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Draws and Fades: Ludvig Åberg stands out from loaded leaderboard at the Memorial presented by Workday

4 Min Read

Draws and Fades


    Written by Will Gray @GolfBet

    DUBLIN, Ohio – After overnight storms softened the grounds at Muirfield Village Golf Club, fans may have expected the field at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday to tear into Jack’s Place. Instead, it bit back.

    Winds kicked up in the middle of the opening round, and thick rough combined with slick greens meant double bogey was never far from reach. The high scores piled up – including reigning major winners Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman, who each will have to battle simply to make the cut after opening with 5-over 77.

    Scottie Scheffler played well, because Scottie Scheffler is inevitable, and sits one shot back at 5-under. The Canadian contingent made an early move, highlighted by Adam Hadwin who leads despite a bogey on No. 18. On the odds board, the biggest story is – surprise, surprise – Scheffler, whose price has only shortened from his +360 opener at BetMGM Sportsbook.

    Updated odds to win the Memorial Tournament (via BetMGM)

    • +188: Scottie Scheffler (5-under)
    • +550: Xander Schauffele (4-under)
    • +700: Collin Morikawa (4-under)
    • +1100: Rory McIlroy (2-under)
    • +1200: Ludvig Åberg (4-under), Viktor Hovland (3-under)
    • +2000: Tommy Fleetwood (3-under)
    • +2200: Adam Hadwin (6-under), Corey Conners (5-under)

    For me, the updated price on Scheffler is too short – but the game is too good to put him on the Fade list. Instead, here’s a look at the players I’m looking to invest in after the opening round, as well as two big names who might be mispriced heading into Friday:


    Ludvig Åberg (+1200)

    The Swede lost a little steam following his runner-up at the Masters, as a balky knee led to his withdrawal at the Wells Fargo Championship and slowed him at Valhalla. But he showed no signs of discomfort Thursday at Muirfield Village, barely breaking a sweat en route to a 4-under 68.

    “My knee feels good,” Åberg said. “It’s good to be back. You kind of miss it when you’re not playing.”

    Åberg was solid in every facet on Thursday, sitting second in the field in SG: Putting and seventh in SG: Off-the-Tee. He followed his lone bogey of the day on No. 12 with birdies on each of the next three holes to briefly hold a share of the lead. With Scheffler still weighing down the odds board, it’s an opportunity to buy in on the Swede at a number that’s not far off his +1600 opener at BetMGM this week.

    Tom Kim (+5000)

    There’s a strong likelihood that one of the big names among the 11 players at 3-under or better will eventually get the coveted handshake from tournament host Jack Nicklaus. But if I’m looking for a high-priced in-play option, Kim has my attention after a 2-under 70 that featured some really strong ball-striking.

    Kim missed only two fairways and was in the top 5 in the field in both SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Tee-to-Green. He spent most of the day in red figures despite losing ground on the greens. He’ll need that putter to heat up, but those ball-striking numbers are very promising for a player who usually doesn’t count putting as a weak spot. The combination of price and tee-to-green control make him an intriguing in-play option.


    Xander Schauffele (+550)

    While speaking to the media, the newest major champion had one eye on the door a few yards beyond the microphone.

    “I’m going to the range after this,” he said. “(Try to) hit the center of the club face a little more, find some more fairways and some more greens.”

    Some of it was tongue-in-cheek, this coming from a guy who said he shot “in the 40s” for nine holes earlier in the week, but the numbers belie the fact that Schauffele’s score was better than his performance. He led the field in SG: Putting, which made up for a lot of tee-to-green misses. At 4 under he’s two shots back amid a crowded (and star-studded) leaderboard.

    “I’m happy with how I played, with how I stuck in there,” he said. “Really happy my short game bailed me out on a day that could have been a lot worse.”

    There’s plenty of reason to smile among the Schauffele camp, but this is still an awfully short price for someone who will be taking on a ton of money from casual bettors given his post-PGA rise in profile. He’ll work out the ball-striking in due time, but with the U.S. Open on deck I’m not sold that Schauffele will follow his maiden major with another win this week.

    Rory McIlroy (+1100)

    McIlroy brought his round back off the rails on the back nine, but all that did was overly shorten his price in a week when consistency will be key. The Ulsterman seemed lost for much of the day, with the low point coming when a wayward drive led to bogey on No. 11 and was followed by a double on the par-3 12th.

    He rallied from there, with four birdies over his final six holes to get back into red figures with a 2-under 70, but the driver is an early issue as he sits 49th in SG: Tee-to-Green and lost strokes off the tee. McIlroy made up for it with his irons, hitting 13 of 18 greens, but I still have concerns that he’ll ultimately put himself in too many tight spots to make up ground on such a loaded leaderboard.

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