During the 2022 golf season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will share his betting targets each week using odds as of Tuesday morning. Here are his thoughts on this week’s Memorial Tournament.
Note: Nate will tweet out his official bets when they are placed before the event. He also discusses his bets in all sports on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
About the tournament
The PGA TOUR heads to the Midwest for the Memorial Tournament just outside of Columbus, Ohio. It is played at Muirfield Village Golf Club, which is a Jack Nicklaus designed course, and the legendary golfer is the host for this event.
Muirfield Village is a par 72 that will play 7,533 yards after a nearly two-year renovation of the course extended the length of it. Because Nicklaus is the host, the field for this event is one of the strongest non-majors and there are only 120 players in the field.
Top of the board
The biggest question with handicapping the tournament is how much to lean on course history because the course is longer after the latest renovation at Murifield Village. I still will value that factor because you can count on the best players to play well at a star-studded tournament like this.
The two players at the top when it comes to course history are Jon Rahm (10/1) and Patrick Cantlay (16/1). Rahm won the 2020 version of this event in July when the tournament was moved back from its normal spot on the calendar due to COVID-19. Rahm was on his way to repeating in June 2021 and finished his round on Saturday with a six-shot lead. Then he got word he tested positive for COVID and was forced to withdraw. Rahm did end up bouncing back two weeks later at the U.S. Open, winning his first and only major of his young career.
Rahm’s misfortune 12 months ago opened the door for Patrick Cantlay to win his second Memorial in three years. You can put an asterisk next to the 2021 win at Memorial, but he also won in 2019 and has a strong track record at courses designed by Nicklaus. Cantlay is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the PGA Championship in the unfavorable weather draw, as his poor form in majors continued. But Cantlay has a playoff loss at RBC Heritage and a win in the team event with Xander Schauffele in April, so he has flashed ahead of this week’s tournament.
Rahm and Cantlay are players I considered at the top, but I prefer to go a step deeper in the odds and target Collin Morikawa (20/1) as my top bet. Morikawa was the player who lost to Cantlay in the playoff last year, although he would’ve likely not been in that position if Rahm didn’t have to withdraw. But it was encouraging to see Morikawa play well at last year’s Memorial because he won the 2020 Workday Charity Open, which was played at Murifield Village a week before the 2020 Memorial. Morikawa also has a win at a WGC event that was played at Nicklaus’ The Concession Golf Club in Florida, so he has proven to play well multiple times at courses designed by Nicklaus.
As for current form, Morikawa has been underwhelming outside a fifth-place finish at the Masters when he shot a final-round 67. Last week, Morikawa finished dead last in putting during the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge, but his strokes gained approach numbers were good. Morikawa has proven in the past he doesn’t need to be in good form to win, and the good putting could happen at any time. I’ll bet on him to flip things with his flatstick at a course he’s played well at in his young career.
After talking up players with good course history, I’m going to make a case for a player with forgettable performances at Murifield Village. Cameron Smith (22/1) has missed four out of his six cuts at the Memorial and his other two finishes are 65th in 2017 and 68th in 2020. But Smith is a much improved player now, so I’d argue you can look past his course history.
The appeal with Smith is he led the field in strokes gained approach at the PGA Championship two weeks ago, but couldn’t make a putt. I watched a lot of his rounds on Thursday and Friday, as I had an eye on Will Zalatoris who was in a group with Smith. There were numerous times where Smith had a putt lip-out and the stats backed up his struggles on the greens. Smith won the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP in March because of his putting, so he has the ability to turn that part of his game around. I’ll bank on him to at least putt field average, and I hope his irons stay dialed in.
The other player I plan to bet on this week is Hideki Matsuyama (28/1). He was one of my bets at the PGA Championship, but he was never a factor at Southern Hills and barely made the cut. I’m fine going back to him at this number because of his strong history at the Memorial. He won in 2014 and has two additional top-six finishes. Matsuyama also collected a second victory in the state of Ohio when he won the 2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron.
Mid-range targets and longshots
I’m going to group the rest of the players I have an eye on in this section. Because I’m likely going to bet three players at 28/1 or shorter, I won’t have a lot of room on my betting card to take other players. Part of that is strategy because I believe one of the elite players in the world will win in a field of this caliber and at a course that plays tough.
Cameron Young (33/1), Davis Riley (40/1) and Mito Pereira (40/1) are players I have bet several times this year, but I’m going to pass on that group because I don’t like their numbers in this field.
The longshots I have circled are Kevin Streelman (125/1), Brendan Steele (125/1) and Lucas Glover (150/1). Streelman has a strong course history at Muirfield Village, although the added length to the course could be a concern. The last time we saw Steele, he finished tied for ninth at the PGA Championship and ranked fourth in the field in strokes gained approach.
Glover is my preferred target from the group after the performance with his irons at the PGA Championship and last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Glover has made the cut in nine of 10 appearances at the Memorial, although he has never come close to winning. If I do bet on Streelman, Steele and/or Glover, I will also bet them to finish in the top five or top 10.