WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
July 30 – Aug 2
TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
Par 70, 7244 yards
The PGA Tour moves to Tennessee this week for a long-standing fixture on their tour but the second year since its been upgraded to a World Golf Championship. With the upgrade, we get a smaller high-quality field and twelve months ago was the last time that Brooks Koepka won a title. Course form often carries weight in Memphis on a track where water hazards occupy over 50% of the holes. Precision iron play into the smaller than average Bermuda greens is an advantage.
Can Brooks Koepka Get Back to Back Titles in Tennessee?
A year is a long time in sport and it’s a shock that Brooks Koepka has gone a full year since last year’s victory without another win. He’s currently at +1000 with 5Dimes to win the PGA Championship. In 2019 he came to TPC Southwind on the Crest of a Wave having won the PGA Championship and being runner up at the US Open in the preceding weeks. Without a doubt, the injury he suffered at the end of 2019 has set him back but also it may have been implausible to carry on the form of the previous two seasons that had seen him accumulate four major titles. He has definitely rededicated himself this year but the results are slow in arriving although he does have an affinity with TPC Southwind from the earlier years in his career to draw on this week. In 2014 when new to the PGA Tour he was 19th, 2015 he was 3rd and in 2016 he was runner up so last year’s victory came as no surprise. If any venue is likely to pull Koepka out of this mini-slump maybe it will be here.
Will Daniel Berger Make It Win Number Three at TPC Southwind?
Comeback Player of the Year so far in 2020 must be Daniel Berger who started the year with three straight top 10 finishes then restarted after the Covid-19 break with victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge. He followed up with brave effort at the Heritage Classic where he nearly won back to back PGA Tour titles. He then took a few weeks off to recharge his batteries and returned at Muirfield Village for the Memorial Tournament where a missed cut concerns me little in the knowledge that he has never produced his best game there.
That cannot be said about his form at TPC Southwind where he won back to back titles in 2016 and 2017, before the tournament became a World Golf Championship event. Without his brilliant form this year he would not have been high enough ranked to tee it up this week so my guess is he is really looking forward to this week in Tennessee. He has a solid look as a potential winner and place market bet this week.
PGA Golf Picks and Predictions
Last year at TPC Southwind, Spaniard, Jon Rahm opened with a round of 62 and surprisingly fell away over the weekend to finish 7th. That at least showed he could cope with the demands here and he arrives in Tennessee as the new World number one after his impressive victory in the Memorial Tournament at a tougher than usual Muirfield Village. With last year’s course experience we can expect Rahm to contend this week with his newfound confidence.
It is difficult to know what exactly went on last week with Dustin Johnson who withdrew from the 3M Open after an horrific opening round with a back injury. If he is teeing it up this week I think we can assume it wasn’t that serious and he knows how to play in Memphis better than most with tournament wins in 2012 and 2018. Only a month after winning the Travelers Championship impressively, the Dustin Johnson we know is an odd one to predict but ignored at our peril.
Last year’s runner up Webb Simpson looks another solid pick this week having played in Tennessee infrequently over the years but when he does he has served notice it is a test that suits him. Daniel Berger might be Comeback Player of the Year but Simpson is looking like a candidate for Player of the Year with impressive tournament wins in the Phoenix Open and the Heritage Classic where he beat Daniel Berger down the stretch. Like Berger, the Memorial Tournament was a write off for Simpson allowing him a chance to prepare for this week.
Last year’s event was the first as a WGC event and thus players who otherwise would not have played TPC Southwind entered and there were some notable debutants. England’s Tommy Fleetwood came fourth on course debut and we can expect to him to improve this week after his first tournament post Covid-19 last week in Minnesota. It is the younger Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick who really interests me this week having performed brilliantly in the worst of the conditions at the Memorial Tournament after a poor opening round. Like Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick finished fourth on course debut last year and looks overdue his first PGA Tour title. While analyzing course debuts last year I need to also mention Australian Mark Leishman who similarly had a strong course debut last year when 3rd and Jordan Spieth who was just outside the top 10, his recent efforts suggest he is close to regaining his best form.
Like Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Reed finished the Memorial Tournament strongly to cut through the final day leaderboard like a knife through butter. He is one tough cookie who has only played in Minnesota infrequently over the years and last year’s 12th place was not the only time he has proved a liking for TPC Southwind as a 5th place finish back in 2013 illustrates.
PGA Golf Picks
- Daniel Berger – Win @ +2800
- Webb Simpson – Win @ +2000
- Daniel Berger – Top 10 @ +250
- Webb Simpson – Top 10 @ +200
- Patrick Reed – Win @ +3300
- Patrick Reed – Top 10 @ +300
PGA Golf Banker
Ryan Palmer performed superbly at the Memorial Tournament when chasing his pairs partner Jon Rahm during the final day. Palmer has proved time and again he is a player to be trusted at venues he has performed creditably in the past and TPC Southwind has always been a course that favors course specialists. Palmer is just that with successive top 4 finishes in 2022 and 2013 and has a strong look as our banker bet this week.
Billy Horschel has gone a few years without a tournament, back to 2017 at the Byron Nelson Classic in fact, but he has been a model of consistency in that time. He has always been at home in the agronomy of Memphis with a remarkable five top 10 finishes in the last seven seasons. His recent form since the Covid-19 hiatus has not been too shabby with back to back strong weeks in Ohio at Muirfield Village.
Chez Reavie is a player who is difficult to see winning an event of this quality but he has five top 30 finishes at TPC Southwind in the last decade. Both weeks and Muirfield Village he performed solidly with only a poor final round of the Memorial Tournament undermining his finishing position. Reavie is playing well enough to snag a top 20 finish this week and worthy of support in match bets.
PGA Golf Banker
Ryan Palmer to beat Michael Thompson at -143 with BetOnline