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Memorial betting preview

By Dave Tindall Last updated: 3rd June 2010

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In-form Korean KJ Choi can win The Memorial Tournament for the second time, says Dave Tindall in his betting preview.

Choi - can win again.

Choi - can win again.

Tiger Woods' stock has fallen so low that the bookies are prepared to dangle 15/2 about him winning this week's Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio.

Tiger is a four-time winner of Jack Nicklaus' event but doubts over his game, fitness and mental state mean only the most devoted Woods punters will be taking that price.

It's fairly easy to strike a line through Phil Mickelson too.

Lefty was so bad last week that he beat just one player of those who finished 36 holes. Mickelson is famous for turning things around quickly but he has never won this event so will be a better proposition at a later date.

By contrast, KJ Choi is a former winner of this tournament and also played well last week.

It's not often a player shoots a 66 which contains an eight but that's what Choi did at Colonial after a brilliant third round was wrecked by a quadruple bogey at 18.

His Saturday charge had actually taken him to the top of the leaderboard so his closing hole really was a momentum killer and he never really got it back in round four with a two-under 68 eventually leaving him tied 13th.

But Choi's form is generally excellent - he hasn't finished worse than tied 39th in 12 starts on the US PGA Tour this year - and he looks due a win after some near misses, notably his second place in the Transitions and fourth at Augusta.

Choi's win here came in 2007 (following a tied 24th at Colonial) and he can also boast a fifth in 2004, an eighth in 2005 and a 13th last year.

One trend in his stats is that he putts these fast greens very well and with Choi sitting seventh in Greens In Regulation and 3rd in the All-Around ranking he looks to have the complete package to put in another serious title bid.

Choi is a seven-time Tour winner and has the class and temperament to rack up number eight this week.

Also near the front of the betting I like the chances of Adam Scott.

The Aussie had a mysterious spell in the doldrums but now looks to be back to his best and that makes him a serious player in any event.

To be fair, Scott's play from tee to green has been excellent for most of the season - he's fourth in Ball Striking - but he'd had a rotten time with his putter.

However, a putting tip from Dave Stockton has worked wonders and he looked pretty rock solid on the greens when winning the Valero Texas Open two weeks ago - his first win for two years.

Like Choi, Scott has seven US PGA Tour victories to his name and as a winner of the Players Championship and the Tour Championship he can win in very elite company.

It's worth noting that his two big performances at Memorial have come when he's been in excellent form.

In 2006 he finished fourth here after finishing third in both of his previous two events. And in 2007 his top five, which included a stunning 62, came on the back of a sixth place at Sawgrass.

He topped the Greens In Regulation stats here in 2006 while he's twice finished in the top four for Putting.

"Wins are huge for momentum," said Scott after his victory in Texas and there's every reason to believe that he can keep it going here.

Now a look further down the lists.

Firstly, how about some 100/1 Ryan Moore.

There are some obvious similarities between Muirfield Village and Augusta - room off the tee, a focus on accurate approaches and fast greens - and that should play into Moore's hands.

The American describes The Masters as his favourite major and his pre-tournament comments that he loved the lightning greens proved spot on as he topped the putting stats for the week at Augusta on is way to a tied 13th place.

The set-up of Muirfield Village should really suit him and indeed that's proven the case. He was runner-up here in 2007 after bookend 66s while he also made the top 10 in 2008.

Moore played some dazzling stuff at Sawgrass recently before a final round collapse and we shouldn't read too much into last week's missed cut (after all, he shot a second round 69).

To clinch the deal, listen to what Moore says about Memorial:

"I look forward to this tournament probably more than any tournament all year. I just love the golf course, to be honest. I think that it's probably the most enjoyable golf course that we play all year."

Take the hint and take the 100/1.

Moore made his breakthrough win last year when capturing the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield and there's an interesting little link between that course and this one.

As well as Moore winning at Sedgefield and finishing runner-up at Muirfield Village, Sweden's Carl Pettersson has won at both venues.

As for the possible link, here's what one player said about Sedgefield: "We play courses all the time where it's driver every hole. Here you have to shape some shots and work the ball into some flags. I really liked it."

Those words came from Martin Laird and having honed his shotmaking skills growing up in Scotland he should really take to Muirfield Village where working the ball and shaping shots are vital.

Laird finished third at the Wyndham two years ago after three extraordinary rounds and one poor one - 63-74-64-63 - and since then he's become a fully fledged US PGA Tour winner (the Justin Timberlake in Vegas back in October).

In the last couple of weeks Laird has sailed through Open quailfying (he was absolutely thrilled to book his trip home to St Andrews) and finished 10th in last week's Colonial (another shotmaker's course).

He sits 20th in Greens In Regulation and definitely has the skills to shine on his first appearance at Memorial.

Winning might be a little too much to ask but a placed finish is worth it on his record of five top fives in his last 50 US PGA Tour starts.

Stan James offer 33/1 and are actually betting to six places.

Another outsider worth a close look is Ricky Barnes.

The former US Amateur champ has taken much longer to come to the boil as a pro than Hunter Mahan, the man he beat in the 2002 final, but there are good signs now for Barnes.

Most impressive is that he's made the top 10 in his last two majors - tied second in the 2009 US Open at Bethpage and 10th in this year's Masters - and that shows the big events bring out the best in him.

In his only other Masters appearance he finished 21st as an amateur so given the links between here and Augusta, he should be suited by this week's course.

Barnes is having an excellent season with four top 10s racked up already - the most recent a seventh place at Colonial last week when he scored three 66s and a 67.

Again, first place on the podium is a big ask but the 25/1 place only is enough to tempt me in.

Finally, I always think Hunter Mahan is a better bet in big events.

His record in the majors is one of consistent excellence - eight top 20s in his last 12 appearances - and because of last week's missed cut some bookies put him in at 50/1.

Mahan shot a 67 in round two when going home early at Colonial so there's nothing wrong at all with his game and last year's tied 14th at Memorial looks something he can build on.

On the stats, Mahan is statistically the best driver on Tour while he's also 14th in Greens In Regulation.

He topped the Par 4 rankings at Memorial last year so if he can play the longer holes better he should be right in the hunt.

With a good finish under his belt, he'd be 33s here so the 50s is genuine value.

Tips:

1.5pts e.w. KJ Choi at 28/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Former winner here and in great form this season. A victory looks imminent.

1.5pts e.w. Adam Scott at 33/1 (Ladrokes 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Turned the corner with win in Texas and can follow up on a course where he thrives.

0.75pts e.w. Ryan Moore at 100/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Runner-up here in 2007 and says this is one of his favourite events of the year.

1.25pts Martin Laird to finish in the top six at 33/1 (Stan James). In great form and a generous price on his career US PGA Tour top five stats

1.25pts Ricky Barnes to finish in the top five at 25/1 (Betfred). Four top 10s this season and excellent play in majors suggests he thrives in elite company.

1pt e.w. Hunter Mahan at 50/1 (Sky Bet, Ladbrokes 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Excellent record in big events and handy tied 14th here last year.

  • Preview posted at 1045 BST on 01/06/2010.

    Dave Tindall



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