Golf picks: Memorial Tournament predictions & best bets from Diane Knox Balas

Xander Schauffele hits a tee shot at the 2020 Genesis Open.
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Diane Knox Balas


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Diane Knox Balas loves golf (she’s Scottish, so of course she does) but let’s just say she’s much better at analyzing golf than playing! The same cannot be said for her brother, Russell Knox, who’s a 2-time winner on the PGA Tour and fueled Diane’s initial passion for the sport. A seasoned TV and radio host, Diane has given out 8 outright winners since joining the Pickswise team in April 2022. Her general rule is she has to have three stand-out reasons for each pick and spends her time studying stats, playing form and little nuggets of information from golfers’ lives on Tour. Diane lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Garrett, son Greyson and two English Bulldogs Bowser & Barkley. You can follow her antics on Twitter @KnoxyDiane and Instagram @dianeknoxbalas. For Diane Knox Balas media enquiries, please email
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I hope you had a great Memorial Day Weekend! Emiliano Grillo sure did, winning the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth and picking up this first victory since 2015. Did you catch a glimpse of the sweet Ford Bronco he gets to take home? A very cool addition to the trophy (because you can’t put a Bronco in the trophy cabinet!).

We move onto another elevated event — the ninth of the year — on the PGA Tour, and this week is always one of the schedule highlights. The Memorial Tournament is held at “Jack’s Place”: Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. This is Jack Nicklaus’ masterpiece, and he traditionally awaits the winner on the 18th green on Sunday with a congratulatory handshake. This has always been one of the elite tournaments, and a victory here holds a great deal of prestige.

The course was host to one of the dramatic scenes in golf withdrawals in this post-COVID era. In 2021, Jon Rahm held a convincing 54-hole lead but was told literally moments after his Saturday round finished that he’d tested positive for the virus and had to withdraw. This was all shown, rather uncomfortably, on the live coverage! Patrick Cantlay went on to capture his second win at this tournament and will be competing this week with a 3-peat in mind.

Over the years, Rahm and Cantlay have put together the most impressive set of stats here. In addition to his 2 wins, Cantlay has never finished worse than 35th in his 6 appearances — with a 3rd place last year. In fact, the only time he’s lost any strokes to the field in any of the applicable categories was marginally on the greens back in ’18 and ’19. It’s safe to say his game thrives around Muirfield Village.

This will be the fifth time Rahm has played the tournament, and his resume boasts a win in 2020 alongside a T10 last year. Plus, we have to asterisks 2021 because he had a six-stroke lead following 54 holes when he was forced to withdraw and probably would have went onto win.

The only notable names skipping this week are Max Homa (whose sister is getting married) and Tony Finau, while Billy Horschel returns as defending champion.

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Muirfield Village: What you need to know

Muirfield Village Golf Club is a par 72 and measures in at 7,533 yards. “Jack’s Place” underwent a huge renovation in 2020-21; yardage was added, the tee boxes, fairways and greens were all re-grassed and the already-tricky green-side bunkers were modified. The greens were reconstructed and re-contoured, which only made difficult putting conditions even tougher.

The greens have always been known to be lightning fast at Muirfield Village, plus they are small. It’s a course that will really test scrambling and reward precise iron play.

The fairways are wide and distance tends to take priority over accuracy, and I’m always looking at guys with great greens in regulation stats here. Plus the rough is known to be some of the worst on tour and it makes it very tricky to hit your desired spot on the green if you are wayward.

It’s a long, tough course, but some short hitters have faired really well here — including past champions Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and David Lingmerth. Guys really have to take advantage of the four par-5s, as these are the only holes on the course with a scoring average below par.

Knox’s Knockout Memorial Picks

Xander Schauffele (+1600 at FanDuel)

With such short odds for the favorites this week, I really like Xander at 16/1. Firstly, the X-Man has been playing great with 4 top-5 finishes in his last 6 starts. He missed the cut in his first start at Memorial, but in the 4 times he has played since then he hasn’t finished any worse than T18. Schauffele’s iron play has been exceptional of late; he hasn’t lost any strokes against the field in approach since the Sentry Tournament of Champions, in which he withdrew mid-tournament due to injury. In fact, he is 6th in shots gained via approach for the season and 11th in putting. I love Xander to add to his winning total this week.

Tyrrell Hatton (+3300 at FanDuel)

I’m taking a guy who is making only his second appearance at this tournament but has won on a comparable golf course and is coming off a string of fantastic results. Tyrrell Hatton triumphed at the Arnold Palmer Invitational back in 2020 and Bay Hill bears many similarities to Muirfield Village. The Englishman has had a T3 and a T5 in 2 of his last 4 starts and is coming off a T15 at the PGA Championship. His stats across the board have been excellent, gaining in all categories in his last 3 events — and he is 10th in approach on the PGA Tour for the season. 

Billy Horschel (+11000 at FanDuel)

PGA Tour results have been looking a little different for Horschel since his win here last year. In 2023, he has posted only 1 top-10 finish (at the Match Play) and has missed 6 cuts. All those factors have boosted his odds to the 100/1 region. However, his record at Muirfield Village is excellent — with a quartet of top-15 finishes outside of the win. Hitting these tight, firm greens is key around here, and that’s been the downfall of Horschel’s game of late. However, if the winning memories and his year’s of experience count for something, it will show. 

Harris English (+12500 at PointsBet)

Harris English had his chance to win the Charles Schwab Challenge last week, but a disastrous final round of 76 knocked him out of the top 10. Having said that, English has seemingly turned his season around and has been playing well, finishing 3rd at the Wells Fargo Championship a few weeks ago and runner-up at Bay Hill back in March. Iron play has always been a strength of Harris’ game, and strong approach play has lead to T13 and T18 finishes here in 2 of his 4 tournament starts. 

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Memorial Prop Bets

Kurt Kitayama top-10 finish (+750 at Bet365)

Distance off the tee matters around Muirfield Village and Kitayama is a long hitter. He also has strong approach stats, sitting at 33rd on the Tour for the season. One of the most comparable courses is Bay Hill, where Kitayama scored his debut victory earlier this year. Plus, he recently finished 4th at the PGA Championship. After a T29 at Colonial last week, he is keeping the ball rolling and I like him to be in the mix.

Emiliano Grillo top-10 finish (+700 at DraftKings) and top-20 finish (+280 at DraftKings)

Coming off the victory last week at Colonial, I think we are really going to notice Grillo from now on. That win had been coming for a while, and he had been flying somewhat under the radar with a T7 and T5 in April, showing the way his game was trending. Iron play and hitting greens is the forte of Grillo’s game and he knows how to score, sitting at 11th on tour in total birdies. Yes, the odds are on the short side for another strong finish, but I’ll take both the top 10 and top 20 at a course where the Argentine has finished T9, T11 and T23 over the years. 

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