Matt Kuchar can tame Muirfield Village

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You may not have seen the name for a while, but you’re likely to see it all the time this week on the first page of the leaderboard: Matt Kuchar.

Kuchar, the FedEx Cup point leader, is an eye-catching 18-1 to win as the PGA Tour makes its annual trek to Muirfield Village in Ohio for the 44th playing of the Memorial at Jack Nicklaus’ place.

Grab it.

The reasoning is simple. He was T13 here last year. Add in the fact that in his last three trips to the Memorial, his T13 last year was his worst finish. He was T4 in 2016 and then backed that up with another T4 in 2017.

Top that run with a win in 2013 and you get the picture — he’s got the game for this course.

As well as he’s playing this year (he’s got a pair of victories, two runner-up finishes, a T4 and a T8 in 14 events), there’s no reason to believe Kuchar’s not going to be right there come Sunday and possibly shake Jack’s hand as he walks off the 18th green as the champion.

We’re also going to sneak a peek at Tony Finau, 20-1. He was runnerup to Kevin Na (who we had in our top-5 picks at 50-1) last weekend in Texas and played four solid rounds in tough conditions. The only thing holding us back from going all-in is the fact that when he finishes second in an event (which he has three times in this wraparound year), he has shown signs of complacency after a high finish.

He was second at the WGC-HSBC event and followed that up with T36 and T16 finishes. Flash forward to the Hero World Challenge where he was also second. He came back with T7 and T13.

Can he keep that momentum going in this positive direction? We’re hopeful, but not 100 percent convinced — yet.

O.K., we haven’t forgotten about Tiger Woods. At 12-1, he’s right behind favorite Rory McIlroy, who is 10-1. That’s the good news. The bad news is we’re not sure about where his focus is right now. Woods, this year’s Masters champion, took a month off after winning his 15th major and didn’t tee it up before playing (and missing the cut) in the PGA Championship.

Now, he’s going to play at the Memorial prior to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in two weeks. The problem is, in Tiger’s own words, he’s all about the majors.

This isn’t a major. Chances are he’ll have one eye on his game this week but also have one eye on making a plan to take on Pebble Beach in his hunt for major No. 16. To that end, he also spent at least one day last week at Pebble Beach checking out the lay of the land.

Woods’ looking ahead to the U.S. Open may help him in a couple of weeks, but it simply rules him out for us this week.

One more note: It’s hard not to back a defending champ, Bryson DeChambeau, when he’s 30-1 but he probably won’t hoist the trophy this year. He’s missed three straight cuts and once he starts on a string, more seem to follow. In 2017, he had two streaks that stand out. He went five events with the weekend off (4 MCs and a WD) and then later in the year had a stretch of seven straight MCs. 

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About the Author

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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