Our 4 Favorite Picks To Win The WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Viktor Hovland
- Our golf crew identifies their favorite picks to win the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
- Find out why they're backing Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Tyrrell Hatton and Viktor Hovland.
It is crowded at the top of the golf world right now.
Jon Rahm, fresh off his win at Memorial, is the new World No. 1 and, for the first time since the Return to Golf began, the tournament favorite. The Spaniard is the only golfer with single-digit odds (+850, $10 wins $85) for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational but he’s got plenty of illustrious company at the top of the oddsboard.
Justin Thomas (+1000), Rory McIlroy (+1150) and Bryson DeChambeau (+1200) are right behind Rahm but things get incredibly crowded in the next tier as there are 13 golfers between +1800 and +3500. That means that 22% of the 78-player field is 35-1 or shorter.
How should you play this wide-open event? Our golf analysts pick out their favorite outright bets for the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational:
Justin Thomas (+1000)
JT won this event two years ago, but of course, that was the final time it was played as the WGC-Bridgestone and was held in Ohio, so that shouldn’t have much bearing on this one. Except, it sorta does. In his last seven WGC starts, Thomas has finished 12th or better in six of ‘em. He clearly enjoys showing up and showing off against his fellow world’s best players.
Since the restart, Thomas has fallen victim to short periods of poor play, from opening nine-hole stretches to the closing three-hole stretch at the Workday Charity Open. It feels like he’s close, though, to putting it all together for four straight rounds. He was T-12 at this event last year, which underscores a bigger point.
In today’s world, the most recent winner – whomever it is – often receives the deserved instant adulation on Monday morning; we’ve seen this for the likes of Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm since the restart. Let’s remember, though, that JT has played 18 tournaments in the past year.
He’s missed three cuts. In the 15 where he’s reached the weekend, he’s never finished lower than 18th place. I don’t think anyone has been questioning his talent, it’s just a matter of talking up others after those wins.
It’s only a matter of time, though, before Thomas wins again and all signs could be pointing toward him this week.
Patrick Reed (+3500)
Anytime Reed dips below 30-1 he’s worth a look. And considering the 29-year-old southpaw closed out Memorial strong, finished 12th here last year and already picked up a win in a WGC event this season, I think he’s in range for an outright bet in this field.
Reed drove the ball about as well as he has all year at Muirfield Village so if he can carry that over and keep up his usual short-game prowess
He’s also finished inside the top 15 here a couple of times including 12th a year ago. Reed drove the ball about as well as he has all year at Muirfield Village so if he can carry that over and keep up his usual short game prowess, then he’ll have a shot to contend on Sunday.
Tyrrell Hatton (+3000)
Whenever there’s wind and/or bad weather I immediately look towards European players and Hatton is my favorite of the bunch this week considering his current form and the fact that he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which was the last tournament played in blustery conditions.
There’s also some statistical reasons to be bullish on Hatton, as the Englishman ranks 14th in ball-striking and second in approach in 2019-20.
Hatton has finished inside the top-20 (including two wins) in nine of his past 10 events, so it’s pretty clear this guy shows up to win.
Viktor Hovland (+3100)
I agree with Collin on the Hatton pick; he’s probably my favorite value of the week. But to mix it up, let me highlight the 22-year-old Norwegian youngster who is playing as well as anyone in the world since the return of golf following the COVID-19 hiatus.
In his six events since the return, he’s been inside the top-25 in all but the Memorial, which obviously played brutally tough. Still, he had a very solid two days to start before falling off; it’s tough to penalize him too much for that.
This week I want guys who can really rack up birdies, and Hovland’s been among the best in that regard, ranking fifth in recent birdies per tournament since COVID. Further, I really want guys who sit high in Total Driving, which combines distance and accuracy. Among the top of that list you’ll find guys like Paul Casey (who I really like this week, too), Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau. Among them, though, is Hovland.
This maybe swerving into the narrative lane a little too much, but I also want guys who are going to be highly motivated to win even with a major in the very near distance. Hovland is young and hungry, and his form shows that he’s really dialed in right now. Sign me up over 30/1.