Muirfield Villiage Golf Club will test 120 players this week during the Memorial Tournament hosted by the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
The 7,392-yard, par-72 course designed by Nicklaus places extreme emphasis on approach game, as the greens are smaller than the PGA Tour average. It tied Glen Abbey, another Nicklaus creation, for the closest average proximity to the hole in 2018.
It's worth noting that no winner at Muirfield Village in the past five years had pre-tournament odds shorter than 60-1. That doesn't mean one of the favorites can't win, but the door is certainly open for a longer shot to steal the title.
With an emphasis on ball-strikers, especially those with elite approach games, here are the best bets this week:
Gary Woodland (33-1)
Woodland makes for a strong play at the top even though 33-1 is a shorter number than usual. With course history and recent form on his side, all signs point towards the 35-year-old finding himself in contention. He's finished inside the top six at Muirfield twice in his career and has made three straight cuts at the event. More impressively, he placed second to only Brooks Koepka in strokes gained: tee to green at the PGA Championship.
There are few players in the world playing better tee-to-green golf than Woodland at the moment. He's one mediocre putting week away from his fourth Tour win.
Henrik Stenson (50-1)
Stenson's number this week is disrespectful. The former Open champion hasn't played the Memorial Tournament much in the past 10 years, but he did have a T-14 finish last season. The Swede is primed for a win, averaging 5.6 strokes gained with approach shots over the last six events where data was recorded.
His fairway-finding 3-wood will be dangerous at Muirfield and he should have plenty of green-light situations by avoiding the rough. If the putts are falling, Stenson will be climbing his way to the top of the leaderboard.
Emiliano Grillo (55-1)
There may be higher odds for Grillo if you shop around, but 55-1 is still very solid value on a player who appears due for his second PGA Tour title. His recent results are trending in the right direction; he's finished T-33, T-29, and T-19 in his last three starts while riding impressive iron play. He's also made the cut in all three of his appearances at the Memorial, where a T-11 in 2016 stands as his best result.
Keegan Bradley (80-1)
The targeting of elite ball-strikers who can't putt continues with Bradley. He's lost strokes putting in seven straight events where data was recorded, but he historically putts better on bentgrass compared to other surfaces, so Muirfield Village's bentgrass greens should help. He's always one of the best iron players in the field, and he should be once again at a tournament in which he's had two top-10 finishes since 2015. At 80-1, he fits the trend of recent Memorial winners with higher odds.
Nick Watney (12-1)
Watney led the field in strokes gained: tee to green last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge, but a horrendous week of putting limited him to a T-8 result. If his ball-striking returns this week and he improves his putting slightly, his chances at a top-10 finish are much greater than 12-1.
Rickie Fowler over Justin Rose (-120)
Rose was forced to split with longtime caddie Mark Fulcher this week due to health concerns. Though he found success this season with a different caddie on his bag while Fulcher was off for said health issues, Rose may take time adjusting to his new looper, or perhaps be more focused on his friend's well-being than on golf.
Fowler and Rose have similar course history at Muirfield Village, but the unknowns surrounding the Englishman give Fowler the upper hand. Rickie may not improve on his two runner-up finishes at the Memorial, but beating Rose over 72 holes is certainly in play.
Xander Schauffele over Jordan Spieth (-120)
Spieth's last two performances have looked great on the leaderboard, but he's done it all with his putter. He's gained a combined 18.1 strokes on the greens over the past two weeks, a trend that history suggests is going to end; he's been very average playing tee to green - a far better predictor of future success.
Schauffele is coming off a missed cut at Colonial, but he tends to rise to the occasion in fields that boast the game's best players, which is exactly what's on deck at the Memorial.
Luke List over Peter Uihlein (-120)
List finished sixth at the PGA Championship and gained over seven strokes putting, the area in which the 34-year-old has historically struggled the most. He switched to a new putter at Bethpage Black and that could be the answer List's been seeking for years.
Uihlein does have strong course history at Muirfield Village, finishing fifth last year, but his recent surge in results stems from a strong short game rather than ball-striking. If both players put together a strong week of tee-to-green play, List is the much safer choice.
(Odds courtesy: bet365)