Memorial Tournament First Round Leader: Niemann can make an early noise

Chilean Joaquin Niemann
Joaquin Niemann can start fast at Muirfield Village again
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Dave Tindall has three selections to make a fast start at Muirfield Village...

"He's already got some useful history having finished T6 (2018) and T27 (2019) in his first two Memorials and, on debut, Niemann burst out of the gate with a 65."

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Muirfield Village: Players enjoyed similar good weather throughout the day last week and it was shown in the scores with hardly any difference between the morning (72.16) and afternoon (72.09) waves. However, this time, the wind definitely picks up for the p.m starters and could gust at over 15mph. The morning wave may find it nearer 5-8mph. Temperatures start at in the mid-70s and rise to the mid-80s by the afternoon but rain is in the forecast too, especially for the later tee-off times.

First-round leader history at Muirfield Village:

2019 - 65 Ryan Moore
2018 - 65 Abraham Ancer, Joaquin Niemann, Hideki Matsuyama
2017 - 65 Jason Dufner, David Lingmerth
2016 - 64 Dustin Johnson
2015 - 64 Hideki Matsuyama, Bo Van Pelt

Strategy: Historically, it's been a fairly even split but I'm definitely leaning towards the morning wave this time as they'll get smoother greens and less wind.

Niemann can nail it early

Joaqin Niemann made it four cuts out of four since golf returned with T31 at Muirfield Village last week and saved his best round until last, closing with a 68.

A hot 63-65 weekend finish gave him tied fifth at the RBC Heritage three starts ago and his Tee To Green numbers - the best predictor for success at this week's course - have been impressive.

With the course set to play tougher, the value of strong iron play will be increased this week and the Chilean should enjoy Muirfield Village that little bit more.

He's already got some useful history having finished T6 (2018) and T27 (2019) in his first two Memorials and, on debut, he burst out of the gate with a 65.

That 7-under lap gave him the first-round lead with two others and he still had it at halfway.

Talking after 36 holes, he said: "I like to hit a lot of like low fade drives, and this course has got a good setup for my game. I like to hit that shot almost on every hole, so I like to be in the fairway with that driver farther down."

Looking at this season, he was the leader after 18 holes at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and second on the leaderboard after Thursday's play at the CJ Cup in South Korea.

Niemann, who heads out at 07.44, looks a good 60/1 chance

Abraham could be the Ancer

Abraham Ancer was also part of the three-way tie for the R1 lead here two years ago, matching Niemann's 65.

And, like the Chilean, his current Tee To Green numbers suggest he can flourish again.

Ancer gained a whopping 13.658 strokes TTG when runner-up at last month's RBC Heritage and is more than 25 up on the field in that category in the three events he's played since the restart.

That ball-striking has helped him finish T14 at the Charles Schwab and T11 at the Travelers Championship.

In the former, the Mexican opened with a 64 - a total he matched on day two at Hilton Head - to sit third after day one.

A first-round leader in last year's Travelers Championship, Ancer has plenty of fast starts to his name and can do some early damage from his 07.55 tee-time.

Score with Keegan

Keegan Bradley drives 1280.jpg

Finally, I'll take a bit of a punt on Keegan Bradley at a triple-figure price.

The American has an early tee-time, 07.33, and a strong history for starting quickly.

Since March 2019, he's been a first-round leader three times, taking the honours at the Players Championship, Canadian Open and Farmers Insurance Open.

It also caught me eye than he ranked 1st for Strokes Gained Approach (10.750) and 5th for SG: Tee To Green (9.420) when T39 here last week in the Workday Charity Open.

His putting was awful it has to be said but he recorded a positive figure on day one and hopefully he can do something similar this week with the clock re-set and a few visits to the putting green.

With scoring set to be harder, his long-game prowess should come more to the fore and Bradley has played this course well previously, registering back-to-back T8s in 2015 and 2016 when opening with 68s both times.

Let's have a punt at 100/1.

Staked: £420
Returned: £345.91
P/L: -£74.09

Dave Tindall,

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