Viktor Hovland, 3 More Who Fit Muirfield Village

The PGA TOUR heads to Jack’s place to play the 2022 Memorial Tournament. In an event that is regarded as one of the most prestigious non-majors of the PGA TOUR season, golf fans should be in store for plenty of fireworks at Muirfield Village this week.

Muirfield Village is a 7,392-yard par 72 located in Dublin, Ohio and features Bentgrass greens. A Jack Nicklaus design, the course was built in 1974. The course can play extremely difficult due to its long rough and lightning-fast greens.

The Memorial Tournament is one of three “invitationals” on the PGA TOUR schedule and will play host to 120 golfers this week. Unsurprisingly, the field is stacked and features many of the top stars on TOUR including Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantlay, Will Zalatoris, Hideki Matsuyama and Viktor Hovland.

Past Winners at Memorial Tournament

  • 2021: Patrick Cantlay (-13)
  • 2020: Jon Rahm (-9)
  • 2019: Patrick Cantlay (-19)
  • 2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-15)
  • 2017: Jason Dufner (-13)
  • 2016: William McGirt (-15)

Six Key Stats for Muirfield Village

Let’s take a look at six key metrics for Muirfield Village to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Jack Nicklaus designs all have one thing in common: They reward the best iron players on TOUR. When designing Muirfield Village, Jack created a second-shot golf course that strongly benefited golfers who could really dial in their approach shots. With that in mind, does it surprise anyone that Tiger Woods won this event five times?

Strokes Gained: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Cameron Smith (+28.8) (+2000)
  2. Viktor Hovland (+27.5) (+2200)
  3. Will Zalatoris (+24.5) (+3000)
  4. Shane Lowry (+24.1) (+2500)
  5. Max Homa (+23.4) (+4000)

2. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking does include approach, but if there is any week to over emphasize Strokes Gained: Approach, this is the week. The statistic also incorporates Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, which will be important considering the rough at Muirfield Village can be exceedingly penal. Morikawa, Jason Dufner and Hideki Matsuyama are some great examples of the prototypical ball strikers who have won at Muirfield Village. I envision another elite ball striker winning this week.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jon Rahm (+47.5) (+1000)
  2. Will Zalatoris (+42.1) (+3000)
  3. Viktor Hovland (+42.1) (+2200)
  4. Cameron Young (+39.7) (+3500)
  5. Max Homa (+37.7) (+4000)

3. Par 4: 450-500

Muirfield Village has some long and difficult par 4s. With four par 5s on the course that should be reachable in two for most of the field, the holes that will separate the contenders from the pack are these difficult par 4s. There are six par 4s between 450-500 yards on the course.

Par 4: 450-500 Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Shane Lowry (+22.6) (+2500)
  2. Max Homa (+19.5) (+4000)
  3. Jon Rahm (+18.6) (+1000)
  4. Cameron Young (+14.7) (+3500)
  5. Gary Woodland (+13.4) (+8000)

4. Good Drives Gained

Driving the ball well will be an important factor. Bombing it off the tee is not a requirement at Muirfield Village, but distance always helps. The rough can get very long, and golfers who can’t put the ball in the fairway will fall out of contention quickly. Balanced and consistent drivers of the golf ball should be the targets this week.

Good Drives Gained Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Martin Laird (+39.6) (+27500)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+35.9) (+2200)
  3. Shane Lowry (+34.2) (+2500)
  4. Brendan Steele (+29.9) (+15000)
  5. Myth Pereira (+25.5) (+5500)

5. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass) (Fast)

The Bentgrass greens at Muirfield are very fast. The past few years we’ve seen Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay win the Memorial Tournament, and they are two of the best putters throughout their careers on exceedingly fast greens. This is certainly not a coincidence, and whoever can master these difficult putting surfaces has a major advantage at Jack’s place.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass) (Fast) Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+29.3) (+1800)
  2. Troy Merritt (+25.8) (+15000)
  3. Alex Noren (+21.8) (+8000)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+19.9) (+1100)
  5. Seamus Power (+18.1) (+6000)

6. Gained Strokes: Nicklaus Designs

We often see similar leaderboards when events are hosted by Jack Nicklaus designed courses. The model this week will look to incorporate those golfers.

Strokes Gained: Nicklaus Designs Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Collin Morikawa (+3.2) (+2200)
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+2.8) (+1800)
  3. Jon Rahm (+1.8) (+1000)
  4. Jason Day (+1.6) (+7000)
  5. Adam Scott (+1.5) (+7000)

The Memorial Tournament Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the six key statistical categories previously discussed – SG: Approach (25%), SG: BS (18%), Par 4: 450-500 (13%), Good Drives Gained (18%), SG: Putting Bentgrass Lightning (13%), and SG: Total Nicklaus Designs (13%).

Note: Rahm (who had a big lead before being forced to withdraw), Morikawa (second), and Cantlay (first) were all in the top six of this model last year.

  1. Jon Rahm (+1000)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+1100)
  3. Shane Lowry (+2500)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+2200)
  5. Xander Schauffele (+2200)
  6. Jordan Spieth (+2000)
  7. Gary Woodland (+8000)
  8. Alex Noren (+8000)
  9. Max Homa (+4000)
  10. Matt Fitzpatrick (+2800)
  11. Myth Pereira (+5500)
  12. Chris Kirk (+6600)
  13. Aaron Wise (+7500)
  14. Collin Morikawa (+2200)
  15. CT Pan (+12500)

2022 Memorial Tournament Best Bets

Viktor Hovland (+2500, Bet365):

In order to win at Muirfield Village, it’s a necessity to have a ceiling iron week. Viktor Hovland can be inconsistent and at times unpredictable, but throughout his career, he’s shown the ability to get scorching hot with his irons. Since the start of the 2021 season, the 24-year-old has gained more than 4.0 strokes on the field on approach in 11 of his 24 measured starts.

Despite having three PGA TOUR victories, Hovland is yet to have his “breakthrough” victory. His wins at the Puerto Rico Open and Mayakoba were severely lacking in field strength, and expectations are high for the Norwegian. Muirfield Village has served as a breakout spot for young stars in the past and would be by far the biggest win of Hovland’s career.

In his past 24 rounds, Hovland ranks second in Strokes Gained: Approach, third in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, and 12th in Good Drives Gained.

Hovland is one of the most talented players on TOUR and has seen many of golf’s other young stars steal the spotlight this season. His around the green game has impeded his development thus far, but it is a flaw that can be overcome by elite tee to green play. If his game is clicking on all cylinders this week, he has the right skill set to win at Muirfield Village.

Hideki Matsuyama (+2800, Bet365):

Matsuyama is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career in 2021-2022. Despite missing a few weeks due to injury, his game is also trending up in recent weeks.

As a defending champion at The Masters, Matsuyama had a solid performance as he finished in 14th place. The following week he finished third at the Byron Nelson and gained 9.4 strokes on approach, which led the field by almost a full stroke. He was disappointing at the PGA Championship, but that’s not a reason to overlook the overall state of his game at the moment.

Muirfield Village was the site of Matsuyama’s first win on TOUR. When analyzing his strengths, it’s no surprise that the Japanese star had his breakthrough at Jack’s place. Nicklaus designs reward golfers who can get dialed in with long irons, which is an area where Hideki thrives. In his past 24 rounds, Hideki ranks 6th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach.

This is a very fair number on an elite player who’s playing at a course where he has already proven he can be successful.

Will Zalatoris (+3000, Bet365):

Will Zalatoris thrives in the biggest events on the PGA TOUR schedule. A few weeks ago at the PGA Championship, the 25-year-old came up just short of capturing his first PGA TOUR victory on one of the biggest stages. The Memorial Tournament is a prestigious event that fits the description of an event that Zalatoris should thrive at.

Last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the former Demon Deacon may have experienced a bit of a hangover after his crushing playoff loss the week prior. Before that, he had gained strokes on approach in 13 consecutive measured events on TOUR. His reliable iron game is precisely what makes him such a great fit for Muirfield Village. In his past 24 rounds, Will ranks second in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach and third in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

It’s no secret that his short misses and unreliable putting stroke have been incredibly costly thus far in his career. His inability to make putts is always a concern, but it may be less of a concern in an event where the scoring doesn’t get out of control. Zalatoris should hit enough greens in regulation to make up for his putting woes. The course requires precision off the tee and sharp iron play, making it an ideal breakthrough spot for the young star.

Patrick Reed (+6500, DraftKings):

After a tough 18 month stretch, Patrick Reed seems to have finally turned a corner. In his past two starts, he’s gained 5.0 and 6.5 strokes from tee to green. That may seem like a small feat, but to put it in perspective, Reed had lost strokes from tee to green in an almost unbelievable 14 consecutive events. He just recently ditched his PXG driver, which has seemed to have a positive impact on his game.

The recent form may have come at just the right time for the 31-year-old. Muirfield Village has been a great spot for Reed in his past two trips to the course. He finished 10th at the Memorial Tournament in 2020 and fifth in 2021. Reed ranks 15th in Strokes Gained: Total at Nicklaus designs.

Historically, the mercurial star has done his best work on Bentgrass greens, and we’ve seen him regain some of that in the past two weeks. He’s also excellent on difficult golf courses and gains an average of about a stroke on the field per event in tough events.

There’s a chance that Reed’s recent form is a mirage, but if it isn’t, then Jack’s place is a good spot for him to earn his 10th PGA TOUR victory.

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