After watching Xander Schauffele win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the PGA TOUR returns this week with the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind (par 70, 7,233 yards) in Memphis, Tennessee. Formerly known as the FedEx St. Jude Classic, two years ago, this tournament was converted to a no-cut WGC event. Regardless of the style tournament, the one thing that has remained constant with the St. Jude name has been TPC Southwind. This par 70 that features Bermuda greens has hosted a PGA event every year since 1958, and Justin Thomas won last season’s WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational by three shots, finishing the week at -13. The 28-year-old put on a clinic as a ball striker that week, ranking first in SGT2G and second in SG APP. He was the fourth St. Jude champ over the last five years to lead his field in SGT2G and to rank inside the top 11 in SG APP. Including Thomas, we have seen some excellent drivers of the golf ball record wins at TPC Southwind over the years. In fact, six of the last seven champions in Memphis have found themselves inside the top 10 in SG OTT at the end of the week.
In addition to being a world class ball striker, elite efficiency on the par 4s at TPC Southwind is essential for success. Over the last decade, nine of the 10 players to claim a victory at this par 70 ranked in the top 10 in SG on the par 4s, with five of these golfers leading their fields or finishing runner-up in the stat. Finally, TPC Southwind annually ranks as one of the most difficult tracks on TOUR. There are 75 bunkers on site and water is in play on 11 of the 18 holes. A year ago, Thomas became the sixth St. Jude winner over the last seven seasons to rank sixth or better in bogeys avoided, and escaping trouble will be imperative this week if you want to secure the big check.
For this invitational, 66 players will be competing in Memphis this week, including 48 of the top-50 ranked golfers in the world. As noted above, there will be no cut, and barring a withdrawal or the rare disqualification, every player is guaranteed four rounds of golf at TPC Southwind. As always, this style of event is an ideal time to pair some very expensive golfers who have the strongest win equity with some cheap punt plays from the bottom half of the player pool, aka, a stars-and-scrubs lineup. Take this past week at the Olympics for example. The men’s competition was also a very small field of only 60 players with no cut, and 18 of the top-30 finishers in DraftKings’ $700K Gold Golfer GPP rostered two golfers above 10K along with three players under 7.5K. That’s a staggering 60%, and below I give you four value plays sub 7.5K that I will be attacking on DraftKings this week for the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Sergio Garcia, $7,300
Garcia heads to Memphis on the heels of five straight finishes inside the top 25, including a T19 at both the Open Championship and the U.S. Open. The Spaniard’s last start came at the 3M Open, where he had his best ball performance of the season. Garcia gained a godly 13.2 ST2G at TPC Twin Cities, which was the most in the field by a significant 2.9 strokes. Furthermore, the 2017 Masters champ’s brilliant iron play helped him rank third in SG APP. However, Garcia had his worst showing on the greens in nearly five years, losing 7.3 strokes putting, limiting him to a T25.
He can only improve from this disaster with his flat stick, and Garcia will be returning to Bermuda greens this week at TPC Southwind. The 41-year-old’s top putting splits come on this cut of grass, and in his last 50 rounds at par 70s that are home to Bermuda greens, Garcia ranks fourth in total strokes gained.
Adam Scott, $7,200
Remarkably, this is the cheapest Scott has ever been on DraftKings, and the Aussie has to be considered at this price. Per usual, he has been striking the ball well, amassing positive strokes T2G at three of his last four events. Additionally, Scott has vastly improved as a putter, ranking first in SGP over his last 12 rounds. Anyone that has been following the 41-year-old throughout his career knows this is a very encouraging sign for the usually erratic putter, and his return to TPC Southwind very well could be the week he puts it all together and contends again.
His course resume here in Memphis reads two top 10s in only three starts, and Scott also ranks 12th in total strokes gained when we compare this field’s last 100 rounds at no-cut events.
Billy Horschel, $7,100
Horschel’s irons have been outstanding, with a 77% GIR rate in his past two starts, and he is a true course horse at TPC Southwind. In 10 starts at the par 70, the 34-year-old has finished in the top 10 five times. For this field, Horschel ranks fifth in career strokes gained at this venue, and he has also been a very sharp target at WGCs over the last few years.
His best output this season was a T2 at the WGC Workday Championship, which was the former Florida Gator’s sixth consecutive top 25 at a WGC. His ceiling is much higher than this low price tag suggests, and Horschel needs to be on your radar this week.
Kyoung-Hoon Lee, $6,400
Lee is a very underrated talent, and I love rolling the dice on him at this soft salary. Less than three months ago, the 29-year-old picked up the first PGA victory of his career, winning the AT&T Byron Nelson by a notable three strokes. Now, Lee will be competing in his first ever WGC, fresh off a T6 at the 3M Open, which marked his third top 10 of the season. During this start, the South Korean contributed positive strokes in every major category, most importantly, with 7.4 SGT2G, good enough to rank him 10th for the week in the metric.
Lee’s driver has also been awesome recently, ranking 10th in SG OTT across his previous 12 rounds, and he is statistically at his best on Bermuda greens.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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