After a rare week off thanks to the Olympics, the PGA Tour is back with a bang this week, as the world’s very best players get together in Tennessee to battle it out in the FedEx St, Jude Invitational.
A major it’s not, but this is a big prize, one that the best players in the world want to get their hands on. Current champion Justin Thomas, who won this event 12 months ago, will defend his crown, while 2019 winner Brooks Koepka will also be present in Shelby County. The winner will receive what could turn out to be an invaluable total of 550 FedExCup points.
The Field at WGC FedEx St Jude
Very few of the game’s elite players will miss out this week, in fact, only two of the current top 50 won’t feature at TPC Southwind, which means that a whole host of huge names, such as recent Olympic champion Xander Schauffele along with Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Abraham Ancer, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, and Hideki Matsuyama, will tee it up in the Volunteer State.
Current world number one Jon Rahm is the only top-10 player to miss out. The Spaniard cannot play having recently tested positive for COVID-19, the same diagnosis that prevented him from making the trip to Tokyo last week too.
Christian Bezuidenhout is the only other top-50 player not in the field for St. Jude, which also contains familiar names such as Ian Poulter, Marc Leishman, Harris English, and Billy Horschel. Brooks Koepka, who set the 72-hole course record when winning this event back in 2019, will be looking to reclaim the title from fellow American Justin Thomas.
Shelby County, Tennessee
Initially put together by course designer Ron Prichard, TPC Southwind had something of a facelift back in 2004, under the guidance of Loren Roberts, a player who between 1994 and 2002 won no fewer than eight PGA Tour events. Accuracy will be key this week as there’s no shortage of hazards, with sand traps dotted all over the place, not to mention a lot of cleverly placed water. Undulating fairways put increased importance on accurate and tactical positioning off the tee.
Described by many as a true tee-to-green test, players need to focus on strategy a lot this week. Many of the fairways feature dog legs, while water is in play on ten of the 18 holes. Approach play will be key too, as the putting surfaces featured at TPC Southwind are smaller than the tour average, meaning that many of the pins will be tricky to attack. Those players who possess a strong scrambling game should be best equipped to deal with the challenge.
Key stats for TPC Southwind
Strokes gained: tee-to-green will be paramount here, as both Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka have shown over the last two seasons. Neither of those two ranked outside of the top six for strokes gained: tee-to-green at the end of the week, while both ranked strongly for approach too. Additionally, driving accuracy is key at this venue, the duo mentioned above showed us that too.
Below are what ought to be key stats for this venue, followed by the top ten (from this field) in those areas. Note: for strokes gained categories, only players who’ve played at least four rounds at TPC Southwind are included.
Strokes gained: tee-to-green (this venue last five seasons): Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Daniel Berger, Lucas Glover, Adam Scott, Shane Lowry, Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Martin Laird.
Driving Accuracy: Abraham Ancer, Corey Conners, Collin Morikawa, Martin Laird, Matt Fitzpatrick, Sungjae Im, Webb Simpson, Kevin Na, Brian Harman, Ian Poulter.
Strokes gained: approach (at this venue last five seasons): Justin Thomas, Lucas Glover, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson, Daniel Berger, Joaquin Niemann, Carlos Ortiz, Dustin Johnson.
Scrambling: Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay, Brian Harman, Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen, Harris English, Abraham Ancer, Si Woo Kim, Matt Jones, Daniel Berger.
|Odds To Win +1800|
|Draft Kings $10,200|
|You always need at least one big dog in there and the big dog that cannot be ignored this week is world number two Dustin Johnson. DJ likes it here, there’s no getting away from that. The South Carolinian won this event back in 2012, before adding a second victory here in 2018. In fact, he just doesn’t play badly here, with a 24th place finish being his worst in seven attempts. Nobody in this field has gained more strokes overall at TPC Southwind over the last five years than Johnson, who is also the best player in this field when it comes to strokes gained: tee-to-green at this venue.|
When all is said and done, we’re talking about one of the very best in the world, a guy who has the game to tear it up on this track, as he has done several times before. If you’re looking for one of the big hitters to keep the points coming this week, then look no further than DJ.
|Odds To Win +3500|
|Draft Kings $8,500|
|In terms of price, Simpson is very much a value play, but everything else points towards him being a must-have, so a must-have he goes down as. If you take one player from this article, make sure it’s Webb Simpson. The one-time major winner and seven-time PGA Tour winner has enjoyed himself at this venue in recent years, finishing runner-up in 2019, before finishing in a very respectable 12th last season. In doing so he’s produced some superb numbers in areas that simply cannot be ignored. Simpson is the only player to rank in the top ten in each of the four key stat categories above, while he’s threatened to go real close plenty this season, especially of late, finishing T12, T9 and T19 in three of this last six events.|
The best scrambler AND the best sand saver on tour right now, Webb Simpson is a man in form and a player who ticks all the right boxes ahead of this week’s challenge in Tennessee. Get him in the team plain and simple.
|Odds To Win +2500|
|Draft Kings $9,200|
|In golf there have always been horses for courses, so to speak. Players that for one reason or another just seem to click at certain venues, and TPC Southwind is a course that Daniel Berger just clicks with. The winner of this event in both 2016 and 2017, Berger rarely gets it wrong when playing at the Shelby County venue. He ranks highly in all the key areas, ranking as the fourth best in this field when it comes to strokes gained: tee-to-green, while he’s hit some form in recent times, especially on the big stage, finishing T7 at the US Open and T8 at the Open Championship last time out. The man who currently ranks 14th on tour for strokes gained: total is a solid option for fantasy players this week.|
|Odds To Win +2800|
|Draft Kings $9,100|
|It’s been a solid season for Scheffler, a season where the Texan has proved that he can cut it against some of the best players in the world. Played some superb golf on route to the final of the WGC Match Play, which spurred Scottie onto to do more, finishing inside the top ten on five occasions since that final loss to Billy Horschel back in late March.|
Four top-ten-finishes in his last three starts, including two majors, Scheffler improved on his previous efforts when finishing in a respectable 15th here last season, posting some encouraging strokes gained numbers in the process. After a strong campaign, one where he’s absolutely taken his game to the next level, the 25-year-old, the man who is currently 16th on tour when it comes to strokes gained: off-the-tee, is supported to have another big four days among the world’s best.
|Odds To Win +5000|
|Draft Kings $8,300|
|In terms of performances, not a sleeper, but purely for the fact that he’s not won since picking up his first PGA Tour win back in 2018, Abraham Ancer goes in as a sleeper. He’s a player who I’ve picked time and time again this season, and with good reason. He’s about as steady as they come. The little Mexican isn’t overawed by the big occasion and is a model of consistency. It’s been a season of highly placed finishes for Ancer, who comes here off the back of another solid showing, finishing T14 at the Olympics, his 11th top 20 of the season.|
Not only does the 30-year-old consistently get himself up the leaderboard, but he’s the most accurate man with the driver on tour right now, which is something that should hold him in good stead at TPC Southwind. Moreover, he’s one of the better scramblers in the field too, which further adds to his appeal. There are lots to like about Mr. reliable and he can once again reward fantasy players with lots of steady scoring.
|Odds to Win +6600|
|Draft Kings $7,000|
|Ian Poulter fits the profile of a sleeper just perfectly. He hasn’t won for over three years, but he’s turned in some steady performances of late and has some previous efforts at this venue that suggest he may just be capable of doing well.|
The Englishman arrives here off the back of making six consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour, and he finished inside the top 40 on each occasion, with a best of T3 at the Charles Schwab back in late May. Poulter has also played steadily here in the past, making the cut in each of his last five appearances at TPC Southwind, finishing eight and sixth. As the fifth-best player in the field in terms of strokes gained: around-the-green, one of the tour’s better scramblers is a worthy addition to the fantasy team at a lowly price.