WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2020 DFS picks: The impressive Rory McIlroy stat to remember this week
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
We’ve been spoiled with strong fields throughout the PGA Tour’s restart, and it’s more of the same this week, albeit with a little different format. Our first World Golf Championship event since the shutdown will feature 45 of the top 50 players in the world, including newly minted No. 1 golfer, Jon Rahm. With it being a WGC, there’s no cut, which means your roster of six players is guaranteed four rounds (barring a WD). What that has historically meant is the best players rise to the top. Remember this is a short field, too, with only 78 players at TPC Southwind, which has hosted a tour event since 1989 before being elevated to a WGC event last season.
How do you handle such a loaded top end of the field this week? Below, you’ll find my favorite value and upside plays, including my fades, for your DraftKings and FanDuel lineups this week.
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2020 DFS picks:
High Upside: Justin Thomas ($10,700 DraftKings | $11,700 FanDuel)
Only Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas have gained more than two strokes per round* since the PGA Tour restart. JT is probably more volatile than his top-tier counterparts but also owns significant upside as demonstrated by his three top-10 finishes in his past five starts.
(*minimum 10 rounds, Per the RickRunGood.com database)
Safest Option: Daniel Berger ($9,600 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)
The uncharacteristic missed cut for Berger in his last start at the Memorial was his first such finish since the Houston Open. In fact, he has five top-10s in his past six starts and has notoriously destroyed TPC Southwind. He won at this course twice before it received its World Golf Championship designation.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Brooks Koepka ($9,200 DraftKings | $10,700 FanDuel)
Koepka will defend his title this week, but his win last year was his most recent win. Thanks to a lingering knee issue, Koepka has been a shell of himself. Since his win last year, Koepka has gained only 0.47 strokes on the field per round, compared to the 1.37 strokes he gained on average in the 365 days prior.
Pick To Win: Rory McIlroy ($11,200 DraftKings | $11,900 FanDuel)
It takes a lot for McIlroy to fly under the radar, but that’s where we are! He’s no longer the No. 1 player in the world, for the first time since February, but don’t let that fool you. He’s had a few poor nine-hole stretches that have derailed his winning chances in the restart. When the best players in the world get together, McIlroy asserts his dominance. He’s finished inside the top five in four consecutive WGC events. He has only one finish worse than 11th in his past 13 WGC starts.
$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Patrick Reed ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,000 FanDuel)
Reed is an absolute gamer, and there’s no field too strong for him. He’s proven that countless times in his career, but recently he’s finished 10th at the Memorial and seventh at the Charles Schwab Challenge, which were “major-caliber” fields. He’s also the reigning WGC champion, winning the most recent edition in Mexico.
Safest Option: Billy Horschel ($8,500 DraftKings | $9,500 FanDuel)
If you can get a guaranteed four rounds, like we will this week, I want a grinder like Horschel. He works hard over every shot, and the results recently have been great. He finished seventh at the Workday Charity Open and 13th at the Memorial. He not only finished inside the top 10 here last year, he also finished inside the top 10 at WGC-Mexico, the most recent WGC event played.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Jason Day ($8,200 DraftKings | $9,800 FD)
Day has notched back-to-back top-10 finishes for the first time since early 2019. While Day is certainly an elite player on and around the greens, I’m concerned with how good he has been in those areas. He gained more than 10 strokes combined in “strokes gained/short game” last week, a handy metric that adds around-the-green and putting together. Per the RickRunGood.com database, there have been only 16 golfers who have gained 10-plus strokes in a single event this season, so there’s really only one direction for that to go for Day.
Pick To Win: Tommy Fleetwood ($8,700 DraftKings | $9,900 FanDuel)
Fleetwood was one of the more popular fantasy options last week before missing the cut. It wasn’t as bad as it seems. Fleetwood gained 1.18 strokes from tee-to-green last week before forfeiting three strokes putting. He looked uncomfortable in awkward situations (fairway bunkers, for example), which is probably due to a lack of tour repetitions. I’m looking forward to a bounce-back week for Fleetwood.
Be sure to subscribe to Golf Digest's new betting podcast, Be Right, for a weekly breakdown of the week's PGA Tour event. This week we're joined by The Tour Junkies to break down the action from TPC Southwind, including some of their way-too-early PGA Championship picks.
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Matthew Wolff ($7,900 DraftKings | $9,000 FanDuel)
Wolff’s game is maturing right in front of our eyes. It was a pretty poor year for Wolff after winning the 3M Open last season, but he has finished inside the top 25 in three of his past four starts, including a stacked field at the Memorial. He’s getting more comfortable with being in contention. The four guaranteed rounds are appealing for highly volatile guys like Wolff who always have a low round or two in their arsenal.
Safest Option: Ian Poulter ($7,400 DraftKings | $8,900 FanDuel)
We know Poulter’s game rises to the biggest stages, and he’s been competitive a handful of times in the restart. He finished fifth at the Workday Charity Open and 14th at the RBC Heritage, missing only one cut in his last five starts. He’s thrived in WGC events, including top 10s in each of the past two years for this event.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Henrik Stenson ($7,600 DraftKings | $8,700 FanDuel)
Similar situation as Tommy Fleetwood last week. This is not an indictment on Stenson’s game but more around the rest of the industry who find appeal in the “unknown entity.” This will be Stenson’s first PGA Tour event since the restart, and we have no idea about the state of his game. As we’ve seen with plenty of golfers in the past seven weeks, it’s difficult to replicate tour conditions, and there has been a period needed to knock off the rust.
Pick To Win: Sungjae Im ($7,500 DraftKings | $8,900 FanDuel)
It’s likely that the tour shutdown was most detrimental to Sungjae Im, who was scorching hot before the break. Now he can’t seem to find his game. The big concern is that Im has lost strokes on approach in five consecutive starts, the worst stretch of his young career. The week off last week might prove to be critical for Im to get right. There’s too much talent in his game to keep him out of contention for long.
Be sure to subscribe to Golf Digest's new betting podcast, Be Right, for a weekly breakdown of our experts' picks, the sharpest analysis in golf gambling
$6,900 and below
High Upside: Bernd Wiesberger ($6,500 DraftKings | $7,800 FanDuel)
Wiesberger started slow last week at the 3M Open, essentially playing himself out of contention with an opening-round 73 (+2). To his credit, he flipped the switch for the rest of the week, playing his final three rounds at -13, the seventh-best score in the field during that stretch. If he can carry that momentum over into this week, he could make a lot of noise from a value position in the player pool.
Safest Option: Chez Reavie ($6,700 DraftKings | $8,200 FanDuel)
Reavie is the only golfer below $7,000 on DraftKings to make four consecutive cuts leading in this event. His last two were top-25 finishes at each Muirfield Village event. Reavie won’t dazzle you with his game, but he’s solid on approach and around-the-green shots, which will come in handy at TPC Southwind, which boasts some of the smallest greens on tour.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Phil Mickelson ($6,600 DraftKings | $8,100 FanDuel)
Expect the household name to get a lot of looks from fantasy players across the industry, especially at the price. Mickelson has made the cut in his past three starts, but two finishes outside the top 50 aren’t very inspiring. The other was a 24th-place finish at the Travelers Championship where he held the 36-hole lead. That’s basically been the story for Mickelson lately, he just hasn’t been able to put all four rounds together.
Pick To Win: Mackenzie Hughes ($6,400 DraftKings | $7,700 FanDuel)
Hughes has the ability to show up at the top of the leaderboard as evidenced by his second at the Honda Classic, third at the Travelers Championship and sixth at the Memorial. That’s three top-six finishes in his past six starts. If he wants to find another such finish this week, he’ll need his elite short game to contend. TPC Southwind features tiny greens that will force golfers to rely on their ability to get up-and-down.
RELATED: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2020 picks: Full analysis and best bets from our expert panel, which has correctly predicted 13 of the 28 winners on the PGA Tour this season
Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.