when eighth at the PGA, and as a member of the over-40 club will be inspired by the Phil Mickelson story.
Check out how the GM Tipster is getting on this year on our Golf Betting Tips homepage.