The Memorial preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
Just two weeks before the US Open and a host of the worlds best gather for Jack’s event, The Memorial. Created by the man himself in 1976 in his own state of Ohio this is a seriously north American event. Nicklaus won this twice and given his standing in the game – like Arnie – he’s always attracted the top players.
The list of event winners is littered with major champions but also some lesser lights – Petterson, Choi, Bryant, Lingmerth and McGirt amongst them. The course is an ever-changing beast but essentially reflects Jack’s attitude that you should be able to get it in the fairway to then set up a shot, the correct shot, to the flag. The width afforded off the tee while not in the recent Trinity Forest league suggest this course would suit bombers. Except the winners are a mix of all types with most recent winners averaging less than 300 off the tee – way less.
Ideally therefore we want a player who’s in form and in particular hitting fairways and greens. Hardly a magical formula granted.
The chances of the top players seem blindingly obvious. Dustbin, Rory, Spieth, Thomas and recent winners Day and Rose, all have undeniable recent form and credentials around Muirfield and as such the only case against them is the profit motive – how do you reasonably separate them?
Tiger’s back as well with decent recent form and a legacy around here that is second to none with five wins the latest in 2012. Watching him fade recently from goodish positions puts me off.
We were all set to back Rory and Jordan at Augusta at 20’s each of two only for both of them to hit form. At 16’s and 18’s respectively here they are nearly were we wanted them and yet they both have demons, albeit temporary it would seem, that dents any confidence. Rory was potentially inches away from an unlikely play off at the BMW having cruised around Wentworth for 36 holes in what seemed to be the worst score he could have produced -12 only to hack it round on the weekend. These two are so brilliant that nothing would surprise and while Jordan suffers on the greens Rory is actually having a great year on them – hard to believe as it is.
The shortlist includes all of the aforementioned plus Kuchar, Schwartzel, Moore and Sabbatini but then I see chinks…..so many chinks.
All on Betfair
Bryson DeChambeau 1pt win at $48
Emiliano Grillo 1pt win at $60
Kyle Stanley 1pt win at $140
At the Masters…”Bryson DeChambeau is a stable star of ours and comes here in fine form. He’s 31st in strokes gained approaching the green and 128th in stokes gained putting – seasonally. Hardly sets the world on fire given we’re always trying to make a case for players based on performance. What isn’t revealed but these numbers are his most recent efforts and that includes chasing home a rampant Rory at the Arnie P. Not an isolated effort either as he posted a T5 at the Waste Management and a T7 at the Shriners. DeChambeau can be DeShambles but he does things his way and when on looks a world class player. He has a solid debut effort (T21) in 2016 ruined by a few horror holes and is a much better player trending in the right direction. Easy to envisage being in contention and at 80/1 fixed and bigger on the exchanges carries ours.”
At the Colonial: DeChambeau failed to set Augusta on fire but he is in fine form with a 2nd, 3rd and 4th in his last 5 starts. He’s hitting fairways and greens for fun and crucially his robotic putting method is working.
A stable star in much the same way Patrick once was I fail to see why we should abandon Bryson given all the underlying factors still prevail. I think his price is based on the stacked top end of the market and his sole appearance where he finished midfield. He’s yet to win this season but he’s overall game is rock solid and his stats tell a compelling story. A 2nd, 3rd and 4th are the least of it. He’s 21st in scoring average, 11th in strokes gained tee to green, 15th strokes gained total – super solid stats that will place him in positions to win.
Emiliano Grillo is, regular readers will recall, another stable favourite. We’ve not seen him here for a while as he seemed to be struggling. I was tempted last week and given that performance I have to be on him here. The key to him for me is putting. I’ve long since been convinced of his ball striking – currently ranked 11th and was 7th the previous week – Grillo has had to go on a journey to discover his putting. The bare facts of his game are that he has made strides – huge ones. Four top tens in his last eight starts is no mean feat on the USPGA Tour. A debut 11th here in 2016 was impressive on his first full year on tour. Where I am really impressed with Grillo is the depth of statistical evidence across the main categories. Ball striking is a guide to half the game and as impressive as being top ten is it needs to be underpinned by being able to convert and at 15th in strokes gained putting you have the evidence. He hits the fairways, he hits the greens and now he’s putting. Like Bryson his price appears to be predicated on the sheer number of top ranked players – just how we like it.
Kyle Stanley has yet to make an appearance here but strikes me as a potential contender. The 30-year-old tour winner, ranked 49th in the world, comes her with good course form allied to some solid recent performances including three top tens this season. A missed cut at the Players can be forgiven where he lost nearly one and a half stokes to the field on the greens – it happens. I’m drawn to Stanley for his tee to green game standing 4th as he does in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation. At 102nd on strokes gained putting he would appear to be struggling. Simply put if you hit that many greens then you’ll almost always be down in the strokes gained putting category. Some context then. Tied for 6th last year he gained over 1.8 stokes on the field on the greens – so he can putt. He also posted a 3rd here in 2013 again with a solid 0.814 strokes gained putting. A final putting pointer. Since the 2013 season Stanley has always posted a season long negative strokes gained putting figure – five seasons on the trot. In 2018 his current figure is 0.087. The man’s on fire!