2022 St. Jude Classic Final Round Odds and Picks: Will Zalatoris Primed for First Tour Win

2022 St. Jude Classic Final Round Odds and Picks: Will Zalatoris Primed for First Tour Win article feature image

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Pictured: Will Zalatoris.

J.J. Spaun is a winner on TOUR this season as he captured the win at the Valero Texas Open in April, but that was an event preceding The Masters with many big names missing from the field. I don't think there were many outside of his friends and family that thought he would be leading through 54 holes in this elite field at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Spaun has surprisingly been the third best player in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green this week, while ranking second on approach. It certainly has been a recipe for success for him as he carries a one-shot lead into the final round over Sepp Straka. The players beyond the final pairing are where things get interesting on Sunday in Memphis as both Will Zalatoris and Cameron Smith linger two shots back of the lead.

Overall, 24 players are just five shots back of the leader going into Sunday, setting up an exciting final round in the first playoff event of the season. I expect many fireworks and with a couple of less daunting names leading the way, there has to be some value in the markets going into the final round.

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Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer has truly played by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.

Every situation in golf is different. Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.

In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics:

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)

In general, SG: Ball Striking and SG: Tee-to-Green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.

You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but are just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4

Will Zalatoris looks like the player most likely to be your winner on Sunday evening at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He was someone who was a great fit for this course to start the week and that has certainly played out as he climbed his way out from an over-par opening round.

Since his play on Thursday, Zalatoris has gained more than seven-and-a-half shots on the field with his ball striking. He has been absolutely dialed in with those metrics and it has him positioned to strike for his first win at this level. Many people were on him pretournament, but if you aren't yet, +450 is the best odds for the player I see winning on Sunday.

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I'm a bit biased because I picked Sam Burns as one of my favorites to start the week, but he has lived up to that despite not quite putting it all together just yet. Burns is just four shots behind the leader going into the final round, all while still not quite finding him full game. He was solid on approach until Saturday, when a couple of bad swings skewed his numbers. He's also lacked his often hot putter on these Bermudagrass greens. I still think he can pair it all up for a big finish on Sunday and if he finds that going into the final round, he certainly could present some value at +2000 on PointsBet.

The past two days have been stellar golf from Joaquin Niemann as he has gained more than two shots with his irons in each round. The only real question for me going into Sunday is if he is too many shots back to become a factor for the win and ultimately he probably is with so many players between him and the lead. He is a player who I will look to add to the card for a top-10 and even in top-5 markets going into the final round in Memphis. He will certainly be a core play for me as well in matchups and DFS for Round 4.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4

We often see on Sundays where pairings feed off of each other in a negative or positive way. I'm expecting the former in the final round at TPC Southwind for the final group as I just don't see J.J. Spaun and Sepp Straka being able to hold on under the pressure of this tournament. They have both been great this week, but they start my fades going into Round 4.

Spaun has been a bit better than Straka of late, but not by much. His only top 20 since the win in April came just a couple of weeks back as he played to an 8th-place finish at the Rocket Mortgage. Other than that, he's had more missed cuts than finishes in that timeframe. He started to show some of those struggles on Saturday as he needed a couple of late birdies to get to his current position at the top of the leaderboard after making par on his first nine holes. There isn't a ton to point to in the data for this fade, but I think the moment may be a bit too much for a player who just captured his first win in the spring after a decade on TOUR.

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It's really not overly fair to Spaun to compare him to Straka's play since the Straka win at the Honda Classic. The Austrian has been really, really bad recently with six straight missed cuts and no signs of a player who would find himself anywhere near the top of the leaderboard in these playoffs. The pressure should start to catch up as he goes into the final round and I have to wonder if he can maintain the putting stroke that has kept him in the hunt this week. I'll take the fade on those prospects, especially as his irons have regressed with each round this week.

The putter finally crashed back to earth for Troy Merritt on Saturday. He shot even par, losing more than a stroke to the field on the greens after gaining more than six shots in his first two rounds. He added some struggling irons to the round today, but somehow managed to hold it together enough to stay in the hunt going into Sunday. I don't expect that to hold for the final round, making him another fade for me as the St. Jude Classic closes out on Sunday evening.

StrokesGained Data for All Players in Round 3

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