the Memorial Tournament 2024 Tips: Back Viktor to repeat as Champ

 | Monday 3rd June 2024, 16:17pm

Monday 3rd June 2024, 16:17pm

jamie worsley pga tour

Dublin, Ohio is the venue for the PGA Tour this week as the Muirfield Village Golf Club hosts the Memorial Tournament.

You can catch all the action on Sky Sports Golf and our golf tipster Jamie Worsley gives us his views on all the action with his in-depth betting preview. In it, he tells us all about his four players to watch as part of the Memorial Tournament Betting Tips here at Betfred Insights...

the Memorial Tournament 2024 Betting Tips

  • Viktor Hovland - 1/5 6 places - 3 pts ew @ 16/1
  • Wyndham Clark - 1/5 6 places - 1.5 pts ew @ 35/1
  • Tom Kim - 1/5 6 places - 1 pt ew @ 55/1
  • Will Zalatoris - 1/5 6 places - 1 pt ew @ 66/1

*Click on the linked odds to add the selections directly to your betslip on betfred.com (or app)

After previously speaking openly about his struggles in adjusting to life in the U.S, Robert MacIntyre becoming a PGA Tour winner in his rookie season had looked unlikely for much of 2024. Which must have made his emotional win in last week’s Canadian Open – with dad, Dougie on the bag – just that bit sweeter.

There had been positive signs that the likeably affable Scotsman was starting to find his feet in recent weeks. Gaining a top-10 two starts previous in the PGA Championship, after benefiting from some friendly pairings.

He began last week well, firing a 6-under 64 to sit 4th after round one and following up with a 4-under 66 in round two, he shared the halfway lead with New Zealander, Ryan Fox. After a sluggish start to his third round, this comfortable pairing brought the best out of Bob towards the end of the day, as he reeled off three birdies and an eagle over his final four holes, to open up a four-shot lead entering Sunday’s final round.

MacIntyre again struggled at the start of the day and with many challengers closing in it would’ve been easy to fold as he chased this maiden PGA Tour title, but he displayed guts in abundance to fight back with birdies at 4, 7, 8 and 11 to again take command of the event. Holding on – despite a couple of back-nine bogeys – to beat playing partner, Ben Griffin by a shot and hand us one of the feelgood stories of the year.

The Scot will be in buoyant mood heading into our third major of the year next week - the US Open at Pinehurst. However first, a strong field tees it up at Muirfield Village in the Memorial Tournament this week – our penultimate Signature Event of the year.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

First played in 1976, the Memorial Tournament is one of the most familiar and prestigious regular events on the calendar. It was the creation of Jack Nicklaus, who hosts the tournament every year at Muirfield Village Golf Club – one of his own designs in his home state of Ohio.

Roger Maltbie won that inaugural edition, before Nicklaus himself won in 1977. The tournament host would then go on to become the first player to win this event on two occasions in 1984. He is one of five players to have won exactly two Memorial Tournament titles, alongside Hale Irwin (1983, 1985), Greg Norman (1990, 1995), Tom Watson (1979, 1996) and Patrick Cantlay (2019, 2021).

Only two players have won more than two editions. 12 years separated Kenny Perry’s first win in 1991 and his second in 2003; then going on to win again in 2008 at the age of 47. However, nobody has enjoyed more success here than Tiger Woods; winning three on the spin from 1999-2001 – which makes him the only player to successfully defend the trophy - and adding further victories in 2009 and 2012.

Last five winners:

  • 2023 – Winner: Viktor Hovland (-7, playoff); runner-up: Denny McCarthy (-7)
  • 2022 – Winner: Billy Horschel (-13); runner-up: Aaron Wise (-9)
  • 2021 – Winner: Patrick Cantlay (-13, playoff); runner-up: Collin Morikawa (-13)
  • 2020 – Winner: Jon Rahm (-9); runner-up: Ryan Palmer (-6)
  • 2019 – Winner: Patrick Cantlay (-19); runner-up: Adam Scott (-17)

Viktor Hovland is this week’s defending champion, having produced a quality back-nine performance to deny Denny McCarthy his first PGA Tour success in a playoff last year.

THE COURSE

Muirfield Village Golf Club was designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1974 and the course is affectionately known as “Jack’s Place” after the golfing great. He has spent much of those 50 years tweaking with the venue, including an extensive renovation in 2020; which saw all greens and bunkers rebuilt, tees repositioned and fairways tightened.

Aside from this event, Muirfield Village stepped in to host events in back-to-back weeks in 2020 during the pandemic, with Collin Morikawa winning the one-time Workday Charity Open in a playoff against Justin Thomas.

The course is a par 72 and measures 7569 yards. It possesses 10x par 4s (360-503 yards), 4x par 5s (547-588 yards) and 4x par 3s (180-218 yards).

This largely tree-lined and immaculately-conditioned parkland course is built on gently rolling terrain, with moderate elevation changes throughout. It contains a creek that meanders around the property, feeding into water features that come into play on 13 holes in total.

The fairways were previously fairly easy to find, but since the renovation that has changed somewhat, with last year’s renewal recording the 19th-lowest driving accuracy percentage on the PGA Tour. Many of them dogleg and require players to be able to shape the ball off-the-tee – largely right-to-left – and are protected by 4-inch thick Kentucky blue/fescue/rye rough, along with large, strategic bunkers that often pinch the landing areas.

Finding the small (5000 sq. ft.) and often elevated bentgrass greens is hugely difficult, even more so after an errant drive, with Muirfield Village ranking as the fourth most penal course on tour when missing fairways.

They slope severely in places and are narrow/shallow in shape, whilst regularly positioned at an angle to the fairway. This enables them to tuck in some devilishly-tight pin positions, which can be tough to find if the greens are at their speediest.

More of that bold bunkering comes into play for protection, often deep and large, and whilst thick rough surrounds most, there are a couple of more tightly-mown chipping areas to test the players’ short-game abilities. And tested they will be, as Muirfield Village ranks as the toughest scrambling course on tour.

The Memorial Tournament averages a winning score of -13.2 over the last 10 renewals and is one of the most complete all-round challenges on the PGA Tour, making it a great prelude to next week’s US Open.

The par 5s look generally gettable but with water in-play on three of them, they are true risk/reward holes. The par 3s are not overly long but have some of the narrowest/shallowest putting surfaces on the course and are well-protected, by either sand or water. Finally, whilst the course closes out with two brutish par 4s, there are opportunities to be had across the others if the ball-striking is on point.

There is nothing unfair about Muirfield Village, good shots are rewarded as much as poor shots are punished. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action again this week and along with trying to find the winner, we’ll hopefully be able to garner some clues as to who looks in good shape to contend at Pinehurst next week.

THE WEATHER

As with much of the U.S of late, this area has seen plenty of rain in recent weeks, which has made preparations difficult.

We are scheduled more rain on Wednesday before the event, however, with largely dry and bright conditions for the tournament itself, if the conditions aren’t at their firmest at the beginning of the week, there is at least hope they’ll be at the required level by the end.

In addition to that, wind should be a factor throughout. There is a constant 10mph+ breeze predicted, with gusts that could reach highs of 35mph over the weekend.

KEY STATS

  • SG: Approach
  • Greens-in-Regulation
  • Proximity 175+ yards

As is usually the case, the tougher the test, the more a player will need to fire across the bag; as every winner has shown here going back at least the last six years.

Although, this course is the most penal on tour for errant ball-striking and as such, those that excel in this area are bound to have an advantage this week.

Approach is key just about every week, let alone at a Jack Nicklaus course, and this has proven to be the case for the most of the recent winners/contenders here.

Strangely, the usually excellent ball-striker, Viktor Hovland was more reliant on his short game to win last year, though did still rank a solid 19th in greens-in-regulation and 26th in approach. Denny McCarthy in 2nd was top-20 in approach; Scottie Scheffler in 3rd ranked 1st in each of these areas; and 4th-place finisher, Si Woo Kim, ranked top-10 in both.

Billy Horschel led the field in greens hit on his way to victory in 2022 and was a strong 12th in approach. Runner-up, Aaron Wise ranked 3rd in approach and 15th in GIR; Joaquin Niemann ranked 3rd in GIR and 7th in approach to finish 3rd; and fellow 3rd-place finisher, Patrick Cantlay, was top-20 in both areas.

Patrick Cantlay led home a very iron play-heavy leaderboard in 2021, ranking 1st in GIR and 5th in approach. Six of that year’s top-10 ranked inside the top-10 in approach, including runner-up, Collin Morikawa, who was 4th. It was a similar story for Cantlay’s 2019 win, as he ranked 5th in approach again and seven of the top-10 finishers that year also hit the top-10 in approach.

Jon Rahm ranked 5th in GIR and 8th in approach to win in 2020; Jason Dufner ranked 1st in both areas in 2017; whilst 2016 and 2015 winners, William McGirt and David Lingmerth, each ranked inside the top-10 in approach.

Further to this, Muirfield Village is all about the long irons, with approaches from 175yds+ accounting for around 50% of approach distances in the last three years. Therefore, it’s those who excel from these distances that we should pay closest attention to this week.

  • SG: Off-the-Tee and/or Driving Accuracy

These fairways are getting tougher to find and with the punishment for missing them among the most severe on tour, it stands to reason that you will need to drive the ball well to contend.

Last year’s renewal produced one of the most driver-dependent leaderboards of recent years, with seven of the top-10 ranking inside the top-10 off-the-tee. This included winner, Viktor Hovland ranking 10th and Scottie Scheffler in 3rd leading the field.

Hovland was the fifth straight winner to rank inside the top-10 OTT, following on from Billy Horschel ranking 7th (2022), Patrick Cantlay ranking 3rd (2021), Jon Rahm ranking 4th (2020) and Patrick Cantlay again, ranking 8th (2019).

Despite the overall length of the course, few of the holes are extreme in length individually and it is a place where a shorter but ultra-accurate driver can get in the mix. Whilst length is obviously an advantage, I wouldn’t want to be on anyone too erratic off-the-tee.

  • SG: Around-the-Greens/Scrambling from the Rough

Try as they might to avoid the dangers lurking around these greens, with GIR percentages so low players are bound to be asked to call upon their short game over the course of the week. Indeed, we’ve seen many exceptional displays around-the-greens guide players to victory in recent editions. This includes Billy Horschel ranking 3rd around-the-greens in 2022, Patrick Cantlay ranking 3rd and 5th ATG in each of his wins, and Jon Rahm ranking 1st when taking the title in 2020.

I’d be looking at players who have produced quality short-game displays on similarly-demanding ATG venues, where thick rough is the main deterrent.

  • SG: Putting (bentgrass)

As previously said, virtually every club in the bag will need to be in good shape and that includes players being strong on these bentgrass greens.

Each of the last six winners have produced at least decent putting performances that week. Viktor Hovland was the best of them, ranking 3rd on the greens when winning last year, whilst Patrick Cantlay (2019) and Bryson DeChambeau (2018) both ranked inside the top-10.

CORRELATING EVENTS (COURSES)

Wells Fargo Championship (Quail Hollow Club)

Quail Hollow is a big, long major test of golf that compares very well to the Memorial Tournament in all-round difficulty; possessing an average winning score of -13.7 over the last 10 renewals there – just 0.5 lower than here at Muirfield Village.

The long irons hold huge importance and with frequent elevation changes, the challenges in approach are similar to that faced at this week’s venue.

Notable correlating form:

Viktor Hovland:

Memorial (1st) / Quail Hollow (3rd)

Jason Dufner:

Memorial (1st) / Quail Hollow (4th, 5th)

Rickie Fowler:

Memorial (2nd) / Quail Hollow (1st)

Aaron Wise:

Memorial (2nd) / Quail Hollow (2nd)

Byeong Hun An:

Memorial (2nd) / Quail Hollow (3rd)

Denny McCarthy:

Memorial (2nd, 5th) / Quail Hollow (6th, 8th)

Kyle Stanley:

Memorial (2nd) / Quail Hollow (6th, 8th)

Kevin Streelman:

Memorial (4th, 7th, 7th) / Quail Hollow (6th, 9th)

Max Homa:

Memorial (5th, 6th) / Quail Hollow (1st)

Arnold Palmer Invitational (Bay Hill)

Whilst incorporating different grass types and much larger greens, there are many similarities about the way Muirfield Village and Bay Hill play.

Both are par 72s close in length and possess two of the most difficult tests on the PGA Tour. They play especially comparably tee-to-green, with fairways and greens tough to find and penal should you miss, whilst it is another place where those who excel with the long irons have enjoyed great success.

Notable correlating form:

Bryson DeChambeau:

Memorial (1st) / API (1st)

Viktor Hovland:

Memorial (1st) / API (2nd)

Billy Horschel:

Memorial (1st) / API (2nd)

Patrick Cantlay:

Memorial (1st, 1st) / API (4th)

William McGirt:

Memorial (1st) / API (8th)

Kevin Na:

Memorial (2nd) / API (2nd, 4th)

Byeong Hun An:

Memorial (2nd) / API (8th, 10th)

Matt Fitzpatrick:

Memorial (3rd) / API (2nd)

Marc Leishman:

Memorial (5th, 5th) / API (1st, 2nd, 3rd)

Valspar Championship (Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead Course)

The Valspar Championship regularly produces one of the most demanding tests on the PGA Tour and compares closely to Muirfield Village in ball-striking difficulty. It is surprisingly hilly for a Florida course and with a similarly-large portion of approaches coming from 175yds+, there are plenty of reasons why players can carry form between these two venues.

Notable correlating form:

Patrick Cantlay:

Memorial (1st, 1st) / Valspar (2nd)

Viktor Hovland:

Memorial (1st) / Valspar (3rd)

Kevin Na:

Memorial (2nd) / Valspar (2nd)

Matt Fitzpatrick:

Memorial (3rd) / Valspar (5th)

Kevin Streelman:

Memorial (4th, 7th, 7th) / Valspar (1st)

Patrick Reed:

Memorial (5th, 8th, 10th) / Valspar (2nd, 2nd)

Mackenzie Hughes:

Memorial (6th) / Valspar (3rd)

Adam Schenk:

Memorial (7th) / Valspar (2nd)

2020 & 2023 BMW Championship (Olympia Fields – North Course)

Now for a couple of lesser-used courses on the PGA Tour that do share much in common with Muirfield Village, starting with Olympia Fields.

This 2020 & 2023 host of the BMW Championship is a reasonably lengthy par 70, with small bentgrass greens, which along with the fairways are protected by that same, thick Kentucky bluegrass rough. It ranks closely to this week’s course across the board, but especially in approach difficulty and scrambling.

Notable correlating form:

Jon Rahm:

Memorial (1st) / Olympia Fields (1st)

Viktor Hovland:

Memorial (1st) / Olympia Fields (1st)

Hideki Matsuyama:

Memorial (1st) / Olympia Fields (3rd)

Matt Fitzpatrick:

Memorial (3rd) / Olympia Fields (2nd, 6th)

Joaquin Niemann:

Memorial (3rd, 6th) / Olympia Fields (3rd)

Max Homa:

Memorial (5th, 6th) / Olympia Fields (5th)

2022 Wells Fargo Championship/2017 & 2018 Quick Loans National (TPC Potomac)

Finally, I’ll finish with the more diminutive TPC Potomac. In 2022, this venue provided us with the most penal ball-striking test on tour, with thick bluegrass/fescue rough and deep bunkers protecting both the narrow, doglegging and undulating fairways, as well as the small bentgrass greens.

This brings it well in line with the test that awaits this week and with the long irons proving extra-important there, especially between 175-200 yards, it can act as a great comp for this week.

Notable correlating form:

David Lingmerth:

Memorial (1st) / TPC Potomac (5th)

Kyle Stanley:

Memorial (2nd) / TPC Potomac (1st)

Rickie Fowler:

Memorial (2nd) / TPC Potomac (3rd)

Anirban Lahiri:

Memorial (2nd) / TPC Potomac (6th)

Matt Fitzpatrick:

Memorial (3rd) / TPC Potomac (2nd)

Max Homa:

Memorial (5th, 6th) / TPC Potomac (1st)

Adam Schenk:

Memorial (7th) / TPC Potomac (9th)

THE FIELD

Our second-last Signature Event of the year brings together another elite, limited field of 73 players. This consists of nine of the world’s top-10; 23 of the world’s top-25; and 45 of the top-50. All led by world #1, Scottie Scheffler.

Viktor Hovland returns as our reigning champ, and the Norwegian is one of six former winners in attendance, joined by: Billy Horschel (2022), Patrick Cantlay (2021, 2019), Hideki Matsuyama (2014), Matt Kuchar (2013) and Justin Rose (2010).

The list of Memorial Tournament debutants includes Ludvig Aberg, along with 2024 first-time tour winners Jake Knapp, Matthieu Pavon, Nick Dunlap and though hinting that he may instead head home to party, last week’s Canadian Open winner, Robert MacIntyre is currently in the field at Muirfield Village.

SELECTIONS

Market leaders: Scottie Scheffler 7/2, Rory McIlroy 15/2, Xander Schauffele 17/2, Viktor Hovland 16/1, Collin Morikawa 16/1, Ludvig Aberg 18/1

*You can check out all of the latest Memorial Tournament 2024 Odds over on betfred.com

The high-class fields in these Signature Events have generally resulted in victories for some of the tour’s biggest stars, and I don’t expect that to change this week with the major-like test that Muirfield Village throws up.

Scottie Scheffler has finished 3rd on his last two starts here and looks certain to be in the picture again this week, though much like recent events he doesn’t appeal at the price. Rory McIlroy has some strong finishes in the event but hasn’t quite enjoyed the success that he’s had at Quail Hollow and Bay Hill for instance, having not managed a top-5 since 2016. A similar thought is applied to Xander Schauffele, who typically plays solidly here but as yet has still to crack the top-10.

This makes it easier to take on that leading trio and I’m going to do so with last year’s champion, Viktor Hovland, who looked close to his best in the PGA Championship when we last saw him.

Viktor Hovland

Hovland had largely struggled for form this year, after the curious decision – following the brilliant successes of 2023 – to change his swing coach ahead of the new season. He’d recorded just two top-25s in his first six starts, with a best of 19th in the Genesis Invitational and disappointed at Augusta, missing the cut by two.

Hitting the ball nowhere near as well as he was last or indeed in any of his previous years on tour, and also losing those gains he’d made around-the-greens last year, he got back on the phone to former coach, Joe Mayo, and the results have been swift.

Though only finishing 24th, the Norwegian took a huge step forward at Quail Hollow two starts ago. He produced his then best ball-striking performance of the year, ranking 8th, and signed off the week with his best single round in approach since last year’s PGA Championship.

Just one start later and he was back in contention at a major, firing four straight rounds in the 60s to finish 3rd at Valhalla – three behind winner Schauffele – and did so with another improved ball-striking display; with his ranking of 2nd there akin to what we were witnessing throughout 2023.

At his absolute best, this powerful yet precise ball-striker, who stripes his long irons just about as well as anyone, is a perfect fit for Muirfield Village. He showed this on debut at the course in 2020, finishing 3rd in the Workday Charity Open and leading the field off-the-tee. Though he underwhelmed on his two starts at the course following the renovation, he again showed his suitability last year with that win; a victory that was achieved without him even needing to be at his brilliant best with the long game.

Hovland’s win at Olympia Fields last year, along with a runner-up finish at Bay Hill and 3rd-place finishes at Quail Hollow and in the Valspar Championship, frank his already excellent course form and if able to continue the fine-tuning since we last saw him three weeks ago, he has to have a big chance this week.

Wyndham Clark

Wyndham Clark suffered his second major missed cut of the year at the PGA Championship. However, he bounced back well from his disappointments in the previous one and building a steadily improving record at Muirfield Village, he can do so again this week.

Take Scheffler out of the equation and with a win at Pebble Beach, as well as runner-up finishes in THE PLAYERS Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational – both behind Scheffler - there were few players playing better in the early part of 2024 than Clark.

He wasn’t able to make the most of this positivity at Augusta, missing the cut on debut there but did bounce back the following week, finishing 3rd in the RBC Heritage. Whilst it’s been three weeks since we saw him miss the cut at Valhalla, I’m hoping we’ll see something similar from this determined individual this week.

Clark ranks 6th in total strokes-gained this year and has been doing everything to a reasonably good standard; especially excelling on the greens, ranking 14th and with the driver, ranking 17th. He’d been hitting his irons consistently well too, though did produce one of the worst approach rounds of his career in round two of the PGA and will need to respond here; such was the rarity of that performance, I’m happy to take a chance on him doing just that this week.

He missed the cut here on debut in 2020 and didn’t go much better the following year, but improved massively to finish 37th in 2022. He again stepped it up again last year, entering the final round just one shot off the lead in 4th, before a closing 76 saw him slip to 12th on the leaderboard. Still, it was a highly-encouraging performance that saw him continue to trend upwards at the course.

As a winner last year at Quail Hollow, and possessing a runner-up finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Clark has some striking form in important places and will be looking to find something at Muirfield Village, before heading to Pinehurst to defend his US Open title next week.

Tom Kim

Tom Kim has showed great consistency this year and finally got rewards with his first top-5 of the season last week in Canada. As a player who has often shown an ability to stay hot during his short career so far, he can continue that this week and take some revenge on Muirfield Village after a disastrous debut last year.

Kim had missed just two cuts in 13 starts prior to his effort last week, though had rarely threatened the top of the leaderboard, recording just the four top-25s and a best of 17th in the Phoenix Open. That was all rectified last week, as he played the second-best golf of anyone over the weekend, shooting rounds of 65 and 64 to finish 4th.

He showed quality throughout his bag there, producing his best tee-to-green performance of the year, ranking 2nd and looking comfortable on the greens, ranking 26th. Whilst he had indeed shown quality across these areas throughout the season, he’d failed to put it all together in the same week quite like he did at Hamilton.

Kim is among the straightest drivers on tour and whilst not long, he’s not one of the shortest either. He makes up for this by being an excellent long iron player, ranking 12th on tour in 2023 in approaches above 200yds and with a decent touch on and around the greens, he fits into a similar mould that many of the steadier types who enjoy success here do. Which makes his missed cut here last year, where he shot +10 over the opening two rounds, all the more surprising.

Having said that, the Korean did enter that week off the back of a few uninspiring results and is very much a confidence player. Hopefully he has gained some of that following his 4th-place finish last week and with a top-10 at Olympia Fields last year giving us a glimpse of his potential to perform here, he looks well worth a chance.

Will Zalatoris

I’m going to finish with Will Zalatoris. I’ve been wary of chancing him following his withdrawal prior to the start of the CJ CUP Byron Nelson due to a back injury flaring up. However, he’s had a three-week break since the PGA Championship to rest it up and looks a huge price at a favourable course this week.

It didn’t take Zalatoris long to get going this year following his return from injury, finishing 13th in the Farmers Insurance Open, 2nd in the Genesis Invitational and 4th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational over his first five starts of the season. He followed those with a couple of subdued efforts in the PLAYERS Championship and Houston Open, but recorded a noteworthy top-10 in The Masters just five starts ago.

Whilst only 43rd on his last start in the PGA Championship, there was nothing alarming about Zalatoris’ display. He didn’t shoot over par in any round and looked rock-solid both in his ball-striking and on the greens.

He’s hit his irons well for the most part this season, ranking 14th in approach and whilst his driving numbers are somewhat downgraded, ranking 74th, that is more to do with the length he’s lost since returning from injury. He has compensated for that with much more accuracy, ranking 13th, and it also means that his typically strong long iron game is more pertinent now.

Zalatoris was still right at the start of his pro career when missing the cut here in 2018, but impressed greatly on his return in 2022, finishing 5th. He simply excels in these demanding tests, as shown by his four best finishes of the year coming at the Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Masters and Farmers Insurance Open. With that back rested up, he looks excellent value to shine at another challenging layout this week.

You can find all Jamie's latest Golf Betting Tips over on our dedicated golf Insights hub.

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