GOLF Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, July 8 at 11:15 AM EST.
Cutoff time for this event is July 9 at 6:30 AM EST.
Streaming Subscribers: Watch on Sky Sports Golf Channel in the Sky Sports Group beginning at 6:30 AM EST on Thursday and every day thereafter.
Last Week’s Results
We had a winning week at the Rocket Mortgage by going 2-1 on Sunday’s H2H’s and then splitting the 72 holes H2H for a small profit. Wesley Brian at 150-1 came 21st but was near the leaderboard through the first three rounds. Kevin Chappel was 200-1 and was sitting pretty before an injury caused him to shoot +5 on Sunday. Five of our seven recommendations for DFS or to win outright made the cut.
Workday Charity Open Course Preview
With two events in consecutive weeks at Muirfield Village, you do wonder how the layout will vary for this Workday Charity Open to the Memorial next time out. Of course, there’s not a lot that officials can do – they’re not going to start chainsawing trees to the ground, but you do wonder if they will have trimmed the rough to enable it to grow back in time for the Memorial.
Muirfield Village has been hosting events for more than 40 years, and so this is a golf course that remains true to the original blueprints put together by Jack Nicklaus. They haven’t needed to add length or anything like that, because the test is already stern enough for players no matter how far they can bludgeon the ball. This tends to be a ball-striker’s paradise, where those who are straight off the tee and precise on approach tend to enjoy proceedings the most. The fairways are of an average width but the rough tends to be penal, so keeping one’s ball in play is vital. There are some 73 bunkers across the real estate, with water in play on 11 holes, so there is danger lurking at every turn.
A standard 7,392 yards for its Par 72, Muirfield is a typical parklands track that is undulating and lined with Bentgrass. The greens will run pretty sharply on the stimp, but beware there is some rain in the forecast and that will help to slow the surfaces down. We are expecting a winning score in the late teens under par, but it is worth noting that 11 of the 18 holes averaged over par in 2019, thus, it’s the four easy Par 5s where the best of the scoring will be found.
Muirfield Village has previously hosted the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup, so this is a well-respected layout that has the classic Jack Nicklaus stamp of quality.
What We’re Looking for:
Some of the best players to ever pick up a club have triumphed at Muirfield Village, and with Jack Nicklaus on design duty it’s no surprise that the cream of the crop tends to thrive here.
This is, in some ways, the kind of course that DFS gamers and bettors dream of. We are looking for metronomic tee-to-green merchants – those players who relentlessly pepper the flag with their approaches and, ideally, then find a bit of a spark with the flat stick in hand. Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer, Kevin Streelman and Marc Leishman – the top-five from the Memorial in 2019 speaks volumes about the advantage that tee-to-green players have this week. The champion made more birdies than anyone else last year, and while there’s nothing surprising about that it should be noted that a decent slice of Cantlay’s -19 total came from the Par 5 holes, so that’s a statistical area to focus on. We’re still on Bentgrass/Poa greens too, so be sure to make a note of the putting stats from the Rocket Mortgage Classic to add another layer of credence to your research. Once again, we’ll look for pros that are 40-1 are better.
To Win Outright: These are played at BET365 because of their cashout option.
Scottie Scheffler 70-1
It’s been a spell in the doldrums for Scottie Scheffler but he’s been high on our radar and we’re not going to let him pass at this price because the time to buy is now. Scottie missed the cut at the Rocket Mortgage but that’s because of a rough Thursday. His game truly clicked on Friday. His round of 65 was among the very best of the day at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and while it wasn’t enough for him to make the cut it was a huge stride forward in his development. Remember, Scheffler has six top-20s since last September, including solo third at the American Express and T5 at the RSM Classic. He had three rounds in the 60’s at the Charles Schwab Challenge before a final round of 73. Scottie ranks 10th ON TOUR in Birdie Average, 12th in Driving Distance and 19th in Scoring Average. A fine tee-to-green player when on it, Scheffler can look forward to better things now – starting with this week at Muirfield (Risking 0.2 units to win 14).
Mark Hubbard 100-1
See our analysis on Hubbard in our H2H matchup with McNealy. (Risking 0.2 units to win 20 units).
Adam Hadwin 55-1
There was a welcome return to form for Adam Hadwin at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, a player who had been grinding away since golf’s resumption. The Canadian loves Bentgrass/Poa greens and has a habit of serving up his best golf on courses that are considered less-than-driver, and so in truth, we were expecting a better record than he has at Muirfield. But he does have a T11 here in the past, and he can match that at the very least this week based on his ball-striking at Detroit GC, where he finished T4 on the back of ranking second for GIR. A former winner at Innisbrook, Hadwin is more than capable of compiling a low score on a track where tee-to-green prowess is key. Man, does he look progressively sharper each week and appears ready to pop. This could be the week.
Matthew NeSmith 250-1
This is an extraordinary price for a player that actually has a chance. Nesmith missed the cut at the Travelers and skipped last week so he’s a well rested pro at the ripe old age of 26. He’s another who finds a higher percentage of greens in regulation than most, and if his putter is working – that tends to blow hot and cold, truth be told – then he can convert his scoring chances. Since the Mayakoba Classic, NeSmith has only missed two cuts in 12 starts, with three top-20s and a best of T6 at the Puerto Rico Open. That consistency makes his salary and price here something of an absolute bargain. Dude ranks 20th ON TOUR in Greens in Regulation, 25th in Scoring Average and 41st in Strokes Gained: Putting. Matthew NeSmith will tee off at 6:50 AM and play in a twosome with Luke List so it could be a great day for both he and Luke. We’re going to break this up and play Nesmith to be leading after Round 1 and to win outright for 0.1 units on each. Nesmith is 150-1 to be leading after Round 1 (risking 0.1 units to win 15 units) and 250-1 to win it outright (Risking 0.1 units to win 25 units).
Head-to-head Matchups for the Worday Charity Open
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP below is for 72 holes:
Matthew Fitzpatrick +105 over Matt Kucher (Bet365)
Matt Kuchar is a big name that is always dangerous but nobody is immune to father time. Kucher has played two events since play resumed, missing the cut at Charles Schwab and then finishing 41st at the RBC Heritage. Last year at this event, Kucher missed the cut. This wager is available at Bet365.
Our target here is Matthew Fitzpatrick more than it is fading Kuchar. At 888Sport, Fitzpatrick is +110 against Sungjae Im and at Pinnacle and Coolbet, Fitz is a favorite over Adam Hadwin. Incidentally, Hadwin is on fire these days (3 for 3 in made cuts since the break and he shot -16 last week to finish T4). We find this matchup to be the most favorable or offer the most value.
For Matthew Fitzpatrick, hiring Jim Mackay for a couple of weeks can't hurt and it should help. The Englishman already has been a regular on leaderboards abroad, but with Bones on the bag, the two could be a potent combo in the short-term. Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. Amateur winner and five-time champion on the European Tour, usually uses another veteran caddie – fellow Englishman Billy Foster who has had a distinguished career on bags with Seve Ballesteros and Lee Westwood, among others. But with Foster remaining in the UK with his family during the COVID-19 pandemic, adjustments have been made so when a text message came into Matthew Fitzpatrick’s phone from the veteran looper turned broadcaster asking if he could be of assistance while the Englishman’s regular caddie was back across the Atlantic, the answer was an emphatic yes.
“I was shocked, honestly. I was absolutely shocked,” Fitzpatrick said when recalling the text message. “I'm looking forward to it, obviously. Everyone knows what he's achieved in the game with the players he's caddied for. Even just walking around here people are excited to see him back out and on TOUR.”
“Having seen Matt play for several years now, getting paired with him when I was still caddying for Phil, I knew two things: That he was a really good player and a really good guy,” Mackay said. “I love to caddie, I still consider myself a caddie to this day who's just doing TV, and I said, 'Hey, if I can help out at all I'd love to do it.' It worked out wonderfully.”
Mackay could yet be a secret weapon for Fitzpatrick based on experience alone. Not only has Mackay seen the course multiple times since 1990, four years before Fitzpatrick was even born, but he’s done so on Mickelson’s bag. In other words, he’s seen every corner of the map and just about every conceivable escape angle as well. With the course being set up differently over the two tournaments, Mackay’s experience could prove invaluable. Since the return, Fitzpatrick finished T32 at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T14 at the RBC Heritage before missing the cut at the Travelers Championship. A T9 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard right before the shutdown and a seventh-place finish last fall at the World Golf Championships–HSBC Champions have seen the 25-year-old sit 83rd in the FedExCup standings. We all know he’s good and he figures to strutting around this week with a big boost of confidence with the knowledge that Mackay wanted to be his caddie and not the other way around (Risking 2 units).
Mark Hubbard -122 over Maverick McNealy (Coolbet)
We are going to show you how overlays work here. Maverick McNealy shot up the leaderboard last week to finish 8th overall at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. On Sunday, the most watched day of the event, McNealy was dealing it with the large TV audience looking in. Mark Hubbard, meanwhile, shot a 72 on Sunday and ended up finishing 12th overall after three great rounds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Now Maverick McNealy is 140-1 to win outright while McNealy is 100-1. In the H2H, Hubbard is favored and that’s our cue to move in. While we like McNealy very much, Hubbard is under the radar to be sure. With another three sub-70s at Detroit GC on the board, he has a TOUR-leading 40 on the season. Sungjae Im slots second with 36. Three are tied for third another four rounds back. Hubbard also is 4-for-4 out of the break and is shooting beautifully right now but few are noticing. Play him to win outright and also play him to beat MM (Risking 2.44 units to win 2).
Chris Kirk -109 over Brandt Snedeker (Pinnacle)
Sneds is on the schneid. His slow restart is compounded by an 0-for-6 record at Muirfield Village. He hasn't appeared here since 2013 because he never played well here but chose to give it a shot again this year. He's not showing any glimmers of a turnaround now. Brandt has missed the cut in two of three events since play returned. In the one event in which he made the cut, he shot a pedestrian -8 under which was 17 strokes back of the leader and about 12 strokes back of being in the top-20. He finished T44.
Chris Kirk was off two weeks ago after connecting for victory at The King & Bear Classic at World Golf Village. To listen to him explain what it meant was to listen to a survivor who just happens to play professional golf for a living, and really well at that. No doubt the pleasantries exchanged with his fellow PGA TOUR members upon his arrival in Detroit last week sustained the positive vibes, but with things in a new perspective, more than just his ego was fulfilled. He's exempt via a Major Medical Extension with 9 starts remaining. Kirk shot a -13 last week to finish 21st. He’s only played four events over the last calendar year and is under the radar because of it. We love guys on a Major Medical Extension because every shot counts and every event is carefully chosen. Kirk chose this one and we therefore have to love his chances to finish ahead of Snedeker. We also love that Kirk will tee off at 9:00 AM on Thursday while Sneds will tee off close to 1:00 PM. The weather forecast has it at 27 C (80F) at 9:00 AM while it will be 33C (91.3F) by the time Sneds hits the first tee around 1 PM. Underlay (Risking 2.18 units to win 2).
Matthew Wolff +103 over Jason Day (Pinnacle)
Jason Day is a former great player that the public still believes in and we’re just hoping we’re not too late to this party. One keeps thinking that Day is going to turn it around soon but there are zero signs of that happening and we must try and take advantage. Day is among the notables who hasn't taken a break since the restart, well, sort of. You see, Jason Day has missed the cut in three of the four events and has only one top 25 in 11 starts at this venue.
It’s amazing how often a player who has putted like a wizard for 54 holes subsequently falls apart on Sunday. That was the sorry state of affairs for Matt Wolff, who held a three-shot lead going into the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic before feeling the pressure of Bryson’s onslaught too much to bear. We’re going to trust him to take the positives though, because this is a young man who is typically excellent from tee-to-green and improvements with the putter are eye-catching indeed. Wolff is at the point in his young career where he will be ready to go well in consecutive weeks, and Muirfield is a course that he figures to enjoy. This price is based on familiarity and pedigree but not current form or chances and that’s something we have to try and exploit (Risking 2 units to win 2.06).
Others to consider for DFS or to win outright.
Sepp Straka 150-1
If you’re looking for a risky leap into the unknown with a ton of upside, Sepp Straka fits the bill. The Austrian can occasionally put on a ball-striking clinic, as he did in round four at the Rocket Mortgage Classic where he gained a ridiculous +4.56 strokes on the field from tee-to-green. Connecting four solid rounds is proving elusive but he has the ball-striking merits to do well at Muirfield, and he actually gained strokes with the flat stick on the Bentgrass/Poa of Detroit GC last week - a rarity indeed. Could Straka add to his collection of three top-10 finishes this season? Dude misses a lot of cuts but he can also get hot as a firecracker so use him somewhere.
Denny McCarthy 500-1
Back in November, Denny McCarty was 55-1 to win the RSM Classic. Today he is 500-1 to win after he had to withdraw from the Travelers Championship before his second round due to a positive test for COVID-19. Still, Dude continues to lead the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting and he's a lock for the Playoffs. When we talk about ‘streaky’ putters then Denny McCarthy immediately springs to mind, and this could be an event where he really comes to the party. He’s no mug from tee-to-green either, ranking 39th for Greens in Regulation, and this veritable birdie machine can hang should this event descend into a shootout. McCarthy clearly has the character to get the job done and five top-10s on the PGA TOUR show he is capable of getting into the mix. Massive overlay that is worth a $2 bet any day of the week.
Sebastian Munoz 125-1
Munoz is another PGA TOUR winner who doesn’t seem to get his due. That’s too bad for him, but we can use his lack of popularity to our advantage. With finishes of 28th-or-better in three of his last six starts, but MCs in the other three, he’s a little bit more of a hit-or-miss type of guy that missed last week so a rebound is a pretty good call. His upside is too much to ignore here.
Luke List 150-1
You wonder, in the fullness of time, what impact winning the Korn Ferry Challenge will have on the long-term career of Luke List. Triumphing on the second-rung tour might not seem that much, but the confidence it can bring is worth its weight in gold and there was evidence of that in his T21 finish at Detroit GC last week. List has long been a tee-to-green flusher who struggles to make the most of the chances he creates for himself – perhaps his KFT win will be the spur of motivation and confidence he needs. Key Stat: Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders, he ranks 23rd
Viktor Hovland 25-1
Regular readers will know that we drafted Viktor Hovland, and we see no reason not to go in with the Norwegian once more this week too. For the second week in a row, Hovland ranked first for tee-to-green and yet again he left shots out on the greens. But, if he can find some touch with the flat stick – as he did in the third round last week (+0.56) then he will surely contend again. Tremendously gifted with irons in hand, Hovland will surely enjoy a long and fruitful career record at Muirfield Village. He ranks 8th ON TOUR in SG: Approach, 17th in SG: Tee-to-Green and 18th in Scoring Average.
Keith Mitchell 350-1
Mitchell ranks 5th ON TOUR in Birdies or Better Gained and 10th in SG: Tee-to-Green on courses longer than 7,400 yards. He missed back-to-back cuts before sitting out last week, but he has a top-10 finish already this year and won at the Nicklaus-redesigned PGA National Golf Club last March. He’s a strong value pick at what should be a basement-level salary for him.
TOTAL RISK for this event is 9.42 units. We'll post the results when the event is FINAL.
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Workday Charity Open (Risking 9.42 units - To Win: 0.00)
GOLF Historical - Totals
|Last 30 Days||2||2||0.00||-1.36|
|Season to Date||7||4||0.00||+8.88|