2019 Memorial Picks, Rankings, Sleepers, Preview

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2019 Memorial Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Muirfield Village.

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2019 Memorial Field

Field: 120 Players | Top 70 and Ties Make the Cut
First Tee: Thursday, May 30 at 7:20 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Bryson DeChambeau

Want to get people to go to Ohio? Attach the name Jack Nicklaus to a golf event, and they’ll come in droves. Just north of Columbus, the Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village Golf Club is the host of The Memorial. An invitational event with just 120 players and with a big prize pool ($9.1M), which annually draws the strongest field outside the Majors and WGCs.

In his first non-Major appearance since the WGC Match Play, five-time Memorial champ Tiger Woods headlines a stacked field, which also sports Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Cantlay, Phil Mickelson, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Tony Finau, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and defending champion/recent struggler Bryson DeChambeau. In one of the biggest mysteries of 2018, Tiger led the field in in SG: T2G and SG: APP a year ago, but lost a ridiculous -7.7 strokes with his putter. Despite the five victories at Muirfield Village, two of Tiger’s four worst putting performances since 2012 have some at this course.

Those aren’t the only top ranked players, though. Gary Woodland, Marc Leishman, Tyrrell Hatton, JB Holmes, Kevin Na, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Hao Tong Li, Keegan Bradley, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Luke List, Brendan Grace, Jim Furyk, Billy Horschel, Si WOOOOO Kim, Kevin Kisner, Charles Howell III, Byeong-Hun An, Sung Kang, Louis Oosthuizen, Emiliano Grillo, Keith Mitchell, Cameron Smith, and course horse Kyle Stanley will all be at Muirfield Village, and all currently sit inside the Top 60 of the world golf rankings.

David Lipsky, Ryan Fox, and Joost Luiten are still stateside after the PGA Championship as they wait for the U.S. Open, while Bud Cauley, KJ Choi, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Robert Streb, Justin Suh, Steve Stricker, Boo Weekley, Will Grimmer, Bill Haas, and the brothers Ortiz, Alvaro and Carlos fill out the field, playing on a sponsor’s exemption.

Currently, Justin Thomas, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Kokrak and Pat Perez are listed in the field but with come in with question marks surrounding their health. Kokrak pulled out of last week’s event at Colonial well before tee off, presumably to take a break from a hectic recent schedule. Louis pulled out just minutes after lineup lock on Thursday with a neck issue and screwed over a chunk of DraftKings players. Perez called it quits mid-way through round two with a calf problem. And, Thomas hasn’t played since The Masters with a wrist injury. Fantasy players are usually terrified to go back to any golfer following a WD, but it creates an intriguing buying opportunity if you don’t mind risking your lineups being dead ten minutes into an event. Keep an eye on all their statuses before lineup lock on Thursday morning.

2019 Memorial: Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 5s Gained
Proximity Gained 175+ Yards
Par 4s Gained: 450-500 Yards
Sand Saves Gained

Mayo’s Custom Stat POWER RANKINGS from FantasyNational.com

2019 Memorial: Course

Course: Muirfield Village
Par: 72
Yardage: 7,392
Greens: Bentgrass
Par 5 Eagles in 2018: 35
Rank: 30/51 (-0.603) in 2018 Difficulty

2019 Memorial: Past Winners

2018: Bryson DeChambeau -15
2017: Jason Dufner -13
2016: William McGirt -15
2015: David Lingmerth -15
2014: Hideki Matsuyama -13
2013: Matt Kuchar -12
2012: Tiger Woods -9
2011: Steve Stricker -16
2010: Justin Rose -18
2009: Tiger Woods -12

2019 Memorial: Notes

While it’s a lengthy course, with forced lay ups off the tee, Muirfield Village has some of the widest fairways on TOUR, leading to the field finding the fairway on almost 70% of drives. The rough, however, some of the most penal the players will face all season.

There are 13 water hazards and 73 bunkers scattered across the grounds. The green side sand traps at Muirfield Village result in some of the longest proximity length of any course in the world. Coupled with the tiny and lightning quick greens, The Memorial usually sits inside the Top Five courses with the lowest scrambling percentage. 

Beyond Muirfield Village, other Jack Nicklaus designed courses currently or recently used on the PGA Tour include PGA National (Honda Classic) PGA West Nicklaus (CareerBuilder), Glen Abbey (Canadian Open), Montreux (Barracuda), and Harbour Town (Heritage; with Pete Dye). Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof (BMW International Open) is used on the European Tour.

The Memorial has gone to a playoff four of the past five years.

There are six Par 4s falling between 450-500 yards, all of which play over par. It’s not required to score on those holes, leave that for the easy Par 5s, but avoiding the crookedest of numbers is an absolute must to remain in contention. There were 45 double bogeys or worse made across these six holes last year, with 17 on Hole 18 alone.

Despite its length, all four Par 5s should be reachable for the entire field. Approaches will skew on the longer side (175+ yards), but will reward the players who can hit the greens from that distance. Strokes Gained: Approach has been over three times as impactful per round on the Top 5 finishers as both SG: OTT and SG: ATG. The ability to get up and down, especially put fo the bunkers is very important, but merely avoiding the bunkers in the first place is a far better option.

Jason Dufner lost strokes putting during his 2017 victory.

Justin Rose (2010) was the last winner to miss the cut in his previous appearance at the tournament. Hideki Matsuyama (2014) won in his first attempt.

A left-handed player has never won this event.

Americans have won six of the past eight years, and three in a row.

Matt Kuchar, David Lingmerth, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, and Tony Finau have the most Strokes Gained: Total the past five years. Jason Kokrak, Brian Stuard, Keith Mitchell, Danny Lee and Cameron Smith have lost the most.

Matt Kuchar, David Lingmerth, Marc Leishman, Tony Finau, Byeong-Hun An, Rory McIlroy, Emiliano Grillo, Phil Mickelson, Anirban Lahiri, Adam Scott, Steve Stricker, Robert Streb, Charles Howell III, Pat Perez, Lucas Glover, Nick Watney, and Kyle Stanley, in a minimum of three starts, haven’t missed a cut int he last five years. Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Peter Uihlein, Harold Varner III, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Sung Kang, and Tiger Woods are 2-for-2 over that span.

Justin Thomas, Peter Uihlein, Justin Rose, Byeong-Hun An, Kyle Stanley, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and Rickie Fowler have Top 25 finishes in their last two starts at The Memorial.

Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, and Kyle Stanley all have at least three Top 10 finishes over the past ten years. Kuch has six in nine starts; including a win (2013) and no finish worse than T26 (2015).

Kevin Na, Tyrone Van Aswegan, CT Pan, Nick Watney, Matt Every, Jonas Blixt, JJ Henry, Charley Hoffman, Emiliano Grillo, and Andrew Putnam led the field in SG: Approach last week at Colonial.

2019 Memorial — Targets From Each Range

Henrik Stenson

Any course where Justin Rose has a sterling track record, expect Stenson to follow suit. The Swede won’t be limited by his three wood with so many holes demanding restraint off the tee box, and his irons have been the best in the world for about three months now, gaining and average of 5.73 SG: APP in six events since the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the beginning of March. The rest of his game just hasn’t cooperated. Both long and short term, Stenson ranks inside the Top 15 in proximity gained from 175-200 yards and 200, while consistently sitting Top 5 in SG: APP. His putter has been bad, but it appears it be getting better lately. Merely and average putting week should propel Stenson into contention.

Gary Woodland

Fresh off a sneaky Top 10 at the PGA Championship, where he finished second in the field to Brooks Koepka in SG : T2G (+14.2) and SG: App (+8.0), Woodland returns to Muirfield Field, a course where he’s made three consecutive cuts, including a T4 finish in 2016, hoping to actually make a few 5-foot putts this week. Maybe the quick, bentgrass greens are the answer. While he’s below average with the flagstick on every type of surface, Woodland least-bad greens are bentgrass, where he only loses -0.08 strokes per round. Maybe he can recapture his good vibes on these greens where he’s gained strokes on the field two of the past three years.

Nick Watney

No where near the peak of his power, Watney still persists as one of the better long iron players on TOUR, ranking 8th in this field in proximity gained from 200 yards and beyond the past 36 rounds. Fresh off a T8 result at Colonial, where he was three strokes better Tee-To-Green than any other player in the field, it’s worth rolling the dice on Watney holding his form ball striking at a course where he’s made the cut in his past three starts.

Peter Uihlein

Uihlein has gone T13/T5 in past two starts. Great form to couple with a shocking course history at Muirfield Village — T5/T25. He collected Top 25 finishes in his two events prior to The Memorial the last two years as well. In such a loaded field, you’ll likely need to gamble on a few scrubs, why not Uihlein, who’s clearly comfortable at this course?

Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods, Rory Sabbatini, Emiliano Grillo, Keegan Bradley, Jason Kokrak, Justin Thomas

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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award, and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2019 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year). His 17 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.