This week, the Tour heads to the Memorial hosted at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village. This course plays long and demands accuracy with mid to long irons due to the lengthy par 4s and par 3s. Players with less than stellar iron games will struggle getting up and down from the difficult rough and bunkers as this course was one of the hardest courses to scramble on last year. When looking at players this week, we will want to focus on ball strikers especially those with solid iron games. If we look at those who have historically had success at this track, the majority of those are premier irons players (Matsuyama, Rose, Kuchar, Woods, etc.). If you have any questions or comments, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @friedeggpaulie. Now let’s get to this week’s picks!
We are adding some new content to the DraftKings section each week in which I will call out two to three players who you should sit in addition to the normal listing of three players to start.
Rickie Fowler $8,900
Now you probably think I’m crazy for choosing Fowler since he has missed the last three cuts at this event. I think current form outweighs course history in the case of Fowler. Fowler missed those three cuts by a total of only 4 shots. He has been dominant with his irons this year and has already racked up a victory at a Nicklaus designed golf course which required precise irons (Honda Classic). Fowler is 8th in Strokes Gained Approach this year. He has finished in the top 16 in his six events prior to his last start where he finished 60th at the Players. At a $1,000 savings from players of a similar caliber, I will be loading up on Fowler this week in my lineups
Patrick Cantlay $7,800
Nearly all of Cantlay’s successful events this year came on tracks requiring strong iron play (Valspar, Heritage and Players). Cantlay has played only five events this year on Tour which isn’t enough to have him listed in the statistical leaderboards. If we dig into his stats, we find that he would rank third on Tour in proximity from 175-200 yards from the fairway and first from 175-200 yards from the rough. All four par 3s this week are 184-201 yards. Seven of the ten par fours this week are 447 yards or longer. All of this means that you can expect Cantlay to excel.
Ben An $6,900
An is coming back from the BMW Championship in Europe where he finished 26th. Prior to that, he finished fifth at the Nelson and eight at the Wells Fargo. An is known as a premier ball striker who struggles putting. He is 17th in SG Tee to Green this year. If he can catch a hot putter….watch out as he is not afraid of the big moment. At $6,900, he is a safe play who hasn’t missed a cut all year and will more than payoff his salary when he finishes top 20 this week.
Justin Thomas $7,600
At such a reduced price, I expect to see massive ownership of Thomas this week (20%+). He has missed the last two cuts here by a combined 14 shots!!! He has recorded only one top 20 since his victory at the Sony Open. There are a lot of Thomas truthers out there who will blindly roster him at this price. Fade him and jump up the standings this week.
Hideki Matsuyama $10,000
I expect Matsuyama to be a popular combo this week with Rahm or Fowler. I think he will be in the 16-22% range of ownership since he is a past champion. He hasn’t recorded a top 10 since his victory at WM Open in early February. He has really struggled with his putter and that may be exposed this week on some of the quickest greens on Tour. I’ll take my chances with other players this week and hope that he continues his streak of finishing outside the top 10.
Charl Schwartzel $6,800
Schwartzel has great course history and a cheap price point…so let’s roster him right? Not so fast. He is dealing with a wrist injury, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he WDs at some point during the event to not damage his wrist further before the thick rough at the US Open at Erin Hills.
Kuchar is the prototypical horse for a course. He has five top eight finishes in his last seven starts here with his worst finish being 26th. Add that to the fact that he has finished in the top 12 in his last two events and you have the chalk pick of the week.
Everyone knows Rahm for his ability to bomb the ball. Not many people know how good he is with his irons. Similar to Cantlay, he ranks in the top three in proximity to hole from 175-200 yards from both the fairway and rough. He finished inside the top five in six of his last ten events. That is an insane stat for a rookie. I expect him to be in contention come Sunday. If you still have him available this may be the week to use him.
If you are looking for someone who will go under the radar this week, look no further than Leishman. He has quietly been striking the ball great and has been failing to convert on the greens. He is near the top of the Strokes Gained Tee to Green over the past few months yet hasn’t been able to put that to use since his victory at Bay Hill. If he finds his putter this week, he may contend at a course where he has made his last six cuts and finished in the top 11 the last two years.
Kyle Stanley (100-1 to win, 18-1 top 5, 7-1 top 10)
I absolutely loved it when Stanley imploded last week and missed the cut. That was for two reasons: I completely faded him on DK and I also wanted his odds to be higher this week because this course fits him perfectly! Prior to last week, he had four top top 30s in his previous five starts highlighted by a fourth at the Players. Stanley’s iron game is his strength. He ranks 4th in SG Approach the Green and 6th in SG Off the Tee. To balance that out, Stanley is one of the worst putters on Tour at 180th (yes, there are that many players on Tour). If he can just have a putting week that is PGA Tour average, Stanley can win.
Bubba Watson (100-1 to win, 16-1 top 5, 8-1 top 10)
Watson’s game has been in shambles this year. However, just a year ago Watson was one of the better players on Tour who could dominate at times with his length and ball striking. He has made the cut in six of his last seven starts here including a third place finish in 2014. At a golf course that plays really long, I’m more than willing to throw money on a guy who last year was 25-1 at this event!
Kevin Tway (90-1 to win, 14-1 top 5, 6-1 top 10)
Tway has been on fire lately with 20 consecutive rounds of 72 or lower!!! Tway’s distance should pay off this week with all of the long par 4s and reachable par 5s. At 90-1, he is more than worth throwing a few dollars on.