2019 FedEx St. Jude Invitational Picks
Event: World Golf Championships - FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Date: July 25-28, 2019
Course: TPC Southwind - Memphis, TN
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
The PGA has struggled for years to get a solid field together in the week immediately after the British Open. The schedule shuffle that took effect this season allowed for a solution and the Tour wisely placed the year’s final WGC event right after The Open Championship. The WGC-FedEx St.Jude Invitational welcomes nearly all of the top players in the world to Memphis with Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari and Rickie Fowler as the only notable holdouts. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are here, as is Open champ Shane Lowry. Anyone that wants to make their FedExCup position a little more secure will be looking for a solid week and recent first time winners like Matthew Wolff, Nate Lashley and Max Homa are out to keep their dream season going strong. East Lake is just a month away and players are out of time to get things right. It is put up or shut time.
St. Jude’s and TPC Memphis have been part of the Tour since 1989 but this is the first WGC event to take place at Southwind. Firestone CC in Akron, OH steps aside as a WGC host so this is a bit of an upgrade in prestige for the 7,250 yard, par-70 course. This course has routinely been one of the toughest courses each season but has also given up some great individual days with three pros carding course-record rounds of 61 over the years. Dustin Johnson has won twice here, including last season when he shot a 19-under par total and beat the field by six strokes. His 2012 victory came by one stroke at only 9-under par. Winning totals have been everywhere from just 4-under to 20-under in the last ten editions and just about every type of player is represented on the winners list. Justin Leonard is a two-time champ and he, along with Brian Gay and Ben Crane have proved that short players can win here. David Toms won here twice to represent the long ball players alongside DJ. Southwind is a demanding shotmaking challenge so hit it straight, hit it close and make a few putts to do well. The St. Jude has always been kind to the journeymen on Tour but that should probably change now that an elite field is teeing it up.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the best values on the board. We make a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that can be found at just about every golf betting outlet. Odds and pairings come courtesy of the board at Bovada.
Here are our picks to win the 2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Brooks Koepka (10 to 1 odds to win)
Koepka has proven to have that ability to flip the switch in the big events as evidenced by a T4 at Portrush after a couple of also-ran finishes in the weeks leading up to The Open. The WGC events certainly count as big ones so I would think Brooks is going to be ready to head into the Playoffs in style. He has yet to win a WGC event but has two top-5 finishes in his last five WGC starts to kick things off with a nice trend heading into Memphis, where he managed a runner-up finish in 2016. His stat sheet reads well with the 23rd best off-the-tee metric and 11th best tee-to-green game. The putting average has been close to Tour average for the season but that hasn’t stopped Koepka from ranking 10th in birdies and 4th in scoring. The guys simply hits so many greens that his putting rank is dragged down due to the fact that he is bound to miss a few with so many chances. He is a relatively mistake-free player and saves par at an above average rate when he does miss those occasional greens. Dustin Johnson has won twice here and doesn’t bring much value as the betting favorite but Koepka is a good analog for Johnson’s overall skill set and 10 to 1 is a nice payday for such a talented player.
Xander Schauffele (22 to 1)
At just 25 years old, Xander has impressed with big wins at the Tour Championship, Tournament of Champions and the WGC-HSBC Championship in 2018. His Major record is equally impressive with four top-5 finishes in just eleven career Major starts. He got in a little tiff with the R&A at The Open regarding the legality of his driver and fell to T41 at Portrush as he struggled to find a club that he felt comfortable with over there. He will have his favorite club back in the bag this week and he has put it to good use with the 13th best strokes gained off-the-tee mark. He adds a rank of 33rd in greens hit to be one of the best ball strikers in the field and has putted well enough to be inside the top-20 in both birdies and scoring. He has enough pop off the tee to challenge the course when appropriate but also knows when to throttle down for a more controlled approach. Both will be necessary around Southwind through the week, making Xander an actual contender with a nice potential payday.
Kevin Kisner (60 to 1)
Kisner has done his best WGC work at the Match Play with a win earlier this season and another runner-up on his record but he fits the bill of a player who should do well at Southwind in the mold of a Justin Leonard. Kisner is 17th in fairways hit and adds a top-10 total putter as his dominant stats but his game is well-rounded. His overall birdie average is outside the top-100 but he is one of the more efficient players out there and still manages a top-50 scoring average despite the lack of birdie volume. He almost never three-putts and really has the knack for making the most out of his game. Grinders are usually good bets in par-70 events and there are few that can survive the grind like Kisner.
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with the MyBookie site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Thomas has been battling some iffy play since returning from injury and he finally put together a solid week with a T11 at The Open Championship. That was his first top-15 since the Masters and a good sign that things are finally turning around. Thomas is also the defending champion of this event but there isn’t much he can lean on from that as that championship was won at Firestone, not Southwind. Rahm was also a T11 at Portrush but also brings a T3 from the US Open to this week as part of strong recent trend. Rahm is the better putter in this pairing, ranking 52nd in strokes gained on the greens with Thomas back at 170th. Both are solid off-the-tee as well as in the tee-to-green stats but that putting edge is hard to ignore considering everything else seems rather equal. I’d like to see Thomas put together a few good weeks in a row before claiming him all the way back. If he isn’t quite right, he makes for one to pick against for the remainder of the season as getting it together at this time of year is tough. There are no gimmes in WGC events with the lack of a 36-hole cut and Rahm is poised to be a tough guy to get rid of at a tough TPC Memphis course.
Reed started his WGC career with a CA-Championship win back in 2014 but he has just one WGC top-10 since the 2015 season while Casey has notched eleven top-20’s in his last twelve WGC starts. Reed has lost two of the last three up against Casey and most telling should be the Valspar event where Casey won and Reed missed the cut. The Valspar is held at Innisbrook and the Copperhead Course and that layout is very similar to what we will see at Southwind. If things go the way they did there, Casey should cruise. Reed trails Casey in fairways and greens and his edge with the putter isn’t enough to get inside Casey’s scoring mark. Paul is the better player with the driver and the irons to the point that Reed will not be able to catch up unless Casey makes mistakes. That isn’t Casey’s game and I don’t think it will be this week.
Good luck and good golf!