Golf Pick 'Em: Memorial matchup breakdowns

·6 min read


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Golf Pick 'Em is back for another season of picks and prizes in the NBC Sports Predictor app.

The free-to-play game has returned in 2021 and continues this week with the Memorial Tournament. Each week participants will choose between a series of head-to-head matchups, plus select an overall tournament champion and winning score.

Participants can compete for weekly cash prizes, with a $50,000 jackpot available for any participants who earn a perfect score (increasing up to $100,000 during some of the biggest events of the year). There will also be at least $1,000 awarded each week in cash and prizes, even if there is no player with a perfect score.

Here's a look at some of the keys to this week's set of 10 matchups at Muirfield Village, where Jon Rahm will defend and several big names will make their final start before the U.S. Open:

Jon Rahm vs. Jordan Spieth

Keys: The defending champ against the hottest player in the field. Rahm dusted the field last week amid brutal conditions, winning by three shots to move to No. 1 in the world. His T-8 finish at the PGA was his fifth top-10 result in the last seven starts. Spieth let one get away Sunday at Colonial, finishing second despite holding the 54-hole lead, but his Memorial record includes four finishes of T-13 or better over his last six appearances.

Edge: Spieth

Rory McIlroy vs. Collin Morikawa

Keys: McIlroy couldn't muster the same Kiawah magic two weeks ago, finishing T-49 at the PGA in the wake of his drought-breaking win at Quail Hollow. He has four top-10s at this event, most recently a T-8 finish in 2018. Morikawa won the Workday event at Muirfield Village last year that preceded the Memorial, and he comes in off a T-14 finish at Colonial that was slowed by a balky putter but still marked his third straight top-15 finish.

Edge: Morikawa

Patrick Cantlay vs. Bryson DeChambeau

Keys: This matchup features a pair of former champs, as DeChambeau won this event in a playoff in 2018 and Cantlay followed by lifting the trophy in 2019. DeChambeau had some high-profile struggles at Muirfield Village last year but that was his first missed cut in four tries and enters off a T-38 finish at Kiawah. Cantlay finished T-23 at Kiawah after briefly contending and heads to one of his favorite courses, where he also barely missed out on the playoff DeChambeau won three years ago.

Edge: Cantlay

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Jason Day vs. Rickie Fowler

Keys: Two veterans looking for a big result this week to avoid a trip to U.S. Open sectionals. Day is down to 70th in the world and in jeopardy of missing his first major since 2010, but he'll have the comforts of home this week for an event where he largely struggled before a T-4 finish a year ago. Fowler made the most of his PGA special exemption with a T-8 showing but is still outside the top 100 in the world and facing a course where his last seven trips have netted either a missed cut (4) or a top-15 finish (3), including a 2017 runner-up.

Edge: Fowler

Justin Thomas vs. Viktor Hovland

Keys: Thomas has been somewhat quiet since his win at TPC Sawgrass, cracking the top 20 just once since that March victory. He has two Memorial top-10s and finished T-18 last year, one week after losing a memorable playoff to Morikawa on the same course. Hovland finished T-30 at Kiawah on the heels of back-to-back T-3 finishes and finished T-48 last year in his tournament debut.

Edge: Thomas

Hideki Matsuyama vs. Shane Lowry

Keys: The reigning Masters champ against the defending Open champ. Matsuyama finished T-23 at the PGA in his first major start since Augusta, and he's a former champ at Muirfield Village having notched his maiden win at this event back in 2014. He's also finished sixth or better on two subsequent occasions. Lowry is trending in the right direction, with a T-4 finish at the PGA his second top-10 in his last three starts, and while he has missed two of four career Memorial cuts he did finish T-15 back in 2017.

Edge: Matsuyama

Joaquin Niemann vs. Louis Oosthuizen

Keys: Niemann continued his Tour-best active made cut streak, finishing T-50 in Fort Worth while playing the weekend for the 20th time in a row. He finished T-6 here in his 2018 tournament debut but missed the cut last year. Oosthuizen is making his first start since another near-miss at a major, finishing second behind Phil Mickelson at Kiawah, and his T-13 finish here in 2018 was the only time in four appearances he cracked the top 50.

Edge: Niemann

Patrick Reed vs. Xander Schauffele

Keys: A pair of potential Ryder Cup teammates this fall. Reed missed the cut at Colonial and has now missed two of his last four cuts, but in between he finished T-6 at Quail Hollow and T-17 at Kiawah. He has never missed the cut in five Memorial appearances, including a pair of top-10s. Schauffele is making his first start since a surprising missed cut at the PGA but has finished T-13 and T-14 at this event over the last two years.

Edge: Reed

Cameron Smith vs. Tony Finau

Keys: Smith got back into the winner's circle last month at the Zurich Classic, while the wait continues for Finau to turn stellar play into a trophy. Finau followed his T-8 finish at the PGA with a T-20 showing at Colonial, and his Memorial record includes four top-15 finishes in six starts highlighted by an eighth-place showing last year. Smith finished T-59 at Kiawah as one of the pre-tournament favorites, and he has never finished better than T-65 in five trips to Muirfield Village including three missed cuts.

Edge: Finau

Matthew Fitzpatrick vs. Corey Conners

Keys: Fitzpatrick finished T-23 at Kiawah and has eight top-25 finishes in his last 10 starts. He successfully battled difficult conditions last year, finishing third at this event despite an opening 75. Conners continued his consistent run at Colonial, finishing T-21 or better for the sixth time in his last seven starts, and he returns to a course where he finished T-22 last year.

Edge: Conners (Note: Conners replaced Will Zalatoris, who withdrew Monday.)