WGC-FedEx betting preview: DJ primed to wake up from summer slumber
The PGA TOUR returns to the United States this week for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational from TPC Southwind.
A limited field of 66 players, featuring 39 of the top 40 golfers in the world, will be in Memphis for the no-cut event, which should set the table nicely for the fast-approaching FedEx Cup Playoffs.
- TPC Southwind, Memphis
- 7,223 yards, par 70
- Bermudagrass greens
- Water in play on 11 holes
- Five par 4s over 460 yards
2020: Justin Thomas (-13) by three over four players
2019: Brooks Koepka (-16) by three over Webb Simpson
2018: Justin Thomas (-15) by four over Kyle Stanley
2017: Hideki Matsuyama (-16) by five over Zach Johnson
2016: Dustin Johnson (-6) by one over Scott Piercy
2015: Shane Lowry (-11) by two over Bubba Watson
2014: Rory McIlroy (-15) by two over Sergio Garcia
2013: Tiger Woods (-15) by seven over Keegan Bradley, Henrik Stenson
Brooks Koepka enters as a co-favorite with Collin Morikawa at +1200, and for good reason. The four-time major winner dominated TPC Southwind en route to victory in 2019 and has recorded four other top-five results at the course, but rarely is a wager on the favorite recommended.
As for Morikawa, and any other player who participated in the Olympics last week, you'd have to imagine the long flight home from Tokyo was rather taxing; chances of a top-tier finish in Memphis over a group of well-rested stars is unlikely.
Dustin Johnson, who elected to skip the Summer Games, won at TPC Southwind in 2018 and has six WGC titles on his resume. He should be considered, but don't go below +1500.
The next tier
Of all the names to digest in this range, the first one that stands out is Patrick Cantlay at +2800. He's coming off of a disappointing missed cut at The Open but is still in solid form with a victory only four starts ago.
As mentioned above, it's tough to trust anyone making the long trip from Tokyo to Memphis, so players like Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Abraham Ancer, and Patrick Reed are risky plays.
Harris English deserves attention at +3800. The 14th-ranked player in the world is only two starts removed from winning the Travelers Championship, and he won at TPC Southwind way back in 2013.
Scottie Scheffler (+3000) is the final player in this range who should be looked at. His first career win is coming very soon as he continuously pops in big events.
Since there are only 66 players in the field, the list of long-shot options is rather short. However, here are a few to consider with odds greater than +4000 in the outright market and options in a top-five or top-10 market.
- Sergio Garcia (+6500): He's been putting on a ball-striking clinic over his past four tournaments. The Spaniard gained 13 strokes tee to green in his most recent start but lost over seven on the green.
- Sam Burns (+7500): Any course that Koepka or Johnson have performed well at should bode well for Burns' chances. He's not nearly at the same level as the two major winners, but he possesses a powerful game that's complemented nicely by a putter that can get red-hot.
- Max Homa (+14000): His two PGA TOUR victories came over two incredibly tough fields. There are zero reasons he should be +14000 for that reason alone.
Picks to win
Dustin Johnson (+1500)
We'll start with Johnson, who currently feels like a sleeping giant. His recent results are below his standards, but they aren't all that bad. He was in the mix at the Open Championship and was in a position to contend at both the U.S. Open and Palmetto Championship.
Now the world No. 2 heads to a course he's found plenty of success at throughout his career while being undervalued in the betting market, which is exactly what happened last year before Johnson went on his magical playoff run.
Harris English (+3800)
English isn't getting respected enough as a top-15 player in the world who won only two starts ago and finished third at the U.S. Open. Even in his most recent start at Royal St. George's, he fired a second-round 65 to make the cut after a poor opening round.
TPC Southwind fits his game perfectly. The ball-striking machine ranks eighth in strokes gained: tee to green in the field over the past 12 rounds, and he's an extremely good Bermudagrass putter.
Jason Kokrak (+6000)
Finally, Jason Kokrak rounds out the betting card at a very disrespectful +6000. He's a two-time winner this season, with one of those victories coming at the CJ Cup, which boasted a very similar field to this week's WGC.
The 36-year-old played well at The Open (T26) in his most recent start and was in the mix at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in early July. If he continues to strike the ball as well as he has all season long, there's a good chance Kokrak is in the hunt for his third win of 2020-21.
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