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The Memorial Championship Preview and Picks

by Matt Fargo

Bet Golf at Bovada

The Texas swing concluded last week and the PGA Tour heads north to Dublin, Ohio and Muirfield Village Golf Club for the Memorial Tournament. This is the final tuneup for most prior to the U.S. Open in two weeks as a majority of players will be taking next week off. This is the course that Jack built and Nicklaus has been the host of this event since 1976 and even though his tournament has not gotten as big as he had always hoped, there is usual a very strong field.

Muirfield is a par 72 layout and far from easy one. It ranked as the toughest par 72 of all non-majors in 2009 at +1.4 over par. It has lessened up the last two years, finishing 19th in difficulty both in 2010 and 2011. Distance and accuracy off the tee are both extremely important but hitting greens and making birdies are two of the bigger challenges here making ball stroking a real priority. 77 bunkers are in play with 11 of the 18 holes including water hazards so getting to the green is often the toughest part.

A course is usually judged by the finishing hole and how it can determine the outcome of the tournament and Muirfield is no exception. In 2009, Muirfield Village had the third-toughest closing hole on the PGA Tour as only Doral and Quail Hollow’s closing holes played tougher. Like the overall course ranking, the closing hole has let up in difficulty the last two years but the 18th has not come into play for the last two champions, Justin Rose and Steve Stricker.

The field is a strong one this week. Eight of the OWGR top ten are in play this week as well as seven of the top ten on the money list. The big story this week is the return of Tiger Woods who has won here four times but only once since 2001. Also on hand is the number one player in the world Luke Donald who took over the top spot from Rory McIlroy after his win at the BMW PGA Championship. He came into the Memorial last year off the same win and finished T7.

Justin Rose (+1,500) is one of five players with odds of +1,500 or less but he could be the best of the bunch coming into Muirfield. He finished in second place behind Donald last week and his history at the Memorial has been outstanding. He won here in 2010 and has two other top four finishes. On the PGA Tour this year, he has four top tens including a win at the Cadillac Championship.

We will ride the hot hand in Rickie Fowler (+2,000) who is coming off a T5 last week at Colonial. He has recorded four straight top tens and while a letdown was possible following his win at the Wells Fargo Championship, it has only given him more confidence. He has had success here as well with a T22 last year which came after a solo second in 2010, three shots behind Rose.

Bo Van Pelt (+3,000) has been a popular choice here in recent weeks and we will go with him again. He got into contention last week with a Friday 64 though he faded over the weekend but still finished T19. He has five top tens this year with his best coming at THE PLAYERS where he finished T7. Last year at the Memorial he finished T13 which came after a T3 in 2010.

Ernie Els (+4,000) is enjoying a great comeback season. He contended last week at the BMW PGA Championship where he finished T7 and he has three top tens in 10 medal play events on the PGA Tour. He lost in a playoff in New Orleans so he has been close to breaking through. He won the Memorial in 2004 and while he finished 61st last year, he was not playing good anywhere all year.

Looking at past champions is always important as is looking at players who are currently in good form. Carl Pettersson (+6,000) fits both criteria and he is getting enormous odds with great value. He won here in 2006 and two years later logged a T10. He did miss the cut last year but his past success negates that. He won the RBC Heritage last month and has two other runner-ups yet is still flying under the radar.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Memorial (all for One Unit)

Justin Rose (+1,500)
Rickie Fowler (+2,000)
Bo Van Pelt (+3,000)
Ernie Els (+4,000)
Carl Pettersson (+6,000)


Record to date after 18 events: +54.1 Units

Sony Open -5 Units
Humana Challenge -6 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Transitions Championship +6 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units
Shell Houston Open +16 Units
The Masters -6 Units
RBC Heritage -5 Units
Valero Texas Open -4 Units (Kevin Na WD)
Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units
Wells Fargo Championship +36 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial +11 Units

Get all of Matt Fargo's winning picks at Vegas Experts.

 
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