The World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will play with a 66-man field this year as 48 of the top 50 golfers in the OWGR will be in attendance. As with all WGC events, the field will be slightly different than a regular PGA TOUR event as it will go mostly by OWGR status rather than PGA TOUR merit standings. Additional International qualifiers are also added, so that means players like Min Woo Lee and Wade Ormsby, whom you’d almost never see at a regular PGA TOUR stop, will be competing here.
As for absences, Jon Rahm will be out again due to COVID-19 after having to pull out of the Olympics. Bryson DeChambeau will be back in the field though as he got cleared fast enough to play (after also having to pull out of the Olympics). The last two champions of this event in Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka will both here as well. Koepka had last week off while Thomas could only manage a T22 at the Olympics. An important note, like all WGC stops, this week is a no-cut event so all players on the start list will get to play four rounds.
TPC Southwind—Memphis, Tennessee
Par 70, 7,237; Greens: Bermuda
TPC Southwind is a tricky, tree-lined PGA TOUR venue that features plenty of water and smaller than average Bermuda greens. While it bears some similarities to other recent courses like TPC River Highlands (Travelers) and Harbour Town GC (RBC Heritage), it has generally been a much tougher venue than those two over its lifespan. Southwind isn’t an overly long course, but there are very tight fairways and numerous doglegs that really stretch out some of the holes. On average, fairways here are 5-7% harder to hit than an average PGA TOUR stop, with greens being equally tough to find. The course has produced winners at 16 and 13 under par the last two seasons and last year played as the 14th toughest course on the PGA TOUR (out of 41), yielding a 69.555 scoring average.
As a traditional par 70, TPC Southwind has just two par 5s which play as the two easiest holes on the course. The 16th will be reachable in two by almost everyone and is probably the only hole on the course where players will lose ground if they don’t walk away with at least a birdie. The course features four par 3s as well, two of which play as “island style” greens. As for the par 4s, there are six of them that measure in at 450 yards or longer and only two that come in under 400 yards. While this might not faze players given today’s technology, the doglegs on several of these holes mean longer approaches are often necessary to reach the smaller than normal greens. Despite the doglegs, several of these par 4s play tough off the tee with water in play on either side.
These longer holes will put a lot of pressure on all facets of a player’s game and winners here generally tended to do well throughout the bag at this venue. 2019 winner, Brooks Koepka, gained an insane +9.3 strokes on the greens here in 2019 but also gained +3.7 on APP and OTT. Last season, Justin Thomas actually lost strokes putting in 2020 but was the best in the field tee to green and gained +7.7 strokes on approach alone. TPC Southwind isn’t overly long, but it’s a fair test that will challenge the best in the world to hit good approaches and be accurate off the tee, or suffer big penalties.
2021 weather outlook: Since this event moved to August it has been known for perfect weather. This year is no different as we have sunshine right from the start of the week until the very end. Highs will be in the low 90s most days and we’ll have virtually no threat of rain in 2021. The wind here can pick up on occasion and gusts are expected to gain strength as the week goes on. The final day has gusts over 12 mph and with the hot weather (and firm greens) we could see scoring here get harder as the event goes on. I’d expect early starters to potentially have a bigger advantage as the week progresses here—due to the wind and hot weather—so take that into account for DraftKings Showdown lineups as the week progresses.
Last 5 winners
**Old FedEx St. Jude Classic results (played at TPC Southwind)
2018—Dustin Johnson -19 (over Andrew Putnam -13)
2017—Daniel Berger -10 (over Whee Kim and Charl Schwartzel -9)
2016—Daniel Berger -13 (over Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Steve Stricker -10)
***WGC results (beginning 2019 onwards)
2020—Justin Thomas -13 (Over four players at -10)
2019—Brooks Koepka -16 (over Webb Simpson -13)
- Of the previous eight winners of this event, only one (Ben Crane) had played the FedEx St. Jude Classic (at TPC Southwind) the year prior to his win and made the cut.
- The last four winners at TPC Southwind had an average rank of 18th in SG: TTG stats for the year of their win; the last two winners averaged 6th in this stat.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
Justin Thomas (2020 at 13-under par)
2020 lead-in form (T18-T2-MC-T8-T10)
· Thomas had one of the more impressive wins here in 2020 as he beat the field by multiple strokes despite losing strokes to the field on the greens. He gained over +13-strokes Tee to Green for the week and was third in SG: Approach stats and 2nd in SG: Around the Green stats.
· Thomas’ win was a stark contrast to 2019 when Brooks Koepka gained +9.3 strokes putting for the week and ranked just 11th in SG: Approach stats, but also won the event by three strokes.
· Six par 4s will play between 450-500 yards this week making par 4 efficiency from this distance something to consider.
· Players landing inside the top-20 and upwards have generally out-paced the field in greens hit as well as fairways gained throughout the week. Considering the amount of water in play, this is the only way to truly avoid big numbers this week. While putting and short games remain somewhat volatile here, year-to-year, consistent ball-striking is almost always a recipe for a great week at this venue.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Louis Oosthuizen +2000 and $9,600
- Hideki Matsuyama +2800 and $9,400
- Patrick Cantlay +2800 and $9,300
- Patrick Reed +4000 and $8,700
- Matt Fitzpatrick +2800 and $8,800
- Tony Finau +3500 and $8,900
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Dustin Johnson (best finishes: win-2018, 2012): Johnson has won at TPC Southwind twice in his career and also carries numerous other top-finishes at this venue on his record, including a 5th place finish here from 2016 where he fired a final round 63. He’s the lead course horse but is coming off a poor effort in Minnesota where he missed the cut.
2. Daniel Berger (best finishes: win-2016, 2017, T2-2020): Berger won at TPC Southwind on his first visit here when it was still hosting the non-WGC version of this event. He’s a great par 70 player who also tends to excel on Bermuda greens. He finished T2 here last season, his first time competing at the venue as a WGC.
3. Brooks Koepka (best finishes: win-2019, T2-2016, T3-2015): Brooks won in dominant fashion here in 2019, besting the field by three strokes. On top of winning, he’s also picked up numerous top-5 finishes at the old FedEx event. Brooks has finished T6 or better now in four of his last five PGA TOUR starts and has the course history here to feel confident in him as a DFS pay-up target.
4. Matt Fitzpatrick (best finishes: T6-2020, T4-2019): Fitzpatrick was in the hunt for the win after three rounds last season at this event but faltered on Sunday. He gained an incredible +10 strokes putting here last season and has now finished top-10 here the last two seasons. He’s a pure course history target after finishing T26 at the Open a few weeks ago.
5. Webb Simpson (best finishes: T12-2020, 2nd-2019): TPC Southwind definitely fits the profile as a solid course for Simpson, who typically relies on his irons and putting to gain on the field. He finished runner-up at the WGC event here in 2019 and gained over +4.0 strokes on his approaches in both those starts.
1. Xander Schauffele ($10,800; win-T26): The recent gold medalist at the Olympics deserves the top spot after going through such a long run of solid play. He’s finished T7 or better in six of his last 12 starts.
2. Louis Oosthuizen ($9,600; T2-T3): Oosthuizen followed up his T3 at the Open Championship with a T2 in Minnesota at the 3M Open. He’s now finished T3 or better at the last three majors and has finished T7 or better in five of his last seven starts worldwide.
3. Brooks Koepka ($10,600; T6-T5): Koepka ranks 2nd in this field in strokes gained tee to green stats over the last 50 rounds. He’s finished T6 or better in four of his last five starts on the PGA TOUR and looks to be rounding back to full health as we enter the playoffs.
4. Collin Morikawa ($11,000; T4-win): Morikawa gave a valiant effort at the Olympics but came up just short of the medals. The Open winner ranks first in SG: TTG and Ball striking stats in this field over the last 50 rounds.
5. Cameron Champ ($6,700; win-T11): Champ broke out of a prolonged slump with his third PGA TOUR win a couple of weeks ago in Minnesota. The big hitter has strung together big weeks in back-to-back starts now.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Hovland and Berger good anchors
This field has good talent right through to the very bottom which should make going balanced pretty easy this week. Both Viktor Hovland ($9,700) and Daniel Berger ($9,200) have been in great form lately, particularly coming through for DFS players in the big events. Both were top 15 at the last major and Berger’s course history alone makes him one of the standout values this week at under $9.5K. After those two, Webb Simpson ($8,500) and Harris English ($7,600) certainly have to be given some respect. English is up to top-15 in the OWGR while Simpson broke a mini-slump with a T19 at the Open. Simpson also has great course history at Southwind, making him look extra cheap this week. Other potential cash or core plays here include the likes of Sergio Garcia ($7,300), Ian Poulter ($7,000) and Sam Burns ($6,900).
Tournaments: Dustin a solid pivot
The three men at the top of the salaries this week are all coming in with great form, leaving Dustin Johnson ($10,200) as a potential fade candidate for many. DJ missed the cut in his last start in Minnesota but has a history of turning things around fast and did top-10 at the year’s last major just last month. Paul Casey ($9,000 – see below) is another player who may not pick up too much ownership based on where he is priced, as is Corey Conners ($8,100), who is pricy but has the tee to green game to stay out of trouble both off the tee and on approach in a very water-ridden venue. The likes of Kevin Kisner ($6,800 – see below), Max Homa ($6,700) and Jim Herman ($6,000) are some potential GPP targets to consider here for those looking for low ownership on cheap players this week.
MY PICK: Paul Casey ($9,000)
Casey will have been disappointed not to have grabbed a medal in the Olympics—he finished T4 with a handful of other players—but his real prize could be awaiting him in Memphis. Casey enters this event in the midst of perhaps his most consistent year on the PGA TOUR. The Englishman has missed just one cut in 2021 and has grabbed finishes of T15, T7 and T4 at the last three majors. He’s done most if not all of his work with his ball-striking and comes into this week ranked fourth in SG: Approach stats over the last 50 rounds and second in that category over the last 24 rounds.
That kind of consistency will almost always pay off with a win at some point and TPC Southwind sets up as the kind of PGA TOUR venue that Casey should be able to take advantage of. His results here the last two seasons certainly don’t stick out (T67 in 2020 and T27 in 2019) but he did have one of the best weekend scores here in the 2019 event, shooting 69-67 to move up the leaderboard. The course definitely has a sort of “Florida-vibe” to it with the Bermuda greens and water that’s in play and both of Casey’s last two PGA TOUR wins have come at Copperhead in Florida, another tough venue where water, doglegs and long par 4s are the norm. I’d look to him here as a DFS anchor and a player who sticks out in the outright market at +2800 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
MY SLEEPER: Kevin Kisner ($6,800)
Kisner was looking in fine form before he had a disastrous 78 in the third round at the Open, which pushed him to T73 finish. The blow-up round doesn’t look great, but it was only the second time in Kisner’s last 12 rounds that he’s shot worse than 70. The American had gained strokes on approach in each of his last two starts prior to the year’s last major and looked to be gaining his confidence back, with back-to-back top-10 finishes at the Travelers and Rocket Mortgage.
From a setup perspective, TPC Southwind also looks like another good spot for Kisner to potentially break out. The venue has small Bermuda greens and doglegs off the tee, giving it a lot of similarities with venues like Copperhead and Harbour Town, where Kisner has done some of his best work on the PGA TOUR. He’s managed top-30 finishes at this event the last two seasons as well, and gained +8.1 strokes putting here last year, which speaks to his upside with that club. At under $7K, he’s likely a good cash game candidate, but really should be targeted here in all formats given his uptick in form and the upside he possesses on the greens.
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