Picks and tips: Back to the well with Morikawa

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It's another loaded field this week at the Memorial Tournament, as many of the biggest stars make their final start ahead of the U.S. Open on a layout that has undergone a significant renovation under the watchful eye of host Jack Nicklaus.

Officials wasted little time getting to work a year ago, tearing up the greens on the front nine while Jon Rahm was still polishing off a three-shot win a few holes ahead. The end result is a more demanding test, slightly longer, with structural changes made to 12 of the 18 greens. The third green looks entirely different, while Nos. 5 and 15 will require different strategic approaches than they have in the past.

Rahm is back to defend the title, along with recent Memorial champs like Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay. But none of them have made the cut for me, with DeChambeau coming close given the advantage he'll have in the long rough and Cantlay returning to one of his favorite courses at far too short of a price.

Instead, I'll look to a slightly different crop that begins with a player who won here last year - just not at this event:

To Win (odds via PointsBet Sportsbook)

Collin Morikawa (+1800): Once more into the fray. I was high on Morikawa last week at Colonial, and he delivered a performance that was definitely within expectations: second in the field in SG: Approach, and 56th in SG: Putting. The struggles on the greens continued and were the big reason why he didn't contend, but Morikawa still left with his third top-15 finish in as many starts. Now he heads to another layout where iron play will be key, one where he won the Workday event last year that preceded the Memorial.

I'm expecting more big things out of him from a tee-to-green perspective, as he is significantly ahead of Justin Thomas for the lead in the season-long SG: Approach metric. Given that the greens have been overhauled, my hope at this price is that the surfaces will be new (and somewhat beguiling) to everyone in the field, and that his weak spot will be less of an issue. He'll still need to improve from the putting performance that he authored in Fort Worth, and his pre-tournament comments indicate that's still something of a work in progress. But the ball-striking is levels above the others at or near the top of the board, and it's good enough for me to go back to the well on the former PGA champ.

Billy Horschel (+6000): Horschel knows what it takes to beat a star-studded field, having run through the playoffs in 2014 and having captured the WGC Match Play title earlier this year. This could be another opportunity for him to take down one of the Tour's bigger titles, as his track record at Muirfield Village includes four top-15 finishes in his last six appearances. The veteran has made each of his five cuts since that win in Austin, highlighted by a T-4 finish at Zurich alongside Sam Burns, and while it hasn't exactly garnered headlines it shows that he remains in the mix on a week-in, week-out basis.

The front of this field is strong enough to tip prices in their favor, so a player like Horschel stands out as someone who might rate closer to +4000 if some of the bigger names in the field weren't present. Their inclusion doesn't scare me off, but it does pique my interest given the extra value on a player who has shown an ability to close things out against strong competition from time to time.

Kyle Stanley (+20000): This is a bit of a flier on a veteran who lost to Bryson DeChambeau in a playoff here three years ago. Stanley has two wins to his credit, most recently in 2018 during a season where he made the Tour Championship. He's been in a considerable slide since, but he caught my attention last week at Colonial where he led the field in SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green for the week en route to a T-8 finish.

Stanley has had some serious success at Muirfield Village, with three finishes of T-6 or better in four starts from 2013-18, and he has now made each of his last three cuts overall while improving his result each week. Stanley has missed three cuts over his last 12 starts, but in the nine times he played the weekend he finished inside the top 40 every time. There are promising signs that a third win could be in his future, and this is a tantalizing price on a course he clearly prefers.

Top-10 Finishes (odds via PointsBet)

Corey Conners (+270): The Canadian rolls right along. Conners finished T-20 at Colonial, his sixth result of T-21 or better in his last seven starts. He remains one of the best ball-strikers on Tour, ranking fourth this season in SG: Approach and eighth in SG: Tee-to-Green, and like Morikawa his balky putter could be less of a liability this week on greens that are new to everyone. Conners basically hasn't slowed up since contending at Bay Hill nearly three months ago, and he has made the cut in both Memorial appearances including a T-22 result last year. He's a significantly better player top-to-bottom this time around, and his result should improve accordingly.

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Emiliano Grillo (+450): The Argentine kept up his strong form last week at Colonial, where he tied for eighth. That was his third top-10 finish in six starts dating back to March, not including a solid T-14 showing at Quail Hollow. Grillo has been solid in Dublin, finishing T-40 or better in four straight starts before a missed cut last year. Just two years ago he tied for ninth, breaking par in all four rounds. He's ninth on Tour this season in SG: Approach, and like others on this list will need a balky short game to come through if he's going to contend. But last week at Colonial he was 19th in SG: Putting, and a similar performance on the new surfaces at Muirfield Village should put him in the mix.

Matt Kuchar (+900): Love this number. Kuchar is starting to play better in recent weeks, and now he heads to a course where he has been incredibly successful over the last 15 years. His 2013 win highlights a run of 10 top-15 finishes in 13 starts dating back to 2013, one that includes seven top-10 results. A third-place showing at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play appears to have sparked the veteran back to life, as he has followed with top-20 results at Valero, Harbour Town and the Nelson. He bounced back from a rough opener last week at Colonial to make the cut, and now on one of his favorite layouts could be poised for another successful week as he looks to return to the top 50 in the world rankings.

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