• Betting Bunker

Mickelson the man at Memorial

Josh Williams May 30, 2012
Phil Mickelson has been putting beautifully all season © Getty Images
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Click here to bet on the Memorial Tournament at bet365

Rory McIlroy is currently sailing over rocky waters as he moves toward the defence of the US Open title he won in such breathtaking fashion last year.

McIlroy has now missed two consecutive cuts - at the Players Championship and the BMW PGA Championship - and, after a disastrous second-round at the latter, he admitted he had not been practising as extensively as he should.

It goes to show that even those blessed with natural gifts - and one of the most aesthetically-pleasing swings ever seen - are still prone to finding splinters in their game if it is left neglected.

He runs the risk of being left standing still ahead of next month's US Open, and it's hard to believe that he won't have spent plenty of time sharpening himself up in the days before this week's Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, which will also feature Tiger Woods - a reminder to McIlroy that you're never too good to fall back into the pack.

Williams' wagers

  • Phil Mickelson E/W - 16/1 at bet365
    Dustin Johnson E/W - 50/1 at bet365

This is a course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and it's fair to say that the usual assumption with his tracks come true: fairways are easy to hit, but it's a devilish test as you creep closer towards the greens.

To prove the point, here's Rob Bolton over on the PGA Tour website: "Consider that of the four times in PGA Tour history that a golfer has completed 72 holes without missing a fairway, three occurred at this week's host course."

So we can fairly safely assume that we want a long hitter who's got enough subtlety in his locker to get cute around the putting surfaces. It just screams out for Phil Mickelson, doesn't it?

The American's been a bit loose from the tee all season, but has made a point of insisting that he's putting better than ever - and that's translated to a host of impressive finishes: five top-tens leaving him fifth in the FedEx Cup rankings.

I get the feeling that the player who takes advantage of the reachable par-fives is going to triumph this week, and Mickelson has been doing that all year: he's third on tour in the "par-five birdie or better" standings. Add six top-20s in his last seven Memorial starts to the mix, and we can see there's a really strong case to be made for the veteran.

Wading deeper into the field, I'm surprised to see Dustin Johnson priced as generously as 50/1. He's made a career out of birdies and eagles at par-fives, and has top-tens at three of his last four starts.

That said, there's an element of risk as he's been out of action due to injury since March - but looking at it through a prism of positivity, we could argue that means he'll be nicely rested. He was fourth at this tournament last year, so I'd say it's a shrewd gamble at small stakes.

Please note that odds are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Josh Williams is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk