Share Long and straight is what we're looking for this week at the Memorial tournament. In other words - the total driving stat. I've found it very hard to finalise my shortlist this week with about 6 or 7 players all very appealing to me....
It's the presence of Tiger Woods which has added extra value to the likes of Steve Stricker and Rory Mcilroy, both of whom after a lot of thought, I've decided to strike off my list this week. Stricker due to lack of playing time recently and McIlroy due to lack of another very important factor this week at the Memorial tournament and that is experience.
Players that tend to do well around Muirfield are players up near the top of the total driving stats (especially length), experienced players that have the intelligence to fire away from pins if needs be and the know how to get around tracks like this and players with good GIR%, as well as good fast green putters. In short, you might say a good all round game is needed and that would be very true as this tournament will set up like a major and was indeed 1 of the toughest courses last year outside of the majors. Mickelson and Woods head the betting, a resurgent Els and Scott are up there but none of the above catch my eye in regards to value this week. Instead, main focus will be on a couple of course specialists, Geoff Ogilvy and Kenny Perry.
Playing 7,265 yards to a par of 72, Muirfield Village was ranked 6/51 in difficulty last year on the PGA Tour. Length off the tee is a real advantage this week as players hitting long irons into the greens will struggle. It's vital in what some players describe as a "second shot course" to have as little club as possible and as high a ball flight as possible into greens that proved really tough to hit last year. Rough will be up and greens will be fast so short side yourself and you're in trouble this week.
Selections Offering Value
Pick 1: Geoff Ogilvy E/W @ 33/1 (general) or Top 10 @ 7/2 (Extrabet) A regular feature on the leaderboard at Memorial and a man who shot an amazing 63 in one round last year in tough conditions. A brilliant putter on fast greens and ranks 1st in proximity to the hole from the rough. Back to form and warmed up nicely last week at Colonial.
Pick 2: Kenny Perry @ 35/1 (Bet365) or Top 10 @ 10/3 (General), 3 time Memorial winner and course specialist, it is he (amongst others) I got the "second shot course" quote from and not many know this place better. Perry ranks 2nd in total driving and he knows where approach shots need to be targeted to score at Muirfield. In good recent form and seems to be getting to grips with his new putter.
Pick 3: Nick Watney E/W @ 45/1 (general) or top 10 @ 4/1 (general) Ranked 9th in total driving and 2nd in GIR% and a lover of tough courses, Watney although I'd have liked a little bigger price still represents value for me here. He can demolish the par 5's and use his tee to green game to avoid having to make treacherous up and downs. Tied for 14th here last year and his game is really improving with the help of Butch Harmon.
Pick 4: Hunter Mahan E/W @ 45/1 (general) or top 10 @ 4/1 (general) Following the theme, how can I possibly ignore someone who ranks at the very top of the total driving stat and is always competent in the GIR% stat. Hunter for me is vey much in the mould of Watney this week in that he can use his tee to green game to stay out of trouble. Hunter's weakness is his chipping but with his iron play and driving, he should hit most greens. Another horses for courses type who thrives in events of this ilk.
John Mallinger E/W @ 250/1 (Skybet) or top 20 @ 15/2 (Totesport) Mallinger burst onto the scene a few years back but hasn't yet really fulfilled his potential. He's had a shocking season this year so far but showed signs of form again last week with a good finish at Colonial. He tied for 10th here in 2008 and worth a small bet at huge odds.
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