WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Preview and Picks: Which Stats Matter at TPC Southwind?

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Preview and Picks: Which Stats Matter at TPC Southwind? article feature image
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Chris Trotman / Getty Images. Pictured: Dustin Johnson.

After taking a week off due to the Tokyo Olympics, the PGA TOUR heads to Memphis, Tennessee to play the 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind. Formerly known as The St. Jude Classic, the course has been a TOUR stop since 1989.

TPC Southwind is a Par 70 measuring 7,244 yards. The course features Bermudagrass greens and rough. With 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards, there is potential trouble on almost every hole.

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will play host to 78 golfers this week and will be a no-cut event. The top 50 golfers in the OWGR are eligible to participate in addition to some other winners from around the world this season.

Some notable golfers who are making the the trip to Memphis include: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, and many other top players. The only missing golfer from the OWGR top 10 is Jon Rahm, who tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Tokyo Olympics.

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Past Winners at WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational

  • 2020: Justin Thomas (-13)
  • 2019: Brooks Koepka (-16)

St. Jude Classic

  • 2018: Dustin Johnson (-19)
  • 2017 Daniel Berger (-10)
  • 2016: Daniel Berger (-13)
  • 2015: Fabian Gomez (-15)

5 Key Stats For TPC Southwind

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for TPC Southwind to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

TPC Southwind is a relatively short course, and it isn’t necessary to be a bomber to compete. Last year, we saw Justin Thomas win the event by gaining 7.7 strokes on approach as opposed to just 2.3 off of the tee. Golfers with all types of skill-sets can win at the course, but there is no doubt that Strokes Gained: Approach is the most predictive statistic this week.

SG: App Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Collin Morikawa (+41.6) (+1200)
  2. Paul Casey (+25.9) (+2800)
  3. Louis Oosthuizen (+25.1) (+2000)
  4. Daniel Berger (+24.6) (+2000)
  5. Rory McIlroy (+24.5) (+2000)

2. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking does factor in approach, but it also includes golfers who are keeping the ball in play in addition to solid approach play. While distance off the tee isn’t the most important factor this week, golfers will get into some serious trouble if they spray the ball off the tee.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Collin Morikawa (+56.7) (+1200)
  2. Brooks Koepka (+40.4) (+1200)
  3. Sergio Garcia (+35.5) (+7000)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+34.6) (+2800)
  5. Paul Casey (+34.1) (+2800)

3. Greens In Regulation: Gained

Green in Regulation percentage at TPC Southwind is about 59% compared to TOUR average which is around 65%. Golfers who are in control of the golf ball have had a lot of success at the course historically. The scoring should be relatively difficult this week, therefore fairways and greens will be the recipe to success.

GIR Gained Past 24 rounds:

  1. Collin Morikawa (+49.0) (+1200)
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+36.8) (+2800)
  3. Louis Oosthuizen (+33.9) (+2800)
  4. Corey Connors (+33.1) (+5500)
  5. Paul Casey (+33.0) (+2800)

4. Par 4: 450-500

The most common par-4 distance on the course will be from 450-500. There are six holes of this length at TPC Southwind which is at least double the amount of any other distance range.

Par 4: 450-500 Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jordan Spieth (+15.1) (+1200)
  2. Abraham Ancer (+12.0) (+3500)
  3. Brian Harman (+11.3) (+5000)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+9.8) (+2800)
  5. Tyrrell Hatton (+9.7) (+5500)

5. Bogey Avoidance

TPC Southwind features six holes with bogey percentages above 18%. Holes 5, 7, 12, 14, 17, and 18 are all very difficult and will give the field some trouble. With par being a good score on these particular holes, it will be important to target golfers who tend to avoid blemishes on the scorecard.

Bogey Avoidance Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Louis Oosthuizen (+26.4) (+2000)
  2. Collin Morikawa (+23.8) (+1200)
  3. Patrick Cantlay (+21.9) (+2800)
  4. Daniel Berger (+20.9) (+2000)
  5. Justin Thomas (+20.4) (+1800)

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (26%), SG: Ball Striking (23%%), GIR Gained (18.4%), Bogey Avoidance (18.4%), and Par 4: 450-500 (14%).

  1. Collin Morikawa (+1200)
  2. Louis Oosthuizen (+2000)
  3. Daniel Berger (+2000)
  4. Brooks Koepka (+1200)
  5. Viktor Hovland (+2800)
  6. Patrick Cantlay (+2800)
  7. Jordan Spieth (+1200)
  8. Paul Casey (+2800)
  9. Xander Schauffele (+1400)
  10. Sergio Garcia (+7000)

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Best Bets

Brooks Koepka (+1200, DraftKings): Going to the top of the board to bet Brooks Koepka this week is a no-brainer. There are numerous signs pointing to the four time major champion adding a 2nd WGC win to his resume. Already a winner at the course in 2019, Koepka boasts immaculate course history at TPC Southwind. In addition to the win, he has two runners-up (2016 and 2020) and a third place finish (2015) in his past six trips to Memphis. As impressive as his course history is, Koepka’s recent form is just as spectacular.

The 31-year-old has four top-6 finishes in his past five starts where he has gained an average 7.8 strokes from tee to green on the field. In his past 24 rounds, Koepka ranks 2nd in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, 8th in Strokes Gained: Approach, and 8th in Greens in Regulation: Gained. The Bermuda greens at TPC Southwind should also be a nice fit for Brooks as Bermuda grass has historically been his preferred putting surface. The list of WGC winners in recent years is littered with almost exclusively elite players. Koepka has a great chance to log his name as a WGC-FedEx St. Jude champion once again.

Dustin Johnson (+2000, Bet365): I will finish off my betting card this week  by adding the second member of the “Bash Brothers” in Dustin Johnson. The 37-year-old has a long and impressive history at TPC Southwind, including a win in 2018 and a 5th place finish in 2016. DJ certainly has not had his “A” game of late but did finish 8th at The Open Championship despite his lack of form. His missed cut at the 3M Open wasn’t ideal but he actually gained 2.1 strokes on approach that week.

Furthermore, we are getting a discount on Johnson’s betting odds in return for his recent less than stellar play. We have seen time and time again, that when elite players slip down to the 20-1 range, it is a great time to target them for an outright win. The number two player in the world being priced as the 7th favorite in the field is simply too much value to ignore.

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