The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
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This week will mark the second straight week the Tour plays at Muirfield Village. Many of the same faces will be in attendance that we saw at the Workday Charity Open last week, but some very big names will be returning to action as well. Five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods ($9,000) is the main draw here, as Big Cat will make his first start on Tour since February at the Genesis Open. He was dealing with back stiffness when the Tour was last in action, but reports have him in good health and practicing well. How he handles the new, no-fans environment will be interesting to watch this week. Also in the field will be Rory McIlroy ($10,700), Dustin Johnson ($10,300) and Webb Simpson ($9,600). Simpson could reach No. 1 in the world status for the first time with a win here. Daniel Berger ($8,700), winner of the first event after the restart at the Charles Schwab, will also be returning to action.
As for returning champions, Patrick Cantlay ($9,800) and Bryson DeChambeau ($11,100) will both be here and round out what is going to be a stacked field. This event often has a good international flavor to it and this season is no different. Matthias Schwab ($6,400), Bernd Wiesberger ($6,600) and Hao-Tong Li ($6,500) will all be in the field, making their first competitive start since the COVID-19 stoppage.
Muirfield Village—Dublin, Ohio
Par 72, 7,456 yards, Greens: Bentgrass (some poa)
Muirfield Village is a true championship course. It was built in 1974 and named after Jack Nicklaus’ favorite Open Championship venue (Muirfield); it also has some design similarities to Augusta National. Like Augusta, Muirfield Village is a par 72 and carries four par 5s that are quite reachable in two by many of the players, with the longest being only 567 yards. However, outside of these holes scoring opportunities do become limited and playing the par 5s in well under par for the week is often crucial to success at Muirfield. Last week, the two playoff combatants ranked second and third in Par 5 scoring in the field.
The course did play a bit easier last week at the Workday Charity Open, allowing two players to match last year’s winning score of 19-under, a mark just one stroke off the event record of 20-under (Tom Lehmen in 1994). Things should be ramped up a bit for this week, however. Greens played fast for the Workday, but the discussion was that they would be set even faster for the Memorial. The rough should also be more penal, as they’re expected to allow the thick stuff to grow as much as possible before the event starts to give the course more bite.
This should make strong Off the Tee play more vital, although Muirfield is really a venue that tests players throughout the bag, and that fact has born itself out in the stats of late. The top three players in strokes gained tee-to-green stats came in 1-2-3 last week at the Workday, while the top two finishers from last season also ranked first and second in this stat, respectively. The tougher course conditions should only make ball-striking and solid around the green play more vital for Muirfield’s second go-round.
That’s not to say that Muirfield can only be dominated by big hitters. Last week’s winner Collin Morikawa ($10,000) only ranked 20th in Driving Distance for the week, but he, Viktor Hovland ($9,500) and Justin Thomas ($10,900) all ranked inside the top 10 for SG: OTT stats, meaning accuracy was also vital. The setup will be a little different, but we shouldn’t go looking too far past last week for this week’s heroes. Expect Muirfield to again test the players long games and reward those who hold their nerves the best around the treacherous greens.
2020 outlook: Storms disrupted play last Friday (and certainly seemed to kill some golfers’ momentum), and we could have a similar scenario in store for this week. Rain and T-storms are in the forecast for three out of the four days right now. Thursday looks slated to have some early rain and possible storm systems with things clearing up later in the day. Wind doesn’t appear like it will be a big factor but that could change and we may see a stop-and-start scenario at some point. Friday looks clear, but there’s more rain in the forecast for Sunday. Storms look consistent for the final day of play, so don’t be shocked if tee times get moved up again on the last day or a stoppage or two occurs. For classic lineups, make sure you keep checking Thursday’s forecast as a wave advantage could arise.
Last Five Winners
Patrick Cantlay — 2019 (-19 over Adam Scott -17)
Bryson DeChambeau — 2018 (-15 over Byeong Hun-An and Kyle Stanley, playoff)
Jason Dufner — 2017 (-13 over Fowler and Lahiri -10)
William McGirt — 2016 (-15 over Jon Curran, playoff)
David Lingmerth — 2015 (-15 over Justin Rose, playoff)
- Eleven of the past 12 winners had a T5 finish or better on Tour in the year of their victory before winning The Memorial.
- Course History: Each of the past five winners of The Memorial had made the cut at Muirfield Village the last time they played there.
Winner’s Stats and Course Highlights
2019: Patrick Cantlay ||| 2018: Bryson DeChambeau ||| 2017: Jason Dufner
SG: OTT—+3.0 SG: OTT—+1.7 SG: OTT—+2.9
SG: APP—+7.4 SG: APP—+5.5 SG: APP—+10.7
SG: TTG—+14.4 SG: TTG—+7.1 SG: TTG—+16.5
SG: PUTT—+4.7 SG: PUTT—+3.6 SG: PUTT—-0.4
SG: ATG—+4.2 SG: ATG—+1.6 SG: ATG—+3.0
- Six par 4s range between 450-500 yards, making Par 4 efficiency from 450-500 yards something to consider
- The most popular grouping of approach shots here over time has been from 175-200 yards but 150-175 yards is also very popular. Two of the par 3s also fall in the former range.
- The course features wide fairways, so driving accuracy numbers here are higher than a regular Tour event, with cut-makers hitting 68% of fairways.
- Greens are smaller than normal and difficult to hit/hold. The average cut-maker here has hit 62% of GIR vs. 65% at other Tour stops.
- Solid ball-striking throughout bag (SG:TTG), particularly with iron-play (SG: APP) has been the trend among past winners here.
- Despite some higher than normal winning scores of late, this venue isn’t a birdie-fest for the entire field and only allows the best TTG games in the field to compete
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
Jason Day $8000 and +5000
- Tony Finau $8,300 and +5000
- Justin Rose $8,900 and +5500
- Matthew Fitzpatrick $8,100 and +6600
Matt Kuchar $8,000 and +5000
- SungJae Im $8,200 and +8000
- Justin Rose $8,900 and +5500
- Matthew Fitzpatrick $8,100 and +6600
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Tiger Woods (best finishes: win-2012, 2009, 1999-2001): Tiger has won at this week’s venue five times but his history since his last win has been a touch spotty. He did finish T23 and T9 here the past two seasons, shooting multiple 67s in those eight rounds. He’s the unquestioned king of Muirfield Village, it’s just a question of if he can overcome competitive rust and the stacked young talent in the field.
2. Patrick Cantlay (best finishes: win-2019, 4th-2018): Cantlay will be making his fifth start at Muirfield this week after finishing T6 at the Workday last week. The 28-year-old has now compiled a record that reads T35-T4-win-T7 in four appearances and has gained an average of 11.53 SG:TTG over his past three starts here. He’s quickly becoming final-boss level material at this week’s venue.
3. Kevin Streelman (best finishes: T4-2019, T8-2016): Streelman continued his good run at Muirfield Village last week, finishing the Workday event in T7 position, he was also up near the leaders around mid-point of the event. Streelman putted very well last week but also gained over 9.5 strokes TTG here last season. He can be streaky but has at least shown consistency at this venue.
4. Rickie Fowler (best finishes: T2-2017, T8-2018): Rickie posted a T22 last week at the Workday to add to his growing list of solid finishes at Muirfield. Rickie struggled with his iron play but gained strokes everywhere else and has now gained at least +5.0 strokes tee to green in his past four appearances at Muirfield. He’s shown more consistency of late and could be ready for a better effort this week.
5. Matt Kuchar (best finishes: win-2013, T2-2011): Kuchar made the cut at the Workday but closed with a couple of poor rounds to finish T39. He’s made the cut at the Memorial in 11 of the past 12 years, a run which included a win and runner-up finish. He’s really only been so-so in 2020 but has at least been consistent on the greens where he’s gained over two strokes putting now in five straight events.
Cash Games: We have major-like pricing this week on DraftKings which means there’s plenty of value in the mid-tier ranges and good reason to go with a balanced approach. Jon Rahm ($9,300) and Xander Schauffele ($9,200) both stand out as great plays here and I’d even throw Tiger Woods ($9,000) into the mix for this format. All provide big upside, some increasing form and are available for far less in price than the top players this week in salary. Lower down, I also like taking advantage of the price on Tony Finau ($8,300), who we rarely see this low. He has played Muirfield Village five times and finished T8 here on his debut in 2015. Other plays to consider for this format include Shane Lowry ($7,200-see below) and Lucas Glover ($7,100).
Tournaments: For big GPPs on DraftKings many of the players who played poorly last week are likely to be low-owned this week, as recency bias should be a factor in popularity with the same course in play. This should mean low-ownership on Hideki Matsuyama ($9,400), who is more expensive than Tiger Woods ($9,000) and finished with two poor rounds on the weekend. The same can likely be said for Rory McIlroy ($10,700) who has let people down in three straight starts as the highest price golfer on DK. He gets a price-break this week though as he’s under 11k in price for the first time in forever. Some other potential big field GPP targets include Paul Casey ($7,900), Byeong Hun An ($7,700), Ryan Moore ($6,900), Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($6,800) and Bernd Wiesberger ($6,600).
Top Recent Form
1. Viktor Hovland ($9,500, Recent finishes: 3rd-12-T11): Hovland has been on fire since the restart, playing in five straight events he’s now posted five top-25 finishes. The Norwegian has gained over +9.5 SG:TTG in three straight starts and gained an insane +15.0 strokes last week in his somewhat unlucky third-place finish. Excellent is an understatement for how good he’s playing right now.
2. Bryson DeChambeau ($11,100, Recent finishes: win-T6-T8): Let’s not forget about Bryson either. DeChambeau finally broke through for a win in his last start at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. The scary part about Bryson is that there’s serious room for improvement with his iron play as he actually lost strokes with them on the week of his win. He won at The Memorial in 2018 and if the irons improve a touch he’ll likely contend again.
3. Collin Morikawa ($10,000, win-MC-T64-2nd): Morikawa won his second PGA TOUR event last week, besting Justin Thomas down the stretch and in a playoff. Morikawa was on fire with his irons all week but also performed well on the greens gaining +4.7 strokes putting. He’ll look to go back-to-back this week and may have a shot if he stays hot on the greens.
4. Xander Schauffele ($9,200, Recent finishes: T14-T20-T64-T3): Schauffele was hovering for most of the event last week, shooting rounds of 66 and 70 on the weekend to close off a top-20 result. He was great with his irons on the weekend gaining over +2.0 strokes on approaches in his last two rounds. If he cleans up his short game, he could vault up the standings next week.
5. Abraham Ancer ($8,500, Recent finishes: T14-2-T11): Ancer is coming off the best stretch of golf of his career. He started off the new season with a T11 at Colonial and followed that up with a week at the Heritage that was arguably the best ball-striking week of the season on Tour, gaining 11.8 strokes with his irons there. He’ll be playing Memorial after two weeks of rest but there’s no reason to think rust should be a factor.
MY PICK: Xander Schauffele ($9,200)
This will be the second time I’ve given Xander space here since the restart (the last time was at the Travelers, where he finished T20) and hopefully, the second time is the charm. Schauffele put in a solid effort last week at the Workday, improving on his last outing by gaining six places in the standings and ending with a T14. It’s the weekend performance at Muirfield Village, though, that really has me interested again in the four-time PGA TOUR winner. Xander gained +2.1 and +2.5 strokes with his irons in the final two rounds, stats that bested both second- and third-place finishers Justin Thomas and Viktor Hovland in that department. Schauffele was also great again on the greens, an area where he’s gained significant strokes now in four of the past five starts. It sounds simplistic, but a small improvement in his short game next week — and a return to his normal levels with the driver— and we’re likely to see him contend again on a course where he’s now finished T14 in his past two visits (Workday ’20 and Memorial ’19).
Considering his solid U.S. Open record and great Bentgrass putting splits, the tougher conditions should suit Xander just fine. He has been a player who has looked on the verge of a win most the season, losing in a playoff early at the TOC in Hawaii and then missing out on another at the Charles Schwab. Either way, Schauffele looks poised here to potentially provide for some big upside on DK this week for those who choose to stick with him for another start.
MY SLEEPER: Shane Lowry ($7,200)
Whenever a player of Lowry’s caliber starts firing with his ball-striking we should take notice. The Irishman was quite good in most areas last week, gaining +3.8 strokes on approaches against the field, his best week in 2020 on the PGA TOUR in that statistic. Lowry would have likely finished the week much higher if not for some poor off the tee play, a part of his game that he should hopefully get a chance to figure out by the start of this week’s event. He had gained strokes off the tee in five straight events prior to last week, so discounting him too much for one bad effort in that department doesn’t seem logical.
While he skipped this event last season, Lowry will be making his third appearance at the Memorial since 2017 and, if you include last week’s effort, he’ll now have made the cut at Muirfield Village in each of his past three starts with his best finish coming in 2017, a T15. While he’s been slow to get off the mat since the restart, his past two efforts have produced more consistency and he looks like a player on the verge of putting four good rounds together. The quality of player you’re getting here at just over $7K on DraftKings and his increasing recent form, make him a great value target for me this week.
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