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Another Memorial Tournament, another rain delay. Making its annual appearance in Dublin, Ohio, the weather once again forced players off the golf course right as the morning wave was finishing up. As such, those who teed off in the afternoon will need to complete their first-round early tomorrow morning.
Of the players who finished their first-round, Collin Morikawa led the way. He appeared to have gotten some tips from Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama, as Morikawa looked disgusted at numerous approach shots, only for them to end up mere feet from the hole. Amongst the morning wave, Morikawa finished 2nd in Strokes Gained: Approach, behind only Justin Thomas in the category.
The 2020 Workday Charity Open winner made birdie on four of his first five holes on his back-nine (the front-nine) en route to a 6-under 66. He is positioned nicely to win yet again at Muirfield Village, albeit a different event. The oddsmakers at Pointsbet Sportsbook currently have Morikawa listed at +425, down from his pre-tournament odds of +1800, which my colleague, Will Gray, was keen enough to jump on.
Sitting only two-strokes behind Morikawa is Xander Schauffele. The world No. 5 implemented a new putting technique this week, the commonly used arm-lock. While it appeared to work, gaining nearly one-stroke on the greens, Schauffele did most of the damage with his ball-striking on his way to a round of 4-under 68.
While it is less than ideal to write about a round that is only half complete, PointsBet has been kind enough to post Round 2 three-balls for those players who finished on Thursday. We’ll take a look at a couple of those and will be sure to keep you all updated on any live outright selections I may have via Twitter.
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Round 2 Plays (Odds via PointsBet):
I personally was all over this three-ball in Round 1 due to Dufner’s ability to start fast, specifically at Muirfield Village. I won’t be holding anything back in the second round as both Streb and Howell III struggled mightily on Thursday. Both ranked near the bottom of the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and there is nothing to suggest that will change in Round 2.
As for Dufner, he actually putted quite nicely, a rarity these days for the 2017 Memorial champion. He posted nearly 1.5 SG: Putting and bested Howell III by five-strokes and Streb by seven. While the ball-striking was middle of the road, I do believe he will find his stride in the next round. If he is able to marry the ball-striking to his putting, he should once again win in a landslide.
Steele turned in one of the best rounds of the day. Posting a 3-under 69, Steele went around Muirfield Village bogey-free, a not so easy task. I’m nitpicking at this point, but Steele’s round could have been even better if he took advantage of the par-5's. If he continues his strong tee-to-green play tomorrow, Steele should be able to pick up more than one birdie on the four par-5's.
Despite Kim and Gay both shooting 1-over, they got to that number in completely different ways. Gay struck his irons pretty well, but disappointed on the greens. The opposite can be said for Kim, who struggled with his ball-striking most of the day, but saved his round with his putter. What has me puzzled is that it is typically the other way around for the both of them. With a bit of uncertainty surrounding how they will respond in Round 2, I’ll side with the steady underdog that is Steele.
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