This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Betting Preview
We're heading into the homestretch of the 2020-21 campaign, and it's time for the final World Golf Championship event of the season!
TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee is this week's host for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, a no-cut event with a smaller field consisting of 66 players. World No. 1 Jon Rahm is the only notable name missing in the field, as 48 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking made the trip to Memphis. Last year, Justin Thomas – at 12-1 odds – caught fire over the weekend to win by three shots over Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Tom Lewis and Phil Mickelson.
A tournament has been held at TPC Southwind annually since 1989, but the event transitioned from a standard Tour stop to one of the four World Golf Championship sites in 2019. Playing as a par-70 at over 7,200 yards, players have fewer scoring opportunities with only two par-5s and seven par-4s over 450 yards. As such, the winning score typically falls between 10-to-15 under par. The winner led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-gGreen in four of the last five editions, so a well-rounded game will be needed this week.
I'm fading the Olympians unless I really like their course fit and am targeting players that excel on approach, avoid bogeys and have good scrambling skills.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 5:00 PM ET Tuesday.
The following five golfers, with a minimum of eight rounds, have the lowest scoring average at TPC Southwind since 2016:
- Webb Simpson: 67.38
- Dustin Johnson: 67.44
- Matt Fitzpatrick: 67.50
- Justin Thomas: 67.63
- Daniel Berger: 67.71
Simpson tops a list that features various styles of play, and although he hasn't won here, it's notable that he still leads this category. He's only played here since this became a WGC stop, and he did not a runner-up finish in 2019. Comfortable surroundings could help Simpson shake off some rust, as after making 14 straight cuts dating back to last year's edition, he has only made 5-of-8 cuts since. He failed to play the weekend two of the last three times he teed it up, but his poor form does allow him to check in at 28-1, so there is a bit of value to be had. Meanwhile, you can't talk about course history and not mention Berger. A two-time winner of the former St. Jude Classic that was played here before this became a WGC event, he also posted a runner-up result here last year. Berger will likely be a popular pick in daily fantasy sports lineups, but he is indeed on the short list of candidates to take home the trophy.
In The Right Form
These players gained the most strokes from tee-to-green over their last 20 rounds:
I've talked a lot about Morikawa's impressive statistics lately, but another golfer who has shown his prowess this year is Spieth. Considering how often he's been in contention, it's surprising he's only won once this year. Spieth regularly skipped this stop before it became a WGC event, and he's had mediocre results at TPC Southwind, with a best finish of T12 in 2019. However, he can't be overlooked at 12-1. Another player in good form who has experienced success here is the betting favorite, Koepka, who won the first WGC tournament here and followed it up a with a runner-up in 2020. He has certainly been feast-or-famine in 2021, as in 12 appearances he has a whopping five top-5 finishes but also five missed cuts.
Louis Oosthuizen (20-1)
Oosthuizen garnered a lot of attention for how well he played in the majors this season, and deservedly so after narrowly missing out on wins at the PGA Championship, U.S. Open and The Open. He hasn't only had success in the majors, though, ranking second in SG: Total. This number feels disrespectful, as in addition to his recent success he fired four rounds in the 60s here last year.
Matt Fitzpatrick (28-1)
Fitzpatrick is a favorite of mine at tougher venues, as he plays better in tournaments that don't turn into birdie-fests. His two trips here have netted results of T6 and T4, and he comes in in good form and a bit under the radar despite having lost in a playoff at the Scottish Open a few weeks ago. He's been in contention too often to not break through with a victory soon.
Brian Harman (50-1)
Harman is certainly the type of well-rounded player that we're looking at this week, as he is gaining strokes in every category this season. He hasn't played TPC Southwind since it started hosting WGC events, but he did finish T6 in Memphis back in 2014. Harman has been in the mix constantly, with five top-10s this year.
Top-10 Finish: 7-1
Kisner went through a rough stretch this spring, but he has turned things around recently with top-10s in each of his last two appearances stateside. He struggled with his putter here last year but led the field in SG: Approach, so it's difficult to pass up these odds in a smaller field.
Top-10 Finish: 8-1
Palmer has cooled a bit, missing three cuts over his last five events, but that has created some value. This is still a golfer who has notched four top-5s this season and nearly won in Scotland several weeks back. Palmer ranked fourth in SG: Tee-to-Green last year at TPC Southwind.
Top-5 Finish: 12-1
You'd be hard-pressed to find many players with a better track record in Memphis than Horschel, as five of his last seven trips resulted in top-10 finishes. Although his recent form leaves something to be desired, that's factored into his price tag, and you have to take note of his results in WGC events this season – a runner-up at The Concession and a Match Play win.
Cantlay has played quality golf this summer and is gaining over 0.25 strokes in every Strokes Gained category this season. He gets a nice matchup with Reed, and I'm exhausted just thinking about his recent travel schedule, one that took him from Michigan to England, to Minnesota, to Japan and now to Memphis. With every player getting a guaranteed paycheck this week, I can't imagine Reed's motivation will be what it usually is.
One player in the field that shouldn't be bothered by the Tennessee heat is Las Vegas resident Na, who is coming off his best finish of the season: a runner-up at the John Deere Classic. I like to target him on courses where length shouldn't hurt him much, and he leads the Tour in SG: Around-the-Green, which should be a factor this week. Rose has only a pair of top-10s this season, and his level of play has dipped significantly over the last year.