This week, a few golfers will have to make the trip back from the Olympics in Tokyo to Memphis, Tenn., for the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind. The course is a par 70, measuring 7,233 yards. The greens will be Bermuda this week.
The course has been a host to a PGA TOUR tournament for three decades, but its WGC Invitational status started in 2019. The past two winners of the newly-minted tournament are Brooks Koepka (+1200, $10,600) and Justin Thomas (+1800, $9,900). Thomas is part of the group making their way back from the Olympics and could be pretty exhausted from the trip. This group includes gold medal winner Xander Schauffele (+1400; $10,800), Collin Morikawa (+1200, $11,000), Viktor Hovland (+2800, $9,700), Paul Casey (+2800, $9,000), Abraham Ancer (+3500; $8,300), Patrick Reed (+4000, $8,700), and a handful of others who are eligible to play this week. Choosing to roster (or fade) the group of Olympians could be leverage in another no-cut event.
TPC Southwind is quite hefty for a par 70. With only two par 5s, a lot of the distance comes from seven par 4s, which measure over 450 yards; the par 4, 17th hole sits at 505 yards. Par 4 scoring overall with a concentration in par 4 efficiency from 450 to 500 yards should be prerequisites to success this week.
The fairways are tight, but being inaccurate with the driver isn’t going to be as penal as other tracks with similar compositions. There are 75 sand bunkers and 11 water hazards that come into play on 11 holes. Approach will always be necessary, especially here with some of the smallest greens on TOUR, averaging 4,300 sq. feet. The golfers we roster must be precise with their irons this week. Koepka was first in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and the rest of the top five in approach finished no worse than 20th. Thomas was second in 2020 en route to victory.
The weather can get hot and humid, which we saw last week at Kasumigaseki in Japan. Golfers must be patient in identifying and seizing the correct scoring opportunities. Both par 5s are viable eagle chances and holes the guys need to score on this week. The top 5 in birdie or better gained over the previous 24 rounds (starting with highest) is Morikawa, Jason Kokrak (+6000, $7,800), Scottie Scheffler (+2800, $9,100), Hovland and Jordan Spieth (+1200, $10,400).
This tournament is a no-cut event like last week, which means all golfers, barring a WD, will have four rounds to accumulate DraftKings points. A vital strategy in these formats is differentiating your lineups. An option is not deploying the entirety of your $50,000 salary cap. Most lineups will try to get as close to using every last dollar when constructing their rosters. With the top players in the world teeing it up this week, there’s going to be value in each salary range. Fading the popular golfers (not all of them) in these ranges, leaving salary on the proverbial table and rostering golfers who fit the key statistic criteria should point us in the right direction this week.
Brooks Koepka (+1200 to Win, $10,600 on DraftKings)
Koepka’s 65 on Sunday at St. George’s tied for the lowest round and a reminder of what he can do against the best golfers in the world on a big stage. While this week isn’t a major, it’s close. Koepka’s already won this event in its first iteration as a WGC Invitational and should be in a great position to do it again this week after finishing runner-up at TPC Southwind last year. Brooks ranks fourth in birdies over the previous 50 rounds and second in approach over the same timeframe.
Scottie Scheffler (+2800 to Win, $9,100 on DraftKings)
The 18th-ranked player in the world has a lot to be happy about this season, with three top 8s and a top 20 in all four majors. A 15th at this event last season, a top 5 at the WGC-Workday Championship at Concession and a runner-up at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Scheffler needs to be considered based on his recent WGC finishes alone. Still, if you’re into current form, you’ll find it comforting to know Scottie ranks top 30 in approach, 16th in par 4 efficiency from 450 to 500 yards and 13th in putting over the previous 24 rounds.
Sergio Garcia (+7000 to Win, $7,300 on DraftKings)
Garcia hasn’t had a ton of success at WGCs, but he’s hitting it too well not to be considered this week. Over the previous 24 rounds, Garcia ranks seventh in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and gained 11.7 strokes total in approach over his last two tournaments. His putting has been atrocious, losing an average of 1.6 strokes on the green over the previous five tournaments. Still, Garcia’s last win came off a positive putting week where he lost strokes on the greens in the last nine previous tournaments. His ball-striking is there; we just need a positive putting week to capture Garcia’s value this week.
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