WATCH: PRICE CHECK – THE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT
The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
The field this week looks surprisingly close in strength to what we saw at THE PLAYERS. Almost all of the top players in the world are here, including Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth. Players of note who are skipping this week include Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose (late withdraw) and Rory McIlroy who is still nursing a rib injury. Beneath them, there are a plethora of hungry golfers as well including Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed who are all looking for their first Memorial title. As the Memorial is an Invitational, the field is again only around 120 golfers, which means getting 6/6 golfers through the cut might be slightly easier on DraftKings this week, but will also be that much more important for anyone looking to land a big finish in a tournament. The top 70 players and ties will move on to the weekend here while anyone caught outside that will miss the cut and get you nothing for fantasy on Saturday and Sunday.
Muirfield Village — Dublin, Ohio
Muirfield Village is a true championship course. It was built in 1972 and named after Jack Nicklaus’ favorite Open Championship venue (Muirfield); it also has some design similarities to Augusta National. Like Augusta, Muirfield Village is a par 72 and carries four par 5s that are all very reachable in two by many of the players, with the longest being only 567 yards. However, outside of these holes, scoring opportunities do become limited, so playing the par 5s in well under par for the week is often crucial to success at Muirfield. In 2015, runner-up Justin Rose played the par 5s in -10 for the week, and last year’s winner, William McGirt, was ranked fifth in Par 5 Scoring for the week.
Outside of the par 5s, the rest of the course can be quite challenging. The faster bentgrass greens play smaller than normal and often play extremely fast with severe sloping that makes getting up and down on them extremely tough. Additionally, the rough here is bluegrass and often plays quite thick as well. The fairways are wider than a normal PGA Tour course in many spots, but there is still plenty of trouble as water comes into play on 10 or more holes as well.
The par 4s as a group vary in length, but five of them play at 450 yards or greater and require a tough and usually longer approach shot, which will be made even harder if your player hits it in the rough. For the longer hitters the ones who can keep it in the fairways, or can handle approaches from the thick stuff, will have a huge advantage on these holes. The par 3s all fall within the 175-200 yard range, for the most part, so looking at efficiency stats from that range could be useful. Most have severe bunkering or water protecting the greens, so being good from this range is a near must this week.
While big hitters have done well at Muirfield, accuracy shouldn’t be discounted this week as thick rough and difficult green complexes make hitting greens an absolute must. Missing greens in the wrong spots here can potentially cost players more than a stroke here.
2017 outlook: The weather forecast is slightly cooler with some precipitation expected, meaning the course could get soft and play a tad easier than we’ve seen it in past incarnations. With low winds and less heat, this year scoring should be on the lower side with the winner possibly dipping into the mid-teens again if the current forecast holds true.
Last six winners
- William McGirt — 2016 (-15 over Jon Curran in a Playoff)
- David Lingmerth — 2015 (-15 over Justin Rose in Playoff)
- Hideki Matsuyama — 2014 (-12 over Kevin Na in Playoff)
- Matt Kuchar — 2013 (-12 over Kevin Chappell -10)
- Tiger Woods — 2012 (-9 over Andrés Romero and Rory Sabbatini -7)
- Steve Stricker — 2011 (-16 over Brandt Jobe and Matt Kuchar -15)
- Eight of the last nine winners had a top-5 finish or better on tour in the year of their victory before winning the Memorial.
- Of the last 10 winners of the Memorial, David Lingmerth and William McGirt are the only ones to rank outside the top-15 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green at the end of the season (54th and 41st).
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Par 4 efficiency from 450-500 yards
- Approach Proximity
Muirfield Village has smaller than normal greens which require good accuracy to get close to pins, and since 2013, the top three players at the end of the week have all been players who have ranked inside the top 50 in Strokes Gained: Approach for the year they finished T3 or better. The last five winners have also all ranked inside the top-10 in this stat for the week at this tournament. Strokes Gained: Approach stats should be emphasized this week.
I am also looking at Par 4 Efficiency from 450-500 yards again. Muirfield Village has some easy to score on par 5s that most players will do well on but also contains five par 4s which will play within the 450-500 yard range this week. Of note is also the fact that the last five winners have all ranked inside the top-10 in this stat for the week they won.
Finally, I’d also look at Par 4 Scoring in general, too. Last year’s winner and playoff loser both were ranked inside the top-5 in Par 4 Scoring for the week, and of the past five winners, none have ranked worse than eighth in this stat for the week of their win. Muirfield Village has plenty of tougher par 4s, and that is generally where the difference will be made this week, as the par 5s will play easy for everyone.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
|Marc Leishman||50-1||$6,900||DA Points $6,900 and 200-1
Grayson Murray $7,000 and 300-1
Stewart Cink $7,000 and 125-1
|Kevin Tway||90-1||$6,500||Bubba Watson $6,600 and 100-1
K.J. Choi $6,600 and 250-1
Smylie Kaufman $6,600 and 100-1
Ryan Moore has been a great horse at Muirfield Village. In eleven appearances he’s made 10/11 cuts and has six finishes inside the top-20. Moore has been cold lately, but this would be a logical spot for a rebound. He has six top-20 finishes here since 2007.
Matt Kuchar has been solid of late and he now comes to one of his favorite courses on tour. In nine appearances, Kuchar has never missed a cut and his worst finishing position over that span is 26th (2015). On top of winning this event in 2013 Kooch also has four separate finishes of 10th or better. Kuchar was in the mix last year near the end, and there’s every chance he’ll show up on the leaderboard at some point in 2017 too, he’s a true horse this week.
Bill Haas hasn’t always done well at Muirfield Village, but he’s definitely figured it out of late. He’s now made seven of his last nine cuts at this event and has finishes of 18th, eighth and fourth over his last four appearances. Haas might be a name people forget given the talent in the field and is someone who could potentially be huge in tournaments if he continues his higher finishing trend here.
Charl Schwartzel also has a very strong record at this event. The 2011 Masters champ has played Muirfield Village nine times and only missed the cut once. Even better is the fact that in three of his last four visits to this course he’s finished 11th or better three times. Schwartzel is coming off a withdraw due to an inflamed wrist but has stated on Twitter that it is getting better, and he should be a factor this week. Make sure to check on his status prior to the event.
Cash Games: With such soft pricing this week, it’s going to be very easy to fit in multiple top players and still have enough left to build great lineups. Given that this is the case I wouldn’t get too cute at the top in cash game lineups and would look to use golfers like Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson as anchors. Using both may only leave you with $6,750 average salary, but targeting players like Byeong Hun An ($6,900) and Kevin Tway ($6,500) means it can be done. A more balanced approach can be made with leaving one of the two studs out and targeting players like Rickie Fowler ($8,900) and Bud Cauley ($8,000) as well.
Tournaments: Given the ease with which we can fit in the top two players using some of the names between $8-$10k could mean lower ownership. Two players who should be lower-owned and have really picked things up of late are Patrick Reed ($9,200) and Jason Day ($10,300). Both have put better of late and have much to prove after slow starts to 2017. Other potential targets for large tournaments this week include Emiliano Grillo ($8,500), who was in the mix here last year, Danny Lee ($7,500), who is coming off two straight top-10s and Jamie Lovemark ($6,300), see my comments below. Sean O’Hair also deserves a shout out after landing two top-5 finishes in a row and being in a lot of winning tournament lineups last week.
Top Recent Form
1. Kevin Tway: He has finished T20 or better in each of his last five starts and has three finishes of T5 or better in that span. He is a collective -13 over last twelve rounds of play.
2. Adam Scott: He has only played three times since mid-April, but those three starts include a T6 at THE PLAYERS (his last start) and a T9 at the Masters.
3. Sean O’Hair: He has a T5 at the Byron Nelson and T2 at the DEAN & DELUCA and is a collective -17 over his last eight rounds of play.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week
1. Jon Rahm
2. Scott Brown
3. Danny Lee
Top Strokes Gained: Putting from last week
1. Sean O’Hair
2. Brian Harman
3. Kevin Kisner
MY PICK: Bud Cauley ($8,000)
Cauley has accumulated four top-10 finishes in his last five starts and has quickly become a proven commodity for fantasy. While the field this week is strong, I think this is still a great spot for Cauley to potentially pick up his first win – or at the very least another top finish. In three appearances at Memorial, Cauley doesn’t have any finishes better than 34th but three made cuts is at least encouraging. Last year Cauley shot his best round ever here with a 66 in the third round and also ranked number one in Par 5 Scoring for the week, which shows an increasing level of comfort with the venue. Cauley ranks 10th on tour in approaches this season and he’s also had success on other Jack Nicklaus designed courses in 2017, with a T3 at the Career Builder and a solid week at the Honda Classic. He’s been trending towards a potential win for a while now and I think the benign forecast this week will generally help him as he’s tended to play well in events — like the Career Builder — where scoring is low. He’s one of my favorite plays on DraftKings this week.
MY SLEEPER: Jamie Lovemark ($6,300)
Lovemark is a player many were high on at the start of the season, but he faded off the radar quite quickly with a string of bad/mediocre performances. While the USC grad hasn’t cracked the top-10 in a tournament since the Sony Open in January, he did pop up in his last start at the Byron Nelson with a T18, where he ranked sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green for the week. Lovemark has only played this event once (last year – T52) but the lack of experience is made up for by his recent form and bargain pricing this week. Even though we haven’t seen his best golf for a while, Lovemark is still ranked 45th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and has accumulated seven top-10s in the past year and a half on tour. With this sort of pedigree, and a game possibly on the upswing, this is a great time to buy low on Lovemark, as he has plenty of upside for the price we are getting this week on DraftKings.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) 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.