Blossoming Rose set to leave humbled McIlroy in his wake
Chesson Hadley could ping the lids
Sky Sports Golf, 5.30pm Thursday
The Memorial is always a high-class affair and punters have some mouthwatering threeballs to consider for the first round at Muirfield Village, Ohio.
Masters hero Patrick Reed joins FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas and world number seven Rickie Fowler on the tee at 1.15pm UK and Ireland time, while former Memorial winners Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner comprise the 1.26pm group.
Centre stage in the later wave of players are the threeballs of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day (6.05pm), and Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson (6.16pm). Thomas, Rose, Day and Watson would be the advice for those wishing to bet on the glamour groups, but better value can be found elsewhere.
Rose to finish the tournament as top European, for example, looks a solid investment at 11-5. The Englishman adores Muirfield Village, where he was champion in 2010. He was fourth on his debut in 2004 and has twice finished runner-up, including on his last visit, three years ago.
Given the brilliance of Rose at Colonial Country Club last week, when he cruised to a three-shot Fort Worth Invitational victory at a track he had not played for eight years, the world number three should be clear favourite for top Euro honours. That is not the case, though, with a few firms making McIlroy market leader.
The mental side of professional golf is massively important. Although there was only one position between Rose and McIlroy in their respective events last week, there was a chasm in levels of morale after they had finished. Rose had a trophy, while McIlroy had blown a three-shot halfway lead in the BMW PGA at Wentworth with some awful golf.
Despite getting lucky breaks throughout, McIlroy could not live with Francesco Molinari over the weekend, and it was a humbling experience. Rose has all the positive vibes for Ohio.
Overnight storms should leave excellent scoring conditions for the early starters in round one, with more unsettled weather forecast for later in the day, as well as an increase in wind speed. First-round leader honours will probably go to someone with a morning tee-time, and Chesson Hadley looks a prime candidate.
Hadley is in fine fettle, fresh from seven consecutive top-20 finishes on the US Tour, and from a perfect launchpad – first out from the tenth tee – this explosive player could set a mark that the later starters are unable to catch.
J Rose top European
3pts 11-5 Betfair, Power
C Hadley first-round leader
0.5pt each-way 66-1 BetBright
World Cup quizzes
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