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BlogWGC-FedEx St. Jude Preview and Picks

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational

July 25th – 28th, 2019

TPC Southwind

Memphis, Tenn.

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,244

Purse: $10.25 million

with $1,845,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Justin Thomas

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field of 63 players includes 55 of the top 100 players and 45 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  The only top-50 players not in the field are: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rickie Fowler and Bernd Wiesberger.  #52 Lee Westwood also is not playing.  Shane Lowry withdrew on Tuesday.

Last year 49 of the top-50 were in the field

The field includes 19 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2019, those not in the field are #9 Rickie Fowler, #14 Charles Howell III, #22 Francesco Molinari, #23 Ryan Palmer, #24 Sungjae Im and #25 Scott Piercy.  Shane Lowry also withdrew.

The field includes just 6 past champions: Justin Thomas (2018), Hideki Matsuyama (2017), Dustin Johnson (2016),  Rory McIlroy (2014), Keegan Bradley(2012) and Adam Scott (2011)

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude field is our performance chart listed by the average finish.  Since the course has switched to a new course, TPC Southwind which held a PGA Tour tournament on, we also offer a performance chart for TPC Southwind which will be more helpful than the Firestone results.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the WGC-Bridgestone field in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the WGC-Bridgestone field.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational

Player British Open Barbasol Championship John Deere Classic Scottish Open 3M Open Irish Open Rocket Mortgage Classic BMW International Travelers Championship U.S. Open RBC Canadian Open Memorial Tournament
Shane Lowry (WD)
(342.67 pts)
Win
(264)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T34
(16)
DNP DNP DNP T28
(29.33)
T2
(33.33)
DNP
Jon Rahm
(330 pts)
T11
(78)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(120)
DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(293.67 pts)
T4
(160)
DNP DNP DNP 65
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
2
(133.33)
T50
(0.33)
DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(251.67 pts)
2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
T65
(0)
DNP DNP
Henrik Stenson
(221 pts)
T20
(60)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(60)
T8
(16.67)
T37
(4.33)
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(213.33 pts)
T20
(60)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T12
(50.67)
DNP T68
(0)
Justin Rose
(192.33 pts)
T20
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(120)
DNP 13
(12.33)
Patrick Reed
(191 pts)
10
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T30
(13.33)
T32
(24)
DNP DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(190.33 pts)
T6
(120)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(38.67)
DNP T33
(5.67)
Danny Willett
(185 pts)
T6
(120)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(50.67)
T8
(16.67)
T27
(7.67)
Tony Finau
(183.67 pts)
3
(180)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Chez Reavie
(181.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP Win
(88)
T3
(120)
DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(168 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP T41
(3)
Xander Schauffele
(150 pts)
T41
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(120)
DNP T14
(12)
Gary Woodland
(149.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP Win
(176)
DNP T52
(0)
Louis Oosthuizen
(146.67 pts)
T20
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(4)
DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
T7
(73.33)
DNP T57
(0)
Matt Wallace
(146.67 pts)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP T12
(50.67)
DNP DNP
Bryson DeChambeau
(142.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
T35
(20)
DNP T22
(9.33)
Matthew Wolff
(138.33 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T80
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Andrew Putnam
(136.33 pts)
T32
(36)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
T43
(9.33)
DNP T17
(11)
Justin Thomas
(125.67 pts)
T11
(78)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
T20
(10)
CUT
(-3.33)
Patrick Cantlay
(124 pts)
T41
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
T21
(38.67)
DNP Win
(44)
Webb Simpson
(118.67 pts)
T30
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(45.33)
T2
(33.33)
DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(118.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP T21
(38.67)
DNP 6
(20)
Matt Kuchar
(116.67 pts)
T41
(18)
DNP DNP T20
(30)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(45.33)
T4
(26.67)
CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational

Player British Open Barbasol Championship John Deere Classic Scottish Open 3M Open Irish Open Rocket Mortgage Classic BMW International Travelers Championship U.S. Open RBC Canadian Open Memorial Tournament
Sung Kang
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T78
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Phil Mickelson
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Keith Mitchell
(-39.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP T66
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T48
(0.67)
C.T. Pan
(-34 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP
Shugo Imahira
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP
Mikumu Horikawa
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP
Corey Conners
(-26 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP T46
(4)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T65
(0)
Bubba Watson
(-20 pts)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T54
(0)
CUT
(-13.33)
T63
(0)
DNP
Aaron Rai
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Na
(-18.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Before we start on this event, have to spend a few moments on the British Open.  Have to say the real winner was Royal Portrush and Northern Ireland.  The course came out looking like the star that it is, did not hear one negative word on the week.  The R&A was very happy with the results and you can guarantee that another British Open will return to this area probably before 2025.

Another disappointment had to be Rory McIlroy.  I personally had a lot at stake in McIlroy and frankly have never been out of a bet so quickly.  I can’t remember anyone of the favorites making a quadruple bogey 8 (4 over par) on the very first hole.  I know that myself and many other members of the media were totally shocked at Rory.  He fought back, getting it to 3 over going into 16 but had a brain-fart on the 16th hole 3 putting from five feet for a double bogey  things went downhill with his triple bogey on 18 to shot 79.

McIlroy played like himself on Friday, but despite playing his first 16 holes in six under but couldn’t make a birdie on 17 or 18 to miss the cut by one.  In doing interviews after his run, you could see the eyes welting up.

Another disappointment had to be Tiger Woods who shot himself out of the tournament with five bogeys on his first ten holes.  He shot a first-round 78 followed by a 70 but he had no real chance at making the cut.  We heard at the beginning of the year how Tiger was going to cut back his schedule, but after winning the Masters Tiger has only played in the PGA Championship, Memorial, U.S. Open and the British Open.  Some media were taken aback when the news that Tiger went to Thailand with his family for two weeks after the U.S. Open.  In a way Tiger’s season seemed to fall apart after the Masters.  It seemed like he was so happy to win the Masters he really didn’t care what happened after that.  The weather was drastically different for the three majors after the Masters with cold conditions that didn’t do good for Tiger’s back, at the British you could tell he was walking gingerly and careful.  On the way out of Portrush he told media that he was still looking to reduce his schedule and wasn’t going to Memphis for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational

As for the move of this tournament from Firestone in Akron, Ohio to TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn. I have mixed emotions.  Historically it’s hard to fathom the lost of an icon.  Firestone has held a PGA Tour tournament every year since 1954 with the exception of 2002.  Yes I know the Champions Tour will have an event there, but hard to believe the PGA Tour won’t be back there for a while.  It’s a bit like losing LaCosta which had a PGA Tour event for over 30 years, of Glen Abbey which held the Canadian Open for 30 years.  It’s sad to see Firestone leave, it was know for it’s long and hard par 4s, but it’s taken a beating with modern technology.  Have to say that the TPC Southwind has been a well kept secret, it will be a tougher venue for this WGC event.  In passing the one thing I don’t like is the timing.  Sorry I could understand this event when it was the week before the PGA Championship.  Now it’s a week after the British Open as players will have to hustle out of Portrush to get to Memphis for this.  Next year it’s going to move again because of the Olympics, it’s supposedly two weeks after the U.S. Open and two weeks before the British Open.  The only problem, it will conflict with the Irish Open which is a Rolex event on the European Tour, hear they aren’t happy with the timing.

Hard to believe but after this week, we have one regular tour event left, the Wyndham and then the three FedEx Cup playoff events.  Going into this week we really don’t have a clear cut Player-of-the-Year, many think that Brooks Koepka will win it but if Rory McIlroy wins a playoff event and the point race he could be the Player-of-the-Year.  Don’t ask me, have to say after what happened at the British Rory is not high up my personal list.

Tournament information:

The WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational is the fourth and last of the World Golf Championships for 2019, and it will move to Memphis and the TPC Southwind.  The first couple of years of this event it was a limited field affair open to members of previous Ryder Cup and President’s Cup team members, but it changed to reflect the way the WGC-Mexico Championship picks its players.

The qualification has changed over the years. For a player to qualify, he must meet at least one of the required stipulations: Have been a playing member in the 2018 Ryder Cup teams or be ranked in the Top 50 in the official World Golf Rankings one or two weeks prior to the event;

or win a worldwide event with an Official World Golf Ranking field strength of 115 points or more in the last calendar year.

Lastly the winner of the following tournaments from each of the following Tours:

Japan Golf Tour Championship (2019) and Bridgestone Open (2018) from the Japan Golf Tour;

Australian PGA Championship (Fall of 2018) from the Australasian Tour; Dimension Data Pro-Am (2019) from the Southern Africa Tour; and the Indonesian Masters’ winner (2018) from the Asian Tour.

Now the event has been played at Firestone every year from 1999 to 2018 except for in 2002 when it was held at Sahalee C.C. just outside of Seattle, Washington

Course information:
  • TPC Southwind
  • Germantown, Tenn.
  • 7,244 yards     Par 35-35–70
  • The TPC at Southwind opened in 1988 and became the home of the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 1989. The course was designed by Ron Prichard, with help from Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller. The course opened as a small, tight course with lots of trees, bunkers and water hazards. Originally, Southwind featured zoysia grass on the fairways and bent grass on the greens. The course stayed this way until after the 2004 FedEx St. Jude Classic. Following the tournament’s conclusion, the course closed for renovation.
  • During the renovation, all of the greens were redone, and the grass was switched from bent grass to Champion Bermuda Grass. Many of the fairways were narrowed and re-contoured to make an already tight course, even tighter. Additionally, 15 new bunkers were added, bringing the total number of sand traps to 96, three of the 10 water hazards were enlarged, and more than 125 trees were planted on the course. Overall, the course yardage increased by more than 200 yards to its current length of 7,244 yards. After the renovation, the course’s rating went up to a 75.9 with a slope rating of 138.
  • Last year TPC Southwind played to an average of 70.52 and ranked 11th hardest.  The year before the scoring average was 70.63 and ranked 15th, in 2016 it was 70.93 and ranked 10th hardest on the PGA Tour.  In 2015 TPC Southwind played to the same average of 70.93 and was ranked 9th hardest.  In 2014 the course average was 70.718, three-quarters of a shot over par and ranked 12th on the PGA Tour.  The previous year, 2013 is was about the same as TPC Southwind played to an average of 70.760 and ranked 14th on the PGA Tour.  If players are looking for a breather during the week, they will find no solace at Southwind as last year 7 of the 9 holes on the back nine, played over par. The tight, difficult front 9 seems like a precursor to the hellacious back. The trouble begins immediately, with numbers 10, 11, and 12. The trio provides a degree of difficulty; the par 4 10th played to a 4.009 average last year. The next hole can be tricky; it’s a 162-yard, par 3 that bears a close resemblance to the famed 17th hole island green at TPC Sawgrass.  The only difference is the target on this hole is double the size of the 17th at Sawgrass.  Another tough hole is number 14, a 239-yard par 3 that is annually on the list of “Most Difficult Par 3’s on Tour.”   The difficulty of the back 9 reaches a crescendo with holes 17 and 18.  Both par 4s, the 17th is a 490-yard par 4 that was the 218th toughest hole on the PGA Tour playing to a 4.130 average.  The 18th played the second hardest hole at Southwind as it played to a 4.236 average, the 69th toughest hole on the PGA Tour in 2018.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at TPC Southwind.

This is based on the most important stats for the TPC Southwind, based on data from last year’s FedEx St. Jude Classic and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2019.
Now thanks to money and politics there is a change for the better coming to the Memphis area. They have had a very successful tournament, the FedEx St. Jude Classic which had been a mainstay on the PGA Tour since 1958 and had it’s home at TPC Southwind since 1989. The event was the week before the U.S. Open, but the problem was they couldn’t attract a lot of marquee names to the event. So when Bridgestone didn’t want to sponsor their WGC event, FedEx was willing to step up and take over the sponsorship if it would move to Memphis. So they had a deal with the tour who killed the St. Jude Classic and replaced it with the old WGC-Bridgestone. The only sad thing was the Akron area lost the PGA Tour after hosting a PGA Tour event just about every year (except 2002) since the 50s.
Firestone South had the reputation of being a tough course, but over the course of the last decade and a half, it lost a lot of it’s luster and bite. While that was happening, TPC Southwind has continued to hold strong as a tough course. Example of that, last year Firestone South played to a 69.905 average, the 17th toughest course on the course. Meanwhile TPC Southwind played to a 70.520 average a full half a shot harder and the 11th toughest course on the PGA Tour.
Showing how tough TPC Southwind has been, in the last eight years, it’s never been higher than 15th on the list of toughest courses of the year, in 2015 the course played almost a shot harder than it’s par of 70 and it’s 70.93 average ranked it 9th. In 2016 the course played to the same 70.93 average and ranked 10th. In 2017 it again was over par at a touch over a half a shot an round with a 70.63 average making it the 15th hardest course of the year. So for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational it will be played on a tougher course.
So why is that happening? The course is very tight with very difficult Bermuda rough. Also the weather in June, the time it was played in, was usually dry which made the course run more, thus getting players in more trouble with drives rolling into rough and tough greens to hit. Memphis got a big soaking last week from Tropical Storm Barry which hit Louisiana last week but it has dried out. For the week of the tournament the weather will be dry as each day will be hot and dry, except for Sunday which could see scattered Thunderstorms

So getting it in the fairway is critical and the course has always been demanding in greens hit. As an example, TPC Southwind ranked the 10th hardest course on the PGA Tour in 2018 to hit fairways. In the last seven years the highest it’s ever been was 11th in 2017 and in 2014, and it’s been in the top-ten, four of the last seven years. The same with greens hit, last year 59.30 of the greens were hit as it ranked 5th toughest on the PGA Tour in 2017 55.68% of the greens were hit as it ranked the 6th hardest on tour. Over the course of the last eight years, it’s never been higher than 9th. So you can see why more and more players will find TPC Southwind a challenge test.

In looking at our four categories, our first for TPC Southwind are strokes gained tee-to-green. Last year the course ranked T-11th while winner Dustin Johnson was 1st. In 2015 the course was 6th while 2015 champion Fabian Gomez ranked 1st. Next significant is one putt percentage, TPC Southwind ranked 45th last year and in 2017 while it was 47th in 2016, meaning that players had many one-putts. Johnson ranked T-30th last year while in 2016 he was T-52nd while Gomez ranked T-2nd in that stat in 2015.
Our third important stat is scrambling; players will miss greens and have to get it up and down. The course ranked 31st last year, Johnson was 4th last year, T-24th in 2016 and Gomez was 8th in 2015. Our last category is birdie average last year it ranked 10th, in 2017 it ranked T-10th, it was 14th in 2016, and 2015 was 11th which means it was hard to make birdies as in the field the average was 3.27 last year, 3.11 in 2017, 3.16 in 2016 and 3.15 in 2015. For Johnson he averaged 5.25 last year at TPC Southwind which ranked 1st, in 2016 was 5.00 and was T-1st while Gamez averaged 5.00 and was T-2nd in 2015.
So yes TPC Southwind can be considered a shotmaker type of course, and we will probably get a shotmaker winner.

*Strokes Gained tee-to-green: Course may have only been the 15th hardest course on tour, but you need to hit it long and straight along with hitting lot’s of greens as it ranked 3rd in this category last year. So this is important to find a player that will do this

*One-Putt Percentage: The figure that shows how many times a player one putts a green.

*Scrambling: The percent of the time a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better.

*Birdie Average: Average number of birdies made over the course of a round

The 50 of the 64 players from this year’s FedEx St. Jude field with stats from 2019:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is a link to the other 54 players in the FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Brooks Koepka – $11,600
  • Dustin Johnson – $11,400
  • Rory McIlroy – $11,100
  • Justin Thomas – $10,700
  • Jon Rahm – $10,400
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $10,200
  • Patrick Cantlay – $9,800
  • Justin Rose – $9,500
  • Xander Schauffele – $9,300
  • Henrik Stenson – $9,100
  • Matt Kuchar – $9,000

Not the best of fields, but still a good field with a lot of good choices.  One is Brooks Koepka at $11,600, he regularly played in the FedEx St. Jude Classic finishing runner-up in 2016 and T-3rd in 2015. So you can base your opinion that he likes the course and should do well.  Be interesting to see how he bounces back after a T-4th at the British Open, there is that chance on him being tired, still have to take him.  Now as for Dustin Johnson at $11,400 I say no.  Now many will take him based on the fact that he won twice at TPC Southwind, but I think his putting, which has been terrible since winning in Mexico will continue to keep him from having a good week.  Rory McIlroy at $11,100 is a go for me.  Yes he was terrible in the first round of the British Open, yes he missed the cut but he played great in the second round shooting 65.  I think he is desperately looking for some form of redemption for Portrush and winning would be a good cure.  Now Justin Thomas at $10,700 is a go, know he hasn’t played at TPC Southwind but he played good at the British Open.  Jon Rahm at $10,400 is also a good choice, has played great since his T-3rd at the U.S. Open, did win at Irish Open.  Also like Tommy Fleetwood at $10,200, his game has steadily improved to the point that he was runner-up at the British Open.  Ranks 16th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and 4th in scrambling.  Another good choice is Patrick Cantlay at $9,800, he is coming to a course that better suits his game and he is 3rd in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, 2nd in Scrambling and 9th in Birdie Average.  Justin Rose at $9,500 is also someone to take this week, was in the running at both the U.S. Open and British Open, both times faded in the final round, he is due to have four consistent rounds very soon.  Xander Schauffele at $9,300 is good, had a tough time at the British Open but he was madder at the R&A for the problems with his driver that it tore him down for the week.  While we are at it, also like Henrik Stenson at $9,100 and Matt Kuchar at $9,000.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Right off the bat like Hideki Matsuyama at $8,900 because TPC Southwind is tailor made for his game, he ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and 22nd in Greens in Regulation.  Now Shane Lowry at $8,500 seems under priced at $8,500 but in reality he is having so much fun winning the British Open I can’t see him getting it together to play well.  Tony Finau is a good choice, his game has come back and he is playing great again.  Gary Woodland is at $8,100 and I would take a pass on him, sorry it’s too close to hi wife having twins.  Do like Chez Reavie at $7,900, he was T-6th last year and T-4th in 2017 at FedEx St. Jude.  Is 2nd in Driving Accuracy and despite being just 60th in Greens in Regulation he is 7th in Proximity to Hole which means he gets it close from the fairway.  Also like Rafael Cabrera-Bello at $7,900, he played well in his only start in 2017 with a T-4th.  Two other good picks, Danny Willett at $7,600. despite never playing in this event, he comes in playing very well including a T-6th at the British Open.  Injuries are a thing of the past and he is ready to bust out again on the world stage and win another big event like he won the Masters three years ago.  Last but not least I like Billy Horschel at $7,500.  Been in the top-ten in four of his last five starts at TPC Southwind, he is our darkhorse for the week, 59th in Greens in Regulation, 23rd in total putting.

Some of the “bargains” this week at the FedEx St. Jude

Alex Noren at $7,300 is worth a go, played good last week at the British Open.  The same with Kevin Kisner who is undervalued at $7,200.  Another peron that did ok at the British is Jim Furyk and at $7,000 he is worth a pick.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the FedEx St. Jude:

Key stat for the winner:

Major changes came to TPC Southwind 11 years ago making it more stringent.  It’s a bit longer than before, but the landing areas in the fairways have always been generous and have stayed the same.   This doesn’t mean the course is a rollover since it ranked 11th last year on the PGA Tour in accuracy. There is thick rough to contend with, but again those that hit it accurately will score low this week.  However, the course is hard in hitting greens as last year, it was 5th and in 2018 and 2016 it was the 6th hardest greens to hit on tour, while in 2015 it was the 7th hardest, in 2014 it was 6th while in 2013 it was the 2nd hardest.   One thing that all past champions have in common — except for Ben Crane, Dicky Pride, Notah Begay, Jeff Maggert and Brian Gay — is the knack for hitting greens.  Most of the champions since 1990 not only did well the week of the FedEx but also in the year they won the chart below shows:

  • In 2018 Dustin Johnson hit 49 of 72 greens at St. Jude, ranked T-10th, for the year he ranked 9th.
  • In 2017 Daniel Berger hit 49 of 72 greens at St. Jude, ranked T-10th, for the year he ranked T-64th.
  • In 2016 Daniel Berger hit 54 of 72 greens at St. Jude, ranked T-1st, for the year he ranked 46th.
  • In 2015 Fabian Gomez hit 49 of 72 greens at St. Jude, ranked T8th, for the year he ranked 157th.
  • In 2014 Ben Crane hit 42 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T47th, for the year he ranked T130th.
  • In 2013 Harris English hit 48 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T9th, for the year he ranked 59th.
  • In 2012 Dustin Johnson hit 50 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T4th, for the year he ranked 81st.
  • In 2011 Harrison Frazar hit 50 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T8th, for the year he ranked 164th.
  • In 2010 Lee Westwood hit 47 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T9th, for the year he ranked 37th.
  • In 2009 Brian Gay hit 49 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T19th, for the year he ranked 168th.
  • In 2008 Justin Leonard hit 45 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T11th, for the year he ranked 54th.
  • In 2007 Woody Austin hit 52 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked 2nd, for the year he ranked 67th.
  • In 2006 Jeff Maggert hit 39 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T47th, for the year he ranked 98th.
  • In 2005 Justin Leonard hit 48 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T4th, for the year he ranked 94th.
  • In 2004 David Toms hit 51 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T1st, for the year he ranked T20th.
  • In 2003 David Toms hit 58 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked 1st, for the year he ranked 39th.
  • In 2002 Len Mattiace< hit 53 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T11th, for the year he ranked 75th.
  • In 2001 Bob Estes hit 50 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T22nd, for the year he ranked 45th.
  • In 2000 Notah Begay III hit 50 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T16th, for the year he ranked 104th.
  • In 1999 Ted Tryba hit 58 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked 1st, for the year he ranked 60th.
  • In 1998 Nick Price hit 51 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T8th, for the year he ranked 89th.
  • In 1997 Greg Norman hit 59 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked 1st, for the year he ranked 10th.
  • In 1996 John Cook hit 61 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked 1st, for the year he ranked 9th.
  • In 1995 Jim Gallagher, Jr. hit 50 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T26th, for the year he ranked 66th.
  • In 1994 Dicky Pride hit 54 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T14th, for the year he ranked T152n.
  • In 1993 Nick Price hit 55 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T12th, for the year he ranked 6th.
  • In 1992 Jay Haas hit 57 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked 1st, for the year he ranked 36th.
  • In 1991 Fred Couples hit 47 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked T29th, for the year he ranked 16th.
  • In 1999 Tom Kite hit 54 of 72 greens at the St. Jude ranked 1st, for the year he ranked 3rd.
Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

In picking a winner, it should be more feel than strategy.  The most important stat to look for is players high up in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green.  It’s no surprise to see that ten of the last 15 winners have been in the top-ten in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, with seven of them leading that stat including last year’s winner Dustin Johnson and 2017 champion Daniel Berger so look for players that rank high in this stat.

Another trend is the non-marquee name winning.  Now Daniel Berger was not a non-marquee winner in 2017, but in the last decade at Memphis, the list of non-marquee winners includes Fabian Gomez, Ben Crane Harrison Farzar, Brian Gay, Woody Austin, and Jeff Maggert as non-marquee winners.  Look at 2009 winner, Brian Gay, and 2011 winner Harrison Frazar along with 2013 winner Harris English that is a perfect example of what I mean.  So don’t look for that marquee name to be on top of the leaderboard on Sunday, especially this year in which the tournament lacks marquee names.  Now to be far in the past there were a lot of non-marquee names playing in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but now the cream of golf will play and may change this trend.

In trying to pick a winner, look at those that seem to be just starting to play well.  Maybe this means those that have had a good finish in the British Open last week or John Deere two weeks ago will prevail.  Look at how the last couple of winners have played, look for that kind of player to do well.  Also, look for a player that has had tournaments ruined by one poor round.

Hitting greens will be at a premium. Just like in a U.S. Open, hitting lots of greens goes a long way in this event.  In the last 21 years, six champions led the greens hit category and 16 of the 21 were in the top-11 of this category.  Look for the winner to hit globs of greens this week.

Look for a winning score of 268 this week, that’s the average winning total since TPC Southwind was first used in 1989.

Since 1989, only six champions (Dicky Pride in 1994, Notah Begay III in 2000, Dustin Johnson in 2012, Harris English in 2013 and Daniel Berger in 2016 & ’17) were younger than 30.  Six of them were over 40, the oldest being Woody Austin in 2007 at 43 years, 4 months, Greg Norman in 1997 at 42 years, 4 months and 2006 winner Maggert who was 42 years, 3 months.  Last year’s winner Dustin Johnson was 33 years, 11 months while in 2016 (also won in 2017) Daniel Berger was 23 years, 2 months and 5 days old making him the tied for the youngest winner in Memphis.  Bob Lunn in 1968 was also 23 years, 2 months and 5 days old .  Another oldie was in 2011 when Harrison Frazar was 40 days short of his 40th birthday while Brian Gay in 2010 was 37 years, one month old.

Before 2008, winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic had been part of big seasons for seven of the nine winners. Each had finished the season ranked in the top 25 on the PGA Tour money list for the year that they were victorious at the TPC Southwind (Ben Crane was 67th last year). The players are Notah Begay III (2000, 20th), Bob Estes (2001, 9th), Len Mattiace (2002, 18th), David Toms (2003, 8th; 2004, 22nd), Justin Leonard (2005, 12th) and Woody Austin (2007, 15th).  Maggert broke that streak when he finished 60th on the money list.  In 2008 Justin Leonard was 33rd on the money list while 2009 winner Brian Gay was 13th.   2010 was a return to the winner having a big season, no two ways about it Lee Westwood had a monster season in 2010.  Same with Harrison Frazar who was on the verge of quitting the PGA Tour before being saved with his FedEx win in 2011 while Johnson in 2012 finished 17th on the money list.

Last but not least the weather.  As we have seen in the British Open rain can play a major role in things.  The players will be going from temperatures in the mid 60s to temperatures in the 90s, quite a difference.In the last month, rain has created havoc for the last couple of tournaments, last week Memorial just finished thanks to them moving up the tee times on Sunday.  So what will be the weather this week?  For Memphis it will be close to perfect each day, temperatures in the high to mid 80s, no rain, and very little wind.  Sunday there is a chance of thunderstorms.  Memphis is always questionable with hot, muggy days that sometimes have rough thunderstorms in the afternoon but that’s not going to happen this week.

Who to watch for at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T6 T5 Win T27 T5 T6 T9 T68

Desperately looking for redemption after what happened at Portrush.

Brooks Koepka

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
5 T17 WD 6

Played regularly in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, was T-3rd in 2015 and runner-up in 2016

Danny Willett

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
76 17 T50

Injuries are a thing of the past and he is ready to bust out again on the world stage and win another big event like he won the Masters three years ago. Has been in the top-12 in three of his last four starts including a T-6th at the British Open and T-12th at the U.S. Open.

Best of the rest:

Tommy Fleetwood

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T14 T28

Game has steadily improved to the point that he was runner-up at the British Open. Always been a streaky player who seems to play well in three-week stretches. Ranks 16th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and 4th in scrambling.

Chez Reavie

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T52

Was T-6th last year and T-4th in 2017 at FedEx St. Jude. Is 2nd in Driving Accuracy and despite being just 60th in Greens in Regulation he is 7th in Proximity to Hole which means he gets it close from the fairway.

Justin Rose

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T63 T46 3 T4 T17 T5 T33 T19 T29 T27 T2

Was in the running at both the U.S. Open and British Open, both times faded in the final round. Due to have four consistent rounds very soon.

Jon Rahm

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 T28

Has played great since his T-3rd at the U.S. Open, did win at Irish Open. 63rd in Greens hit, 7th in Birdie Average.

Solid contenders

Patrick Cantlay

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T6

Coming to a course that better suits his game, is 3rd in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, 2nd in Scrambling and 9th in Birdie Average

Hideki Matsuyama

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T39 Win T42 37 T12 T21

Comes to a course tailor-made for his game, ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and 22nd in Greens in Regulation.

Billy Horschel

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T74 33 T44

Been in the top-ten in four of his last five starts at TPC Southwind. Our darkhorse for the week, 59th in Greens in Regulation, 23rd in total putting.

Long shots that could come through:

Alex Noren

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T31 T28 T53 T53

Played well at times last week at Portrush.

Brandt Snedeker

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T21 33 T12 T33 T50 T33 T43

Still looking for his game, watch him this week he may of found it.

Jim Furyk

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T42 3 T15 T9 T2 T23 T6 T51 T27

Was steady at Portrush last week, game coming around.

Not this week:

Dustin Johnson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T3 T17 Win 53 T33 T19 T48 15 T22

Plays very well at TPC Southwind, probably better than anyone else in the field with two wins. His putting has totally torpedoed his year, is 185th in making putts from 4 to 8 feet.

Gary Woodland

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 T63 57 T19 T45

Mind will be on the birth of his twins which is coming soon.

Shane Lowry

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T36 Win T48 77

After a day of visiting all of the top bars and establishments in Dublin on Monday, Shane found it prudent to withdraw from the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.  It was for the best, it would have been a physical impossibility for him after winning the British to even contemplate playing a tournament 4,000 miles away from Ireland.

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