2010 St. Jude Classic Preview and Picks to Win

The St. Jude Classic
Date: June 10th-13th, 2010
Where: TPC Southwind Memphis, TN
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen of Predictem.com

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Its easy to look ahead to next weeks U.S. Open, but dont forget about this week and the 2010 St. Jude Classic. Youll especially enjoy this event if you are a fan of the foreign born players as the best of the Euro PGA will use TPC Southwind as a final tune up before the years second Major. Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington highlight the field and defending champion Brian Gay will look to make it two in a row at an event that has seen players go back to back or log multiple wins in short stretches.

Southwind isnt quite a Major-type challenge, but the course did play in the top half of all tournament courses in 2009 in terms of field scoring average and the players will not have the advantage of four par-5s. The 7,244 yard, par-70 track can give up low scores to those that find the right places on the greens and have a good eye in reading them. Champions in recent years have proved that length is not as important here as the approach and putting game as Gay, Justin Leonard and David Toms have accounted for five victories since 2003. Anyone looking to card a solid round will have to take advantage of the first three holes as they make up the easiest stretch on the course with all three playing under par on average.

Each week, we take a look at the offshore sportsbooks and highlight a few players that we think will contend for the title. Well make a short, middle and long odds pick and breakdown a few head to head matches that youd typically find at the golf bookies. Here are our picks for the 2010 St. Judes Classic.

Short Favorite: Robert Allenby (22 to 1 odds to win)
Allenby has just missed a win on two occasions in 2010 finishing as runner-up at the Sony and PLAYERS while logging two others top-10 finishes in thirteen starts. Robert has come close at the St. Judes as well, finishing T12, P2, and T4 in his last three starts in Memphis. Allenby has the game to solve Southwind, ranking 19th in total driving and 20th in greens hit, leading to a top-15 mark in overall ballstriking. The putter has often held Allenby back, but he has the flatstick going this year and comes into the week as the best putter on Tour from 20 to 25 feet. Theres no doubt hell produce from tee to greens this week, but the putter is always the key in turning a top-10 into a win.

Middle of the Road: Ben Crane (25 to 1 odds to win)
Crane has arguably had the best front half of the season as any player on Tour. The Farmers Insurance champ has eight top-25s and five top-10s against just two missed cuts in 2010 and is on a hot streak with T7/T4/T3 finishes in his last three starts. Crane enters the week with the number one rank in the all around stat on the strength of top-15 ranks in fairways and greens hit along with top-10 marks in putting, birdie and scoring average. The par-70 could set up perfectly for Crane as he is the best on Tour in par-4 birdie or better percentage and hell have the edge over the players that depend on the par-5s for scoring.

Longshot: Boo Weekley (40 to 1 odds to win)
While 2010 has seen ups and down for Boo with only nine made cuts in fifteen starts, the last month-plus has been better with three top-12 or better finishes in his last six starts. He has been close at Southwind recently with a T4 in 2008 and has the tee to green game to get it done at this type of course. Weekley is 13th in total driving and 25th in GIR% for the 11th best overall ballstriking number on Tour but has been plagued by poor putting. Boo is outside the top-150 in both putting average and putts per round, so that obviously needs to change to mount a run this week, but everything else is in order and he wouldnt be a longshot without some warts on his stat sheet.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) *all matches are for entire tournament. Check with your favorite online sportsbook for single round matches and prop bets.

Lee Westwood (-115) v. Padraig Harrington (-115) (Westwood)
Two top Euros tangle in a matchup with both coming in as favorites to win the tournament outright. Westwood is having the better year so far and while his limited play have most of his stats unranked, he would be in the top-20 in driving distance, greens hit, birdie and scoring average and would have the edge against Harrington in all. Paddy is a gamer and always a tough out, but look for Lee to continue his solid play in America as both ramp up for next week.

Brian Gay (-115) v. Ian Poulter (-115) (Gay)
One thing you can count on this week is that Brian Gay will try to defend his 2009 title from the fairway. Gay is the best on Tour in finding the short grass and is also a good finisher with the 5th best putting average. Poulter will be using this week to get acclimated to the U.S. while Gay will be going all out to defend. Youd give the nod to Ian in almost any circumstance with this matchup, just not this one.

Good Luck!