FedEx St. Jude Classic Picks
Dates: June 5-8, 2014
Course: PC Southwind Memphis, TN
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, Golf Betting Handicapper, Predictem.com
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We are just one week out from the U.S. Open but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves as the Tour is in Memphis this week for the FedEx St. Judes Classic. The week directly before or after a Major is not always a prime spot on the schedule as it is hard to get the very best players to attend but TPC Southwind is fair prep for the U.S. Open so there is some star power here. Harris English grabbed a two stroke win last year over Phil Mickelson with both men back in the field this year. Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Lee Westwood are also among the crowd favorites this week but this is a very open field overall. This is the last chance to sneak an exemption into the Open field for those looking to avoid a qualifier next week so there will be some high drama for some coming home on Sunday.
TPC Southwind provides some decent practice for Pinehurst as players will be tested to hit the narrow fairways on the 7,239 yard, par-70 course. The roughs will not be Open length but the small greens at Southwind present an accuracy challenge that rivals nearly any course on Tour and players will have to scramble to earn pars if they miss the greens. Players that did well last week should find similar success as Muirfield provides many of the same looks that Southwind does.
The online betting sites have their windows open, so lets take a look at who might be a good bet this week.Note: Matt Kuchar has withdrawn from this event yet still shows as available on many outlets.
Dustin Johnson (15 to 1 odds to win)
DJ is the clear favorite this week and he really should be. The 2012 St. Jude champ can dominate this course with his length and all those short iron approaches make the greens that much easier to hit. Johnson can be crooked at times but if he can keep it out of bad spots, he can score from the rough. Dustin enters the week 8thin greens hit, 4thin birdie average and 8thin ballstriking. All of that looks great for this course and the rest of his sheet is good enough to produce the 2ndbest all around mark. These odds are actually a pretty good value for a field favorite so this rounds out to a good bet from all angles.
Ryan Palmer (20 to 1)
Palmer is certainly trending in the right direction as he has improved in each of his last four finishes, capped off with a T5 last week. Ryan has only missed two cuts in fourteen starts and has five top-10 finishes with two runners-up. There probably is not a better mix of tee to green in this field from a raw metric standpoint as Ryan is top-25 in total driving and greens hit and the rest of the stats add up to fourth in the all around. No one is better at scoring before the cut than Palmer so he could put himself in contention again against a relatively weak field.
Paul Casey (30 to 1)
Casey has missed a few cuts this year but runs really well when he does make the weekend with six top-25s finishes in his seven made cuts, including four top-20s in the last month. Paul isnt the dominant stat guy that some are but he is steady across the board and produces the 23rdbest scoring average. He is 20thin par-4 performance and that should play well with two extra four-pars at the par-70 Southwind. Casey should grind out four solid rounds and may have to come out of the pack a bit to win but he showed good form at the Memorial and has the veteran savvy to put him over the top here.
David Toms (40 to 1)
The relatively weak field makes it hard to tab a longshot that actually has a chance to win as there are just so many lower-tier players that would be dumb-luck bets but Toms is not a throw away this week. Toms is the 2003 and 2004 St. Jude Champ and looks to be playing his best golf over the last few months as he hasnt missed a cut since March. David is ultra-accurate with the 2ndbest fairways hit mark and comes in at 29thin greens hit. His 136thrank in strokes gained-putting is most likely due to a lack of the hardcore practice that it takes to be a premier putter but his record at Southwind trumps the sketchy putting stat for this week. Toms turns in a top-50 scoring average off just the 84thbest birdies per round so he wont give too many away.
Head to Head Matches
Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds. Check around at the online golf sportsbooks for single round matches and prop bets.
Dustin Johnson (-120) v. Phil Mickelson (EVEN) (my pick to win: Johnson)
My heart tells me to take Lefty and the even money but my head just wont let me do it. I went over why Johnson is a good bet to win and there is nothing that Mickelson can claim as an advantage at this point other than career earnings. Phil is clearly looking to peak for Pinehurst so he should be motivated but he failed to break seventy in any round last week and there is that little matter of an F.B.I. investigation. Who knows, maybe Lefty is ready to break out his slump but hes not getting a nod from me until he proves it.
Charley Hoffman (-110) v. Billy Horschel (-110) (Hoffman)
Hoffman is one the short list for most underrated player as he has only missed one cut in the 2013-14 season and just keeps producing. That is a great thing to have when go head to head against anyone as most guys find a way to blow up at some point during the week. Charley has kept the trainwrecks to a minimum with top-30 marks in GIR%, ballstriking and putting. That putting will put him over the top in this match as Horschel is just 105thin strokes gained with Hoffman at 27th. The edge might not even be in making birdies but Charley should be able to earn a win here with the putter over the course of the tournament.
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Good luck and good golf!