2021 WGC St. Jude Betting Odds & Picks: Buy Collin Morikawa, Cam Smith to Build Off Olympic Performances
Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa
Xander Schauffele finally broke through once again, this time for gold at the Tokyo Olympics. He started out hot in the final round at Kasumigaseki Country Club, then faltered a bit down the stretch as he tends to do, but ultimately he scrambled for par on the last hole to secure the top spot on the podium by one shot over Rory Sabbatini.
Sabbatini had the round of the week posting a 10-under 61 in the final round to secure silver and put enough of a scare into Xander to make things interesting down the stretch. C.T. Pan came from 57th after the opening round all the way to third to earn a spot in the seven-way playoff for bronze, where he ultimately outlasted Collin Morikawa to medal.
This week, many of the top players in the world head back east to Memphis for another no-cut event at WGC St. Jude, and I’ll target a few that will be carrying some good form back to the states. I’ll be referencing some of that strokes gained data from the Olympics, which can be found on the Tokyo Olympics Men’s Golf site.
3 Buys for WGC St. Jude
Just when it seemed like Collin Morikawa was human, and set for an off week at the Olympics, he fires a final round 63 to work his way into the conversation for a medal. He would fall short in that quest in the playoff for Bronze, but he certainly gave us plenty of reason to buy him this week ahead at St. Jude.
The biggest surprise of the week was just how off The Open Champion was on approach. He ranked in the bottom half of the field with his irons on the week, losing more than a shot to the field overall. While that highlights the issues of the first three rounds, he certainly found his approach game on the final day as he ranked fourth by gaining more than two shots on the field. This is the type of positive momentum that he can carry into this week at TPC Southwind, and put himself in position to contend from the start.
TPC Southwind is undoubtedly a second shot track, and one player that sticks out above the rest with his consistency at the Olympics on approach was Cameron Smith. He ranked fifth with his irons in Japan, gaining more than five shots on the field. He put himself in contention for a medal through the final hole, when he had a birdie putt on 18 that would’ve gotten him in the playoff for the bronze had it dropped.
Smith gained strokes in all tee-to-green categories this week, as he finished just above average off the tee, but was solid around the greens, gaining 1.4 shots on the field. Surprisingly, it was the putter which let him down this week as he lost more than a half shot to the field on the greens.
Smith ranks 12th on TOUR this season in Strokes Gained Putting, but couldn’t get it going at the Olympics. I think we will see that bounce back this week in Memphis, and if he can stay sharp with his tee-to-green game and fight off the jetlag, he can compete at the WGC St. Jude.
It wasn’t the final round that Shane Lowry was hoping for as his medal hopes were dashed in his opening nine holes. He simply couldn’t get anything going at the start as he went birdie free on the front, with a bogey at the fourth and then got bit by a double at the ninth. Lowry never did figure out how to play the ninth hole at Kasumigaseki as he was four over on the hole for the week, with his only par coming in the opening round.
While the opening nine was ugly, I am encouraged that he bounced back with a 3-under back nine to shoot even par for the day. He would finish in a tie for 22nd on the week, despite being inside the Top 10 going into the final round.
Despite those issues, I’m still buying the Irishman in Memphis as his overall performance was better than that final result. He ranked third in the field on approach, gaining more than five and a half shots on the field.
Lowry’s biggest issue was undoubtedly off the tee where he lost more than four shots across the week, but part of that was an unlucky break where a tee shot got stuck in a tree during the third round. If he can find the needed fairways this week at WGC St. Jude, he has the elite iron play to build off of his T6 finish at this event in 2020.