2021 Memorial Tournament picks, predictions, field grade, odds, best bets at Muirfield Village


The tentpole event between the PGA Championship and U.S. Open in two weeks is the 2021 Memorial Tournament at a renovated Muirfield Village. Like always, the Memorial will be hosted by Jack Nicklaus and contested among a loaded field; however, unlike last year, there will actually be loads of fans in attendance to enjoy the best in the world take on a tournament that plays somewhat like a major championship.

With so many events on the PGA Tour running together, the Memorial stands out as a tentpole, especially for golfers who need to work on their game following less-than-impressive showings at the PGA Championship or those who just want to fine-tune a couple things before competition for the national championship in a couple weeks.

Let’s take a closer look at this week’s contest with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.

Event information

Event: Memorial Tournament | Dates: June 3-6
Location: Muirfield Village Golf Club — Dublin, Ohio
Par: 72 | Purse: $9.3 million

Three things to know

1. Ball-striking kings: Muirfield Village is not a golf course I necessarily love, but it has certainly produced some incredible winners over the years. Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods (five times) have all won here. Part of that is because of the way Nicklaus likes to set it up (more on that in a minute), and part of it is because this is always one of the best non-major championship fields of the year. But at least some of it is due to the DNA of the course, which demands that you hit the absolute hell out of it for four straight days if you want to shake the hand of an 18-time major winner on Sunday afternoon.

2. Same setup, new course: Last year’s Memorial felt like a major championship (possibly because we had not had one in nearly a year at that point). The best players love the hardest conditions, and Nicklaus is always happy to oblige. Here’s what Rahm, who went on to win at 9 under, said about the setup on Saturday night last year: “Whatever happens tomorrow happens, but it’ll be a great test for me to learn for the future, for major championships, because this is going to be the closest thing we get to a major championship without being one. I think it’s really good.”

Now, Nicklaus effectively has a new golf course to tinker with after a complete renovation of Muirfield Village. If this is any indication for what’s in store, this year’s edition is going to be just as nasty as it was last year maybe even without having to dial up the speed or the rough as much. It will be interesting to see what players say about the changes throughout the week, but I would be surprised if anyone says it’s playing easier than it has in general over the last decade.

There should be a distinction between how a course is structured and how it’s set up, but one can (and often does) affect the other, especially after so many changes — including all 18 greens being redone — have taken place at Muirfield Village. There are now more levers for Nicklaus to pull to make it tough.

“We’ve always been fighting soft greens,” Nicklaus’ son, Jack Nicklaus II, said recently about the golf course. “Now we really will have to work to keep them soft enough, and that will completely change how the golf course plays. Firmer greens really is the biggest change.”

3. Finding the best golfer : I wrote extensively about this on Monday, but there’s a real void right now to the “best golfer on the planet” debate. Nobody has filled it, but there are plenty of guys who have an opportunity to this summer,  and winning a big-time event like Memorial on a redesigned course like this would go a long way toward stepping into that void.

Grading the field

This field is terrific with 11 of the top 15 players in the world joined by Jordan Spieth (currently No. 23) to make up one of the best non-major fields of the entire season. Missing are recent PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson, who is prepping for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and obviously Tiger Woods, who has won this tournament an astounding five times over the course of his career. Also, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is not in attendance, and it does not look like he will play between the PGA and U.S. Open unless he tees it up next week at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. Grade: A

2021 Memorial Tournament picks





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