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The PGA Tour stops in Memphis this week for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind. Not only is this one of my favorite stops on Tour because I grew up relatively close to the course, but TPC Southwind is by no means a pushover golf course, it presents a real overall test.
Brooks Koepka will be defending his title this week after putting on a clinic against Rory McIlroy in the final round a year ago winning by three shots at 16-under. Jon Rahm is the betting favorite this week as other big names including Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, and Bryson DeChambeau will tee it up in the Memphis heat.
Remember, with this being a WGC event, there is no cut this week.
Key Stats This Week
Ball striking, both off the tee and approach, is the name of the game when it comes to this 7,238 yard Par 70 course. Six of the last eight winners at TPC Southwind led the field that week in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
The course has also undergone some renovations since last year’s event, particularly the third hole and 17th hole which have both been lengthened. The Bermuda greens should be playing firm and fast given the time of year and the heat players will face this week. Distance off the tee never hurts anywhere, but that’s another stat to look at this week when making your picks.
Last week’s picks: Pick to Win, Lucas Glover (MC); Pick to Contend, Luke List (T-32); Pick to Fade, Brooks Koepka (MC).
Pick To Win
Jon Rahm took the No. 1 player in the world spot away from McIlroy after his win at the Memorial two weeks ago which could be added motivation for McIlroy who hasn’t necessarily been stellar since the restart with just one Top 30 finish in four starts.
He also may have a sour taste in his mouth after a poor showing in the final round here a year ago before finishing T-4. While it’s easy to think McIlroy, and many other players in the field, could be looking ahead to next week’s PGA Championship, this feels like a good spot to pick Rors, who ranks third on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
Pick To Contend (Top 10 Finish)
Hatton has only played in two events since the restart but has gone T-3 and T-4 while putting on a clinic with the flat stick. The Englishman leads the Tour in strokes gained: putting and is fifth when it comes to strokes gained: tee-to-green. He’s plenty long enough off the tee and is accurate with the driver in hand which is a recipe for success here.
Finished T-43 in this event a year ago after a lackluster 74 on Sunday.
Pick To Fade
It would have been too easy to pick Fleetwood as a fade pick last week in what was his first start since the restart resulting in a missed cut. I think this week will be another week where he shakes off a bit more rust before getting his game in order for next week’s PGA Championship in San Francisco.
He finished T-4 here a year ago, but given his poor showing with both the irons and the putter last week in Minnesota, there’s a cause for concern, at least for one more week.
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