2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship Picks: Round 3 Best Bets
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Pictured: Will Zalatoris.
Since the week began, the story of Cameron Smith reportedly signing a deal to join LIV Golf for a figure north of $100 million has been at the forefront of the golf world.
Despite all of the negative attention, the Champion Golfer of the Year remained unperturbed throughout the first two round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship. In round two, the Australian coasted to a 5-under 65, pulling within three of J.J. Spaun’s lead.
Spaun sits at -11, with Sepp Straka and Troy Merritt close behind at -10.
Tony Finau, who’s currently the hottest golfer on the planet, came down to earth a bit in and shot a 2-under 68 after his 6-under 64 on Thursday. At -8, he looks to be in a great spot to challenge for his third consecutive win on TOUR, which would be the first time a player has won in three consecutive starts since Dustin Johnson in 2017.
The tournament seems wide open at this stage, especially after two of the betting favorites, Rory McIlroy (+900) and Scottie Scheffler (+1400), missed the cut.
Spaun, Straka, Merritt, Denny McCarthy and Brian Harman aren’t names you expect to see at the top of the leaderboard in a FedEx Cup playoff event and it’s likely they won’t be there late on Sunday.
With the conditions likely to toughen up over the weekend, I anticipate the cream will rise to the top when all is said and done.
Round 3 Best Bets
Will Zalatoris to Win: (+2000) (BetRivers)
My best bet entering the week was Will Zalatoris to win the tournament as I outlined in my pre-tournament preview.
Zalatoris’ outright odds closed at +2500, so those jumping on board now are losing a bit of value, but I still believe he is a strong bet.
After getting off to a very slow start (+2 after nine holes and +1 after the first round), the 25-year-old rebounded in a big way during Friday’s second round. Zalatoris tied Tyler Duncan for the round of the day (7-under 63) and put on a magnificent tee-to-green display. He also gained 3.7 strokes ball striking, which led the field.
I came into the week loving TPC Southwind as a quintessential course fit for Zalatoris and Friday’s performance only reaffirmed my initial stance.
Denny McCarthy (-120) over Troy Merritt (BetRivers)
Troy Merritt’s putting has been inconsistent, and at times downright bad, for about a month or so. However, through two rounds at TPC Southwind, he’s found his stroke. Merritt has gained 6.4 strokes putting, which leads the field by a significant margin. I find it extremely hard to believe that the 36-year-old is going to continue lapping the field on the greens.
Denny McCarthy, on the other hand, has gotten to -9 with consistent play across the board. He’s second in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, which is pretty remarkable considering the strength of this field. He’s also only gained 1.8 strokes putting thus far and is arguably the best putter on TOUR. There’s reason to believe his hot putting round is yet to take place.
Brian Harman (+125) over Tony Finau (BetRivers)
This might sound crazy, but I’m fading the hottest golfer in the world for the remainder of the week. Finau is coming off of two consecutive wins and a scorching hot first round, but I believe his Friday round may be a sign of things to come this weekend.
Finau was once again excellent with the putter on Friday, gaining 2.2 strokes on the field. However, his ball striking left a lot to be desired. Finau struggled immensely to put the ball in the fairway and those problems should only get worse as the tournament progresses and the fairways get a little more baked out. He lost 1.0 strokes to the field on approach and lost 0.4 strokes to the field off the tee. In an event where ball striking is paramount, that isn’t going to get the job done.
Harman’s play has been incredibly steady and he’s gaining strokes across the board. It wouldn’t hurt to wait on placing this bet until just before tee time because Finau will probably be taking most of the action.