2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship Early Bets: Iron Play a Key Factor at TPC Southwind
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/R&A/R&A via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Thomas.
Joohyung “Tom” Kim shook up the TOUR on Sunday at the Wyndham Championship as he took hold of the lead and he never let it go. Kim won the final event of the regular season, which immediately activated him from non-member status into the upcoming playoffs and made it even more difficult for players on the bubble to play this coming week in Memphis. Rickie Fowler was the last man in the playoffs this year and now has his eyes on TPC Southwind.
As we look to the final three tournaments of the season, we are set to see some stellar fields. This year, the St. Jude in Memphis drops from the WGC rotation and slides into the playoffs with the top 125 players from the year. It will be the last tournament with a cut, but with all of the history at this track we should also have plenty of course horses to dial in on for the week. Let’s take a look at who I’ll be watching out for when odds drop on Monday morning.
The first player I will be looking for at the top of the board will be Justin Thomas. I am hopeful his recent struggles, which have left him with middling finishes and a missed cut over his past three events, may have him drift out to a number worth a bet early on Monday. However, that may be optimistic for a player who won on this course in 2020.
Still, Thomas is the perfect fit for this track, which values iron play over everything else, and is in short company in that category. Thomas is 6th on TOUR in SG: Approach over the past six months and hits within the top 20 of all of the important distance buckets from 125-200 yards for St. Jude. He’s my pick at the top and I just hope he gets lost in the shuffle with all of the other elites to start the week.
I usually want in on Sam Burns at places where the driver is less of a factor or is taken out of his hands. That can certainly be the case around TPC Southwind and his first trip here in 2021 showed it to be a fit for his game as he fell just one shot short of Abraham Ancer in a playoff. Burns ranks 4th with his irons over the past six months as his iron play has stayed sharp. He will be seeking his fourth win of the season this week, and with the strength of this field, he could be in the second tier early in the markets. I do expect him to become popular as the week goes on, so I’ll look to add him to my card early on Monday.
This season has been one of breakthrough wins as Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau capitalized more than once. Matt Fitzpatrick finally won stateside in impressive fashion, and there could be room for more. Tommy Fleetwood is now the most accomplished player still looking for his first win in the states and with the way he is playing, it certainly could come here at St. Jude.
The Englishman has consecutive top-five finishes in his past two tournaments, though both were in Scotland, and is also showing his typically strong iron play. He seems to be one who would set up well for TPC Southwind and he does have some results to that effect in his career. Fleetwood will be on my short list this week as I look to put together a card with mid-range values and I expect him to be in that mix.
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