WGC St Jude FedEx Preview and Picks

WGC St Jude FedEx Preview and Picks

TPC Southwind plays host to this week's World Golf Championship event - a technical parkland golf course located in Germantown, Tennessee.

At 7,244 yards it is an average length par 70 layout. Eight of the holes feature water hazards and with the rough often approaching 3" in length, it can be hard to shoot a low score. 

TPC Southwind

Eight of the par-four holes measure over 450 yards, and Southwind only hosts two par fives. An almost unique feature of Southwind is the Zoysiagrass fairways, which are only found on a handful of other Tour venues (East Lake and Bellerive).

The Bermudagrass greens are more common – so players comfortable putting on that surface should relish the test Southwind has to offer this week. East Lake form is important when looking for a player to go well here.

The weather is set to be very hot, with temperatures in the 90s expected throughout. If thunderstorms stay away, the course could become extremely firm and very fast by Sunday afternoon. The emphasis here has to be keeping the ball in play off the tee; wayward tee-shots are going to leave very difficult approaches. 

The Field

Unlike last week’s poor field, golf fans are treated to 9 of the world's top 10 competing this week. Newly crowned world number one, Jon Rahm features along with a stellar cast of players looking to get their game in shape ahead of the season’s first major next week.

Rahm heads the betting market, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay rounding off the top five in the betting. Other players of note teeing it up this week include Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele, Tyrell Hatton, and recent Tour winners Collin Morikawa and Daniel Berger. 

Tiger Woods sits this week out in the hope that he is fit and ready to compete at the USPGA next week. 

Last year’s winner Brooks Koepka takes part, looking to recapture the form that saw him secure the win 12 months ago. The in-form Tony Finau and Viktor Hovland are also sure to be popular here this week. 

This is as strong a field as has been seen this year on the PGA Tour, and is an incredible way to prepare golf fans for the USPGA

Picks

A seriously strong field to pick from, and an argument can be made for any of the market leaders.

Rahm has form at this venue - shooting a 62 last year - but the pressure of becoming the new world number one could lead to him being distracted.

Rory McIlroy will have his eye on regaining the number one ranking, but his form since the resumption of the Tour is not good. DeChambeau has shown that he has to be feared, but was last seen spectacularly missing the cut at The Memorial.

Schauffele

Instead of focusing on those at the very top of the market, Xander Schauffele is our idea of a likely winner. Available to back at 22-1 (FanDuel), Schauffele has form figures of 3-64-20-14-13 since the resumption and has four second-place finishes to his name in the last 18 months. 

His course form is not spectacular, but his East Lake form is as strong as any other player on Tour.

Finishes of 1-7-2 at East Lake read very well, with Southwind sharing the same, almost unique, Zoysiagrass fairways. His recent runner-up finishes have all come in very strong fields – at the Tour Championship, WGC HSBC Champions and at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Schauffele has the game to compete with the very best in the world and should be able to highlight that here this week. 

Interestingly, Schauffele has also won each of the Tour Championship, WGC HSBC Champions and the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The one thing that those three events have in common with the WGC FedEx St Jude is that none of them have a Friday cut.

This could just be a quirk, but perhaps there is more to it than that, and Schauffele does actually perform best with the threat of a missed weekend removed. 

Schauffele’s game can be described as being ultra-consistent. He regularly features on or around the leaderboards in the Majors and other high profile events.

Chez Reavie

The California native is a superb all-rounder who can scramble with the world’s best. He looks to be overpriced this week and could target this as his best chance to win for some time. Whilst most of the other contenders will have an eye on their game for next week's major, Schauffele could take advantage. 

A second bet that stands out this week is in the Top 20 market.

As already mentioned, form at East Lake translates well here. A fifth-placed finish there for Chez Reavie suggests he has the game to go well here this year. He finished 27th last year, but his game is in a far better place this time around.

Prior to that 27th place, his form at this course was incredible. Two top-six finishes show that he has an eye for the layout, and at a price of +350 (PointsBet) he stands out as a value Top 20 play.

Conclusion

With just one week to go before the first major of the revamped PGA Tour, many players will be keen to sharpen their game for a tilt at major glory.

That could leave them vulnerable this week, and Xander Schauffele has the profile to go very well. Chez Reavie also looks a solid play in the Top 20 market with strong course form coming into this high profile event. 


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