The field this week comprises only the top 125 (122 currently after withdraws) golfers in the FedEx Cup standings and no alternates or qualifiers will be added to the field. After this event, the top 70 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings will then qualify for the next event (the BMW Championship). As for the field, we have one of the strongest of the year outside the majors. Even with the LIV Golf Tour stealing some talent away, all of the top-15 players in the OWGR are in the event this week.
As of now, the most notable absence is Tommy Fleetwood (personal), but Daniel Berger (back) and Lanto Griffin (injury) have also withdrawn. As noted above, that leaves the field at 122 players. Unlike the last two playoff events, this week does feature a cut-line — only the top 65 players and ties will get to play the weekend. That will have huge implications since players who MC won’t have a shot to move up the FedEx Cup rankings and anyone hovering around the top 70 bubble (for entry into next week) will be out if they can’t make the weekend at TPC Southwind.
TPC Southwind—Memphis, Tennessee
Par 70, 7,237; Greens: Bermuda
TPC Southwind is a tricky, tree-lined PGA TOUR venue that features plenty of water and smaller than average Bermuda greens. While it bears some similarities to other recent courses like TPC River Highlands (Travelers) and Harbour Town GC (RBC Heritage), it has generally been a much tougher venue than those two over its lifespan. Southwind isn’t an overly long course, but there are very tight fairways and numerous doglegs that really stretch out some of the holes. On average, fairways here are 5-7% harder to hit than an average PGA TOUR stop, with greens being equally tough to find. The course has produced winners at 16 and 13 under par the last two seasons and played as the 14th toughest course on the PGA TOUR (out of 41) in 2020, yielding a 69.56 scoring average.
As a traditional par 70, TPC Southwind has just two par 5s which play as the two easiest holes on the course. The 16th will be reachable in two by almost everyone and is probably the only hole on the course where players will lose ground if they don’t walk away with at least a birdie. The course features four par 3s as well, two of which play as “island style” greens. As for the par 4s, there are six of them that measure in at 450 yards or longer and only two that come in under 400 yards. While this might not faze players given today’s technology, the doglegs on several of these holes mean longer approaches are often necessary to reach the smaller than normal greens. Despite the doglegs, several of these par 4s play tough off the tee with water in play on either side.
With so much water in play, TPC Southwind always sees some of highest “balls hit in water” rates on the PGA TOUR. The water and narrow fairways put a premium on ball-striking, and approach stats are where you should start when narrowing down plays this week. Just to give you an idea of how important strong tee to green play and ball-striking is at TPC Southwind, 2020 winner Justin Thomas actually lost strokes putting for the week of his win, but was the best in the field tee to green (and gained 7.7 strokes on approach). TPC Southwind isn’t overly long, but requires elite ball-striking and will dish out big penalties to those who don’t bring their A-game this week.
2022 Weather: The weather this week will produce some of the hottest temperatures we’ve seen this season. Highs will be around 90° F for all four days and winds are set to be hovering around 5-10 mph. There are some thunderstorms expected early in the week, but the humidity and sun should have these greens well dried out by the weekend. Early starters on Thursday should have the best conditions of the week with low winds and softer greens, so wave stacking, or using a Thursday AM vs. PM tee time as a tie breaker for DFS lineup decisions, is a good idea. Look for the narrow and water-heavy TPC Southwind to play as a tough test of golf once again.
Last 5 winners
2021—Tony Finau -20 (over Cameron Smith playoff)
2020—Dustin Johnson -30 (over Harris English -19)
2019—Patrick Reed -16 (over Abraham Ancer -15)
2018—Bryson DeChambeau -18 (Tony Finau -14)
2017—Dustin Johnson -13 (in playoff over Jordan Spieth)
**None of the past five events (The Northern Trust) were played at TPC Southwind
Seven out of the last 11 winners of this event finished T22 or better in their previous start before winning.
Seven of the last eight winners of this event have finished T15 or better at the year’s final major championship.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021 FedEx St. Jude Championship (The Northern Trust) winner Tony Finau 20-under-par
Lead in form (T34-T28-T15-MC-MC)
2021 Winner’s stats from TPC Southwind (from 2021 WGC FedEx St. Jude Classic): Abraham Ancer 16-under-par
SG: OTT— +1.4
SG: APP— +4.4
SG: TTG— +8.6
SG: ATG— +2.9
SG: PUTT— +3.6
- Ancer had a do-it-all kind of week last year. He was one of the top 10 players in strokes gained approach, and was sharp on and around the greens with a solid tee to green effort.
- In 2020 the course played a little tougher, and Justin Thomas beat the field by multiple strokes despite losing strokes to the field on the greens. He gained over 13 strokes Tee to Green for the week and was third in SG: Approach and second in SG: Around the Green.
- Thomas’ win was a stark contrast to 2019 when Brooks Koepka gained 9.3 strokes putting for the week and ranked just 11th in SG: Approach, but also won the event by three strokes.
- Six par 4s will play between 450-500 yards this week, making par-4 efficiency from this distance something to consider.
- Players landing inside the top 20 and upwards have generally out-paced the field in greens hit as well as fairways gained throughout the week. While there will always be outliers like Koepka’s volatile putting week from 2019 — strong tee to green play is essential at TPC Southwind and the most likely route for success this week.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Sam Burns +3500 and $8,600
- Viktor Hovland +3500 and $9,000
- Hideki Matsuyama +3500 and $8,400
- Davis Riley +10000 and $7,700
- Harold Varner III +10000 and $7,400
- Chris Kirk +10000 and $7,400
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
1. Justin Thomas (best finishes: win-2020, T12-2019): Thomas finished 12th at this event in 2019. He has struggled on the greens at TPC Southwind, losing 5.0 strokes putting here last season, and even lost strokes putting when he won in 2020. He’s done well on these technical tracks throughout his career, though, and there’s lots of upside this week if his putter shows up.
2. Hideki Matsuyama (best finishes: 2nd-2021): Matsuyama has played this venue each of the last three seasons and gained over 3.0 strokes on approach in his last two appearances. Last season, when he finished second, he gained over 8.0 strokes on approach alone.
3. Matt Fitzpatrick (best finishes: T6-2020, T4-2019): Fitzpatrick was in the hunt for the win after three rounds in 2020 but faltered on Sunday. He gained an incredible +10 strokes putting in 2020 and has now finished top 10 at Southwind in two of the last three years. His summer included a win at the US Open and a T21 at the Open in July, making him a great blend of recent form and course history this week.
4. Webb Simpson (best finishes: T12-2020, 2nd-2019): TPC Southwind definitely fits the profile as a solid course for Simpson, who typically relies on his irons and putting to gain on the field. He finished runner-up at the WGC event here in 2019 and has gained over +4.0 strokes on approach in two of his last three starts at this venue.
1. Tony Finau ($9,700; win-win): Coming off two wins, how could we pick anyone else to top this list? Finau is first in strokes gained approach stats over the last 24 rounds, and he looks to be a huge force in the FedEx Cup playoffs for 2022.
2. Joohyung Kim ($8,000; win-T7): Kim had the storybook win last week, setting records across the board. He’s showcased upside in all parts of his game and deserves consideration for DFS lineups again this week.
3. Taylor Pendrith ($7,600; T13-T2): Pendrith didn't experience much of a drop-off at all, after he finished runner-up in Detroit, posting a solid T13 at the Wyndham. The Canadian has now finished top 20 in four straight PGA TOUR starts since July.
4. Cameron Young ($9,300; T2-T2): Young could so easily be first on this list if just for a break here or there. He’s posted runner-up finishes in his last two starts and has six finishes of third or better on the PGA TOUR since February.
5. Patrick Cantlay ($10,300; T2-T8): Cantlay continues to search for that first solo stroke play win of the season. He’s lost in playoffs twice in 2022 and is coming off his third runner-up finish of the year.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Start strong with Schauffele and Sungjae
The deep field at the top means we can go multiple ways to begin lineups, but I like trusting Xander Schauffele ($10,600) the most this week — a player who has thrived in more limited fields and likes a tougher tee to green test. Schauffele is top 5 in approach and tee to green stats over the last 24 rounds, and he should be eyeing a massive playoff run. There’s also no harm in sticking with the hot player from last week. Sungjae Im ($8,500) looks underpriced here and has always done his best work on tighter tracks with Bermuda greens. He’s good value as a second man in. Other potential cash game targets include Sam Burns ($8,600), Max Homa ($7,900) and Chris Kirk ($7,400).
Tournaments: Buy the dip on Rahm and Viktor
When building out GPP lineups this week, taking advantage of the cheap price tag on the former No. 1 player in the world, Jon Rahm ($10,000), is something I’m very interested in. Rahm hasn’t performed up to his normal levels this year, but he’s still got a win on his docket and has looked close at times to putting it all together. He was in contention at this event in 2019 (T7) and has performed well at places like TPC Sawgrass in the past. Similarly, I’d also look to take advantage of the cheap price on Viktor Hovland ($9,000 — see below) this week. His 9k salary, which has him above players like Burns, Matsuyama and Morikawa should help keep his ownership lower. Other potential GPP targets this week include Shane Lowry ($8,300), Emiliano Grillo ($7,000), Anirban Lahiri ($6,700) and Trey Mullinax ($6,500).
MY PICK: Viktor Hovland ($9,000)
Hovland hasn’t posted a win on the PGA TOUR yet in 2022 but there’s good reason to back him for the breakthrough this week at TPC Southwind. Some of his strongest results of the year on the PGA TOUR came back in March on the Florida swing where he grabbed top-10 finishes at both Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass. Tougher tee to green tests — where the targets are small and consistent ball-striking gets paid off — is where we should expect Hovland to shine the most, and he’s done that somewhat regularly on courses similar to TPC Southwind during his career.
Prior to the Open Championship, he was mired in a slump, but his top-5 finish at St. Andrews saw a return of his usual elite ball-striking (at least until the final round) and that should be plenty to build off for the Norwegian as he returns to the US and to a course which should better suit his eye and style of game. Finally, there’s history. This event has seen young stars break through for big career defining wins over the last five years (Finau and DeChambeau), and Hovland undoubtedly is ready to make a leap in terms of quality of field wins on the PGA TOUR soon. Backing him at +3500 on the DraftKings Sportsbook seems like a no-brainer, and he looks like excellent value at $9,000 this week for daily fantasy golf purposes as well.
MY SLEEPER: Emiliano Grillo ($7,000)
With tight fairways, small greens and a ton of water in play at TPC Southwind, this feels like a great week to invest in the vintage ball-striking that Emiliano Grillo has been delivering of late. The Argentine has been an off the tee machine since mid-May, gaining over a stroke off the tee in six straight PGA TOUR starts. He also ranks in the top 20 in strokes gained ball-striking stats over the last 24 rounds, and he is coming off a runner-up performance in Minnesota — another TPC venue that also featured plenty of water. That was his second runner-up finish in three starts.
There’s a little worry that a step up in competition will potentially lead to some regression (most of his recent results have come against weaker fields), but we’ve also seen Grillo perform well in the playoffs before. He grabbed a runner-up finish at the first playoff event in 2016 and also posted a top 10 at the Dell Championship (second playoff event) in 2018. Given the form and the emphasis this venue puts on consistent driving and accurate approach play, I love taking Grillo at 7k flat for DFS and would also look to him as a potential ladder betting target on DraftKings Sportsbook in the top 40 (+140) and top 10 markets (+1000).
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