St. Jude Classic Betting Notes: Will Koepka, DJ Be Looking Ahead to Shinnecock?
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Brooks Koepka
TPC Southwind hosts the final event before the U.S. Open, as the PGA Tour makes its annual stop in Memphis, Tennessee.
This course provides a unique challenge. With water in play on 10 holes, Southwind ranks among the leaders each year in balls that find the hazard. So with danger lurking everywhere, a premium is placed on keeping the ball in play.
We’ve historically seen winners here without much power off the tee such as Ben Crane and Fabian Gomez. But we can also get a bomber such as Dustin Johnson to come out on top when they’re willing to club down at times and keep the ball dry.
What stands out the most on the 7,244-yard, par-70 track is the ability to score on par-4s. Guys such as Daniel Berger and Lee Westwood fit the mold of players who rank highly in par-4 scoring but don’t really have elite distance off the tee.
Overall, it’s a difficult test, and no winner has finished better than 13-under-par since 2009.
With most players taking the week off to get some rest or prepare for the U.S. Open, this tournament is lacking in star power outside of a few big names.
Johnson, the 2012 champ, opens as the favorite at +700, followed by Brooks Koepka at +900. Phil Mickelson (+1400) and Henrik Stenson (+1600) are the only other players less than +2800.
Two-time defending champ Berger opened in that group at +2800 along with Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Byeong Hun An, Tony Finau and Billy Horschel.
Koepka is by far the most intriguing name at the top of the board. But at +900 with the U.S. Open looming next week where he’ll be the defending champ, it’s hard to know where his focus lies.
In a different week, where a major isn’t lurking around the corner, I’d be tempted to fire on Brooks, sprinkle in a couple of longshots and call it a week. If I’m going to take a shot on a guy with such a short number, I want to know he’s 100% invested, and that’s probably not the case this week.
But the shorter-odds players haven’t claimed this title. It’s been longshots or guys such as Berger in the mid-20s. Even Johnson was +1800 when he won here.
Instead, I’ll start my card off with Schwartzel at +2800. The former Masters champ is a good fit here. He finished as the runner-up last year. He’s also found a little form lately with three top-10s, including a second-place finish at The Players Championship. He was also third in the team event in New Orleans with partner Louis Oosthuizen.
Few players have been closer to a win this year without actually tasting victory than Luke List.
List fell just short in a playoff to Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic. Then he missed a playoff by a shot at the RBC Heritage. List is the very definition of a bomber, but those two tournaments are accuracy courses that forced him to club down. TPC Southwind fits into that same mold and could be a chance for him to break through. He comes in at +4000 this week.
I’m also backing Brandt Snedeker at +8500 on Sportsbook. Snedeker has been in great form, but it’s been awhile since he’s played at TPC Southwind. That said, he does own a fifth-place finish in his career at this event, and I think the Tennessee native can turn his season around in some friendly confines. He’s not the longest hitter, but that lack of length doesn’t hurt him here. We know when Snedeker gets the putter rolling, he can win on tour, so I think this high price is worth taking a chance on.
The St. Jude Classic has seen its share of longshot winners. Before Berger went back-to-back the past two years, Fabian Gomez won at 400-1, and Crane took the title at 150-1. Both fit the mold of shorter, accurate players who can get really hot with the putter.
I’m going to take one shot further down the board on Ben Silverman at 240-1 on Sportsbook. Silverman has been riding a hot putter for a few months now, gaining strokes in six straight events. He also gained a season-high 3.4 strokes off the tee in an 11th-place finish at Colonial in his last start, so other areas of his game might be coming around.
Overall, though, this is a lighter week for me. With a major next week, motivation levels can be tough to gauge, and it’s better to keep a little extra cash for live plays or just save it until we get to Shinnecock.
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