Like many bettors, I'm still licking my wounds from last week's bad beat at the Charles Schwab Challenge. It was there that betting favorite Jordan Spieth blew a 54-hole lead on Sunday, giving way to long-shot Jason Kokrak.
But hey, that's betting.
Golf fans now turn their attention to Dublin, Ohio, where Muirfield Village Golf Club resides. Designed by the legend Jack Niklaus in 1974, Muirfield is lovingly known as "Jack's Place" or "The House That Jack Built".
That is where the world's best golfers will gather to compete for a share of a $9.3 million purse in the Memorial Tournament Presented by Nationwide.
The 7,392-yard par-72 course went through a significant renovation last year and promises to create new challenges for even the most experienced golfers.
Will Jon Rahm defend his 2020 victory, or will another golfer shine this week? Let's take a look at the favorites, value picks, and long-shots that will fill my bet slip.
Favorites to Win Outright
Jon Rahm (+1100)
The 26-year-old Spaniard is heading into this weekend as a pretty significant favorite in golf terms, and for good reason. Muirfield is a course that places a heavy emphasis on getting off the tee box accurately, which bodes well for the third-ranked golfer in the world.
So far this season Rahm is third on the tour in true strokes-gained off-the-tee, as well as third in the all-encompassing tee-to-green metric.
His numbers will not blow you away when looking at average drive distance (307.8 yards) or driving accuracy (62.96%) on their own, but he is firmly above average in both. And unlike many golfers who either hit the ball far or accurately, Rahm does both. That's why he's number two in the world in Total Driving.
Oh yes, and don't forget the fact that he is the defending champion of this tournament. He won the Memorial in 2020 by three strokes with a nine-under-par 279.
Rahm is well-positioned to become the first golfer to repeat in this tournament since Tiger Woods did it in 2000 and 2001.
Viktor Hovland (+1400)
In just his third year on the tour, Norway native Viktor Hovland has made quite the splash in the world of golf. At just 23, he currently sits fourth in FedEx Cup Standings and 12th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Much like Rahm, Hovland thrives off-the-tee, where he is currently fourth in true strokes-gained.
Hovland already has six top-five finishes this season, tied with Jordan Spieth for tour-best, and turned in a third-place -15 at Muirfield in 2020 in the Workday Charity Open, a one-time replacement for the canceled John Deere Classic.
Hovland has two third-place finishes in his last three tournaments and although he finished 30th in the PGA Championship his last time out, he is playing really good golf as of late and seems primed to win his third career tournament.
Collin Morikawa (+1600)
I love Morikawa in this tournament based on his recent metrics. I said it last week leading into the Charles Schwab Challenge, but I'll say it again. No one reaches more greens in regulation than Morikawa. He is an absolute sniper with his irons, but another big part of that is his accuracy off the tee.
At 69.37%, Morikawa is 13th best on the tour in driving accuracy. He struggled a bit last week, especially in his third round, and notably on the greens where he lost strokes on the tournament. However, even with other parts of his game off, he still hit over 69% of his greens in regulation.
I expect Morikawa to bounce back this week and make a strong push in this tournament.
Corey Conners (+2500)
Canadian Corey Conners' game is very similar to Morikawa's, which drew my eye to him this week as a mid-tier value pick.
The interesting thing is, over the last six months Conners has been even better off-the-tee than Morikawa. His +0.75 true strokes-gained over that period is fourth-best in this week's field.
Conners is going through a bit of a rough stretch, finishing no higher than 17th in his last four tournaments, but he has seven top-ten finishes on the season including third-place in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and seventh place at the Players. He has one career top-25 finish at Muirfield.
If Conners' recent lack of performance is too much for bettors to overcome, his top-five finish odds of +500 could also make a nice addition to a bet slip for this week.
Joaquin Niemann (+3300)
Niemann is another golfer I've had my eye on for some time. I even live-bet him heading into the weekend at the PGA Championship, but he would go on to implode with a 76 in his final round. All the same, here is another golfer whose game plays well at Muirfield.
At 6-foot-0 and just 154 pounds, the lanky Chilean swings a big stick. With an above-average clubhead speed surpassing 119 mph, Niemann's 313 yards per drive is top-ten on the tour, and his accuracy hovers around 59%. If he can continue to hit greens in regulation and not lose strokes around the green as he has been, Niemann has a chance to make a run at the Memorial Tournament.
His +650 odds for a top-five finish are also enticing.
Long Shots (Win/Top 5/Top 10)
Kevin Streelman (+5000/+1000/+350)
After a top-ten finish in the PGA Championship, the 20-year veteran started catching some eyes, including mine. He's a pretty well-rounded golfer who gains strokes both off-the-tee as well as on his approach.
At 42, Streeland certainly doesn't awe anyone with monster drives. His 294.8-yard average is not even top-100 on the tour. However, where he lacks in power he makes up with pretty solid accuracy (65%), reaching nearly 69% of greens in regulation.
The veteran has played 13 career events at Muirfield and has four top-ten finishes there. He knows this course well and should at least garner a look this weekend.
His odds for a top-five (+1000) or even top-ten finish (+350) look like good plays and is where I will most likely lean.
Brendon Todd (+6600/+1100/+400)
No one on the PGA Tour has been more accurate off the tee than 35-year-old Brendon Todd.
The Pittsburgh native has experienced a bit of an up and down year. He has turned in two top-ten finishes, including an eighth-place finish last week at Colonial. His second-round score of 64 was the third-best individual round of the tournament.
With improved play as of late and an insane 73.77% accuracy off the tee, I simply can't leave Todd off of my bet slip this week.
I will more than likely lean on a top-ten finish bet at +400, but I like the thought of a +1000 top-five as well.
Russell Henley (+6600/+1100/+400)
Although he's looked down on due to his 161st-ranked driving distance, 32-year-old Russell Henley is another great fit for this course.
He is accurate off the tee at a nearly 66% clip and sports the seventh-most strokes gained on approach. These measures make up for his lack of power.
Henley is unfortunately a boom-or-bust golfer this season. He started the year with two top-five finishes in three attempts and has one top-five, one top-ten, and one 11th place finish since.
However, over the same period, Henley has missed four cuts and finished anywhere from 28th to 72nd. He's either gunning for a top group finish or out of contention. On a course that seemingly plays to his strengths, I'm betting on Henley to do the former this week. He also has two top-ten career finishes at Muirfield, including a seventh-place performance last year.
Either his top-ten (+440) or top-five odds (+1100) would be a decent addition to any bet slip.
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