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Flag Hunting: PGA Betting Picks - The Memorial

Collin-Morikawa PGA DFS lineup picks daily fantasy golf advice

As the seminal work of one of golf's all-time greats, Muirfield Village has always been one of the most iconic venues on the PGA Tour. This 7,540-yard Par 72 has always been respected as the home of the Golden Bear, but it wasn't until an extensive remodel in 2020 that Muirfield Village became a venue to be feared.

In the two years since Jack's final vision was put into place, only Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill and Augusta National have produced higher scoring averages than Muirfield Village on the PGA Tour. It's become one of the more comprehensive tee-to-green tests on the entire schedule, and I'm confident in calling this week one of the more compelling viewing experiences we'll get as golf fans.

One thing is for sure: the player that earns that famous handshake from the Golden Bear Sunday afternoon will have had to survive 72 holes of peril within the confines of his sublimely manicured den. Here's everything you need to know about Muirfield Village Golf Club.

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The Golf Course

Let’s start with the tee shot, and although fairways aren’t all that difficult to hit around Muirfield Village (historic driving accuracy percentage of nearly 70%; Colonial was barely over 55% for reference), wide misses here are punished about as severely as anywhere course on Tour. 

Muirfield Village carries the highest missed fairway penalty and highest rough penalty on the PGA Tour. Not only is the 4” rough extremely penal, but Muirfield Village also features the 8th highest Penalty Risk on Tour at 5.8% - meaning that nearly 6% of missed fairways result in a penalty stroke here.

While not as waterlogged as many of the courses that neighbor it in that ranking, Muirfield Village does have some densely wooded areas outside the ropes, 12 water danger holes, and a few strategically placed fences that really penalize wayward tee shots (you can ask Bryson DeChambeau about that last one).

As a result, I’m far more concerned with players that excel in metrics like Fairways Gained and Good Drive Percentage than the distance mavens that populated Oak Hill’s leaderboard the last time the whole gang got together.

In 2021, The entire Top 10 (and 14 of the Top 15), were above average in Good Drive Percentage. While only 5/10 were above average in driving distance. 

In 2022, 18 of the Top 25 gained on the field in Good Drive %; and we saw names like Billy Horschel, Daniel Berger, Denny McCarthy, Corey Conners, and Si Woo Kim finish inside the top 15 despite being well below average in distance for the week. Priority one with your tee shot is to keep the ball within the rough lines. 

Nicklaus is renowned for his emphasis on the second shot in his designs, and Muirfield Village is no exception. Winners on average here have gained 5.7 shots on Approach for the week, and every player to finish inside the top 15 since the 2020 renovation has gained strokes on Approach.

If you do miss the greens here, you’re basically getting thrown back into a Major Championship style of test. With thick rough surrounding every green, alongside deep green side bunkering and lightning-fast green complexes, Muirfield has always been a difficult place to scramble (3rd highest SG: ARG difficulty on Tour; up and down rate of only 52%), so peppering GIRs will be essential to have success this week.

As far as proximity ranges go, Muirfield definitely tends to lean more on middle to long-iron play. All 4 Par 3’s measure over 180 yards, it’s 4 Par 5’s can all be reached in two, and 7 of its 10 Par 4’s measure over 455 yards. Over 52% of Approach shots have come from over 175 yards, so that's the proximity range I'll be focused on when zooming in on my favorite ball-strikers.

Onto the greens themselves, which are renowned for being some of the purest complexes on the PGA Tour. Like the fairways, the greens here are pure bentgrass (running ~12.5-13 on the Stimpmeter), and although they are some of the fastest we see all year, the pureness of the roll players experience off the putter here should give a lot of confidence to those that a stroking it well.

The greens have also shown they can prop up some of golf's more... mercurial putters. We've seen players like Hideki Matsuyama, Collin Morikawa, Byeong-Hun An, and Kyle Stanley have routine success here in the past, and given the emphasis I'm placing on all-around tee-to-green acumen, putting is far and away my least weighted metric this week.


Scouting the Routing

For those looking to dabble in the live market this week, it will be important to contextualize a player’s position on the leaderboard alongside where he is on the golf course and which holes he still has left to play.

While Muirfield Village does a good job of spreading out its birdie chances: as the six easiest holes are split between the front and back nines, the same cannot be said for its more difficult propositions. 

There is a pretty significant margin between the five most difficult holes at Muirfield Village and the rest of the golf course, and all five just so happen to come on the back nine (10th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 18th). Playing to a cumulative scoring average of (+1.06), a par on any one of these holes would cut the average field by two-tenths of a stroke.

As a result, the back nine has historically played a full shot harder than the front side at Muirfield Village, as the front nine also has the two easiest holes on the property in addition to avoiding all five of the venue's biggest landmines.

This presents an interesting betting opportunity for those with access to live markets, as an even par start from holes 10-18 on Thursday morning will likely go unnoticed by bookmakers. In actuality, a 36 on that side has gained over three-quarters of a stroke on the average field.

Notably, both of the pre-tournament favorites (Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler), will be starting their tournaments on the back-nine Thursday morning. I believe this is an ideal setup for live bettors, as we'll likely get a decent barometer on how these guys are playing, without having to worry about their live odds getting hammered by a few early birdies.

If one of these two does turn in even or (+1), there could be a juicy number hanging on odds boards with a much more forgiving set of holes still to play. Those two will be the primary names I'll be monitoring on Thursday AM, but even if things don't play out like I envision, buying low on slower back-nine starters will be a hallmark of my in-play strategy this week.


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The Betting Card

Collin Morikawa (30-1)

Before I get into my patented Morikawa spiel, let me share a ridiculous stat from his 29th-place finish last week at Colonial:

For the week, Morikawa gained over 5 shots ball-striking and shot exactly level par through 72 holes. A decent result, but certainly not what we were hoping for given his history at Colonial and an 18-1 price tag.

However, those numbers are vastly skewed by one hole that continually gave him fits: the ninth. Collin played that hole at a mind-numbing (+7) for the week, and lost 3.4 strokes on approach on that hole alone. 

I know you can’t discount an entire hole, but I think it’s worth mentioning that Morikawa played the other 68 holes at (-7) at Colonial last week and gained nearly eight shots on approach outside of his perils at nine. 

Now we’re getting him at 30-1 around a golf course he’s tailor-made for - registering a win and a playoff loss over the last three seasons. Collin is still one of the most accurate drivers of the ball on the planet (9th in Fairways Gained; 1st in Good Drive %) and is the only player on Tour besides Scottie Scheffler to gain over a stroke per round on Approach (1.075 to Scottie’s 1.071).

Jack’s courses are made to suit a left-to-right ball flight, and Morikawa has won on three of his designs already on the PGA Tour (2019 Barracuda Championship at Old Greenwood, the 2021 WGC at Concession, and right here at Muirfield Village for the 2020 Workday Charity Open).

He’s had two of his five best putting performances ever here at Muirfield Village, and the ball striking is trending more than the markets are giving him credit for. I don't think there's been a better spot all season for Collin to snap his nearly two-year winless streak.


Tyrrell Hatton (33-1)

He’s far from the flashiest player on Tour, but Tyrrell Hatton has quietly become one of the more consistent players on the planet in 2023. He’s registered six Top 15s in 10 PGA starts, gained strokes ball-striking in every event since last year's FedEx Cup playoffs, and has taken a massive step forward with the driver (ranking 4th in Total Driving on Tour and 3rd in Good Drive %).

The driver has always been one of the more inconsistent facets of the Englishman’s game, so seeing this sudden progression is an extremely promising sign for someone with an already extremely solid all-around profile. Just this year alone, he rates out inside the Top 40 in virtually every key metric:

  • 11th in SG: APP; 22nd in GIR %
  • Inside the top 40 in all four of my key short-game metrics (Scrambling, SG: ARG, Sand Saves, Bogey Avoidance)
  • 17th in SG: Putting; 12th in Birdie Conversion Percentage
  • 20th in Par 5 Scoring

After an underwhelming 2022, Hatton has steadily climbed his way back into the Top 20 of the World Rankings, and if recent stats are any indicator, that trajectory is only going to continue. Considering he was a few years too late to shake the King’s hand after his win at Bay Hill, I’m sure Tyrrell would revel in the opportunity to be greeted with the Golden Bear’s signature hug and handshake off of 18 at Muirfield. It would be the perfect cherry on top of this resurgent season.


Shane Lowry (55-1)

I’ve always held a soft spot for the Irishman, and seeing as how he’s coming off the best ball-striking performances we’ve seen since the 2022 Honda Classic, 55-1 felt like a really generous price at Muirfield Village this week.

Lowry gained 3.7 OTT and 5.5 on APP around a difficult Oak Hill at the PGA and now comes to a venue that I believe suits his game much better. Shane’s always been a super underrated all-around driver of the ball (8th on Tour in Total Driving this season; 7th in Good Drive %), and he’s been an elite long iron player over a 12-month sample - ranking behind just Woodland, Rahm, Morikawa, Hovland, and Rory in that time frame from 175+.

Like Hatton, I trust his hands around the greens and even more than his Ryder Cup teammate, I trust Lowry’s ability to close out big events against elite fields. After all, this is a guy that won at Wentworth last fall (over names like Rahm, Rory, and Hovland), he’s won at Firestone - another long, difficult Ohio course that sets up similarly to what we’ll face here, and of course, the 2019 Open Championship in his come country of Ireland. 

I'll gladly buy that kind of pedigree alongside some really reliable ball-striking splits these last few months. If the putter shows even a hint of life at Jack's Place, 55-1 could look like a real value at week's end.


  • With only three names on the card, we’ve only used ~50% of our usual outright budget for the week. While there are a few more names that piqued my interest in the 30-50 range (Hideki, Fitzpatrick, J.T., Cam Young), I also believe there to be a pretty clear separation at the top of the board. Scheffler, Rahm, and Cantlay all come into this week with pretty faultless profiles, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little worried that one of the three doesn't put this field to the fire around Muirfield Village. My intention is to wait out the betting board as the week goes on and see if I can't find a bit of live value on one of them. 


Best of luck guys, and Happy Hunting!



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