Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2021 WGC St. Jude Invitational Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from TPC Southwind. Plus, a brief look at the Barracuda Championship.
2021 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Field
Field: 66 Players | No Cut
First Tee: Thursday, August 5
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas
One more cash grab in advance of the FedEx Cup Playoffs is available for the world’s elite in the form of the 2021 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational. The thought of a guaranteed payday was enough to entice the upper echelon of the world rankings outside of Jon Rahm, who was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics last week due to a positive COVID test. Even Xander Schauffele, fresh off a gold medal, is making the trip from Japan to Memphis.
He’s not alone either. Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Abraham Ancer, Paul Casey, Corey Conners, Tommy Fleetwood, Garrick Higgo, Sungjae Im, Si WOOO Kim, Shane Lowry, Marc Leishman, Patrick Reed, Joaquin Niemann, Carlos Ortiz, Cam Smith and defending champ Justin Thomas all competed for the podium on the weekend. All are currently listed in the field, but a couple of late-week withdraws may be in the cards. Or potentially even after they hit a couple of shots and jet leg catches up with them.
Sam Burns, Ryosuke Kinoshita, Cam Davis, K.H. Lee, Higgo, Wilco Nienaber and Brad Kennedy are all making their WGC debuts, while Stewart Cink is back in a World Championship for the first time in over a decade.
Bryson DeChambeau was forced out of the Olympics, along with Rahm, after a positive COVID test, but it appears as if he’s playing this week.
The remainder of the PGA TOUR will be at the Barracuda Championship this week.
2021 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Course
Course: TPC Southwind
2021 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 4s Gained: 450-500 Yards
Strokes Gained Putting
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2021 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Past Winners
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
2020: Justin Thomas -13
2019: Brooks Koepka -16
St. Jude Classic
2018: Dustin Johnson -19
2017: Daniel Berger -10
2016: Daniel Berger -13
2015: Fabian Gomez -13
2014: Ben Crane -10
2013: Harris English -12
2012: Dustin Johnson -9
2011: Harrison Frazar -13
2010: Lee Westwood -10
Despite playing 7,238 yards, after adjusting for par, TPC Southwind is covertly one of the longer courses on TOUR.
Previous to hosting the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational, TPC Southwind was the host course for the St. Jude Classic. All of the “history” prior to 2019 for this tournament is actually from the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, which was played at Firestone CC. Memphis has now been a PGA TOUR stop every year since 1958.
Since the 2004 course overhaul, more than 5,000 balls have gone for a rinse. That’s a serious number, by the way. Five thousand. That’s the most water balls of any course and almost 1,500 more than second-place TPC Sawgrass. This is more pronounced now since TPC Southwind began hosting a limited field WGC event two years ago. Most of the wetness will be absorbed by holes 12 and 18. No. 12 has seen more than 900 balls get wetter than Ethan Hawke in “Training Day.” John Daly holds the record for most dips in the lakes with 48.
In the past 10 years at TPC Southwind, only one winner has finished worse than 16th for the week in SG: OTT. And, for approaches, no winner has finished outside the top 20 in the year in which they hoisted the trophy. Two of the past four champs, Berger (2016) and Gomez (2015), topped the list for SG: APP that week; Dustin Johnson was second to only Robert Garrigus two years ago with the irons when he won by six strokes, while (against far stronger fields since becoming a WGC event) Justin Thomas was second a year ago and Brooks Koepka finished fifth off the tee and 11th in approach in 2019. In fact, both players led the field in SG: Ball Striking the year they won. The Fantasy National “Strokes Gained: Ball Striking” stat combines OTT and APP together.
Unsurprisingly, Collin Morikawa leads all players in SG: BS over the past 24 rounds.
Average Driving Accuracy (56%) and Greens in Regulation (59%) are almost 10 percentage points lower at TPC Southwind than at the average PGA TOUR tournament. With those thin fairways, you want to be long and straight off the tee. Over the past 24 rounds, Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey and Phil Mickelson are the only players who rank inside the top 30 of both distance and accuracy in this field.
Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koekpa, Xander Schauffele and Hideki Matsuyama have the most Strokes Gained: Total on par 70 courses over their past 24 rounds.
In a minimum of eight rounds at TPC Southwind, Daniel Berger, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Shane Lowry, Brooks Koekpa and Webb Simpson are averaging the most SG: T2G per round of the players in the field. In less than eight rounds, Lucas Glover’s +2.5 SG: T2G in his four rounds from 2015 is actually tops off all players.
In the last 22 years, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Geoff Ogilvy are the only players to win a major and WGC in the same year.
2021 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational Picks
Brooks Koepka ($10,600)
With no finish worse than T2 the last two years at TPC Southwind and his penchant for upping his game at elite field events, Koepka is a clear target. He’s posted four top-six finishes between the four majors and one WGC he’s played this season, while he’s also notched miss cuts at such events like the Palmetto, Byron Nelson and American Express. It’s a real thing. He comes to Memphis with three straight top-10 finishes and sits second behind Morikawa in SG: Ball Striking over the past 24 rounds.
Sergio Garcia ($7,300)
Scanning through his putting stats, you’d think Sergio putts with his eyes closed. Which he does from time to time. That strategy hasn’t worked either. Yet, in the face of his putting woes, Sergio’s ball striking continues to be some of the best in the world of late despite the middling results. No player was within three strokes of him tee to green at the 3M Open, but that was masked with over seven strokes lost on the greens. Obviously, it’s far more likely he loses than gains on the putting surfaces, however, if he can just manage not to lose too many strokes with the putter, TPC Southwind is a course where that can still result in a lofty finish. Thomas (-1.9) and Koepka (-2.7) both gave away strokes to the field putting a year ago and managed to finish 1st/T2. And, if it helps, in three starts at TPC Southwind the past 10 years, Sergio has gained strokes putting twice.
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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