Solid Muirfield Village record suggests Leishman can eclipse Simpson
O'Hair and Finau set for threeball success
Tournament starts 1pm Thursday
Live on Sky Sports 4 from 7.30pm Thursday
The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village signals the start of the golfing summer and some of the biggest names in the sport will tee off alongside one another in a mouthwatering set of day-one threeballs.
Dual Major champion Jordan Spieth is joined by Sunday's Colonial victor Kevin Kisner and four-time US Tour winner Justin Thomas at 1.26pm UK and Ireland time, with world number one Dustin Johnson getting his Memorial campaign started 11 minutes later. Phil Mickelson and defending champion William McGirt accompany Johnson.
Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama comprise an all-star 6.16pm group, with Jason Day, Adam Scott and Sawgrass-slayer Si Woo Kim following behind. A sunny day with light breezes is forecast, so birdies should be on the menu.
Thomas, Johnson, Matsuyama and Scott is the advice for punters wanting to play on the marquee matches, but better value can be found in two relatively low-key gatherings. Sean O'Hair has hit a purple patch and can account for Ricky Barnes and Jason Kokrak (12.31pm), while Tony Finau should outgun Steven Bowditch and Steve Stricker (1.26pm).
O'Hair has finished fifth (AT&T Byron Nelson) and second (Dean & Deluca Invitational) in his last two tournaments, the 34-year-old showcasing the ball-striking class which has helped him win four US Tour titles. O'Hair's precise iron shots stand him in good stead at Muirfield Village, where he was fifth in 2007, and he should prove too steady for Barnes and Kokrak.
Finau has been playing nicely all year, finishing fourth in the Farmers Insurance Open, fifth in the Valspar Championship and third in the Texas Open. His last two outings yielded 13th and 29th place, and he has tied for eighth and 11th in the last two Memorials.
Tiger Woods has been getting destroyed by the press in the wake of his driving arrest this week, with some scribes suggesting he will never play again, but Bowditch was charged with “extreme driving under the influence” in February and teed up on the US Tour a week later.
Bowditch has missed every cut (14 in a row) since his car shame and is easy to dismiss against Finau. Veteran Stricker is almost certainly the only danger.
Memorial 72-hole match punters are pointed towards Marc Leishman, who has finished fifth and 11th in the last two Memorials. Webb Simpson was fifth at Colonial on Sunday, but Leishman is much the more accomplished player these days.
M Leishman to beat W Simpson
3pts 20-21 Betfred
S O'Hair to win threeball
2pts 13-10 general
T Finau to win threeball
2pts 20-21 bet365, BoyleSports