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.

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The Field

The Memorial is an invitational event with a limited field of around 120 golfers.  The cut will take place after Friday and the top 70 and ties will make the weekend.  This is traditionally a strong field.  The event is hosted by Jack Nicklaus at a course he designed.  Although there are some top players skipping the event this year the field is still quite strong.  Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are all scheduled to take part and the rest of the field is filled out with quality veterans and young up and coming players.

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The Course

Muirfield Village, Dublin Ohio

Par 72, 7300-7400 yards

Muirfield Village is a true championship course.  It was built in 1972 and modeled in design somewhat after Augusta National.  Like Augusta, Muirfield is a par 72.  It carries four par 5’s that are all reachable and par 5 scoring will be a large factor this week, as the rest of the course contains limited scoring opportunities.  The greens at Muirfield present a challenge and generally play quite fast with severe sloping.  As a result, experience playing at Muirfield is a factor and those who know how to handle the tougher than average greens will have a distinct advantage.  Muirfield can also punish players who are inaccurate.  While the fairways are generally wide the rough most years is thick.  Water some into play on over half the holes and there is a higher than average number of bunkers on the course.  A steady tee to green game, paired with an above average short game is a must.

Last Five WinnersUSATSI_8556425_168381090_lowres

Hideki Matsuyama—2014
Matt Kuchar—2013
Tiger Woods—2012
Steve Stricker—2011
Justin Rose—2010

What will it take to succeed at Muirfield Village?

The winning scores at this event have varied from as high as 19 under par to single digits.  But regardless of conditions this course remains a tough all-around test of golf.  Past winners have generally either been some of the best tee-to-green game players in the world, or relied on fantastic putting and scrambling to win the title.  This isn’t the course where you should expect a player to “pop up” with a good week if he hasn’t been playing well.  Players who have been playing solid coming into the event should have an advantage.  Even though I think experience is a factor it’s hard to place too large an emphasis on it given last year’s winner Hideki Matsuyama was playing it for the first time.  Look for players who have been hitting it solidly from the tee and the fairway and also have been riding a hot putter or short game.

Who has had success here?

Given the championship nature of the golf course it’s not shocking that many of the top players in the world have good records at this event:
  • Matt Kuchar has played the Memorial 7 times. He won the event in 2013 and has never finished outside the top 15.  To say he likes the course is an understatement.
  • Justin Rose has a strangely to heavy record at this event. He’s played here 7 times since 2008 and missed 3 cuts but also has finishes of 8-8-2-win in the other four years.
  • Bo Van Pelt is not the most consistent fantasy golfer but he has really excelled at this event. Since 2015 Van Pelt has played here every year and only missed one cut, he has a pair of 3rd place finishes and four other top 25’s.
  • Ryan Moore has to be considered this week. He has played this event 9 times, and only missed the cut once.  His top finishes include a 2nd-5th and a 10th.
  • Charl Schwartzel is a last name to consider. The former major winner has not been playing great this year but his last four visits to Muirfield include finishes of 8-8-19-22. 
Who has struggled here?  
  • Keegan Bradley has only played the Memorial four times but his record is not good. He’s missed two cuts and has a high finish of 37th (last year).
  • Jason Day is a quality player but his record at Muirfield Village is actually quite poor. He’s played this event 6 times but missed the cut twice and only has a high finish of 27th.  He’s yet to figure out the course.
  • Brendan Steele has been consistent for most of the season, but his record here leaves much to be desired. He’s played here four times, missed two cuts and never cracked the top 50.
  • Kevin Streelman has popped up with top finishes this year. He finished 7th at this event in 2011 but outside of that he’s had trouble.  Streelman has missed 4 out of 6 cuts at this event and outside of his lone top ten has never fared well on Muirfield.
What statistics are important?

I think finding players who have been playing solidly is important this week.  Thus one of the first stats I’ve targeted is overall scoring average.  Quite simply, I want players who have been consistent and showed a high level of play throughout the year and this stat is one of the best for finding such players. Second, I’ve cross referenced the top players off that list with players who have excelled in strokes gained: tee to green, par 5 scoring, and scrambling.  While that might seem like a lot to digest the list of players who ranked highly in scoring average and two of the four other mentioned categories isn’t actually that big.  Additionally, the course this week is really a great all-around test and so I think looking at tee to green stats and stats for on and around the green is a good idea.  With a smaller than average field this week using a few more stats than usual to cut down the field makes targeting a select group of players that much easier.

My Recommendation

Using course history isn’t a bad idea this week because experience is a large factor.  However, I’d really recommend using more than that and taking a look at a few stats like scoring average, strokes gained: tee to green and scrambling.  You’ll want a nice mix of experience this week, along with players who have been consistently playing well all year.  Using stats to help you identify the most consistent players should be a big benefit and could lead to some good fantasy scores this week.USATSI_8023563_168381090_lowres (1)

My Pick: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson has actually been playing some pretty solid golf lately and given that this course is designed to mimic Augusta National I can see him continuing his resurgence this week.  He has a ton of experience playing this course and should be motivated to challenge for the win with the US Open approaching.  He’s my choice to top the field.