Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 Memorial Tournament Picks.
2023 Memorial — DraftKings Picks | Own Projections
2023 Fantasy Football — Rookie RB Rankings & Projections
2023 Memorial Tournament: Field
120 Players | Top 65 & Ties Make The Cut
First Tee: Thursday, June 1
Defending Champion: Billy Horschel
2023 Memorial Tournament: Key Stats
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Par 4s 450-500 Yards Gained
- Sand Saves Gained
- Proximity Gained 175-200 Yards
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2023 Memorial Tournament: Course
- Course: Muirfield Village
- Par: 72
- Yardage: 7,543
- Greens: Bentgrass
- Number of Sand Bunkers: 68
- Holes With Water is in Play: 13
Par 3s (4): Average distance – 198 yards
- Three of the four Par 3s check in at 200+ yards, but it is the exception (180 yards) that had the highest bogey-or-worse rate of the bunch (26.3%)
Par 4s (10): Average distance – 447 yards
- Three of the four toughest holes on the course are back-nine Par 4s (Holes 10-17-18)
- Three of the four easiest Par 4s come on the front nine and carry a birdie rate over 17%
Par 5s (4): Average distance – 570 yards
- These are the four easiest holes on the course, all checking in with an eagle rate north of 1% and a birdie rate over 30%
2023 Memorial Tournament: Past Winners
- 2022: Billy Horschel -13
- 2021: Patrick Cantlay -13* (Jon Rahm forced to WD after three rounds as leader)
- 2020: Jon Rahm -9
- 2019: Patrick Cantlay -19
- 2018: Bryson DeChambeau -15
- 2017: Jason Dufner -13
- 2016: William McGirt -15
- 2015: David Lingmerth -14
- 2014: Hideki Matsuyama -13
- 2013: Matt Kuchar -12
2022: Billy Horschel (-13, four clear of Aaron Wise)
- Horschel’s 65 on Moving Day was not only two clear of anybody on the course that day, but it was also four-plus strokes better than the next three finishers on the final leaderboard
- Ten of the Top 12 finishers gained in Proximity from 200+ yards (five of the top eight in that metric finished top 10)
2021: Patrick Cantlay (-13, playoff win over Collin Morikawa)
- Cantlay was better than Morikawa in just one of four days, but he made it count with a Friday 67. In Rounds 2-3, he totaled 11 birdies and just two bogeys (both coming on Par 3s)
- The majority of those who ended up inside the Top 15 lost distance on the field (Cantlay gained 3.0 more Good Drives than anyone else in the field)
- Jon Rahm was destroying the field but tested positive for COVID walking off the 18th green after the third round.
2020: Jon Rahm (-9, three clear of Ryan Palmer)
- Rahm was able to coast to victory with a Sunday 75 thanks to being the only player to be in the 60s in each of the first three rounds.
- Mid-range putting … eight of the top nine finishers gained on the field in putting from 10-15 feet (Rahm and Palmer were 1-2 on the final leaderboard despite losing on the field in putting from both 15-20 and 20-25 feet)
2019: Patrick Cantlay (-19, two clear of Adam Scott)
- His 64 on Sunday was the round of the day (four better than Scott and eight better than third-place finisher Martin Kaymer)
- Three of the top five finishers lost strokes off the tee.
- Three of the top five finishers were among the five best in SG:APP
2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-15, playoff win over Byeong-Hun An/Kyle Stanley)
- DeChambeau’s 66 on Saturday proved critical (three better than An and four better than Stanley)
- The only two players to cash top 20 paychecks were the top two putters for the week. Gain in the traditional sense with the irons or run hot with the flat stick.
2023 Memorial Tournament: Course
At the conclusion of the 2020 Memorial, the greens, fairways and tee boxes were regrassed, and around 100 extra yards were added to the course. The greens weren’t just reconstructed with new bentgrass, irrigation and Precision Air systems, but they were recontoured as well. All greenside bunkers were modified too. Muirfield Village already possessed the most difficult greenside sand traps on TOUR, and the adjustments didn’t change that hardship based on the last two years.
Generating sand saves from the 68 bunkers spread across the grounds is essential. The greenside sand traps at Muirfield Village have annually resulted in the longest proximity lengths of any course in the regular PGA TOUR rotation. Coupled with the tiny and lightning-fast greens, The Memorial sits inside the top five courses with the lowest scrambling percentage (53%). Despite the myriad changes, the classic elements of Muirfield remained: High driving accuracy with the wide fairways, low GIR with the smaller-than-average greens.
Muirfield Village had the longest proximity from inside 100 yards from the rough, and the second lowest going for the green rate (Colonial is first) of any course in the regular rotation. This can have a compounding effect: Lay up, but miss the fairway; bring a much bigger number into play. This is why Muirfield has the second-lowest birdie percentage from the rough.
Despite the aforementioned tiny and lightning-fast bentgrass greens, putting really hasn’t been that big of an issue for the field. In fact, they run so pure that generally terrible putters tend to do pretty well. Muirfield Village ranks as the third lowest three-putt rate of any regular PGA TOUR course, and is inside the top five in makes from 5”-15”. In 2021, the field made 89% of its putts inside 10 feet.
When trying to look at common links between the winners it’s always imperative to remove Tiger Woods from the equation. What help does five-time Memorial winner Tiger give you? Target players like Tiger? OK. I’ve finished my search and there are none. Now what?
Well, approach widely outweighs driving at Muirfield Village, attributed to the THICC fairways. 13 of the past 15 winners have ranked inside the Top 10 of Strokes Gained: Approach for the week. Last year, five of the top six finishers on the leaderboard finished inside the Top 10 in SG: Approach. This shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone, as approach is always the most important stat when we review each event after its conclusion, but even for approach, that’s fairly extreme.
At the average PGA TOUR course, approach typically out-gains off the tee at around 2.5x clip. Among the top five finishers at The Memorial, it’s almost 3.5x. And it makes sense just looking at the course. Missing the green is just going to bring pain with those bunkers and the club-catching rough. There are usually massive fluctuations in SG: Around the Green from top to bottom of the field for a week, but looking at the past 10 years, it’s one of the few courses where SG: ATG actually factors in more than SG: OTT.
Despite being a longer Par 72, shorter hitters, who still gain strokes off the tee and smack a crisp long iron, can very much compete. Any place which can boast Matt Kuchar, David Lingmerth, Steve Stricker and Jason Dufner as past champions can attest to this.
Being in Ohio, the clear crossover event is the former WGC played at Firestone CC. Firestone was replaced on the schedule a few years ago, but not before seeing a lot of success shared between the two courses. Tiger has 12 combined victories between the two courses and Hideki Matsuyama has also won at both courses. Then there are Jason Dufner, David Lingmerth, Marc Leishman, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Cantlay, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose and Jim Furyk who’ve all experienced success at both tracks. A lot of those same names have navigated TPC Sawgrass pretty well in their careers too. Not quite sure how those courses correlate, though.
There’s one addition to last week after doing a deep dive and scanning the leaderboard. PGA National (Honda Classic) is another Nicklaus-designed course that features some crossover success. Since PGA National has so much water, one-year success or failure makes it hard to judge because one awful shot can take you out of that tournament. However, players with multiple quality results at PGA National tend to have a decent feel for Muirfield Village. Not as much as Firestone, but enough to factor it in.
The key this week is to tread water on the long par 3s and par 4s and don’t waste opportunities on the par 5s. Obvious? Surely. Six par 4s measure from 450-500 yards, all of which are inside the nine most difficult. Three of four par 3s are inside the six most difficult holes. Three of the four par 3s are at least 200 yards. It’s not required to score on any of these holes, it’s all about refusing to pencil in some hockey sticks on the scorecard. Things can get away from the field pretty quickly with all the weird creeks and bunkers hiding everywhere. Or the wind can get so extreme, you can be like Phil Mickelson in 2020, and simply lay up on No. 16 … a par 3.
Overall, Americans have won nine of the past 12 years, and The Memorial has produced a playoff five of the past nine years. Justin Rose (2010) was the last winner to miss the cut in his previous appearance at Muirfield Village, while Matsuyama (2014) won in his first attempt.
Birdie streaks really aren’t a thing here. Last season, holes 16-17-18 were three of the four toughest holes on the course, so you’re not going back-to-front. So front-to-back must be advantageous? Hole 10 was the toughest hole to birdie (10.5%) while Holes 8-9 both played over par. You can get your birdies … they are just going to be in the middle of both 9s, so don’t sweat it for showdown.
2022: Seven of the top eight in DK pricing cashed top 20 paychecks (outlier: Morikawa, missed the cut with the fourth highest price tag)
- Horschel-Wise-Niemann were 1-2-3 and cost an average of $7,900 (Cantlay also T3, $10,700)
2021: Brandon Grace ($6,800, sixth-most DraftKings points) was the skeleton key, but other than him, it was very much a “get what you paid for” sort of deal … Cantlay-Morikawa-Scheffler-Rahm were all top five in terms of DraftKings scoring and they all cost you at least $9,000.
- If you’re looking for an expensive skill set that struggled, the only four to miss the cut with a price tag over $8,000: Niemann, Fitzpatrick, Cam Smith and Sungjae Im.
2023 Memorial Tournament: Picks
Shane Lowry ($8,100)
Time to venture down the Shane Lowry route once again. Statistically, looking back over the past 24 rounds, the Irishman’s ball-striking numbers look like minor-league Scottie Scheffler, except, he’s somehow worse on the greens. He sits fifth in GIR, 10th in 200+ proximity, and there is some hope on the putting front. Lowry’s gained on the greens the past two years at Muirfield Village, and is averaging just under five SG: T2G per start in his past three.
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2023 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Podcast of the Year and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.
Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.