2021 Memorial Tournament Preview

By Harris Oates and John White

Memorial Tournament | Muirfield Village Golf Club | Dublin, OH

Defending Champion: Jon Rahm (-9 won by 3 strokes over Ryan Palmer)

FedEx Cup Points: 550

Past Champions

2019: Patrick Cantlay

2018: Bryson DeChambeau

2017: Jason Dufner

2016: William McGirt

2015: David Lingmerth

History of the Tournament

The Memorial Tournament is one of five invitational tournaments on tour (and second consecutive following the Charles Schwab Challenge last week) that has been around since 1976. It is amongst several of the most popular non-major tournaments due to the deep-rooted respect for the tournaments founder, Jack Nicklaus. He not only designed the course and club itself, he brought the tournament together through a vision during his playing career to have an event in his hometown of Columbus. The tournament is also known for its connection with giving back to charity, which lately has been to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In the mid 90s the tournament became the first non-major to sell out of tickets to fans. The tournament has grown alongside the PGA Tour itself and has seen the champions’ winnings go from $40,000 in 1976 to $1,674,000 in 2020.

Along with founding the tournament and club, Nicklaus also won the tournament twice (’77, ’84). Other multiple time winners include Tiger Woods (5), Kenny Perry (3), Tom Watson (2), Greg Norman (2), and Hale Irwin (2).

Greatest Moments

Although Tiger Woods has won five times, he also had two of his worst performances ever. In 2013 he shot a 44 on the back 9 of his third round, the lowest nine of his career. In 2015 he shot an 85 in the third round, which was the worst 18 hole score of his career. However, he had many highlights such as his 3 year sweep from 1999-2001 and his memorable final round in 2012 where he birdied 3 of the final 4 holes en route to win his fifth time.

Last year, Jon Rahm had a huge charge on Sunday and chipped in late on hole 16 in a very similar spot to Tiger’s from 2012. Following the victory, Rahm become the world number 1.

Course Breakdown

Muirfield Village is a private country club in Dublin, Ohio that was founded by golf’s great Jack Nicklaus. The club was named after Muirfield, Scotland, which was where Jack won the first of his 3 British Opens in 1966. There are two courses in Muirfield Village, which are the Country Club at Muirfield and Muirfield Village Golf Club (where the tournament is held).

Along with the Memorial Tournament, Muirfiled Village has hosted the U.S. Amateur (1992), the Ryder Cup (1987), the Solheim Cup (1998), the Presidents Cup (2013) and the Workday Charity Open (2020).

As mentioned above, the course was designed by Jack. It is a Par 72 that is 7,392 yards with a course rating of 72.1 and a slope rating of 130. The Greens and Fairways are both Bentgrass. The course record is 61 and was set by John Huston in 1996.

The course is ranked number 1 in Ohio by Golf Digest and is home to several celebrities including Urban Meyer, Jason Day and Jack Hanna.

The most notable and unique trait regarding Muirfield Village is Jack’s hands on approach to keeping the course as one of the toughest on tour. A true competitor, he annually makes changes to lengthen the course, modify greens, add bunkers among other adaptations. These changes have kept the course up to date with the evolution of modern golf technology, while keeping the traditional feel of the course.

Field

The tournament will have an extremely strong field this weekend and features 7 of the top 10 golfers in the world. Dustin Johnson (1), Brooks Keopka (7) and Tyrell Hatton (10) will all miss this week. Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morrikawa, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed all will be playing and are near the top of the odds for the field.

TV Schedule

Thursday: 3-7pm on the Golf Channel

Friday: 3-7pm on the Golf Channel

Saturday: 12-3pm on the Golf Channel, then 3-6pm on CBS

Sunday: 12-3pm on the Golf Channel, then 2:30-6pm on CBS

Also on PGA Tour Live Thursday-Friday: 7:45 am-6:30 pm (Featured Groups)

Saturday & Sunday: 8 am-3 pm (Featured Groups), 3-6 pm (Featured Holes)

Weather

credit: Weather.com

There is a high chance of T-Storms on Thursday afternoon but should be clear other than that.

The Odds

The Favorites:

Jon Rahm 10-1

The returning champ enters the week as the favorite. Rahm has been playing great golf and has 10 top 10 finishes this season. He is coming in hot off of the PGA (T8) and looking for his first victory of the season.

Rory McIlroy 14-1

Rory won last month at the Wells Fargo and was my pick for the PGA but struggled on the weekend and finished T49. He has never won the Memorial but could add the tournament to his long list of acheivements.

Jordan Spieth 14-1

Spieth finished in second place last week but was clearly not on his A game. It is encouraging that he could finish that high on a Sunday where he could not place his wedge shots. I think Spieth is a few months away from winning a star-studded event like this but who knows?

Bryson DeChambeau 14-1

His beef with Brooks has recently taken it up a notch. Will his long ball work at Muirfield or will Jack’s recent changes cause him to struggle? Bryson won the tournament in 2018 but I predict he misses the cut like he did last year. You may remember last year that Bryson had an epic meltdown where he carded a 10 on the 15th hole.

Collin Morrikawa 16-1

Morrikawa has been solid lately but is searching for another win this season. The course matches his strengths and this could be the week he gets another W.

Justin Thomas 16-1

Thomas has also been solid as always and already has 5 top 10s along with winning The Players. If JT wins this weekend it would likely put him atop the Tour in FedEx points. It is worth noting that the 2020 Workday Classic (a temporary “make-up” event that was played at Muirfield Village last year because of COVID-19) came down to a playoff between Thomas and Morrikawa.

Favorite Value:

Jason Day 60-1

This may not be as much of a longshot as you’d expect but Day is a local at GCMV and could easily get hot.

Max Homa 100-1

Homa has been slumping hard and making many adjustments to his game as of lately but could this be the week that he gets comfortable?

Talor Gooch 150-1

Gooch has 3 top 10s this year but more notably has only missed 2 cuts out of 23. However, he did card a 78 at the Memorial last year.

Predicted Outright Winner

Harris: Justin Thomas. He knows how to compete at Muirfiled Village and is one of the most highly skilled players in the world. His skillset will be able to easily adapt to the changes that Jack has made.

DFS Lineup*

The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield welcomes back a strong playing field this week since many players took a break after the PGA Championship. Bryson, Justin Thomas, Xander, Patrick Cantlay and many more are back at Jack Nicklaus’ course to claim part of the $9.3M purse. Last year’s winner, Jon Rahm is the favorite in Vegas with  +900 odds. However, Jordan Speith enters the DFS lineups as the favorite with a 11,300 salary. 
Ball striking will be the defining factor for winning at Muirfield this week. Jon Rahm displayed this last year by showing off his prestigious short game skills. Even though the course has gone through some renovations, look for short game players to once again lead the field this week. Rahm, the favorite to win the 2021 memorial tournament, enters the DFS lineups with a 11,100 salary.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I never pick the previous year’s winner to be a part of my lineup. Even though Rahm is one of the most consistent golfers the world has ever seen, we are going to stick with our own rules. Rahm is out of our lineups this week. For my high end salary picks, I’m looking at Viktor Hovland and Keegan Bradley. Viktor is sitting on back to back top 3 finishes while playing the hardest ranked courses on the tour. Murfield’s difficulty will no doubt be a challenge but Viktor has shown that he can get it done. 
My favorite Pick this week is Keegan Bradley. When it comes to a consistent golfer with a lower than average salary, Keegan is your man. He has finished top 10 in 3 straight tournaments and has not missed a cut in 9 straight weeks. Not only has he been consistent, but in the past 5 events Keegan has played, he finished within 3 shots of the leader after every single round. In the last 6 trips to the Memorial Tournament, he has averaged a 27th place finish with two top 10 finishes. With a below average salary of 8,000, Keegan belongs in every DFS lineup this week. 
Other players in the field to keep your eyes on are Jordan Speith (11,300), Collin Morikawa (10,400), Patrick Reed (9,100), and Cameron Smith (8,600). Even though these players have a higher than average salary, at least one of them will find their way into the top 10. Another name to remember is our man Sebastian Munoz. I love picking Munoz due to his low salary of 7,100. He rarely disappoints my lineups 

John White’s Top 3 Picks 
1. Viktor Hovland 9,900

2. Keegan Bradley 8,000

3. Cameron Smith 8,600


Wildcard Picks 

1. Sam Burns 8,900

2. Sebastian Munoz 7,100

3. Cameron Tringale 7,600

Favorite Lineup 

1. Viktor Hovland 9,900

2. Sam Burns 8,900

3. Max Homa 7,500

4. Keegan Bradley 8,000

5. Sebastian Munoz 7,100

6. Cameron Smith 8,600

 Remaining Salary – 0 out of 50k

*DFS stands for Daily Fantasy Sports and is a fantasy format that uses a salary cap style of picking a lineup. The salary cap figures are fictional and in no way represent real money or currency.

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All predictions are made on an entertainment basis and do not in any way equate to a recommendation. These are hypothetical predictions. Please see below for full disclaimer. All odds are not official, rather are just a consensus of outside probabilities.

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