David Lingmerth returns to Muirfield Village Golf Club on Thursday to defend his title at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. Golf’s best will be on display along with Lingmerth, as the PGA Tour officially hits the summer green and the second half of the season tees off.
Lingmerth is certainly one golfer to consider betting on for the top spot at this weekend’s tourney, but other than winning in 2015, he doesn’t generate a ton of buzz. The 28-year old does know the course and has last year’s win to hang his hat on, but hasn’t blown the door off the hinges in 2016. Outside of one strong top-5 finish, he has struggled, failing to crack even the top-15 in his last nine tries.
Needless to say, we’re likely left looking at the top of this field, which boasts the best three golfers in the entire world: Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Tiger Woods (who won here five times) remains out, but even his presence wouldn’t shake the foundation of this course or change the outcome.
Let’s look to the top favorites and check out some sleepers as we gear up for the 2016 Memorial Tournament:
Day, Spieth and McIlroy are undoubtedly the main favorites here, as all three have by far the best odds. They’re likely to be in the mix late in this one, and there’s a good chance all three being on hand will force the trio to be at their best. A winner emerging from this pack is a very real possibility.
Then again, this is a crowded pool, especially when you consider Matsuyama and Kuchar have +2000 odds or better and have claimed a win here recently. Matsuyama has been especially great here, breaking par in every round at the Memorial Tournament and coasted to two top-five finishes (one of course being his win in 2014). In fact, in his last three runs in 2016, he’s finished seventh twice and 11th the other time. He’s got an additional two top-5 placements and a win on the year, so the resume fits for a win this weekend if he can once again bring the goods.
Kuchar is no slouch, either, as he’s won here in 2013 and is inching closer to a big win with back to back third place finishes and 6th place or better in his last three tourneys. He hasn’t won yet this year, but he has placed inside the top-10 five times – four of those runs specifically coming in his last five trips to the green. The guy is red hot and even if he doesn’t get a win, he surely has to be on the radar to get close.
Johnson, Fowler and Watson round out an elite top-8 to watch at this year’s Memorial Tournament. None have claimed a win at this event, but Watson stole a win already this year and both Johnson and Fowler have been on terrific tears (11 total top-10 runs).
Dufner hasn’t blown the competition away at Memorial, but two straight top-25 placements will do. He isn’t overly high on the radar, but he did get a tourney win back in January and has remained steady with four top-10 runs.
Knox is another sleeper to consider, as he showed improvement at this event with an 18th spot run in 2015 after missing the cut in his previous appearance. That could be all the momentum the 30-year old needs, as he’s already laid the groundwork during a solid season that includes one win and three top-5 finishes.
Schwartzel has actually wrecked the Memorial Tournament in the past, making 7 of 8 cuts here, including two top-10 runs and four places inside the top-25. He’s even been solid in 2016, as he’s stolen a win and has two top-10 finishes on the year.
All of these guys boast interesting enough odds, have the talent and also have a decent enough resume to consider backing them for first place in this week’s tournament.
Kirk actually finished 4th here in 2014 and has been solid in a busy 2016 (16 tourneys). He hasn’t won yet, but he has a top-5 run and has finished 23rd or better in four of his last five stops. He could be closing in on a big win and he knows this course.
Simpson and Finau are not huge stand alone sleepers, but they both have killer odds and bring some upside to the table in this event. Simpson specifically hasn’t had a ton of success at this venue, but he could be ready for a climb after nabbing a 3rd place finish in his last tourney. Finau may be the better try, as he got close with an 8th place run at the Memorial Tournament in 2015. He hasn’t been great in 2016, but he does have a top-10 run and has at least hung around in four of his last five events.
They’re called fun bets, not logical ones. None of these guys have much riding behind a bet on them, but if you put even $100 down on them to take the top spot and they shocked the PGA realm, you’d be ending the weekend with a good amount of cash.
Els hasn’t been great for a while, but keep in mind the guy did win this very event in 2004 and a $100 bet would bring back an insane $32,500. He doesn’t even have a single top-10 showing in 2016, though, so he’d truly come out of nowhere.
The story is much the same for the rest of these guys, but trickling down the list, you’re looking at an increasingly tantalizing pay day. Homan would bring home the most bacon, of course, as a mere $100 bet could bring back a ridiculous $150,000. Homan does not have a big resume (just three tourney appearances in 2016), and maybe that’s one reason to toss some money in his name.
One of the big three are going to win this. None of them have taken this event yet and you have to imagine they’re going to get up for the chance to be the first of that elite trio to take first at the Memorial Tournament. The question, of course, is which one?
The smart money may be on McIlroy, who is red hot with three top-10 finishes in his last five PGA tournaments. He has no wins to show for that run or the entire season, of course, so he may be ready to stake his claim as he and the rest of the elite drivers prepare for the stretch run.
Jason Day has been insane, winning two tourneys in his last five starts and mostly just wrecking the Tour on the year. Of course, he has never fared well at this course and it’s never easy to win back to back tourneys.
Spieth is the other obvious pick, as he did seem to get past his Masters crater job by taking his last tournament. That gave him two wins on the year and could give them the confidence boost to get back into the swing of things. He and McIlroy could go head to head late, but we like Rory to come out on top and start making things very interesting at the top of the PGA Tour.
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