Golf Betting Picks: WGC–FedEx St. Jude Invitational
The Open 2019 didn’t have a tone of theatrics, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. When all was said and done, it was Shane Lowry drinking out of the Claret Jug. Lowry was not on my radar, but the Irish crowd enjoyed watching one of their own win the first Open Championship on the island since 1951. The 32-year-old Irishman dominated the field, nearly wire-to-wire (he was one back from JB Holmes after Round 1), cashing in 45-1 online sports betting tickets for those who backed him.
Lowry joins Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen and Tiger Woods as the only golfers in the last 50 years to clinch their first major by more than five strokes. Lowry is also only the fourth golfer since 2000 to win a major by at least five strokes.
Sadly, all four of the 2019 golf majors are behind us and only five tournaments are left on 2018-19 PGA Tour schedule. In fact, the 2019 FedEx Cup Playoffs are right around the corner. But golfers have two weeks before they vie for the $15 million FedEx Cup prize. This week, the top 50 golfers in the world and around 20 others make the trip to Memphis, Tennessee for the WGC–Fed Ex St. Jude Invitational. We’ll break down the course and golf betting odds as we bring you PGA golf betting tips and golf betting picks for the WGC–FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
WGC–FedEx St. Jude Invitational Course — TPC Southwind
TPC Southwind has been a consistent stop on the PGA Tour schedule for the last 30 years, but this year, TPC Southwind was promoted to host the WGC–FedEx St. Jude Invitational. As a WGC event, the entire field will play throughout the weekend without the threat of cut looming overhead come Friday.
TPC Southwind is a 7,238 yard Par 70 with Bermuda greens. Golfers need to keep it in the fairway to set themselves up to score on Southwind’s smaller-than-average greens. Doing so won’t be easy as TPC Southwind’s fairways play fairly tight. The rough around the greens is penal and will put golfers’ scrambling ability to the test if missing the green becomes too much of a habit. Length won’t hurt, as golfers face a handful of long Par 4s at TPC Southwind.
Before Dustin Johnson shot -19 to beat the field by six strokes in 2018, the winning score had traditionally been between 10-under and 13-under. You’ll want golfers with good approach games and golfers who excel from 150-175 yards on these long Par 4s. Now, let’s look at the field.
Favorites at the WGC–FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Despite taking place one week after The Open, Memphis golf fans get to watch a star-studded field as the top golfers in the world make the quick turnaround for the WGC event. Tiger Woods is the only top golfer to decline his invitation so far. Woods will take time off after missing the cut at Royal Portrush to rest before the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Brooks Koepka +800 leads the pack as the odds-on favorite at FanDuel, but with a bit of line-shopping, you can find Koepka +110 at DraftKings. To no one’s surprise, Koepka jumped into major form again last week, finishing T4 at The Open 2019. The feat puts Koepka into esteemed company, once again. Along with Woods, Jordan Spieth and Jack Nicklaus, Koepka is one of four golfers to finish inside the top four in all four majors during a calendar season.
I usually stay away from Koepka in non-majors and even tend to bet against him in matchups, but I’m hesitant to do so this week. Koepka made trips to Memphis in each of the last five seasons, even before TPC Southwind was asked to host the WGC event. He didn’t miss a cut in any of his five trips, and he followed a third-place finish here in 2015 with a second-place finish in 2016. Koepka has previously talked about his advantage on this track. Additionally, Koepka has shown up to WGC events before, which include upwards of $1.7 million dollar paydays to the winners. The winner this week will be rewarded a hefty $1.845 million — the highest non-major prize behind THE Players Championship.
As is typical, Rory McIlroy +1000 and Dustin Johnson +1050 join Koepka at the top of golf betting boards. While I don’t feel strongly against any of the three, I prefer to back both Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay, given the value.
Justin Thomas +1600 (use our BetStars promo code to get these odds) looked great at Royal Portrush, even when the wind picked up throughout the last half of the tournament. Thomas was confident afterwards, writing on Instagram:
Tremendous week at @theopen at Portrush. Quickly became one of my favorites in the world. I played very well in some of the hardest conditions I’ve ever experienced ( 👀 my story). One bad swing on 17 from a really good week… the game is trending the right direction!Instagram
This is Thomas’ first visit to TPC Southwind, but he should be able to adjust quickly as TPC Southwind appears to be a great course fit for Thomas’ game. Ranking behind only Hideki Matsuyama and Henrik Stenson this season, Thomas has one of the best approach games on Tour. Thomas’ GIR percentage from 150-175 yards isn’t great, but that’s largely a result of errant tee shots. At TPC Southwind that won’t be as much of a problem, as hazards and thin fairways will force Thomas to club down off the tee on many holes. In terms of proximity to the hole, Thomas is actually T6 from 150-175 yards. Thomas has three Top 5s in WGC events since 2017, and a ninth-place finish at the WGC Mexico Championship earlier this year. I expect Thomas to be a popular pick, so it’s probably better to bet Thomas earlier than later.
Cantlay +2000 has a very similar profile this week. Like Thomas, there’s no course history to look at for Cantlay, but he’s third in proximity to the hole from 150-175 over golfers’ last 50 rounds. In the field, Cantlay ranks first in total strokes gained thanks to ranking inside the top 10 in every strokes-gained category other than strokes gained around the green.
I’ll have golf outrights on both Thomas and Cantlay, but if you’re looking for another golfer to add in this range, consider Hideki Matsuyama +2800 (BetStars). Matsuyama didn’t make the cut last week, but he has two wins at WGC events. In both WGC victories, Matsuyama ran past the field, winning by five and seven strokes. If Matsuyama can make some putts, don’t be surprised if he wins his first tournament since the WGC-Bridgestone in August 2017.
WGC–FedEx St. Jude Invitational Mid-Tier Odds
The first golfer I’m looking at in the mid-tier is Henrik Stenson +3000 (DraftKings). Stenson was T20 at The Open Championship, ending a streak of three Top 10s. He’s No. 1 in strokes gained approach this year. Like Matsuyama, Stenson just needs some putts to fall.
Following Stenson, I like two golfers who failed to extend their Irish vacation last weekend. Adam Scott and Bryson Dechambeau both missed the cut at Royal Portrush and are now +3500 (DraftKings).
Before The Open, Scott’s recent form was superb. In his previous eight rounds, Scott is No. 1 in strokes gained approach. Scott had a Top 10 at TPC Southwind in 2017. The field will be more competitive this time around, but Scott has the talent to win a WGC event, as he’s shown twice before.
Unlike Scott, Dechambeau hasn’t seen much success in WGC events during his short professional career. The sample size of four tournaments is much smaller, though. Dechambeau’s approach game is formidable and he’s hit the ball well at Southwind in two appearances. I like Dechambeau anytime he’s close to +4000 or +4500. He’s not there yet, and neither is Scott. My hope is that last week’s performances scare bettors away so we can back the pair at +4000 closer to Thursday.
Longshots at the WGC–FedEx St. Jude Invitational
The cream usually rises to the top at WGC tournaments, but there are still a few longshots worth considering. Among those are Chez Reavie +7000, Sergio Garcia +9000 and Keith Mitchell +25000, and Corey Conners +30000 (use our DraftKings Sportsbook promo code to get these odds)
Reavie loves TPC Southwind and for good reason. Albeit a weaker field, Reavie has a T6 and T4 at Southwind over the last two years. It’s no surprise Reave excels here considering his strokes gained approach (No. 21 on Tour), and particularly his proximity to the hole where he ranks No. 1 from 150-175 and 175-200 yards, and No. 7 from 200+ yards for the 2018-19 season. Reavie proved that he can contend in stronger fields at the U.S. Open (T3).
It’d be an understatement to say Garcia has had a down year, but the Spaniard is inside the top 15 in all major strokes gained categories not involving his short game. Garcia opened up with a 3-under at Royal Portrush before closing with a 78 in Sunday’s chaotic weather conditions. +9000 is disrespectful and certainly a number worth backing.
Finally, Mitchell and Conners are two guys with triple-digit odds worth putting a small amount on. Mitchell doesn’t have the best approach game but he’s one of the best players in the field off the tee this season (No. 4). Additionally, Mitchell’s fondness for Bermuda greens is well know, so he should be more than comfortable with his putter this week.
Conners ranks No. 6 off-the-tee and No. 11 in strokes gained approach. He sits behind only Reavie in proximity from 150-175 yards while ranking No. 1 from 125-150 yards and No. 8 from 175-200 yards.
And once again, if you’re looking for general golf betting tips, please refer to our PGA golf betting guide.
(Top Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)