The Memorial: Rahm's WD Opens the Door

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Well, I had an article written outlining Jon Rahm’s dominant performance on Saturday. After carding an 8-under 64 in his third round and opening up a six-stroke lead, the plan was for Rahm to cruise to yet another victory at Muirfield Village.

But as the defending champion stepped off the 18th green on Saturday, he received the unfortunate news that he had tested positive for COVID-19. As such, Rahm has withdrawn from the tournament and opened the door for someone else to claim this year’s Memorial title.

Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay were the main benefactors of Rahm’s WD. With the defending champion out of the picture, the pair will head into the final round in a tie for the lead at 12-under. They have both been rock solid this week, ranking first and second in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.

Outside of Rahm, I believe Morikawa was the most impressive on Saturday en route to a 6-under 66. After playing alongside Rahm the first two rounds, the 2020 Workday Charity Open winner started Round 3 four-strokes behind his playing competitor.

In addition to his typical iron play, Morikawa has leaned on a new blade putter that he put in the bag this week. Thus far, it has proven to be a good choice as Morikawa ranks inside the top-30 in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week. He’ll need to continue to be steady on the greens if he wants to keep up with Cantlay in what could potentially turn into a two-horse race.

I’m still at a complete loss for words with the Rahm news being fresh. While less than ideal, it does provide an opportunity to target those players still in the tournament. If Morikawa and Cantlay slip up in the beginning of their rounds, there could be value sought down the odds board.

Updated Odds to Win (via PointsBet Sportsbook):

+150: Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay

+800: Scottie Scheffler

+1000: Branden Grace

+4000: Patrick Reed

+6600: Max Homa

+8000: Carlos Ortiz, Xander Schauffele

+10000: Si Woo Kim

+25000: Lucas Herbert, Shane Lowry

+30000: Aaron Wise, Jordan Spieth

+50000: Rickie Fowler

Round 4 Plays (odds via PointsBet):

Patrick Cantlay (+150 to win):

This will essentially serve as a head-to-head matchup bet versus Morikawa. I do believe the eventual winner of the Memorial will come from the final group and I am comfortable siding with Cantlay at the same odds.

Morikawa has putted very nicely over the first three days, but I’m not convinced it will carry over into tomorrow. While he does look much more comfortable on the greens, his second round putting numbers were rather poor. If a performance like that unfolds tomorrow, it will be difficult for Morikawa to beat Cantlay.

Cantlay on the other hand has been solid throughout his entire bag. There really hasn’t been a weakness in his game thus far and I expect that to stay true in the final round. He’ll likely need to perform a touch better on the par-5's, but I am more than confident that he’ll be able to.

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Rickie Fowler (+132) over Louis Oosthuizen:

It’s been a resurgent couple of starts for Fowler. After a top-10 finish at the PGA Championship, he arrived in Dublin, Ohio finally seeing results from his swing changes. Having had a strong history at Muirfield Village, I liked his chances coming into the week.

If not for a poor third round, Fowler would be right in the mix. He struggled most of the day on the greens, failing to convert many birdie opportunities. This includes hitting a ball in the water on the par-5 11th hole and eventually making a double-bogey 7. I expect Fowler to clean it up in the final round and finish strong similar to how he finished at Kiawah Island.

Antoine Rozner (+157) over Adam Scott:

Both of these players sit at 3-under for the tournament and are in a tie for 15th place. They have gotten to their position on the leaderboard in two different ways. Rozner, who many may remember as the unknown Frenchman who defeated Bryson DeChambeau in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, has struck the ball beautifully through three rounds.

He ranks 3rd in SG: Tee-to-Green and 3rd in SG: Approach. He hasn’t made anything on the greens this week and I am hoping that changes in tomorrow’s final round. Surprisingly, Scott has been making his fair share of putts. Not typically his strength, I see a bit of regression on the greens in his future.

He hasn’t struck the ball well, ranking outside the top-35 in SG: Ball-striking. If that continues into tomorrow, I’d expect the Australian to struggle, giving Rozner an opening to get the better of him in this head-to-head matchup.

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