The PGA Tour heads down south to Memphis, Tennessee, for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind. Originally scheduled about a month earlier for July 4 weekend, Memphis will now be even hotter and a true test if conditions are firm and fast.
This will be the second time the FedEx St. Jude is a WGC event, but the course has hosted a Tour event since 1989. The St. Jude event has always been a spot many players enjoy, even as a regular tournament.
Now that it’s been adopted as an elite WGC event, all of the best players in the world show up each year to put on a show in Memphis.
The tournament course
TPC Southwind is a Ron Pritchard design from 1987 with a PGA Tour re-design in 2004. It comes in at 7,244 yards as a par 70. It’s a course that fits into the mold of many TPC courses we see on tour, with a lot of hazards in play and a true premium on accuracy.
The fairways are difficult to hit and the rough is thick and tricky to play out of. The greens are smaller than average and feature Champion Bermuda grass.
With five par fours between 450-500 yards, Southwind tests long iron play throughout the round. There are very few birdie opportunities overall.
A player will struggle to score if he’s playing out of the rough consistently, regardless of distance off the tee. The Champion Bermuda greens are a unique test for players.
Many great putters struggle on the grainy greens, while some are considered Bermuda green specialists, including Webb Simpson and Brooks Koepka.
Tournament betting preview
Small-field events like WGC’s always have top talent and some great options for betting. With the best players in the world around, some great talent can fall to intriguing pricing.
At Southwind, I’m looking for an all-around game that has the ability to grind it out on a difficult course. Strong putters on Bermuda greens are a plus, as well as those who hit their long irons consistently well. All stats used are from a 50-round sample size.
With the action just a few days away, DraftKings Sportsbook Tennessee has odds for all aspects of the tournament.
Collin Morikawa (+2900): While Morikawa checks the boxes at basically any course due to his ball striking, his putting is the issue here. He’s one of the betting favorites this week due to a decent price, but he is the third worst putter on Bermuda greens in this field.
He’s lost .6 strokes putting per round on Bermuda in his career and nearly 17 total since joining the PGA Tour last year. Until he figures it out on this type of grass, it’s hard to see him making enough putts to win at Southwind.
Abraham Ancer (+4500): His price has already begun to get lower since starting at 55/1 some places. It’s not surprising as Ancer is a premium driver of the golf ball, who hits it straight and also strikes his long irons well. He’s finished inside the top 15 in seven of his last 11 events, including a 14th, second and 11th finish since the restart. He ranks fourth in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards and fifth in fairways gained in this field.
Brooks Koepka (+3000): Just like Ancer, his price has fallen as he started 33/1. He’s the defending champion at this course and has played extremely well here throughout his career. His price is shockingly high, likely due to his recent struggles. He found form with his ball striking last week only for his putter to fail him. But as a great putter on Bermuda greens, I’d expect that to change this week. Take the talent at an insane price here.
Webb Simpson (+2200): It feels like Simpson should be priced just as low as players like Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas due to his recent play. He’s ranked fourth in the world and is the best putter on Bermuda greens on the planet. He’s also won twice in his last six tournaments and happens to be extremely accurate off the tee. Southwind is the perfect place for his game.
Favorite long shot
Shane Lowry (+15000): This is a pretty incredible price for the 26th ranked player in the world who has won a WGC event before. He’s the defending Open Champion and has shown himself as a big-game hunter multiple times now. He gains nearly a stroke on the field per round on courses classified as difficult, and also plays exceptionally well in nasty conditions. Rain and wind is expected at Southwind this week.