By News Team
2nd June 2021
It’s one of the big events on the PGA Tour this week as Jack Nicklaus hosts the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio.
Since last year, Nicklaus has made a host of changes to the famous course aimed at making it better, not harder, and thus players are likely to be presented with a slightly different challenge to what they usually face when they tee it up.
Fresh off tipping a 45/1 winner last week at Colonial, here’s our preview ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
Muirfield Village a different beast in 2021
Muirfield Village’s designer, Jack Nicklaus, has never been afraid to tinker, and small changes to the set-up and feel of the course have become a very common occurrence. However, this time around things have been taken up a few levels. All 18 greens have been dug up, 12 of which have been remodelled, and a variety of new tees have been added to increase the course’s yardage by 100 yards. With new putting surfaces on every hole designed to be firmer and more repellent, this should present a real challenge to the world’s best, particularly with the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines only a couple of weeks away.
Given he won the tournament last year and has six top-10 finishes in the 10 stroke play events he’s played this year, it’s not hard to see why Jon Rahm is the 11/1 market leader. Granted this sort of test should suit as he followed up a win here with a win at the BMW Championship last season, many of which saw as a U.S. Open in disguise. However, despite his solid form in 2021, he hasn’t looked quite the player we’ve become accustomed to seeing with an equipment change as well as the duties of being a new father clearly not ideal. As such, 10/1 looks a fairly short price here.
Finau can get back on the winning trail, at last
Many would argue that if Rahm is short at 10/1 then TONY FINAU is at 25/1 given his inability to get over the line for so long now. And while that is a totally fair point, there is enough to suggest a big tournament is the place he might finally get that elusive second win.
Firstly, he arrives back at a course where he has played well at in the past. Eighth on debut in 2015 has been followed by finishes of 11th (2016), 13th (2018) and eighth last year where he led after 36 holes having opened with rounds of 65 and 69. Secondly, he has been in good form this year too with a 10th at the Masters and eighth at the PGA following a fourth at the American Express, second at the Farmers Insurance, third at the Saudi International and then a second at the Genesis Invitational, where he lost in a play-off to Max Homa.
Those are some very consistent results and although he hasn’t got it done, he’s showed that he hasn’t been perturbed by a plethora of near misses and the confidence in his abilities is still there. He played well enough at Colonial last week, where he ranked second for Total Driving, third for Greens in Regulation and second for Ball Striking on the way to a tie for 20th – a finish that would have been considerably better had the putter not been as poor as it was (71st in Strokes Gained: Putting).
He’ll need to putt better this week, but there are still plenty of signs to suggest that cherished second PGA Tour victory might be close to coming to fruition.