Memorial Tournament: Kisner can stay hot in Ohio

Kevin Kisner can get in the mix again this week
Kevin Kisner can get in the mix again this week

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for this week's PGA Tour event - the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village...

"T10 at Colonial last time, a trawl through KK’s form over the last couple of years shows that he’s very good at stringing good performances together."

Main bet: Back Kevin Kisner @ 67.066/1

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places


Main Bet: Back Kevin Kisner e/w @ 66/1

With the 'Big Three' of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy all playing this week, there are some decent prices to be had on the Memorial.

That said, that trio all head to Muirfield Village on the back of a win (Day - Players Championship, Spieth - Dean & Deluca Invitational and McIlroy - Irish Open) so there's a good chance one of them might make it back-it-back triumphs.

At 6/1, 7/1 and 7/1, none of them leap off the page for me on this particular course though and I prefer to take some bigger odds elsewhere.

My main bet is Kevin Kisner at a juicy 66/1.

On a very basic level, he boasts course and current form having finished T8 here last year and posted T10 at Colonial last week.

But his appeal grows further when drilling down a few levels.

A trawl through KK's form over the last couple of years shows that he's very good at stringing good performances together.

He started the calendar year with back-to-back top 10s in the two Hawaii tournaments (9th at the Hyundai and T5 at Sony). And that after he'd ended 2015 with a second place at the WGC-HSBC Champions and a victory at the RSM Classic.

Jump back to this time last year and you'll note that his T8 came the week after a T5 at Colonial. That form was wedged between play-off losses at The Players Championship and the Greenbrier Classic while he'd had an earlier one at The Heritage.

In other words, last year he was red-hot between The Masters and the US Open.

If further evidence is needed, rewind further to 2014 and you'll find a T9 in the 2014 RBC Canadian Open followed by T8 at the Wyndham. Quite clearly, Kisner has a history of putting sequences together.

Sixth on this year's FedEx Cup points list, ninth on the Money List and 24th in the world rankings, Kisner is operating at a high level these days. But what I really like about him here is that he looks a great statistical fit for Muirfield Village.

Steve Rawlings notes that Driving Accuracy has been more important that Driving Distance at the Memorial in the last 10 years while Par 4 scoring has been another key indicator.

Kisner currently sits 19th in Driving Accuracy and 12th in Par 4 Scoring Average. He's also 11th in Birdie or Better Conversion Percentage so knows how to take his chances when they come along.

He alluded to some of that last year after opening with a 67: "I drove it great. I hit a lot of fairways, I think I only missed one. If you can do that out here, you can attack."

Kisner has done well in limited-field events (HSBC, Hyundai) which is another little plus. "It's such a sweet golf course, a sweet venue, small field makes it feel a little more special. So always cool to come back up here," he said of Memorial ahead of last year's event.

We're getting the 66s as he had struggled a little bit over the last few months but T23 at the WGC-Cadillac and T37 at The Masters (smaller fields again) were decent efforts and after closing 66-69-66 at Colonial he looks ready to thrive and make another title push.


Next Best: Back Hideki Matsuyama e/w @ 16/1

I simply can't not have Hideki Matsuyama onside this week as all roads lead to the young Japanese star.

After getting a first look at Memorial in the 2013 Presidents Cup and playing some excellent golf without really receiving the full reward for it, he played this event for the first time in 2014 and won!

It was tense stuff as found water on 16, bogeyed 17 and snapped his driver head off after a poor drive.

But, taking advantage of a kindly bounce off a tree, he nailed a 7-iron to five feet, holed for birdie to make a play-off and then drained a 10-footer for par to win at the first extra hole.

It was his first win on the PGA Tour and a significant moment.

Since then, he's matured into a real star and showed much more composure when pouncing on late mistakes by Rickie Fowler to win February's Waste Management Phoenix Open after a play-off with the American.

It's worth noting that his previous form figures in Phoenix were 4-2. In other words, he has those horses-for-courses tendencies which are always betting friendly.

The same applies to Memorial. Defending a title is never easy but Matsuyama returned to Muirfield Village last year and tied for fifth after opening with a 64. Put those eight rounds together and his average lap at Memorial is 68.875.

Asked at a media day, why he does so well there, the 24-year-old replied: "I don't know how it fits my eye, but I do know that the fairways are a little wider than some of the tournaments we play.

"And Muirfield Village is a great second shot golf course, which is my strength. Maybe those are the two reasons that I've done well here."

On course form alone, he's probably worth a bet but when you factor in current form he's almost impossible to ignore.

In his last four strokeplay starts, Matsuyama has finished T7 at the Players Championship (best finish there), T11 at Wells Fargo (best finish there), T7 at The Masters and T6 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (best finish there).

That's high-quality golf and you'd argue quite easily that his current world ranking of 15th isn't flattering him. Out of interest he's 6th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings which seems more like it.

An explanation: "Jeff Sagarin's rating system is based on a mathematical formula that uses a player's won-lost-tied record against other players when they play on the same course on the same day, and the stroke differential between those players, then links all players to one another based on common opponents. The ratings give an indication of who is playing well over the past 52 weeks."

Matsuyama ranks well as he often thrives when in the best company and that bodes well considering who he's up against here.

The 16/1 is a decent each-way price given all he has going for him.


Best Top 5/10: Back Kevin Na for top 5 @ 11/1 and for top 10 @ 5/1

Our old friend Kevin Na gets the nod again in this market and, by now, the reasons are obvious.

Basically, he never wins (well, once in 315 starts and that was five years ago) but does have a habit of racking up top 10s (53 and five already this season).

The key is to find a course that plays to his strengths as he's normally pretty reliable at delivering i.e. another horses-for-courses merchant.

At Muirfield Village he's made five cuts out of six and in the last two years lost a play-off to Matsuyama in 2014 and was T13 (just a shot outside the top 10 ) last year.

That run included a closing 64 in 2014 and a 66 in round three 12 months ago.

On the stats, it all makes sense as the Korean-born American is 40th in Driving Accuracy and 4th in Par 4 Scoring Average.

His form has been a little spotty in 2016 but he has performed strongly at scenes of previous good results with a T3 in the CareerBuilder Challenge and a T4 at Hilton Head.

As all five of his top 10s this season were actually top 5s, I'm going to split stakes (£5 each) between the two markets.

Na is 11/1 for a top 5 and 5/1 for top 10.

Other outsiders for an each-way bet or play in the side markets include Tony Finau and Jason Dufner.

Finau, a winner in Puerto Rico recently, was T8 on his Memorial debut last year (R2 66, R4 67) and was T12 and T34 in the two recent Texas events.

Dufner was T24 at the Byron Nelson and T6 at Colonial so has found his groove again. The 2013 US PGA winner had made the top 25 for the last two years at Memorial and was second at halfway two years ago after opening 66-67.

Dave's 2016 P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £640
Returned: £634.50
P/L: -£5.50

(After the Dean & Deluca Invitational)

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