THE MEMORIAL: The golf season is really hitting its stride now, with the U.S. Open only a couple of weeks away and the Memorial, one of the most popular events on the schedule for player and fan alike, set to take center stage this week.
Everyone knows that this is Jack’s tournament– the Golden Bear initiated the idea in the mid-70s, came up with the invitational format, and even provided a golf course, the Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village, a picturesque tree-lined gem in central Ohio that is Jack’s best known design and supposedly his favorite as well. He has renovated it extensively over the years and has done so again over the past few months, reportedly lengthening the course by nearly 100 yards and altering several of the green complexes, so there will be some new challenges awaiting the players this year. That said, the basic character of the course remains the same– it’s a stern tee-to-green test that demands accuracy off the tee, as the rough is generally long and lush and oftentimes the only way to hold the firm, undulating greens is from the fairway. There’s no “scraping it around” to victory at Muirfield Village– you’d better be hitting fairways, and the small targets around the greens demand precision with the short to mid irons.
We’ve seen a succession of great ball-strikers succeed in this tournament, with the likes of Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, and five-time champion Tiger Woods all hoisting the trophy since 2010. Five of those guys will be teeing it up this week– everyone but Rose, who is nursing a bad back, and of course Tiger, who is still recovering from his latest automobile-related misfortune. This tournament generally produces one of the strongest non-major/WGC fields on the schedule and this year is no exception.
Defending champ Jon Rahm heads BETDAQ’s Win Market at 15.5, and while I love Rahm and have backed him several times over the past couple of years, he’s been bit sporadic since he became a father, and frankly I’m a bit surprised that hasn’t yet been reflected in the market. I’ll be looking elsewhere this week– with a field like this there are plenty of options. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)
Patrick Reed (37.0)- Confidence is never an issue for Reed, and despite missing the cut at Colonial last week after a second-round 74, he should feel pretty good about his game considering he’s logged four top-25s and a pair of top-10s in his past six tournaments and is only eight starts removed from a victory at the Farmers Insurance Open. He certainly knows how to get the job done at Muirfield Village, never missing the cut in five career starts at Jack’s place and finding the top-10 twice. With as well as he’s been putting it lately– third on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting– Reed is a real threat to win this week and a terrific value at a price like 37.0.
Emiliano Grillo (60.0)- Grillo is quietly having a big year, racking up seven top-25s and three top-10s since February, including a runner-up finish at the RBC Heritage and a T8 at Colonial last week. A tremendous iron player, he currently ranks 9th on Tour in strokes gained on approach and 3rd in GIR percentage, and Muirfield Village is the type of place where you need to be throwing darts from the fairway. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Grillo has an excellent record in this event that includes three top-25s in five career appearances, highlighted by a T9 in 2019 and a T11 in 2016. At a price like 60.0, he may be the best value on the board this week.
Cameron Tringale (120.0)- The 33-year old Tringale has been playing the best golf of his career this season, logging seven top-20 finishes and four top-10s, including a T3 at the Valspar last month. He’s inching closer to his first PGA Tour victory and he’s played well at Muirfield Village before, finding the top-25 here twice in six career starts. He ranks in the top-40 on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green, strokes gained putting, and strokes gained around the green, so there’s really not a weakness in his game right now– he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and have a bit of patience. Maybe this will be his big week– you’re not going to find many better options in the triple-digit range. If you’re looking for a live longshot, Tringale’s your man.