Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: PGA Tour 2020: WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational

PGA Tour 2020: WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational

WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational

Last week’s low-key event duly obliged with a low-key winner in Michael Thompson. I was quite pleased to see Max Homa deliver for me (especially after a few near-misses). But this week welcomes another blockbuster field as the season begins to enter overdrive. Originally known as the Memphis Open, this event dates back all the way to 1958. But it really came to prominence last year when FedEx stepped in to pick up Bridgestone’s slack. Bridgestone made it clear that they would no longer be sponsoring the Bridgestone Invitational (a WGC event hosted at Firestone Country Cub). 

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational
TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
30th July- 2nd August

FedEx helped elevate TPC Southwind onto the WGC mantle, with Brooks Koepka winning the inaugural edition of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational. A select 78 man-field will compete this week- including the top 8 players in the world. It will be interesting to gauge the intensity one week ahead of the PGA Championship.

TPC Southwind has hosted the Memphis Open (in all its guises) for 32 consecutive years. It was designed by Ron Pritchard- in consultation with Fuzzy Zoeller and Hubert Green. Opened it 1988, this course has always provided a fairly demanding test. But this was amplified in 2004 by a prickly renovation, with an additional 125 trees plated and 15 bunkers added. The smaller-than-average greens were also altered from Bentgrass to Bermuda. History seems to suggest that power isn’t a huge factor here. But I would argue that its elevated WGC status may change the playing field. Just look at last season. Koepka won, while McIlroy and Rahm both squandered opportunities. My bet is solid driving will be key to success this week (just look at two-time winner Dustin Johnson).

Tiger Woods opts to sit out ahead of next week’s PGA Championship. The WGC Adonis wants to give his body the best shot at competing against the younger guys next week. Jon Rahm understandably leads the markets after his exploits at Muirfield Village. The new World Number One will look to fend off the advances of recently displaced Number One Rory McIlroy. Both performed well here last year and should be in the mix. Defending champion Brooks Koepka is a little anonymous at present and needs some positive juju ahead of his PGA Championship defence next week. All in all, this should be yet another exhilarating week of PGA Tour golf.

Past Winners 
2019: Brooks Koepka (-16) * 1st time played as WGC event
2018: Dustin Johnson (-19)
2017: Daniel Berger (-10)
2016: Daniel Berger (-13)
2015: Fabian Berger (-13)

Outright Betting (To Win)
Jon Rahm (11/1)
Justin Thomas (11/1)
Rory McIlroy (12/1)
Bryson DeChambeau (14/1)
Patrick Cantlay (16/1)

Value Bets

Brooks Koepka
To Win (33/1), To Place (7/1)

It’s kind of amazing to think of how people’s perceptions of Koepka have changed in a year. When he won here last year, he was firmly entrenched as the alpha-dog of world golf (careering past Rory McIlroy with an almost arrogant ease). But the extended lockdown hasn’t been too kind to Koepka.He says that he is struggling with his knee, while Bryson DeChambeau has easily surpassed him as Mr Beefy-American-Golfer. His left-to-right ball flight perfectly suits this course: he has finishes of 2nd and 3rd to go with his victory last year. He showed glimpses at the RBC Heritage of his old self and I think he looks appealing at 33/1. There were always going to be some players who were more acutely affected by such a long layoff.

Ryan Palmer
To Win (140/1), To Place (30/1)

I just had to opt for Texan Ryan Palmer at this price. He is coming off a brilliant runner-up finish at the Memorial. He is such an unpredictable talent. Since the tour resumed he has missed three cuts and picked up two top 10’s. But I just think he deserves a bit more respect after such a gruelling display at Muirfield. The thing that really impressed in Ohio was hit vastly improved putting. He finished inside the top 10 for putts per round (easily the most erratic aspect of his game). He looks like catnip in the place markets.

The Man to Beat

Daniel Berger
To Win (28/1), To Place (6/1)

This one is something of a no-brainer. Daniel Berger was in terrific form entering the lockdown (he went into golfing exile on the back of three back-to-back top 10 finishes). One would have thought that the mercurial Berger may struggle to recapture that form after such an extended break. But victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge was followed by a top 3 finish at the RBC Heritage. Sure, he missed the cut at Jack’s event, but he still owns five consecutive top 10’s leading up to that blip. And this week he returns to the scene of his greatest triumph. A back-to-back Bridgestone Invitational Champion in 2016 and 2017; Berger looks like a steal at 28/1.  

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