With all four of this season’s majors in the past, we now head to TPC Southwind (par 70, 7,238 yards), in Germantown, Tennessee, for the first ever WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational. This course has hosted The FedEx St. Jude Classic the last 30 years and Dustin Johnson is the defending champ at this venue, beating his field by six strokes a year ago. (-19) He was absolutely dominant in this performance and his 72 hole score is the lowest winning number posted at TPC Southwind since Woody Austin in 2007. (-13) Basically, this course is much more difficult than DJ made it seem last year.
The fairways are tight, the greens are small, and it is all about being a strong tee to green player at TPC Southwind. Being long off the tee can be an advantage, as we saw with DJ last season (1st in DD), but approach play needs to be our focus this week. Johnson ranked T10 in GIR last season and each of the last four winners at TPC Southwind have ranked inside the top ten in greens found during their wins. Additionally, three of the last five St Jude champs have been T2 or better in SG APP.
With this being a par 70, we must also prioritize par four scoring. There are 12 par fours and only two par fives at TPC Southwind, and seven of those par fours land between 450-500 yards. Besides Daniel Berger in 2017, all of the winners since 2014 have ranked in the top five in most strokes gained on the par fours at TPC Southwind. Finally, the greens here are Bermuda grass and you obviously need to be rolling it well to contend.
The St. Jude has always been a full field of 156 players, but with this event joining The WGC rotation, only 64 golfers will be competing this week and there will be no cut. Another change that comes with this becoming a WGC is the strength of the players in attendance. Outside of Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler, all of the biggest names in golf will be in Tennessee. Most weeks, are main goal is to get six golfers through the cut, but with four full rounds of golf guaranteed for each player, barring a WD or injury, finishing position and DraftKings scoring become the recipe for success. @Hunta512.
Dustin Johnson: (11,400)
Out of the top three studs this week, I think DJ, the reigning champ, is the best choice, even if his current form is questionable. The T51 finish at The Open was a letdown by his standards, but he still gained 5.5 strokes with his approaches. He has played here six times and if we don’t include his first round WD in 2015, Johnson is 5/5 at TPC Southwind, with an outstanding average finish of 8.2nd place.
The recent finishes have been disappointing (T35, MC and T51 in L3), but returning to a course that he loves is exactly what the doctor ordered for DJ (the favorite to win at 10/1 via Bovada) and he should get back on track with a top five at this WGC. (four top tens in his last five WGCs, including two wins)
Justin Thomas: (10,700)
JT seems to be fully back from his wrist injury. He just finished T9 at The Scottish Open and then T11 at the Open Championship, with a 9.5 SGT2G average over the two events. Thomas was really struggling with his putter, but at Royal Portrush, he ranked T8 in PPR.
If he can continue to improve with his flat stick at TPC Southwind, JT should be in the mix for a win this Sunday, regardless of this being his debut at the track. (14/1 via Bovada)
John Rahm: (10,400)
Rahm continued his outstanding play overseas with a T11 at The Open Championship last weekend. Prior to this major, he had won The Irish Open, was a runner up at The Andalucia Masters and finished T3 at The U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He gained 7.7 ST2G at Royal Portrush and over his last 24 rounds on Tour, Rahm ranks 4th in BOB% and 3rd in DK points.
He has never teed it up at TPC Southwind, but in this form, it is tough to overlook Rahm at this discount from the other studs. (12/1 via Bovada, which are the 4th best odds)
Xander Schauffele: (9,300)
Schauffele has a strong resume at WGCs (T46, T18, 1st, and T14), including a win at The HSBC Champions earlier this season. Like most, he had an ugly final round at The Open (78, finished T41), but this was his 17th made cut in his last 19 starts.
His stats have been solid across the board (8th in GIR, 1st in SG OTT, 9th in SGT, 7th in SG on P4s, and 8th in DK points in L12 rounds) and we all know Schauffele elevates his game to another level when playing in the strongest fields. He didn’t do much in his only attempt at this course (T52 in 2017), but two years later, X is primed for a much higher finish in Tennessee. (22/1 via Bovada)
Hideki Matsuyama: (8,900)
Matsuyama missed the cut last week for the first time in 24 events. He only missed it by two strokes and had ten top 20s this season heading into the major. This will be his first try at TPC Southwind, but Matsuyama is a stellar ball striker (8th in SGT2G, 5th in SG APP, 8th in BS, and 8th in SGT in L24 rounds) that should handle the tricky track just fine.
He is the #1 ranked birdie maker in this field (when we compare all these players L24 rounds) and Matsuyama should rebound from his MC at Royal Portrush with at least a top 25 this weekend.
Adam Scott: (8,700)
I, for one, was really hurt by Scott’s MC at The Open Championship, but I think we have to go right back to the well this week. Before imploding at Royal Portrush, which may have been a result of a long layoff (hadn’t played competitively in over a month), Scott had finished in the top ten in his previous three and had made five cuts in a row. During this cut streak, he had produced nearly ten total strokes each week. (9.82 SGT in L5 starts) Even including his awful display at The Open, Scott ranks with the best of this field in ball striking (2nd in SGT2G, 6th in SG APP, and 7th in BS in L24 rounds) and in par four scoring. (9th in SG on P4s in L24 rounds)
In fact, no player at The St. Jude this week has been better on par fours between 450-500 yards than Scott over their last 24 rounds. (1st in SG on P4s 450-500 yards) He finished T10 in his lone start at TPC Southwind back in 2017 and I think Scott will bounce back with a similar result this weekend. (28/1 via Bovada, which are the best odds of all the players under $9,000)
Tony Finau: (8,400)
Finau looked bad, missing three straight cuts, but he has seemed to regain his form in his last two starts. He finished T23 at The 3M Open at the start of July and just finished with a solo 3rd place at The Open Championship, which is his career best finish at the major. He gained negative total strokes in each of those three missed cuts, but has supplied 9.0 total strokes across these last two.
Furthermore, Finau didn’t gain strokes T2G in any of those MCs, but is averaging 9.3 in his past two starts. He has been an excellent par four player (8th in SG on P4s and 6th in SG on P4s between 450-500 yards in L8 rounds) and Finau is slowly becoming the elite DK scorer we all know he can be. (19th in DK points in L8 rounds) He did miss the weekend in his TPC Southwind debut a year ago, but with no cut involved this time around, Finau has the potential to be a top ten DK scorer of the week.
Webb Simpson: (8,200)
Simpson is almost a lock for a top 30 at this point. He has made 22 of his last 23 cuts and has only finished outside the top 30 four times during this stretch. Additionally, Simpson has recorded 14 top 20s in this run, with five coming in his last seven.
He excels on par fours (4th in SG on P4s in L24 rounds) and if we look at all of these golfers last 24 rounds on par 70s, nobody in this field has gained more strokes than Simpson. He has an average finish position of 17.5th place on par 70s this season and is just underpriced at only $8,200. (T3 here in 2014 and 3/5 overall)
Billy Horschel: (7,500)
Horschel is someone I am always hesitant to play in normal cut events, but I love him at this course with four guaranteed full rounds. He is 6/8 at TPC Southwind, with four top tens, all in which have come in his last five appearances.
Before missing the weekend at The Open Championship, which has never been his type of event (1/6), Horschel had made seven cuts in a row, with four top 25s mixed in that stretch. His irons have been solid (22nd in SG APP in L24 rounds) and he also has been scoring very well on par fours. (7th in SG on P4s 450-500 yards in L24 rounds) Ignore his MC at The Open and roster Horschel with confidence at this reasonable price.
Cameron Smith: (7,100)
After producing negative strokes T2G in eight starts in a row, Smith has been a stud ball striker in his most recent two. (5.5 SGT2G)
Finishing T20 at The Open last week was a big accomplishment for the 22 year old and at his only other WGC event of this year, Smith impressed with a T6 at The Mexico Championship. He is 0/1 at this track (MC in 2016), but if his form continues to trend up, Smith should easily return value.
Keegan Bradley: (6,900)
Bradley is the perfect target for a no cut event. His unpredictability makes him a tough pill to swallow when there’s cut, but in his last two WGC starts, he has gone T6 and T10. Bradley missed the cut last week at Royal Portrush, but made his prior two, including a notable runner up at The Travelers.
Plus, he finished T25 at TPC Southwind back in 2011 and last, but not least, Bradley ranks 9th in SG on par fours that are 450-500 yards over his last 24 rounds. As of Tuesday night, he has the best odds to pick up a win off all the sub $7,000 players. (90/1 via Bovada)
Haotong Li: (6,600)
Li is also an appealing cheap gamble this week. He has failed to make his last two cuts, but is still a top 50 ranked player in the world. He had made seven consecutive cuts before this pair of MCs, including two majors, and Li is a very strong scorer on par fours that fall in the range we are targeting for TPC Southwind. (4th in SG on P4s between 450-500 yards in L24 rounds)
He finished top 20 in the first two WGC stops of the season and could surprise again at The St. Jude, just at much cheaper cost this time. ($7,700 at The HSBC and $7,400 at The Mexico Championship)
*Please note that some of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com