Buckle up, we are in store for some fantastic golf these next two weeks. This week will be the St. Jude which has almost every top player competing. This will be a great tournament to set the stage for our first major of the year next week with the PGA Championship. The St. Jude is a FedEx event; therefore, it’s significant to the players for moving up the FedEx standings and to claim a much bigger purse ($10 million). Brooks Koepka is our defending champion at this course as he shot a phenomenal score of 16 under last year. The event is played at the TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. This will be the second year that this course hosts the WGC St. Jude.
The course is a Par 70 and a long one at 7,238 yards. With only two Par 3’s and two Par 5’s, players who gain the most strokes on Par 4’s will be valuable. Especially longer Par 4’s as there’s five that are more than 450 yards. The course is also highlighted with many water hazards. Since 2004, over 5,000 balls have fallen into the water. The next closest course has had 3,500. Therefore, fairway accuracy and strong iron play will be vital. Fairways and greens are much harder to hit on this course. The average driving accuracy (54%) and greens in regulation (58%) are almost 10 percent lower than the average PGA Tournament. Other notes for the course are that players will putt on Bermuda greens which is important in that certain players struggle and others have their most success on this surface.
This is a no cut event with only a field of 78 players so everyone will be around on Sunday. I’m expecting a lower scoring event with the winner around 13 under. Players will need strong off the tee, approach, fairway accuracy, proximity from 175-200 yards, and the ability to putt as every player in the top 20 last year gained strokes putting. I will be making my picks based on these categories. Let’s get on to the picks and hit some winners! Be sure to check out @TheSharpSidePod on Twitter as their will be a big giveaway for an outright winner this week. Best of luck tailing and let’s cash!
- Austin Tarke @_Atarke
Webb Simpson (22-1):
This is a perfect course for Webb. He has solid off the tee game as he ranks 25th in Fairway’s Gained. Phenomenal approach game. Loves long Par 4’s and excels in proximity from 175-200 yards out which players will land in frequently this week. Does not make mistakes so we won’t have to worry about water hazards. Prefers to putt on Bermuda greens. Finished second last year through a phenomenal approach and putting game. Also missed his last cut and going back two years he’s finished in the top 10 three of the last four times that he’s missed a cut. He’s been the best player on tour this season and with his third win of the year this week he will solidify his number 1 spot atop the FedEx cup rankings.
Xander Schauffele (22-1):
Another perfect fit for this course. Ranks 6th in Strokes Gained on Par 4’s and with 14 of them, this will show a lot of value. Doesn’t make mistakes. Phenomenal ball striker. For some reason, he loves no cut events. He has won three of his four PGA tours wins on no cut events (2017 Tour Championship, 2018 WGC-HSBC, 2019 Tournament of Champions). Coming off two top 15 finishes at Muirfield which is very impressive considering he shot a 78 in round 1 of the Memorial. He also lost 5 strokes putting which is incredibly uncharacteristic of him as that is the worst performance he’s EVER had. I like him to play a very consistent week of golf and to win his first tournament of the 2020 season. Through his consistent play and his fit for the course he will definitely be hanging around on Sunday. Check out @TheSharpSidePod on Twitter for an awesome giveaway opportunity.
Brooks Koepka (33-1):
Read that again, 33-1. We are getting Brooks Koepka at 33-1. Do the books realize that he’s 14-1 next week at the PGA Championship in essentially the same field. I understand, he hasn’t been playing Brooks level of golf in his last few outings. He’s struggled in different facets of his game as he lost 5 strokes around the green at Memorial and 5 strokes putting at the 3M open. However, what is being overlooked is that his ball striking has been solid. The other concern, is that there are rumors that his knee is still bothering him. I’m selling this nonsense. Koepka has stated that he only cares for majors. If he was hurt he would not be competing in a FedEx cup that he’s currently ranked outside of the top 100 in for the season or a pointless 3M Open last week. In order to win this week he will need a solid first round to give himself momentum for a strong week of golf. I can’t help myself to not bet the defending champ and at this incredible price.
Sungjae Im (90-1):
I’ve been betting Sungjae since the restart and have been let down every week. This week I have a feeling I won’t be let down. He’s a perfect fit for this course. Great off the tee game and won’t get himself into trouble as he’ll hit his fairways and he loves his Par 4’s. Historically, he has a solid approach game. However, Sungjae’s approach has been his biggest weakness since the restart. Sungaje is known for playing every week; however, last week he finally sat out the 3M Open. I believe this is significant for him as he needed a week off to fine tune parts of his golf game. Before the restart, Sungjae was playing as one of the best golfers on tour. A 90-1 price is very valuable and will also have value for Top 20 bets.
Paul Casey (100-1):
After betting Casey last week, I told myself “I will never bet him again.” He was incredibly frustrating to watch as he lost 6 strokes putting and couldn’t even hit the ball into a hoola hoop. Yet, here I am back for action on him. He is a PERFECT fit for this course. Top 10 in Off the Tee, approach, and proximity 175-200 yards. He’s top 20 in fairways hit and strokes gained on Par 4’s. If he can make a putt on these Bermuda greens he will have a chance. At this number I cannot pass it up and I will also look at him for a Top 20.
Head to Heads:
Billy Horschel over Jordan Spieth: If you’ve read my previous handicaps you’d know that I fade Jordan Spieth pretty much every week which has been very profitable. Spieth is just not a consistent enough ball striker to hang around on this course. His off the tee game will leave him in a lot of trouble at the TPC Southwind. I was very impressed with his performance at Memorial gaining 4.7 strokes on approach; however, he hasn’t has had back to back positive weeks on approach since 2018. I also really like Horschel this week. Solid off the tee game and won’t get himself into trouble. Ranks 18th in Strokes Gained on Par 4’s and excels on Par 4’s over 450 yards. Another key factor is that he LOVES the WGC- St Jude. He has finished in the top 5 five times in seven appearances.
Ryan Palmer over Michael Thompson: One of my favorite betting strategies is to fade the winner of the previous event especially when the winner is coming off his first win since 2013! Thompson played out of his mind last week with the best approach performance of his career and his best putting performance since early 2019 at the Honda. His Off the Tee game will hold him back this week. Palmer on the other hand has strong approach and off the tee game. He is also coming off a tremendous performance at the Memorial where he finished 2nd.
This is a big week for Top 20 bets as with a much smaller field, there is a lot of value to be found on guys with higher numbers.
Sungjae Im (2.5-1)
Abraham Ancer (1.75-1)
Erik Van Rooyen (4.5-1)
That’s all for the writeup. Remember to check out @TheSharpSidePod on Twitter for my full card and for an awesome giveaway this week! Best of luck tailing and let’s ca$h!