We chipped in a tournament preview
and match-up winner last week at Colonial and here are some thoughts, insight and player profiles for this week’s event at Muirfield Village.
Muirfield Village Golf Club was the dream and work of the great Jack Nicklaus. Located near his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, the Golden Bear named this course for the site of his first British Open victory. Jack’s tournament is by invitation only and will have 120 players competing this week.
The Nicklaus-designed course is a manicured masterpiece that stretches to 7,352 yards and is a par 72. The fairways offer some width and are quite generous despite being narrowed in the past five years. A second-shot course that requires creative shot-shaping and solid iron skills, players must play from the fairway and be more precise as they approach the pure bent grass greens. The greens are undulating and fast, but note a 30% chance of rain Thursday and 60% chance of rain Friday could soften them up for better scoring. Recent champions have been very accurate from the tee and tended to be players who hit aggressive irons, scramble well and can put the ball in the hole. Solid putters and short game players will ultimately prevail.
2011 champion Steve Stricker is a player who can be counted as he approaches the green. He ranked second for scrambling last season, and led the PGA Tour in putting from five to 15 feet. Not as strong this season, but still top-10 in driving accuracy, GIR and scrambling. He did however post a hole-in-one and two eagles on his way to victory, but no other top-10’s at event in 11 appearances.
Justin Rose won in 2010 and also was runner-up in 2008. A very solid player from the fairway, he’s #4 in Greens in Regulation (GIR), #6 in scoring and top-15 in ball striking and scrambling; keys to success. Note he was also very solid in scrambling stats and putting inside 15-feet last season and he has six top-10’s this season and enters off a 2nd place finish at the BMW PGA Championship last week.
Luke Donald regained his world #1 ranking with his impressive victory at Wentworth last week. GIR #'s not as strong thus far but #1 in scrambling. His short game and iron play are usually among the best. 3 top-15 finishes (2-top 7) his last three starts at Muirfield Village says he should contend again.
Jim Furyk led the field in GIR last week and his top-4 finish shows his good form into this week. He won here in 2002 and has one of the best resumes at this event with six top-10's. Solid short game, scrambling and top-3 in driving accuracy and scoring.
Tiger Woods has four wins in ten starts at Muirfield, so he obviously likes the course and has had great success when teeing it up in front of Jack. His stats and play have improved greatly from last season and he ranks top-10 in ball striking, total driving, scoring average and all-around ranking. Still not convinced though.
Ernie Els is a fairway favorite and he’s improved his game this season while posting four top-5 finishes. He’s top-20 in ball striking and scrambling but note his total driving stats are the most improved on Tour from last year and Els says it has been the strength of his game this season with his new Calloway RAZR fit driver. Els won here in 2004 with perhaps the best week of putting in tournament history. He’s also finished top-20 in nine additional starts at Muirfield Village. Check out Ernie’s weekly diary
and see how his game is progressing, his solid finish last week and his affinity for Muirfield Village. “Design-wise I think it suits my eye and the way I see my shots”. I supported Els over Pettersson this week.
Geoff Ogilvy’s game is on upswing again and he has three top-10’s in last four starts at Muirfield. He’s been fairly quiet but consistent this season and his ball-striking is coming around and he ranks top-6 in scrambling. Note his putting was much better last week and while he did not play at Muirfield last year, note he opened with a 65 two years ago to share the first round lead. We’ll take a pro-active approach and bet him on the come this week.
Lee Westwood and Matt Kuchar are the only top-10 players not in field this week. Long-shots of consideration include Nick Watney, Ryan Moore, Geoff Ogilvy, Ernie Els and Gary Woodland among others.
Our match-up play to include this week is Geoff Ogilvy over Dustin Johnson, who has not played a competitive round on Tour in over 2.5 months due to injuries
. Let’s fade him this week.
Fairway Jay is a recognized leader and one of the sports industries insightful point spread prognosticators. Fairway Jay is a proven pro and top-PGA Tour handicapper with documented past success and profits in player match-up betting. He chips in this year with periodic insight and analysis along with selected match-ups. With documented success and experience to battle with the best and beat the bookmaker, profit from Fairway Jay’s experience and well-rounded game. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay