In a weird scheduling quirk for the 2024 season, the PGA Tour heads to the Memorial a week later than usual. That means that 73 players will now be playing the week before the U.S. Open, on a course that couldn’t be less like Pinehurst No. 2. You may see some weird results this week as many players would prefer to practice rather than play the week before a major. So even though this is a prestigious event with a gigantic purse, it’s tough to gauge how motivated players will be. 

So, having established how the calendar might impact performances, what does it typically take to succeed at Muirfield Village? You must be an elite ball-striker especially off the tee, as the rough and bunkers are penal. In terms of approach play, we see larger than normal distribution of shots from 150-200 yards when compared to a standard week on Tour. The difficult greens are firm and extremely fast, with an abundance of slope. That combination kind of nerfs the edge a great putter might typically have, as any putt outside 10 feet is extremely difficult to make. The best chance to make putts is actually dependent on a player’s approach game, as leaving uphill putts will be key. 

All that in mind, we’re targeting two elite ball-strikers this week:

Ludvig Åberg Top 20 -115

I get there are still some lingering concerns over his knee injury, but I think the betting market overcorrected here. Åberg is an elite ball-striker, and elite ball-strikers have historically excelled at Jack’s Place. You can’t fake your way around here, whether off the tee or on approach. Ludvig is one of only three players in this field to rank inside the top 10 both off the tee and on approach from 150 to 200 yards. Scheffler and Morikawa are the other two, both of whom have had great success here. Over his last 19 starts, Åberg has finished inside the top 20 an amazing 15 times. I will gladly take my chances at -115 for Åberg to add to that run this week.

Patrick Cantlay Top 20 -105

We are getting a bit of a cheap price on his top 20 this week thanks to struggles in some of the bigger events in 2024, as Cantlay did not finish inside the top 20 at the Players, Masters, or PGA. However, as we see year after year, Cantlay continues to excel in a short list of events (Memorial, Shriners, Genesis, Heritage, etc). Even in a down year for Cantlay, he finished in the top four at both the Genesis and the Heritage this season. Cantlay has finished seventh or better in five of the last six editions of the Memorial, including two victories. I’m looking at him to post another strong showing this week.