Workday Charity Open ⏤ Picks & Analysis

Fantasy Golf

Muirfield Village2

The PGA TOUR continues its midwestern swing as it begins the first of two consecutive tournaments at the famed Jack Nicklaus design at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The opening event of the pair (this week) will be the first-ever Workday Charity Open while next week will see a more familiar look when the golf course is presented to the players for the Memorial Tournament. This will create interesting opportunities for fantasy players who have their finger on the pulse of which players feel at home at this first-rate venue. The PGA TOUR has not hosted consecutive events at the same venue in 40+ years and is not likely to do it again anytime soon.

After a slight step backwards in the quality of the field last week, we're seeing a return of some of the stars who sat out last week's Rocket Mortgage Classic. A number of the players who would ordinarily be in the field next week at the Memorial have opted to play both of what the media is calling the "Dublin Double."

The golf course will be setup slightly differently for the Workday Charity Open as compared to next week's Memorial. The green speeds are going to be slower, the rough won't be quite as high and some of the tee boxes they will be using will not stretch Muirfield Village to its fullest in this first event. However, viewers may see some unique hole locations they aren't used to as the slower green speeds will permit some new pin positions that we don't see during the Memorial Tournament. Bottom line--the setup this week will be less penal than what we are likely to see next week and we would expect the winning score to be lower this week than we will see next week.

Group A

Group A possesses the big guns playing at Muirfield Village this week. It includes a couple of former winners of the Memorial Tournament (Matsuyama and Rose) as well as some major champions (Koepka, Thomas and Rose) all of whom could be viable candidates for a strong performance this week.

The golf course should reward length as there are four five-par holes that should all be reachable with a good tee shot. It is for this reason that we are going with Brooks Koepka. In addition to his having the length to dominate these scoring holes, he also showed some signs of form a few weeks ago with a strong appearance (T7) at the RBC Hertitage. His Sunday 65 looked like the Brooks Koepka we had gotten used to during his run of four major wins in eight major starts and we think a return to that level may be in the making.

Group B

Group B is a strong crop of players all of whom could easily find themselves at the top of the leaderboard if their engine runs at top gear this week. Patrick Cantlay has won here before and his position as a top-five player in Strokes Gained: Approach makes him a great fit for a golf course Jack Nicklaus himself describes as a second-shot golf course. Gary Woodland is also a top-ten Strokes Gained: Approach player and if he can drive the ball well he can take advantage of the five-par holes in a way that Patrick Cantlay may not.

Nevertheless, we're going to take a flyer in this group and go with Rickie Fowler. It's a bit of a risk as he hasn't shown great form so far this year, but he managed a T12 finish last week despite an usually balky putter. If he can hit the ball the way he hit it over the weekend at Detroit Golf Club and marry that with the putting prowess we are used to then he should find himself in contention late on Sunday.

Group C

Group C is a fascinating list of international players of varying styles, but none are in particularly good form at the moment. Ian Poulter might be the exception as he rode a hot putter to strong finishes at the RBC Heritage Classic (14th) and the Charles Schwab Championship (29th). Sungjae Im might have been the hottest player in the world prior to the COVID pause, but he's missed a cut and failed to finish in the top 50 in the other two events that he played since the PGA TOUR came back.

While he hasn't played particularly well since the PGA TOUR rebooted, our pick in this group is Marc Leishman. He leads the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Approach and has won at this golf course before. If there were players in Group C who had shown some better form or golf course fit we would have been happy to fade Leishman, but he seems like the least worst option here.

Group D

This might be the toughest group of the six to pick from as it includes a number of up and coming young players most of whom seem to be in excellent form coming into this event. Matthew Wolff almost won last week and made by far the most birdies in the field. His length should be an incredible asset at Muirfield Village. Collin Morikawa is gaining a reputation as being one of the best iron players on the PGA TOUR (backed up by his 3rd position on the list of Strokes Gained: Approach) and lost in a playoff just a few weeks ago at Colonial. Cameron Champ is one of the longest players on the PGA TOUR and put together four solid rounds last week at Detroit Golf Club.

We simply cannot resist picking Viktor Hovland who has been the fantasy gift that keeps on giving. He's on a bit of a heater with two top-25 finishes followed by two top-15 finishes in the four events that have been played since the PGA TOUR restarted post-COVID. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green last week and if he can get a cooperative putter he may well bag his first real win (sorry Puerto Rico Open) at Muirfield Village this week.

Group E

This is going to be a key group as we believe that there is going to be a high level of variance among these six competitors. There could be three missed cuts with two top tens and the winner in this group. We're going to strike Graeme McDowell (too short) and Jason Day (poor form) off the list of possibles here and you can probably add Shane Lowry to the list as he hasn't displayed a ton of form since his win in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

Phil Mickelson merits some consideration and Matthew Fitzpatrick is probably the safest play, but we're going to go with Bubba Watson. His ability to attack the par fives and maneuver the ball into some of the tight corners of these greens should give him a leg up on the competition this week.

Group F

There is a lot of staying power on this list of relative journeyman PGA TOUR players. Most of those feature have been around for quite some time and the best accomplishment of the bunch is likely the FedEx Cup won by Billy Horschel back in 2014. It's been years since any of these guys have had their top game, so we're going to make a hot hand pick and go with Ryan Armour. He hit the ball as well as anyone for the first three days last week and if he can get the putter working to convert some of those opportunities he should be a candidate for a top-15 or 20 finish this week.