THE MEMORIAL: The PGA Tour returns to Jack’s Place, Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, for another edition of The Memorial, an event which the Golden Bear created some 48 years ago to honor golfing champions of years part, those who paved the way for both Nicklaus himself and the stars of today. The proceedings took on a somber tone on Tuesday morning when Grayson Murray, winner of the Sony Open earlier this year who recently passed in tragic circumstances, was honored in a memorial service that featured eulogies from several Tour players as well as commissioner Jay Monahan. Murray’s bag will be placed on the first tee this week, and his mother spoke out in recent days asking that his legacy be simply this: be kind to one another. So, let’s remember that.

This tournament has always drawn a strong field thanks to the constant presence and attention of its founder, but now that it’s one of the Tour’s Signature Events, complete with a $20 million purse and elevated FedEx Cup points, just about all of the big names are here. The headliner, of course, is Scottie Scheffler, who is in the midst of a historic hot streak and has finished third here in each of his past two appearances. He’s the clear favorite and is currently trading around 5.3 on the BETDAQ exchange, which seems pretty fair to me despite the second and third-best players in the world, Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy, coming in riding hot streaks of their own. Scheffler is simply a cut above right now. But, hey, prove me wrong– that’s why they tee it up, right?

The course, Muirfield Village, is a 7,530-yard par-72 that requires length and accuracy off the tee and precision with the irons. Designed by Nicklaus himself to test every facet of a player’s game, it’s a layout that is characterized by the thick, lush rough that lines every hole and the lightning-fast bentgrass greens which are surrounded by mounds that can leave players with impossible up-and-downs. That said, the fairways aren’t excessively narrow and they can be soft at times, so if a player is hitting his tee ball well there are generally scoring opportunities. Last year, however, Muirfield Village was a bear, with Viktor Hovland’s 7-under 281 the highest winning score the tournament has seen since 1990. These next four days may not measure up to next week’s U.S. Open in terms of difficulty, but it should be good preparation.

With all that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking this week:


Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)

Scottie Scheffler (5.3)- I’ll admit it: I’m on the bandwagon. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. Scheffler is playing a brand of golf that we haven’t seen since prime Tiger, and his tee-to-green consistency exceeds even the Big Cat. He took last week off but did play the Charles Schwab two weeks ago, and your humble author just happened to have a sizable wager on him to finish top-5 at slight plus odds. After he posted 2-over in the opening round, putting him around 70th (I don’t remember exactly), I cursed my stupidity and faith in the man and didn’t check the scores again until Saturday afternoon, when I turned on the coverage (true story). At that point he was in 6th or something… or maybe it was 4th… at any rate, he would go on to post 63 that day after shooting 65 on Friday. All I could do was laugh. He ended up finishing second after spotting the field about 10 shots. He’s 2nd on Tour in strokes gained off the tee and 1st in strokes gained on approach, 5th in strokes gained around the green and 4th in scrambling. It’s truly remarkable. And with back-to-back third place finishes in this tournament and a course in Muirfield Village that seems tailor made for his game, I don’t see anyone beating Scheffler this week. We’re at the “sit back and collect” phase of the Scheffler era, especially if we’re backing this up with bets in BETDAQ’s top-5 market, where he’s currently 2.04, and top-10 market, where he’s 1.53 (stealing!!).

Justin Thomas (39.0)- Don’t look now, but Thomas has slowly and quietly returned to form, with his last three results being a T5 at the RBC Heritage, a T21 at the Wells Fargo, and a T8 at the PGA Championship, where he broke 70 in all four rounds and posted 13-under for the week. All that remains for him to be considered fully “back” is a victory, and with the way his game is trending it sure feels like it’s coming soon. He has a terrific history at this event which includes a runner-up finish in 2020 and two other top-10s, and with his length, ball-striking ability, and soft hands around the greens, he really fits the prototype of the player you’re looking for at Muirfield Village. Thomas is a real threat this week and an excellent value at nearly 40/1.

Jason Day (100.0)- Day snapped a 5-year winless drought at the Byron Nelson last May and his resurgence has continued this season with 4 top-10s and 11 made cuts across 13 starts. He contended at the PGA Tour’s last Signature Event, the Wells Fargo (two starts ago for Day), opening with rounds of 68-67 at the notoriously difficult Quail Hollow and going on to finish 4th. Day has been doing it with the driver and the putter this year, the two most important clubs in the bag, currently ranking 16th on Tour in total driving and 11th in total putting. He also has a long and successful history at this tournament that includes three top-15 finishes in his past 7 appearances, including a 4th-place showing in 2020. He knows what it takes to succeed at Muirfield Village and he still has all the tools. He’s certainly worth a bet at triple-digit odds.

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