2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Sleeper Picks: Our Best Longshot Bets at TPC Southwind
Andrew Redington/Getty Images. Pictured: Min Woo Lee
The 2020/21 PGA TOUR season is winding down with a bang. A week after the Olympics, the game’s brightest stars will descend on Memphis for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the final WGC event of the campaign. And with just two weeks remaining before the FedEx Cup Playoffs and then the Ryder Cup, there is plenty at stake for every player in this week’s world-class field.
WGC events are usually won by someone near the top of the board, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting longshots worth a flyer in this field.
Here are our favorite sleepers for the 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind.
Min Woo Lee (+18000)
There is usually a somewhat lesser-known, usually international player who climbs the leaderboard at these WGCs. At this one last year, it was Tom Lewis, who tied a bunch of big-name players for second place. Two years ago, we really have to scroll down to Aaron Rai in a share of 12th as the best finisher who fit this idea. My pick to fill that role this week is a guy whose popularity is a lot greater after winning the Scottish Open last month.
Lee is a gifted young player, but so far hasn’t been able to test his game against the world’s best, playing in just one major (MC at this year’s Open Championship) and one WGC (T-28 at the Workday) so far. Those experiences, though, could be enough to allow him to feel more comfortable this week. An outright play might be overly optimistic, but I think a top-five/top-10 has a strong possibility.
Jason Kokrak (+6000)
Kokrak is in the middle of the best year of his career, especially on the greens. In his last two trips to TPC Southwind, he struck the ball well but lost a little over 11 strokes combined with the short game. With that part of the game in much better shape this year, I’ll take a chance he wins again at a nice price.
Sergio Garcia (+7000)
Eventually Sergio is going to come through, right? Even as I write that, I realize how ridiculous it is that I am going back to the well once again, but here we are. The thing is, there is no predictability to the most important club in the bag for Garcia, his putter. He loses a bunch of strokes putting, then somehow finds a way to be field average or even better seemingly out of nowhere.
The big thing with the Spaniard is that we don’t need him to be an elite putter, he just needs to avoid being awful. Sergio gained 13 strokes on the field tee to green at the 3M Open, but gave more than half of them back on the greens. He was the best player in the field getting to the putting surface during the week, and ranked third on approach.
If he can keep his ball-striking going, and find a way for the putter not to kill him across four rounds, then he can be there with a chance, which is all we are asking for at +7000.
Shane Lowry (+4500)
On a normal week Lowry would not be a sleeper, but with this being a smaller WGC field, some bigger names get pushed down the board a bit. The Irishman has been playing great golf of late, finishing T-12 or better in four of his past six PGA events.
He ranks 13th in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green across his past 16 rounds and has some strong history at TPC Southwind, finishing T-6 last year to add to his T-30 in 2018. At over 40/1 he makes for a worthwhile wager despite flying home from Tokyo.
Sergio Garcia (+7000)
I still have a bad taste in my mouth from last time I wrote up Sergio as my pick to win the 3M open a couple weeks back. In that event he gained 13 strokes tee to green, but lost 7.3 strokes putting; a truly abysmal performance on the greens.
While I have my doubts he can put together four decent rounds of putting to actually win this event, this number on him is just too good to pass on. Over the last 24 rounds he ranks seventh in this field in strokes gained approach, and 14th in strokes gained: off the tee.
We know he’s going to give himself plenty of great birdie looks, so at +7000 I’m willing to take a chance on his shaky putter in hopes that this is the week he capitalizes on his tremendous ball striking.