Why FRACAS Projects Another Spieth Challenge and Hoffman Push at Muirfield Village
We’re using the advanced FRACAS model to project the winner, best value picks and top fantasy plays ahead of this weekend’s Memorial Tournament.
What’s been remarkable about Jason Kokrak’s rise is how he’s done it.
Kokrak joined Stewart Cink as a two-time winner in the 2021 season of the PGA Tour last week and FRACAS moved him up 16 spots to 18th in the world. Over his career, Kokrak had been a terrible putter, losing more than two strokes on the greens consistently in tournaments and occasionally losing seven or eight.
Since the end of the 2020 tour season, Kokrak turned that weakness into a strength. Over that time span, he’s lost more than a stroke just twice and gained three or more strokes nine times.
Jordan Spieth, our pick to win the Charles Schwab last week, used his second-place finish to claim the top spot in the world, per FRACAS. Other movers include Charley Hoffman, who continued his rise and now sits in 14th, and Patton Kizzire, who tied for third and moved up 33 spots to 54th in the world.
Off the PGA Tour, Bern Wiesberger picked up the win in Denmark on the European Tour and moved up 41 spots to 79th in the world. Wiesberger also gets an invitation to the U.S. Open with his win. Cameron Young was victorious for the second week in a row on the Korn Ferry Tour, moving up almost 200 spots to 270th in the world.
Muirfield Village hosts the 2021 Memorial Tournament in Week 23. Last year, Jon Rahm finished at the top of the leaderboard after a brutal set of Sunday conditions. His winning score was just 9-under par, a testament to the complete challenge provided by Muirfield Village.
To make matters more difficult, Jack Nicklaus spent most of the last year redesigning the course to add some tee boxes and make some of the greens more challenging. He also added about 150 yards of length, so it is reasonable to assume a winner will come in around the low teens. Our model projects a winning score of 11-under.
Big numbers aren’t hard to come by at Muirfield Village, which is one of the highest variance courses on tour. The fun starts at the par-5 fifth and doesn’t let up until the card has been signed. The most variable hole on the course (see the variance chart below) is the par-3 16th, a 200-yard tee shot over water to a shallow green. The variance of the back nine makes Muirfield an ideal course for exciting finishes because players can gain or lose strokes in a hurry coming down the home stretch.
Let’s take a closer look at the expected scores for each hole below. Red holes are expected to play harder while the dark purple holes are expected to play easier:
Below, the holes with the most variance are darker than the ones with less variance. So the darker holes are essentially the ones on which players have the greatest opportunities to distance themselves from the field – or lose plenty of ground in a hurry.
FRACAS Pick to Win
The field this week is predictably strong. In fact, the median FRACAS of entrants is almost identical to the median FRACAS of entrants to the PGA Championship a couple weeks ago.
Again, there is a difference between who we think will win, and who we think is a good value relative to the market. The model’s pick is a familiar one, and one we’ve mentioned in the article already. Jordan Spieth is playing the best golf in the world right now.
Since his missed cut at the Farmers, Spieth has six top-five finishes in 10 tournaments and is gaining an average of four strokes per tournament on approach. Combine this incredible iron play with his renowned short game and improved play off the tee, and it’s no surprise he’s the top player in the world right now.
He’s head and shoulders above anyone else in our projections this week with a 7.60% chance to win.
FRACAS Value Plays
The trend of familiar names continues with our value plays this week. With the high variability, loaded field and the recent struggles of many of the game’s top players, there isn’t a favorite we’re seeing any value in. However, there’s a recent high finisher in a major that starts our list: Louis Oosthuizen. Oosthuizen is playing some of the best golf of his career. His short game has been dynamite as usual, but his iron play has been on fire of late. He gained 6.6 strokes on approach in the PGA Championship, his best number since the Northern Trust in 2019.
It’s also a good course for Louis’ skill set because his consistency and scrambling ability can keep the double- and triple-bogeys off his card. He didn’t play Muirfield particularly well last year, but that was in the lowest spot on his rolling FRACAS chart, so he was certainly not in form. We have him at 25-1 to win the tournament, a good value over his 33-1 we see in the market.
Our second value pick is Cameron Smith. While Smith disappointed at the PGA Championship, he’s still in form and is one again primed to take on a difficult track. His performance on long, difficult par 4s has slipped of late, but he’s playing the difficult par 3s and 5s with tremendous consistency. All of Muirfield’s par 3s tend to play difficult, and three of the four par 5s play difficult as well. With the course changes, there’s a chance they play even more difficult, further playing into Smith’s hands. Smith is listed by the consensus at 45-1, but our model thinks he should be 27-1. That’s a lot of value for one of the world’s top players.
Our best value of the week is another golfer we featured in last week’s article: Charley Hoffman. Hoffman continues to play well, finishing tied for third at the Charles Schwab and gaining another eight strokes on approach. His irons are currently rivaling those of ball-striking wizards Colin Morikawa and Corey Conners, and Muirfield begs for players who are performing well on approach shots. There isn’t a particular type of hole Hoffman is playing well or poorly at the moment – he’s playing everything well. While you’d expect him to come back down to earth eventually, the consistency in his rise has made that harder and harder to believe. He’s listed as 45-1 per the consensus odds, but our model likes him at 26-1. Of course, Hoffman has had trouble closing the deal over the course of his career, with just five wins in more than 20 years of pro golf, but then again he’s never been playing as well as he is now.
Stewart Cink is criminally underpriced despite being in the midst of a career resurgence. Like 2021 major champion Phil Mickelson, the 48-year-old Cink has actually added length off the tee as he’s aged, while maintaining his impressive iron play and consistently good putting. Muirfield is a great fit for his skills as well. Like Smith, Cink is at his best on difficult par 3s, where he projects to score seventh best in the field has the skill and veteran know-how to navigate around the hazards. He’s being listed north of 100-1 in the consensus odds, and our model thinks that is far too high. We have him at almost half the odds at 52-1.
DraftKings GPP Value Plays
Our model also simulates DraftKings results. This is an important distinction, as DraftKings points are driven both by finishing position and hole scoring, so players like Tony Finau who make a lot of birdies while also making some bogeys may be better DraftKings plays than players like Charles Howell III, who has a great chance to make the cut, but doesn’t score much.
We’ll go through each salary grouping and identify players we see as being underpriced relative to value and those players who are around them. Generally, we’ll identify around 25 players we like, though that number can change depending on the size of the field.
Like last week, we’re having a tough time finding builds where we can include the top players. The $6,000 range is bereft of potential, and without the cheap golfers to pair with the top ones, it’s a chore to get these guys in. Of the three, Spieth is our favorite play.
- $11,300 – Jordan Spieth
- $11,100 – Jon Rahm
- $10,400 – Collin Morikawa
This salary area is where most of our lineups will start, and we’ll have heavy usage on all of them. Viktor Hovland is our favorite of the group. He’s a great fantasy play in addition to being a great golfer. He’s a high-variance scorer which means tons of birdies to pair with bogeys, which can be a better fantasy score than lots of pars.
- $9,900 – Viktor Hovland
- $9,700 – Xander Schauffele
- $9,300 – Corey Conners
- $9,200 – Tony Finau
- $9,100 – Patrick Reed
Oosthuizen, Hoffman, and Smith are three of our five highest fantasy values on the slate.
- $8,700 – Matthew Fitzpatrick
- $8,600 – Cameron Smith
- $8,500 – Louis Oosthuizen
- $8,300 – Charley Hoffman
- $8,000 – Keegan Bradley
Lots to choose from in this range, but our favorite plays are Cink, Emiliano Grillo, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Matt Jones and Matt Wallace in that order.
- $7,700 – Emiliano Grillo
- $7,600 – Christiaan Bezuidenhout
- $7,600 – Cameron Tringale
- $7,500 – Stewart Cink
- $7,500 – Kevin Streelman
- $7,500 – Max Homa
- $7,400 – Matt Wallace
- $7,300 – Chris Kirk
- $7,200 – Brendon Todd
- $7,100 – Matt Jones
- $7,100 – Talor Gooch
- $7,100 – Harold Varner III
A rare week with no one in the $6,000s we feel comfortable with. If you’re really digging for value, then Lanto Griffin and Alex Noren at $6,800 and Antoine Rozner at $6,500 can give you some salary relief.
Design by Matt Sisneros.