Memorial Tournament 2020: Muirfield momentum can boost Woodland

American Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland can challenge for the title

Dave Tindall is back to preview the Memorial Tournament and has three each-way selections for the action at Muirfield Village...

"Woodland came out of the pack to finish tied fifth last week and clearly did his best work on the weekend."

Main Bet: Gary Woodland each-way @ 40/1

In last week's Workday Charity Open preview, I wrote that Muirfield Village was a classic 'second-shot' course and that Strokes Gained: Tee To Green tells the best story when looking at winners.

Well, the theory certainly worked out with the first three home - Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas and Viktor Hovland - ranking 3rd, 2nd and 1st for SG: Tee To Green and 6th, 5th and 1st for SG: Approach.

I also added that there was some leeway with the short game and that also played out. Hovland actually recorded a negative SG: Putting figure while that top three were 38th, 20th and 17th respectively for SG: Around The Green.

Although the course will play quicker this week as it hosts its traditional event, the Memorial Tournament, I see no reason to desert the original plan which almost brought us a nice each-way payout with 60/1 Kevin Streelman. He was T7 although he shared that position with six others so returns were compromised.

The other reassuring stat from last week was Par 5 performance. Playing the long holes has always been a big factor at Muirfield Village and winner Morikawa ranked T3 for Par 5s after playing them in -11, runner-up Thomas 2nd (-11) and third-place Hovland T6 (-9).

Whether playing here last week will prove an advantage is hard to say but, given that they tried to speed the course up as the week went on to make it more like a Memorial set-up, I'll certainly lean on those who performed strongly over the final 36 holes. That makes sense anyway given that they'd have finished the tournament in a good mood after improving on the weekend.

So, first pick at 40/1 is Gary Woodland.

Woodland came out of the pack to finish tied fifth last week and clearly did his best work on the weekend.

Looking at his Approach play he had negative figures in his first two rounds (73-68) but positive in his final two (66-69).

His putter also got hotter. It was a hindrance on day one but he then gained at least 2.3 strokes on the field in rounds two, three and four to finish the week 3rd for SG: Putting.

Woodland was also strong on the Par 5s, firing -9 on the long holes to rank sixth.

In past Memorials, he's posted a fourth place in 2016 and a 6th on debut in 2011 so last week's top five was no surprise.

With three top nine finishes in his last five starts, Woodland is clearly playing well again and still has that US Open trophy on his mantelpiece due to the tournament being delayed.

"If you're going to play two weeks in a row, there's no better place to do it. This is one of my favourite stops of the year, and I'm glad we're here two weeks," said Woodland on Sunday.

All in all, the 40/1 looks a decent price.

Next Best: Jon Rahm each-way @ 20/1

Perhaps the most extreme case of a player thriving late last week to hopefully give him some notable momentum for his second 72 holes at Muirfield Village is Jon Rahm.

Jon Rahm watches drive 1280.jpg

Rahm wasn't really going anywhere for three days as he recorded laps of 72-70-75 but everything clicked on Sunday as he threw down the lowest round of the day, an 8-under 64.

The big-hitting Spaniard fired three birdies and an eagle on the Par 5s, gained 4.314 strokes on Approach and 6.288 strokes Tee To Green.

He's hardly set the world alight since golf returned after finishes of MC-33-37-27 but I'm hoping last Sunday at Memorial Village will be the spark he needed.

Ahead of last week, he said: "There's not one shot out here I would say I don't like. It's a beautiful golf course, and hopefully I can play tee to green a little bit better than I have been playing to give myself a chance one of those two weeks, or both of them."

Having recorded his best Tee To Green figures since his third place in February's WGC-Mexico Championship, the price of 20/1 is good enough to lure me in.

There are plenty at the front end of the market with chances but, on price, Rahm gets the nod.

If being given a free bet on another of the elite, I'd probably take the 14s on Patrick Cantlay.

He's the defending champion, finished like a train to take T7 last week and now has Muirfield Village form of 7-1-4.

Then again, we could all find ourselves in a position on Sunday, wondering why we didn't back Bryson DeChambeau - a winner here in 2018 and a winner on his last start.

Is 9/1 the worst price given what he's doing right now? It's one to argue.

Final Bet: Danny Willett each-way @ 125/1

I was going to put Billy Horschel up as my final pick at 70/1.

He was another with a strong second half performance at Muirfield Village last week as rounds of 70-66 took him to tied sixth.

It means he now has course form of 7-9-MC-MC-11-15 since 2014.

But I made a mental note a couple of weeks ago to look out for Danny Willett if he appeared again soon at a big price.

And with the Liverpool fan on offer here at 125s, I can't let that go.

Bar a T18 at Bay Hill, Willett had been subdued before lockdown and certainly took time to shake off the rust after a trio of missed cuts at Colonial, Hilton Head and TPC River Highlands even though he didn't shoot higher than 72 in those six rounds.

But after a modest opening 71 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, he fired 68-67-66 to finish in a tie for fourth.

Notably, in terms of what I'm looking for this week, he ranked 6th in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green at Detroit GC.

Known mostly in the United States for winning the 2016 US Masters, Willett has had some severe dips since but European Tour watchers will have seen him land two more big events in the last 20 months - the 2018 season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and the prestigious BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Willett wins on famous courses and there are some very obvious comparisons between Muirfield Village and Augusta National.

He's had one previous look at Jack Nicklaus' course and finished a solid T27 last year.

The Englishman actually opened with a pair of 69s to sit in the top 10 at halfway and was still T15 with 18 to play.

Fearless when in contention, the 125/1 could look very big.

Staked: £784
Returned: £534.83
P/L: -£249.17

2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89

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