Stanford St. Jude Championship Preview and Picks

Tournament: 2008 Stanford St. Jude Championship
Location: TPC Southwind - Memphis, TN
Date: June 5 - June 8
Television: Golf Channel/CBS

by Matt of Predictem.com

The PGA Tour is in Tennessee this week for the St. Jude Championship, a last warm-up for players prior to the U.S. Open. Those making the trip from Muirfield Village and the Memorial will find that the host TPC Southwind course demands much the same accuracy off the tee to succeed. Many of the bigger names are taking the week off for pre-Major rest and prep, but a solid field remains, including ’07 champ Woody Austin and all are out for the winner’s share of the $6 million dollar purse. The Golf Channel has the early round coverage and the weekend is yours on CBS.

For the week, the TPC Southwind track will play at par-70 and will measure 7,244 yards. The layout plays to the shot-makers with nine doglegs on the 14 driving holes, with many fairways bordered by water or bunkers. Mounding that is primarily used by spectators wait to trap wayward approaches as well.

Like many courses, the tournament could be won and lost on the closing holes. Sixteen is a par-5 at 530 yards that will yield eagles and is the last scoring opportunity on the way in. Seventeen is a 490-yard, par 4 that plays downhill with the green guarded by a creek and multiple bunkers. The finish is a 453 yard, par-4 that requires avoiding the water off the tee and on the approach to a mound guarded green.

Each week we take a look at the contenders and pick a potential winner from a short, middle and long odds look, as well as make a few picks in some head to head matches found at the golf sportsbooks. This week the outright win and top-5 odds are found at Bodog, with the matches courtesy of Linesmaker.

Vijay Singh

14 to 1 to win and 5 to 2 for a top-5 finish (including ties)

Vijay takes the favorite spot this week, and he is looking to break through with his first win this year. Before a missed cut at the PLAYERS, Singh had logged five straight top-20’s, including a streak that saw him finish 5th, 3rd and 2nd. Singh leads the Tour in greens hit which leads to the 10th best scoring average despite a 115th ranked putter. If Vijay can play from the fairways, he’ll be on the first page on Sunday.


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Sergio Garcia

16 to 1 and 11 to 4

Garcia looked poised for a run after a strong win at the PLAYERS, but fell back last week. Still, Sergio has missed only one cut this year and his 10th best GIR% and 24th total driving rank will play well at Southwind. Garcia needs to overcome his 173rd ranked putter to contend as usual.

David Toms

18 to 1 and 11 to 4

Toms is looking to shake a sore back and regain the consistency that he has enjoyed in past years. David has yet to notch a top-10 this year, but no player in the field has the St. Jude track record he does. Toms was the back to back champ in ’03 and ’04, and has since ran 2nd in ’05 and 3rd last year. Toms hasn’t missed a cut since March, and he obviously has proved this is a favorite stop on the schedule.

Padraig Harrington

20 to 1 and 7 to 2

Harrington has played a limited schedule in the U.S., but has five top-25’s in seven starts including a T5 at the Masters. Paddy leads the Tour in birdie average due in large part to a 2nd ranked putting average, but will need to improve on his lagging fairways and greens hit numbers to contend this week. His one St. Jude start resulted in a MC.

Stephen Ames

22 to 1 and 4 to 1

Ames is the kind of player that should have success on this type of course with his premier ball striking. Ames ranks 23rd in greens hit and finds the fairways more than 65% of the time. A strong putter has led to 5th and 4th place finshes in Ames’ last two starts at the PLAYERS and Crowne Plaza.

Kenny Perry

22 to 1 and 7 to 2

No one on Tour has been hotter than Perry of late. Always a streaky player, Perry finally cashed in a win last week after close calls at the PLAYERS and the AT&T. With only one missed cut in 15 starts, Perry ranks 15th in GIR% and 22nd in total driving while on the way to a 69.8 stroke average.

Woody Austin

40 to 1 and 8 to 1

Defending champions have has success this year and Austin deserves a look as he is 65% plus in hitting both fairways and greens. Woody has been inconsistent lately, alternating top-25’s and missed cut over the last six weeks. Austin is another whose game is held back by a spotty putter, he ranks 132nd on Tour in putting average.

Brian Gay

33 to 1 and 6 to 1

Brian gets the longshot look this week on the strength of his 4th place showing last year as well as his driver play that has him ranked 21st in fairways hit. Gay has a win this year in Mexico and is coming off a T10 at the Crowne Plaza. A 17th ranked putting average leads to a 10th best scoring pace for Brian.

For the Win

Short: Vijay Singh - 14 to 1 - Singh has been close and is fine tuning a swing change.

Middle: David Toms - 18 to 1 - Can’t argue with the prior results here.

Longshot: Brian Gay - 33 to 1 - Accuracy off the tee is key to success at Southwind.

Bonus Longshot: Fred Funk - 100 to 1 - The part-time Champions Tour member has six straight checks here including two top-10’s. 3rd in fairways hit on PGA this year.

Matches (our pick)

All matches are for entire tournament

Sergio Garcia (-115) v. Retief Goosen (-115) (Garcia)

Goosen struggling this year, outside the top-125 in greens, fairways and putting average. Garcia is one of the best on Tour, tee to green.

Stephen Ames (-130) v. Kenny Perry (+100) (Perry)

Streaks are often underrated on Tour and no one is streaking better than Perry.

Robert Allenby (-115) v. Stuart Appleby (-115) (Allenby)

Allenby was T12 last year and is 3rd in GIR% compared to Appleby’s 116th rank.

Good Luck!

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