Last Updated: 2019-07-24
WGC- FEDEX ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL PREVIEW
This week players will compete in a brand new tournament at a familiar location, the World Golf Championships – Fedex St. Jude Invitational held at TPC Southland in Memphis, Tennessee. For a long time this tournament was played just prior to the U.S. Open, which always creates an interesting handicapping scenario. With the new schedule change, the tournament has been turned into a WGC event, which means the field will be extremely strong given the purse (only Majors pay more) even though it follows The British. Thankfully, unlike the British, we have years of course knowledge to help in finding edges. Before we preview TPC Southland and get into the plays, lets recap the British Open
BRITISH OPEN RECAP
Royal Portrush did not disappoint in hosting Northern Ireland’s first British since 1951. Although Shane Lowry running away on Saturday set up an anticlimactic finish, I couldn’t look away from an Irishmen winning so close to where he grew up. Awesome stuff! Last week’s Outright plays really came down to Brooks not being able to match Lowry on the greens. Considering how many birdie opportunities burned edges, a T4 has to be a letdown for the Worlds #1. Thankfully his performance was enough to sweep all the head to heads. It was necessary because a miracle round from Molinari on Sunday had him leapfrogging players even though he made the cut right on the numbers. Alas, that is golf betting, especially at the British Open. Onto the WGC St. Jude!
Players this week face a very difficult test at TPC Southwind. Although DJ did crazy DJ stuff last year and won with a 19 under effort, the next closest competitors were Putnam at 13 under and JB Holmes at 9. These latter two scores are much more in line with previous renditions here, reflected in the fact the course ranked from 9th-14th in difficulty the 5 seasons prior to last year. TPC Southwind plays as a Par 70 and roughly 7200 yards, making it the longest par 70 these guys will see all season. Off the tee, players face some of the most difficult fairways to hit fairways on Tour. With that said, every player will be missing these fairways, and the rough isn’t penal enough to give slightly array shots no chance at reaching the green so players who are good out of the rough should have success. Speaking of the flat surface, ultra fast and undulated Berumda greens awaits the field this week. Finally, it is important to note that since 2004 TPC Southwind has had the most water balls of any course, roughly 1500 more than TPC Sawgrass, site of THE PLAYERS. What does this mean? Typically, chaos and high variance as an arrant shot can be a penalty rather than an up and down opportunity. Keep this in mind when allocating your funds this week.
I’m starting my model this week with approach stats (this will be the case most weeks) as the last 8 winners averaged 12th in SG:APP, the highest correlation with winning. I will also be looking at the Good Drives statistic which accounts for players who either hit the fairway, or have a green in regulation out of the rough. Finally, TPC Southwind tests every facet of the game so I will incorporate some scrambling statistics as getting up and down is always a factor when playing difficult tracks.
Patrick Cantlay +2200 – With his win at The Memorial, Cantlay finally gave me the big win I was waiting to see. The sky is really the limit for the former #1 Amateur in the World. His all around game is just insane, having gained at least 1 stroke in every strokes gained category over his last 10 rounds. Avoiding the water this week will be key and Cantlay’s ability to hit fairways and greens is elite. He comes in 4th over his last 24 rounds, 7th over his last 12 and 4th over his last 8 in strokes gained ball striking which combines strokes off the tee and approach. Now, watching him can be agonizing as he is probably the slowest player this side of JB Holmes, but if you’re watching him make you money it may be bearable. Although he is being priced as the elite player he is, he is a perfect fit for this course and I fully expect him to be in contention come Sunday.
Webb Simpson +3500 – Webb has displayed excellent form since his T5 at The Masters and his game is perfectly suited for a course where keeping it in play is paramount. Last years winner at THE PLAYERS (I think TPC Sawgrass is a good comp here?), Webb has shown the ability to win in tough fields. More appealing is that he has gained strokes on approach in his last 7 starts and when this is combined with the fact he is one of the straightest drivers of the golf ball on tour, the ball striking numbers really pop out. Webb went to a dark place after his belly putter was taken away by the USGA (let the kids play!) but over the last two years he has really figured it out, going with the left arm anchor technique that has allowed him to gain an average of 2 strokes putting per round over his last 20 rounds. All the boxes are checked for Simpson and I would love a share at anywhere from 30/1 or above.
Corey Conners Top 20 +500 – Lets dig a little deeper into the field for a top 20 play that I feel is mispriced. First, if you’re placing this bet MAKE SURE your book does not grade a tie with Dead Heat Rules and instead pays out ties in full. Second, there are only 64 golfers in the field, with about 5 from the Asian Tour whom you can probably pencil into the DFL spots right now. Now, with Conners we have a player who’s ball striking numbers will astound you. In a field where 45 of the worlds top 50 golfers will be participating, here is where Conners ranks in strokes gained ball striking:
5th over his last 36 rounds
9th over his last 24
13th over his last 12
and 3rd over his last 8
How hasn’t this guy won everything?! Well, he putts as if he has never seen a putter before, basically losing strokes in every tournament this year outside of his victory at the Valero. There is a catch however. He loses the LEAST amount of strokes on Bermuda greens which are found not only at the Valero, but also here at TPC Southwind. I do beg you, for your own sanity, not to follow him on shot link because you will absolutely tilt at the missed 3 footers, but for this bet to easily cash we only need him to break even putting and at 5/1 I am willing to take that action.
Be sure to check out my full card at the bottom of the page.
2u Noren -1.5 strokes (ev) over Mickleson – Look, I’m not much of a Noren guy. Actually I find myself fading him more often than not due to his inconsistent iron play. But the reality is that despite being the best thing that’s ever happened to Twitter, Phil absolutely sucks at golf right now. The 48 year old’s skills seem to be declining, and the only guys he is beating in the Good Drives stat mentioned above is Jordan Spieth (more on him later). His inability to keep the ball in play and hit greens is a recipe for disaster at the challenging TPC Southwind. Further, Noren has actually showed some life! His 11th at the British Open last weekend was on the back of a solid ball striking performance, gaining over 7 strokes in the category. He has gained strokes OTT in 7 straight tournaments and if his iron form continues he should have no problem dispatching Old Man Phil. I will gladly lay the strokes here or take a piece of the moneyline at -120.
2u Stenson -2.5 Strokes (-110) o Spieth – I will not be fooled by Spieth’s T20 at the British Open. Nope! This is a guy who has lost strokes either OTT or APP in every single tournament he has played on Tour since mid February. Re-read that sentence. Now, he had a stretch of top 10s where he putted absolutely lights out, basically getting up and down from anywhere, but that simply will not work here. His typical errant shots will be finding hazards and the up and downs will be for bogey rather than par. Then you have Stenson, who was highlighted last week and is also coming off a T20 at the British. Stenson once again gained strokes on approach last week (shocker) and there isn’t a good reason that form won’t continue. Typically I don’t like laying -2.5 strokes, but the moneyline is sitting at -160 and my numbers make it closer to -200. Value is value and I fully expect Stenson to continue his hot striking and Spieth to finally run into a wall.
1u Casey -1.5 Strokes (-110) over Oosthuizen – This is a play on Casey’s consistency and Oostie’s lack there of. Since missing the cut at The Masters, Casey has 5 straight tournaments where he has gained strokes in each of the four major strokes gained categories. He has also the King of the Valspar (back to back champ), another tough, tight track that requires precision tee to green. Oostie on the other hand, is all over the place form wise. He relies predominately on his chipping and sand play to gain strokes on the field and if he puts himself in that position this week, it will mean water more often than not. I am willing to bet his around the green game won’t be there to save him this week and fully feel Casey’s floor at TPC Southwin is a top 20.
That it it for this week’s breakdown! Thank you for reading and as always, feel free to shoot me any questions on Twitter @jmazzjd!
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