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WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational Picks and Predictions

 

Aug. 5, 2021

Golf Expert
VegasInsider.com

We go from a short field, no-cut event at the Olympics to the best golfers in the world returning stateside for a short field, no-cut event this week as it's the WGC FedEx St Jude Classic.

Obviously not all the best players in the world were over in Japan representing their respective countries in the Olympics, but nearly all of the guys ranked in the Top 50 in the world rankings will be at TPC Southwind this week to resume what's left of the PGA Tour season. It's this week (WGC St Jude and Barracuda Championship) and next week a the Wyndham Championship as all that's left before the FedEx Cup playoff start, as guys who need to get into that Top 125 need to get it going immediately.

The guys in the field at the St Jude this week get the benefit of not having to worry about a cut line which is always nice, as FedEx Cup points will come regardless, but if the lesser known guys want to make that big leap and compete for the title this week, they'd better be prepared to battle some of the best in the world at the top of the leaderboard. The last five winners of this tournament are Daniel Berger (2016 and 2017), Dustin Johnson (2018), with Brooks Koepka (2019) and Justin Thomas (2020) winning the past past two years once this tournament got it's WGC designation.

Golf Betting Resources
2021 WGC - St. Jude Invitational

  • Tour: WGC
  • Date: Thursday, August, 5 2021 to Sunday, August 8, 2021
  • Venue: TPC Southwind
  • Location: Memphis, Tennessee
  • Par-Yardage: 70, 244 yards
  • TV: Golf Channel, CBS
  • Vegas Expert Picks
  • Golf Betting Odds

Koepka's one of the guys who's got a great track record at TPC Southwind, as his T2 finish here last year gets added to his 2019 win, and finishes of 3rd and 2nd in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Daniel Berger also finished T2 here in 2020 to go along with his two prior wins at TPC Southwind, so if you're a “horses for courses” type of bettor, veering away too far from those two names may be hard to do this week. TPC Southwind is known as somewhat of a polarizing course for guys (some either love it or hate it), so going the course history route this week isn't the worst option in the world.

As a longer Par 70 track, TPC Southwind is going to give up solid scores to guys who know how to score well on a wide variety of Par 4's, with Par 3 scoring relatively important as well. Considering all the big names that have won here recently, guys better make the most of their birdie chances on the two Par 5's they'll see during each round, but on the whole, it can be an event that's heavily sloped towards strong play in the approach game. Koepka, Berger, DJ, and Justin Thomas have always been solid with the irons so them being on the recent winner list shouldn't surprise anyone.

However, unlike the past couple of weeks in the men's golfing world, this isn't a place where you should the bulk of the field to go really low, as scrambling around-the-green and saving pars when you need to tends to be a great separator at the top of the leaderboard during the weekends at this event every year. Given the tremendous depth of this field as well, the margin of separation between the eventual winner and those that come up short is likely to be quite small, so scrambling and saving that key par when needed could end up being the difference this week.

2021 WGC - St. Jude Invitational
Betting Odds

Koepka's course history at TPC Southwind is likely behind him coming into this event as the slight favorite at +1100 currently, with Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth – two great approach game players – following slightly behind at +1200.

Olympic champion Xander Schauffele is next at +1400, while the rest of the names from that recent past champions list – Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger – are next at +1800, +1800, and +2000 respectively. South African Louie Oosthuizen (+2000) is the only other guy priced at +2000 or lower as he's been lighting up courses all over the PGA Tour the past few weeks, yet continually coming up short when trying to grab a win. Hard not to figure all those recent close calls could be somewhat mentally draining for Louie, but as it is with anything, when you are running hot it's best to just stay in the game, and that's what Louie continues to do week in and week out.

This type of quality field brings plenty of great names beyond that price range as well though, as we've got Rory McIlroy (+2200), Patrick Cantlay and Viktor Hovland (+2500), Paul Casey, Scottie Scheffler, Webb Simpson, Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2800) and Hideki Matsyama (+3000) as the list of names in that next group of players and prices as well.

Definitely no shortage of quality names at the top of the betting board this week, and while I do hold some minor concerns for any of the players that participated in the Olympics simply because of the travel schedule (multiple time zones, flying from Tokyo to Memphis etc), WGC titles are gaining more and more reverence on Tour with each passing season and if those players thought it to be a huge issue, I'm not sure they'd be teeing it up this week.

2021 WGC - St. Jude Invitational Contenders

  • Brooks Koepka +1100
  • Collin Morikawa +1200
  • Xander Schauffele +1400
  • Jordan Spieth +1400
  • Justin Thomas +1600
  • Rory McIlroy +1800

Jordan Spieth enters the WGC - St. Jude Invitational with odds to win at 12/1, as an American has won the event three straight years. (AP)

Contender to Back
2021 WGC - St. Jude Invitational

Jordan Spieth +1200

Backing Spieth isn't always the most confident thing to do for me on any given week, but I can't deny just how good his form has been for months now. Since winning the Texas Open back at the beginning of April, Spieth has finishes of 3rd, 9th, 30th, 2nd, 18th, 19th, and 2nd, with his true Strokes Gained: Total average per round in that time being +2.54. Gaining 2.5 strokes over the field per round on average is really quite absurd, especially considering there are all four Major championships included in that span. Very tough to ignore.

At the same time, any event that's got a shorter course that emphasizes iron play and one's short game is going to cater to Spieth's strengths as long as his tee ball can stay in the short grass. He comes into the week ranking tied for 9th in Par 4 scoring average on Tour this year (3.98), and with Strokes Gained rankings of 20th (approach), 7th (around-the-green), and 31st (putting), there should be a lot to like about Spieth's chances at TPC Southwind.

It's a course he's finished T12th and T30th at these past two years since it became a WGC event, but more importantly, he averaged +1.77 SG: Total per round here in 2019, and +1.29 per round here a year ago. With his ability to scramble and putt once again, his current form was the clincher in adding him to the card this week, even if I don't completely agree with the price and would prefer it a sliver higher.

Mid-Range Value
2021 WGC - St. Jude Invitational

Webb Simpson +2800

I have been trying to eliminate a small Webb Simpson bias I've had the past few years in playing him rather often, as handicapping the handicapper so to speak had me going through old betting results and seeing Simpson's name a lot. But if I believe Spieth's strengths are going to play well at TPC Southwind – approach, scrambling, putting – then Simpson's skill set has to be right there too as his game is basically just an older version of Spieth's.

He's a guy that lacks a bit of distance off the tee like Speith (but is far more accurate with a 67.73% driving accuracy percentage ranking 21st), isn't quite as good with the approach shots (65th in SG: Approach), but ranks 9th and 17th in SG: around-the-green and putting respectively and sits tied 18th right now in Par 4 scoring average (3.99). Add in a T7 ranking in Par 3 scoring average for Webb, and there are all sorts of decent numbers working in Simpson's favor this week.

Furthermore, an average true SG Total per round number of +2.29 (+1.31 SG: approach) last year at TPC Southwind – finishing T12th – is coming after Simpson was runner-up here in 2019 with a +3.52 average true SG Total number at TPC Southwind that season. That checks all the boxes for me in terms of course history for Simpson, and while the recent form may not be the greatest – two missed cuts in his last three starts – those two MC's came at courses/events that were made for longer hitters (US Open, Rocket Mortgage) and that's always going to put a shorter hitter like Webb on the back foot.

That shouldn't be the case this week as I expect a very strong showing from Simpson in an effort to get his first PGA Tour win of the season.

Long Shot Pick
2021 WGC - St. Jude Invitational

Bryson DeChambeau +3500

Length is never an issue for DeChambeau and statistically he's the complete opposite of the previous two selections. His recent form is far from peak level, and with a caddy change and a positive COVID result being just some of the recent hiccups DeChambeau has dealt with, there just hasn't been a lot that's gone right for DeChambeau of late. I fully understand that some bettors will mock this selection and that's fine. But this does feel like a really good buy low spot on DeChambeau as there just really aren't many compelling cases to back him this week, at least on the surface.

Yet, he actually ranks a little better than Simpson in SG: Approach (59th) entering the week, and is just behind Simpson in Par 3 scoring average ranking as well (T16th). Ranking 85th in Par 4 scoring average is where I know I'll lose some with this selection this week, and ranking 11th in SG: around-the-green likely won't do him any favors at TPC Southwind either.

We also can't rule out DeChambeau using his advantage off the tee (1st in SG: off-the-tee) to look to overpower this course, and a 5th ranking in SG: Total this year is nothing to completely overlook either no matter how things have gone for him lately. He's made great strides with his putting this year (ranking 32nd in SG: Putting) and at TPC Southwind a year ago, his average SG: Putting per round was +2.66 which is off the charts. The rest of his game wasn't quite with him a year ago, but he found something on these greens, and I would like to believe he'll be able to find similar success with the putter this week.

Considering I can't remember the last time I didn't have DeChambeau's name included in the list of golfers in the +3000 or less range during the “Betting Odds” section of these weekly pieces, it's still a little wild to me that market sentiment on his game has dropped so dramatically, as this feels like a great buy low spot on a guy you know could easily outplay this price if he gets everything clicking.

72 Hole Matchup
2021 WGC - St. Jude Invitational

McIlroy over Schauffele +125

Deciding to stay away from the Olympians in the outright market was a conscious decision made, but in head-to-head play, if I believe fading a guy off a big or first career win is something I've done numerous times in the past on the PGA Tour, I don't see how I can't take the same approach in fading the most recent Olympic gold medallist as well.

Winning gold in Tokyo wasn't Schauffele's first career win, but it would have to be classified as a likely once in a lifetime experience, and I just don't know how focused or concerned he'll be with performing at his best this week. He's not concerned at all about his FedEx Cup playoff standings (sits 10th), and situationally, I just don't understand the heavy chalk attached to his name at all this week.

We've only got one past instance to go off of in terms of a past Olympic golf champion in the modern era, as Justin Rose returned to the PGA Tour for the first playoff event after his Olympic gold in 2016 and finished T31. If that's somewhat of a baseline (much smaller field this week, but much deeper), I'll take my chances at +125 that Rory can best that mark and finish ahead of Schauffele this week.

How to Bet on Golf

Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.

2021 Golf Betting Schedule

Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.

Understanding Golf Odds and Bets

Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.

If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.


  
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