IF there is any justice in the golfing world, Jon Rahm will spreadeagle the field at the Memorial, after being cruelly denied a successful title defence last year.
Rahm romped to a three-shot victory in Jack Nicklaus’ tournament in 2020, and was making it look even easier 12 months ago as he stormed six clear of the pack heading into the final round.
But the Spaniard was forced to withdraw because of a positive Covid test straight after round three, and Patrick Cantlay was left to see off Collin Morikawa in a play-off.
The problem for Rahm – and the pair who fought out the finish in his absence – is that none of them are exactly tearing up trees at the moment.
OK, Rahm won the Mexico Open a couple of starts ago. But he beat a bunch of nobodies, and that victory was sandwiched by ho-hum performances in both the Masters and the USPGA.
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Cantlay has not looked like the same player who hit the FedEx Cup jackpot last year, and Morikawa’s top five finish at the Masters was his only decent showing since he missed the cut at The Players.
There are doubts over the other men near the top of the betting too.
Cameron Smith, now up to third in the world rankings, looked a good bet for this, following reports the greens will be like lightning.
But three missed cuts and nothing better than a share of 65th in five appearances at the Memorial suggests Jack’s place is not Smith’s favourite spot.
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Rory McIlroy has threatened to win here in the past, posting four top ten finishes. But it would probably be worth delaying any bets on him until just before his now traditional final round charge!
So it may be worth looking further down the betting list…..
Hot shot: Shane Lowry, 25-1
The argument that his first win since the 2019 Open is getting a bit old, but the Irishman continues to knock on the door. And his odds here are pretty decent.
Taking a couple of weeks off after a share of 23rd at the USPGA was probably a good idea. Lowry had clearly put a lot into his performances at Augusta and Hilton Head, where he posted back-to-back thirds.
His share of sixth at last year’s Memorial was a step up on his previous efforts here, and he arrives in far better form this time.
Mid price: Max Homa, 33-1
Another player who has been tipped here a few times. He never got going at Colonial last week, but his share of sixth alongside Lowry a year ago suggests this course is more up his street.
I felt there was still a lot more to come from Homa after he made it three wins in the past 18 months with his victory at the Wells Fargo at the start of May, and a T13 finish at the USPGA was a decent follow-up.
The suffocating par-70s at Southern Hills and Colonial did not really favour his aggressive approach, and he will relish the chance to make a few more birdies over this par 72 lay-out.
Long shot: Lucas Herbert, 125-1
The Aussie has not really built on his share of seventh at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. But maybe playing another event associated with one of the game’s legends will help things click.
Herbert again showed he is finding his feet on the PGA Tour after an impressive stint in Europe as he finished just a shot away from another top ten at the USPGA – matching the level par total of his fellow Australian, the mullet-topped Smith.
I can see him adding to last year’s victories in Dubai and Bermuda before the end of this season, and he represents good each way value here.
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