Today's Free Picks for
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Posted June 1 at 3:35 PM EST prior to tee-off and are subject to change.
Seven of the world’s top-10 will tee it up at Muirfield Village as preparations for the U.S. Open go up a notch. The defending champion, Patrick Cantlay, will look to find some form at a venue he knows well, while the dual winners here in 2020 – Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa (who won the Workday Charity Open played during the pandemic) – both return. Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele will be looking to cash in on their strong recent form, while Cameron Smith and Viktor Hovland can also not be ruled out of contention. Bryson DeChambeau and Harris English, both battling back to fitness following injuries and surgeries, are also scheduled to tee it up if they are well enough to do so.
This Week's Course Preview
Perhaps the best way to describe Muirfield Village is ‘fair’, given that a winning mark of mid-teens under par is generally what is needed to prevail. It’s pretty long though, at 7,533 yards for its Par 72, although the undulations of the track ensure that drives can fly – when they land in the fairway, at least. Tree lined, with 70 bunkers and water in play on 12 holes, Muirfield Village – designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1974 and given minor renovations – has plenty of danger lurking, and the rough is typically best avoided….and especially so when wet (more on that shortly). The Bentgrass greens are smaller-than-average and undulating in nature, so a week of quality ball-striking is likely to be the recipe for whoever is crowned champion of the 2022 Memorial Tournament.
Last year, just five of the 18 holes averaged under par, with the four Par 5s unsurprisingly yielding to the most birdies. But, in a nice twist of fate for TV viewers at least, the 18th hole – a 480-yard Par 4 – played as the hardest on the course, with just 34 birdies throughout the week and 20 double bogeys or worse.
Weather Forecast for Dublin, OH
Friday, Saturday and Sunday look pretty benign, with wind speeds at around 6-8mph and temperatures of around 78˚F according to the early forecast. But Thursday, and the hours leading up to it, are looking decidedly less settled, and who knows maybe the first round will prove decisive if conditions play soft enough. Scattered showers are the early prediction for late Wednesday and Thursday, and so there is the possibility of a draw bias to consider.
What We’re Looking For:
Known as ‘Jack’s Place’ after its original designer, it won’t come as much surprise to learn that Muirfield Village prides itself on a Nicklaus specialty – ball-striking. The rough is best avoided off the tee and the greens are small in stature, and so there is a real emphasis on hitting long, straight and true….as well as having a reliable recovery game. Cantlay ranked first for SG: Tee-to-Green 12 months ago, and was inside the top-five for both SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Approach, so this is clearly where the edge is. In some regards, Muirfield Village is like a golf course of two halves – your players have to stay out of trouble on the Par 3s and 4s, but then make hay on the Par 5s which are more than gettable. There tends not to be many eagles around, but at the fifth and seventh holes birdies outweighed bogeys at a ratio of around 5:1 last year.
We’re looking for solid Bentgrass putters, of course, but look at the identity of the most recent winners at Muirfield – Cantlay, Rahm, Morikawa, Bryson and Dufner. It’s going to take a high-quality effort to win this week.
To Win Outright
Davis Riley 55/1
Talk about the hot hand and one need not look no further. In his last seven strokeplay starts, Davis Riley has recorded three top-five finishes, a T9 and a T13 at the PGA Championship. He looks like a winner in waiting on the PGA TOUR, and we must confess we had written him off as a bomb-and-gouge merchant earlier in the campaign – his approach play recently has been exceptional. Like Burns, Scheffler and company before him, Riley has served something of an apprenticeship in recent months as a potential winner – now is the time to get over the line. This is a pro you should be backing weekly until he wins because he’s on the verge of it now. (Risking 0.3 units to win 16.5 units).
Aaron Wise 80-1
Aaron Wise is another pro we’re watching closely and trust that he, too, might be on the verge of another win. The reason for that sentiment is that his statistical make-up is so impressive. So, too, is his season-long form by all accounts – 12 cuts made from 16 starts is an excellent ratio. But Wise isn’t converting those to big finishes often enough. That said, he’s excellent from tee-to-green, makes stacks of birdies on Par 5s, is respectful on tough Par 4s and has everything we would expect from a potential Memorial Tournament winner (Risking 0.2 units to win 16 units)
Mito Pereira 45-1
Indeed it would have been very sweet to cash in on this guy at 175-1 at the PGA Championship but it wasn’t in the cards for us that day. Nevertheless, Pereira is going to cash in soon and we want to be there when he does. Following that massive disappointing final hole in Oklahoma, all Pereira did last week was rebound with a 7th place finish. That’s a strong sign of a strong mind. His seventh-place finish at Colonial marked the eighth time in his last nine starts that he has finished inside the top 30. During that stretch, Pereira has been absolutely dialed in with his ball striking. One would be hard pressed to find a pro in better form than Pereira has been over the last 24 rounds of PGA golf. He ranks top 10 in both Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Approach over the last 24 rounds, contributing to his eye popping 52.8 Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green in his last nine events.
Muirfield Village demands accuracy both off the putting surface and into its heavily guarded greens. He’s hit 64% of his fairways, and 72% of his greens in regulation since he arrived ON TOUR in July of last year. His consistency stands out. On the heels of back-to-back top-10 performances, Pereira’s confidence is high and he’ll get to play a course that fits his skill set (Risking 0.2 units to win 9 units.
Cameron Young +115 over Will Zalatoris
Will Zalatoris is an up n coming star and as a result, he’s getting a ton of press these days, which in our world is the perfect time to sell high. Don’t get us wrong, he’s a contender almost every week but let’s not forget he’s young, his putting can be erratic as hell and if this is a course that punishes those that miss fairways, it could be a tough tournament for Will. You see, Zalatoris ranks 191st out of 203 pros with 40 rounds or more in Hit Fairway %, He has hit just 250 out of 485 fairways this season. Is it any wonder that he missed the cut here back in 2018 in his only trip to this venue? Furthermore, he was in a playoff at the PGA Championship. That was his second runner up at a major and there is another big major on the horizon so we have to trust that Will is thinking about that too.
Cameron Young ranks 8th ON TOUR in Driving Distance, 5th in Birdie Average and 7th in Scoring Average. He selects his events carefully and it’s for that reason that we trust that he knows he has a great chance on this selected course. Cameron Young is getting a fraction of the press that Zalatoris is getting, which provides us with this great o[pportunity to take back a price on the superior pro in a GREAT spot (Risking 2 units to win 2.3 units).
PGA Wagers (Risking 2.7 units - To Win: 0.00)