Fantasy Golf: Memorial Tournament preview

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The pros found it tough going in Ireland last week and it was a bit of a struggle for us Fantasy Golfers too. Rory McIlroy’s second straight missed cut has seen plenty of managers – myself included – hit the buffers since Quail Hollow but others have flourished. A disappointing week for the home charges left the path clear for Soren Kjeldsen to cling on in the wind and secure his first victory since 2009. Alan Baskin was cheering the Dane’s playoff victory as his ‘TaylorWilson’ team took the weekly spoils with 102 points, Kjeldsen ably supported by Pepperell and Cabrera-Bello in his line-up.

This week attention switches back to the United States and the calmer surroundings of Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village in Ohio. Hideki Matsuyama took a surprise win last year, holding off Bubba Watson and Adam Scott down the stretch before edging out Kevin Na in a playoff. The rising Japanese star is back to defend his crown and will be joined by a host of big names. In-form young guns Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler as well as Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and former champions Steve Stricker, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods are all in attendance. All eyes will be on the latter, though, with five-time winner Woods making his first start since the Players Championship last month.

Having hosted the Ryder, Presidents and Solheim Cups and with sand and water aplenty, the course that Jack built is set up for drama and one of the Tour’s toughest tests. At just shy of 7,400 yards, the par 72 requires control and touch into and around its lightning fast, undulating greens. Matsuyama actually finished with a negative strokes gained putting number last year but that was an anomaly as he ranked 22nd or better in driving accuracy, greens in regulation, proximity to hole and scrambling.

It looks set to be a humid week in Ohio with temperatures close to 30 and an outside chance of rain every day. Here’s who I’m backing this week…

Matt Kuchar, £3.5m
No sparkling form but his record here is brilliant – 15th, first and second last three years – and it’s easy to see why. Ranks fifth for scrambling and putts per round and that short game should see him contend again.

Jordan Spieth, £3.5m
Seven of his last eight rounds (Colonial and Byron Nelson) have been below 70. He was 19th here last year and tops the Tour’s FedEx Cup and putts per round rankings.

Hideki Matsuyama, £3.0m
Big ask for anyone to defend a title but he has a great chance. His last seven starts have all yielded finishes of 23rd or better and he is inside the top 10 for scrambling, total driving and greens in regulation on Tour.

Billy Horschel, £2.6m
Reappearance after finishing 13th at the Players last month. Was 15th here last year and sits 12th for total driving and 10th for greens in regulation on the PGA Tour.

Stewart Cink, £0.8m
Quietly going about his business this year and a 20th at the Wells Fargo was the latest result to show there might be life yet in the former Open champ. His record here is remarkable, missing the cut on his 1997 debut but making it to the weekend on his 17 subsequent starts which have included six top-10s.

Jim Herman, £0.6m
Wildcard of the week who is in decent form after making his last five cuts. He has never played here but if stats are anything to go by, his game should be a good fit. He ranks 13th in proximity to hole, sixth in total driving and first in greens in regulation. 

 

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