- With Portrush in the books, the PGA Tour returns stateside for a new hybrid event: the WGS FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Who are the favorites and who could be in for a tough week?
The PGA Tour is back stateside this week for a brand–new WGC event in Memphis.
The WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational replaces not one, but two long-standing events on the Tour calendar: the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Forty–five of the top 50 players in the world will compete at TPC Southwind as players do a 180 and shift from battling the elements at the Open Championship to playing a much friendlier golf course in the stifling Tennessee summer heat.
World No. 1 Brooks Koepka will tee it up a week after finishing T-4 in Northern Ireland. Koepka has never missed the cut at TPC Southwind, though his best finish in non-majors over the last two months is a T-50 at the RBC Canadian Open.
Along with Koepka and Phil Mickelson, who’s dropped to No. 28 in the world after a missed cut at the British Open, will look to find his game at a course that he’s had plenty of success at. Lefty has racked up six consecutive top–15 finishes at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, including two second-place finishes.
Who won’t be there? That’s newly crowned Champion Golfer of the Year Shane Lowry, who celebration in Ireland will carry on into this week. Lowry withdrew from the WGC event on Tuesday. And there will also be no Tiger Woods, who is electing to rest after missing the cut at the Open.
Here's a capsule preview of this week's tournament, along with our favorite picks for daily fantasy.
Nuts and Bolts
Course: TPC Southwind (7,244 yards, Par 70)
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas (WGC Bridgestone) and Dustin Johnson (Fed Ex St. Jude Classic)
Weather Forecast: Sunny, temperatures in the mid 80’s
Dustin Johnson (10/1, $12,000). The defending FedEx St. Jude Classic champion returns to TPC Southwind, where he's experienced a truckload of success. Two wins along with two other top-10 finishes. In fact his only finish in Memphis outside of the top 25 was a WD back in 2015. DJ wasn’t super sharp at the British where he finished T-51, but this is the time of year when he tends to heat up. A year ago Johnson came off the British and ran off a win and three top 10s to finish out the season.
Justin Thomas (16/1, $11,100). Arguably the best irons player on tour, Thomas statistically matches up perfectly for this event. He’s the defending WGC Bridgestone champion, but of course that was played in Akron, and though JT has never played TPC Southwind, his ball-striking combined with his putting prowess on Bermuda greens should grab your attention. (See wins at the Sony Open, Honda Classic and PGA Championship at Quail Hollow). He’s been one of the top Bermuda grass players on Tour over the last five seasons and is coming off a T-11 finish at the British Open, which shows his injured wrist has recovered. Statistically he ranks No. 2 in GIR %, No. 3 in SG Approach the Green and No. 26 in Approaches 150-175.
Chez Reavie (60/1, $8,700). Reavie is coming off a missed cut at Royal Portrush but returns to Memphis as the perfect horse for the course. His last three appearance at TPC Southwind have generated T-6, T-4 and T-12 finishes and it’s a course where he’s been in the 60’s in eight of his last 10 competitive rounds. The recent winner of the Travelers Championship, Reavie is one of the best ball–strikers on tour ranking No. 7 in proximity to the hole, No. 26 in SG Approach the Green and No. 2 in Approaches from 150-175 yards. Major value at 60 to 1 odds.
Keith Mitchell (250/1, $7,600). Mitchell is intriguing primarily due to his love for Bermuda greens. His victory at the Honda Classic back in March was no fluke as the Tennessee native has talked openly about his comfort level on the greens. A win at PGA National, and top 10s at Bay Hill and Quail Hollow back that up. Mitchell missed the cut at Royal Portrush but put together a solid round of 69 on Friday before hitting the road. Statistically ranks No. 6 in SG: Off the tee and No. 58 in GIR %.
Phil Mickelson (70/1, $9,100). I'm ignoring his course track record and instead paying attention to what we’ve all seen for weeks. Phil’s game is nowhere to be found right now. A missed cut at Royal Portrush marked his third consecutive missed cut and his fifth over his last seven starts. Mickelson has had success at TPC Southwind with four career top 10’s including a T-2 back in 2013, but statistically his recent numbers are concerning. He's No. 117 in SG Approach the green, No. 195 in Driving Accuracy and No. 146 in SG Putting. Driver, irons and the putter are all issues for Phil right now.