The PGA Tour is now in the final stretch for the 2020-2021 season as the top guys head to Memphis for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude. The 7,233-yard par 70 TPC Southwind plays host as it has for many years at this tournament.
66 players will compete this week and like most WGC’s, many of the top players in the world are in attendance. Only John Ram is missing from the field notably. This course has produced elite winners over the years and I would expect nothing different this year.
Justin Thomas is a two-time winner here as well as Dustin Johnson and Daniel Berger. This was a regular tour stop before becoming a WGC event a few years ago. TPC Southwind is a bit of a tricky course that demands strategy and precision.
The best iron players are usually the ones taking home trophies and top fives at this tournament. SG: Approach has been the biggest indicator of success at TPC Southwind. The greens are small and difficult to hit so the best iron players are typically avoiding those tough ups and downs.
The fairways are difficult to hit and water is in play on a number of holes. Getting your tee shots into position at TPC Southwind is key to have a chance to hit the small greens. The rough around the greens is long and tricky so hitting greens is a must.
Driving accuracy and greens in regulation percentage are way down compared to the tour average so like I mentioned, hitting fairways and greens will be the biggest key for players this week.
Given that there are only two par fives and are all relatively short and manageable, the difficulty of this course lies in the par fours. Scoring on par fours is a must here and a key stat to look at heading into this week.
Also, a much higher percentage of approach shots at TPC Southwind tend to come from 150-200 yards than normal so players who excel from those distances will have an advantage. Obviously, players like Morikawa and Justin Thomas pop out there but there are some sneaky good iron players from that distance.
One last thing to consider is the effect jet lag will have on the players coming from Japan and the Olympics. There are a handful of players who have been flying all over the world for the last month with the Open and the Olympics and I would expect that to catch up with them at some point.
2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Betting Predictions
WGC events tend to produce elite winners and this event has shown that as well. Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka have won the last three tournaments here. I would expect to see a few of the elite players show up and fight for the win.
I like to see what the bookmakers are offering on the lower half of the elite tier of players and find value there in these no-cut small field events. There are a few nice options in that range, particularly ones with nice course history.
Dustin Johnson +1800
DJ is a bit underpriced here in my opinion. His form hasn’t been quite up to his standards but he has four top 25’s in his last five starts and his game fits really nicely here as evidenced by his two wins on this course.
He has never finished worse than 24th here in seven tries and he is due for a win. Johnson wins as often as basically anyone on tour and its been about 9 months since he last won. It’s coming.
This event favors the elite players and he is certainly that. At 18-1, he’s priced toward the lower end of the elite guys so there is some decent value here. Despite some average play from DJ, his stats are still strong and he has shown the ability to break out of a slump in style. Plus he is well-rested unlike some others in the field.
Daniel Berger +2400
Berger is a course history pick for me. He has two wins and a second in his four starts on this course. It definitely makes sense too, he is a strong iron player who putts better on Bermuda. He’s shown an ability to win tournaments as well.
Berger ranks 7th in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds and has elite proximity metrics from 150-200 yards out. He is arguably a top-three player from that distance. He also comes in really well rested as he hasn’t played a ton over the last couple of months other than big events.
He does have four top 20’s in his last six starts including a top 10 at the Open in his last start. Of the players in his range on the board, he has the most upside, especially at TPC Southwind this week.
Longshots I like: Will Zaltoris +5500 & Billy Horschel +8500
Top 10 – Matt Fitzpatrick +240
Fitzpatrick has shown a propensity for performing well at WGC’s in recent years. For whatever reason, this type of field and event just brings the best out of him. It also doesn’t hurt that he hasn’t finished worse than 6th in two tries here.
What I love about Fitz here is the putter. He is one of the best Bermuda putters on tour. His best finishes in the states have mostly been in the south on Bermuda and that is the case this week. His recent putting form is excellent.
Fitzpatrick has the strategic game needed for TPC Southwind and he has improved greatly with the driver. If he putts up to his normal standard with a bit of an improvement in recent iron play, he should contend for the third straight time here.
Longshot top 10: Corey Conners +350
Top 20 – Sergio Garcia +200
Sergio Garcia is on a nice run of finishes with each of his last five starts resulting in a top 25 finish. His irons have been excellent over those starts. He is just waiting for the putter to come around for a week to really contend.
Sergio proved last year he can still win on tour, and he just needs the putter to cooperate. Bermuda is his best putting surface, and he should have no issue tee to green. He has a couple of starts here with average results but this course should suit him
He ranks top 10 in SG: Ball Striking over the last 36 rounds and he ranks top five in SG: Off the Tee. His tee to green game is in excellent form and ready to get another top 20.
Sam Burns +220
Burns is a tricky player to figure out because he can go through big swings round to round. He did finally breakthrough for a win earlier this year and has put together his best season yet on tour.
Burns is an excellent putter, particularly on Bermuda. He can be plagued by one bad round sometimes but his iron game is plenty good enough to succeed here. He’s top 15 in SG: Approach and Opportunities Gained over the last 36 rounds so he’s in nice form there.
Burns comes into this week well-rested and has had two top 20’s in his last three starts.
Longshot top 20: Aaron Rai +500
Matchup – Brooks Koepka -120 o Jordan Spieth
Brooks has been downright awesome at TPC Southwind. He has four top-three finishes in seven starts and its clear to see why. He loves playing in these types of events with a good field and big money at stake.
Brooks is a really good iron player who avoids big mistakes which is a must here and he is playing great right now. He has four top-six finishes in his last five starts and should be comfortable coming back to somewhere he has a win at.
Spieth on the other hand is also playing really well. However, his history in no-cut small field events is not good. He has just one top 10 and quite a few poor starts. His game has obviously improved, but Brooks’s floor is just more stable.
Speith can get himself in trouble off the tee here and he will bring some water balls into play for sure. I just like riding a hot Koepka on a track he likes.
Watchlist| Billy Horschel
Horschel already has one WGC title under his belt this year and he will be looking to contend again at a course he has lots of past success at. Horschel has five top 10 finishes in his last seven starts at TPC Southwind.
Horschel isn’t someone I bet much but this week he is undervalued given his course form. He is an awesome putter on Bermuda and can honestly putt well enough here to ride that all the way to a top 20.
The rest of his game has been pretty average of late but Horschel is known for heating up as the season winds down and this could be the start of that again. Horschel is +170 to finish in the top 20 this week.