Bradley can burst out of traps



Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Muirfield Village: For the opener, T-storms are a threat all day with the chance of rain around 40%. Winds are fairly light, peaking at around 10mph in the afternoon.

First-round leader history at Muirfield Village:

2020 – 66 Tony Finau
2019 – 65 Ryan Moore
2018 – 65 Abraham Ancer, Joaquin Niemann, Hideki Matsuyama
2017 – 65 Jason Dufner, David Lingmerth
2016 – 64 Dustin Johnson
2015 – 64 Hideki Matsuyama, Bo Van Pelt

Strategy: Historically, it’s been a fairly even split as to which wave provides the leader and the weather increases the randomness. T-storms may strike at any point which could mean delays and players not starting as scheduled. That suggests it’s not too important to stress over precise tee-times.

Bradley looks best

With renovations to the course, it could just take the players a day or so to get used to everything.

I do think Memorial types – strong tee to green players – will still hold sway come Sunday but there may be some logic in going with players who are starting fast anywhere right now.

The first-round king over the last few weeks has been Keegan Bradley.

In his last three starts he was day one leader at the Valspar and second after 18 holes at both the Wells Fargo and PGA Championship. Add in day one positions of sixth in Phoenix and seventh at Bay Hill and this is a definite thing, not a three-tournament fad.

Bradley has four R1 leads in his last 54 starts and, at this course, he’s been in the top 18 following the first round on six occasions.

It’s a nice combination and, fuelled by some excellent SG: Tee To Green numbers, he’s been posting some strong results: he’s on a run of seven straight top 30s.

He has an 8:56am tee-time in the pleasant company of Rickie Fowler and Lanto Griffin. Take the 50s.

Get with Gary

I had a good look at Gary Woodland in the outright betting but am happy to play him in this market at 55/1.

The 2019 US Open champion has definitely found some form again.

He hinted at it with a top six in the Texas Open and in his last three events he’s posted fifth in the Wells Fargo, challenged at the PGA before a Sunday slide and added a top 15 at last week’s Charles Schwab.

Woodland has always enjoyed Muirfield Village since finishing sixth on debut in 2011. He’s since been fourth in 2016 and fifth last year when it staged the Workday Charity Open. There’s another three top 25s on his course record too.

As for fast starts, he was third after the opening lap last year and has shot 3-under or better in four of his last five Memorials.

If the new greens take a bit of learning, that’s more likely to hinder the better putters so, as with Bradley, it makes sense to lean on a player who does his best work with the longer clubs.

Woodland heads out at 8:20am from the 10th.

Look to Lee

For an afternoon starter, I’ll go with Kyoung-Hoon Lee at 95/1.

As with Bradley, the Korean has been making fast starts lately and an opening 65 at the Byron Nelson helped propel him to a first PGA Tour victory last month.

Prior to that he was second after round one of the Wells Fargo Championship and eighth on the R1 leaderboard in the RBC Heritage.

Overall, K.H. has been in the top eight after lap one in three of his last five starts.

He’s also a big fan of Muirfield Village. Talking about his two favourite PGA Tour stops, Lee said: “One is THE CJ Cup and the other is The Memorial Tournament. I’ve had a lot of good memories at Memorial, it’s a nice golf course and I always feel comfortable here.”

Lee has only played it twice but he was the halfway leader in the 2019 Memorial after opening 68-67. The event was also won by his compatriot and hero K.J. Choi.

He opens his bid at 1:20pm local time from the 10th.