Betting Analysis
July 28, 2020

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2020 picks: Our experts' bold prediction on Rory McIlroy

We've seen Rory McIlroy get hot and secure wins in bunches before. Is this the week he starts one of his runs?

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Sam Greenwood

For the first time in what felt like forever, a longshot won on the PGA Tour at the 3M Open. Michael Thompson opened at 100-1, meaning anyone brave enough to wager on the sweet-swinging 35-year-old probably had a nice little celebration on Sunday evening.

Unfortunately, our expert panel didn’t peg him as a dark horse, meaning we’ve now only picked an outright winner in 13 of the 28 events on tour this season, putting us up more than 260 units collectively on the season. For shame.

Don’t worry, we fully intend to get back on the board this week in Memphis, where 45 of the top 50 players in the world are set to tee it up at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. There’s Rahm, Rory, JT, Bryson and much more. It didn’t take long to get back to a “major-like” betting field.

Two of the most intriguing prices that immediately stick out are former winners at TPC Southwind: Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. The bash brothers are each firmly in the mid-tier with injury questions. That value might be too difficult to pass up (read below for more), though concerns are legitimate.

Read on to see who our experts—which comprises a tour caddie offering his insight from the range and putting green at this week’s 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational; picks from three of the most respected experts in the daily-fantasy community, including Brandon Gdula of numberFire; Pat Mayo of DraftKings, and Rick Gehman, a leading data scientist and founder of RickRunGood.com; plus Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports, which tracks DFS ownership and sentiment—like this week.

Read on to see our WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2020 picks.

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2020 Picks To Win (Odds from PointsBet)

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Bryson DeChambeau (12-1) — I feel like he's flying under the radar after his Memorial meltdown. The more hate he receives, the more he thrives, in my opinion. He drives it long and straight which will be key this week around TPC Southwind. Also, his past shows that once he gets hot his form sticks around, so I don't expect his recent form to just fade away after one bad week.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National analyst: Brooks Koepka (28-1) — Sneaky thing about Koepka last week? He was elite in the ball-striking department. Now, he missed the cut after losing over five strokes putting through two rounds (the third-most of any MC in his career), but the driving and irons looked like vintage Koepka. So why not take him this week where he’s over double the odds of his PGA Championship number, at a course where he’s the defending champion? There’s a lot of value on the four-time major winner this week.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Webb Simpson (22-1) — Simpson is a lights-out Bermuda putter, and while there’s a lot more that goes into winning an event like this, we know he has the other stats needed to excel at TPC Southwind. He won on Bermuda at the Waste Management and the RBC Heritage. He also finished second here a year ago. I don’t like the prospect of betting anyone to win three times in seven starts, but he’s incredibly interesting.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Rory McIlroy (11-1) — McIlroy’s record in WGC events is absolutely phenomenal. He has only one finish worse than 11th in his last 13 WGC starts (match play excluded). His game is starting to take shape after a slow return. He was let down by his short game at the Memorial, losing 5.6 strokes around-the-green. That was, by far, the worst recorded number for him in the past five years. (His previous worst was the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship where he lost 2.45 strokes around-the-green.) I’m looking for McIlroy to bounceback this week and re-assert himself as the top player in the world.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Rory McIlroy (11-1) — I'm usually reluctant to give my colleague Alex Myers kudos, but he made a great point on our podcast this week. Rory gets hot and tends to win in bunches, and we're sure he's eyeing up next week at TPC Harding Park as one of those opportunities, having rolled to the WGC-Match Play there in 2013. A tune-up victory for Rory would be a great way to kick off another one of those Rory hot stretches.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Abraham Ancer (50-1) — Everybody was on the Ancer bandwagon early in the restart, especially after his runner-up finish at Harbour Town. I’m happy to hop on just as everyone is hopping off. It’s a very strong field, and I’d probably like the number a little higher, but him being this low is clearly a sign of respect for his game. He’s only played in a handful of WGCs and steadily improved in each one (T-4 at WGC-HSBC in November, T-12 at WGC-Mexico in February). His combination of solid play off-the-tee and elite iron play should serve very well at TPC Southwind, where the greens are small, just like Hilton Head. If he can just get the damn putter rolling, he’s going to win eventually.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Webb Simpson (22-1) — Simpson’s results on short par 70’s speak for themselves. He ranks first in the field in total strokes-gained on these courses. He’s currently playing great golf too, ranking seventh in opportunities gained in the last two months.

Results from this season: Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey had another heartbreak with Tony Finau’s lost weekend, in our panel’s hopes of following up Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel’s pick of Jon Rahm at the Memorial (Gdula’s sixth winner of the season). We’ve correctly predicted four winners in the past six events, including six outrights in the past nine tournaments. We have correctly predicted 13 of the first 28 winners this season. Golf Digest's betting panel continues to be the hottest golf betting panel in the industry: Counting outright winners, top-10 bets and matchups won and lost, we are up 262.14 units (the equivalent of being up $2,621.40 if you wagered $10 on all of our bets).

Sleepers/Dark Horses That Could Win the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational (odds from PointsBet)

Caddie: Matt Wallace (100-1) — Matt looks like he's getting comfortable playing full-time out here on the PGA Tour after a T-4 at the Memorial. He also recently linked back up with his long-time caddy Dave McNeilly. They've had some unreal results in the past.

Mayo: Paul Casey (80-1) — Dark horses rarely come through at WGCs; they tend to be dominated by the elite of the elite. But if you’re going to throw a dart, take Casey. Everyone will back off him after last week (OK, maybe not Gdula, see below), but like Brooks, Casey was sunk by a lousy flat stick. Find that putting stroke, and he'll contend.

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Sam Greenwood

Gdula: Paul Casey (80-1) — Casey was my pick to win last week—but at an extremely lower number (18-1). Sure, he missed the cut. The reason for it? His putting was terrible. His ball-striking was fine, as usual for Casey. We’re getting some recency bias baked into the price. I’d rather take a lot of second- and third-tier picks this week, but Casey is in the sleeper conversation at these odds.

Gehman: Sungjae Im (66-1) — Historically, WGC events are won by players with top tier talent. Obviously there are more of them in this field, but you rarely get “longshots” actually winning these events. With that being said, Sungjae Im offers top tier talent at a longshot price. That price has tanked with the recent run of poor play from Im. He hasn’t finished inside the Top 50 in any of his previous five starts and has long strokes on approach in each of those. This is the worst run of his young career. I’m optimistic that with a week off coming into this event and his raw talent that we saw before the break, Im can right the ship.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Patrick Reed (33-1) — Apologies, as I know this isn’t really a longshot. But the 17th-biggest favorite in the field isn’t exactly a favorite either. I just really like P-Reed this week. Strokes-gained/around the green will be a bigger factor than most weeks here, and Reed is one of the best scramblers in the world.

Powers, Golf Digest: Matthew Wolff (70-1) — Am I missing something? Prior to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Wolff was 125-1, understandable given he hadn’t posted a top 10 since his 3M Open victory the previous year. But then he finished runner up and has backed that up with a 22nd at Memorial and a 12th last week at 3M. He’s flashing the all-world talent we saw in college again, which should have him inside of 50-1 like his former teammate Viktor Hovland, even in a WGC. And you can still get him at 70-1 (or 90-1, cough cough)? I will happily take that, thank you.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Joaquin Niemann (80-1) — The Santiago Sensation ranks seventh in the field this week in strokes-gained: tee-to-green over the last two months and sixth in opportunities gained. If the putter behaves this week he has the game to win a WGC event such as this.

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Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Dustin Johnson (30-1) — He's just been too inconsistent. DJ is the type of guy who could win this week after coming off two absolutely shocking weeks, but, it would be a stretch.

Mayo: Patrick Cantlay (20-1) — I can’t quite understand why Cantlay gets this sort of respect in the betting market. He’s a great player who could definitely win, but when players like Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson all have better odds, I don’t see why you’d jump on this number.

Gdula: Hideki Matsuyama (30-1) — It’s really hard to nitpick the top of this field, but I want as many mid-range darts as I can have. Longshots probably won’t be contenders. That being said, Matsuyama has the irons mostly figured out right now. He just can’t putt, and he especially can’t putt on Bermuda greens.

Gehman: Matthew Fitzpatrick (33-1) — I’m not really sure what I’m missing on Fitzpatrick, who has never won on the PGA Tour, yet he has the ninth-shortest odds (he’s 28-1 at some books), in a field that contains 45 of the top 50 golfers in the world. He’s shorter than Collin Morikawa who won two starts ago. He’s shorter than Daniel Berger who has five top-10s in his past six starts, including a win plus the two wins at TPC Southwind. Yes, he finished third at Memorial, but he did it while gaining the third-most strokes/putting. I am truly baffled.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Dustin Johnson (30-1) — We know DJ has a short memory. But 78-78-80 will be tough to block out from anyone's brain. You can make the case for so many players in this elite field; it's toughest to come up with good reasoning to bet on DJ.

Powers, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (11-1) — I actually do like Rory to get back to his top-five ways this week, but I just can’t get behind betting him outright at 11-1. Too much value elsewhere.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Cantlay (20-1) — Not only does Cantlay not gain strokes on the field with his putter on Bermuda greens he also doesn’t play short, Par 70s particularly well either.

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2020 picks: Matchups

Caddie: Justin Thomas (-110) over Jon Rahm (DraftKings) — I’ll take Justin Thomas over anyone but Bryson DeChambeau this week. And yes, that includes the newly minted No. 1 player in the world.

Mayo: Webb Simpson (+105) over Patrick Cantlay (DraftKings) — Webb is the master of par 70, Bermuda courses. And you get plus money.

Gdula: Brooks Koepka (-110) over Dustin Johnson (FanDuel) — Neither have stellar form, but Koepka’s is more promising. I’ve been treating each as a stay away, but there looks to be value on Koepka over Dustin based on recent data.

Gehman: Tyrrell Hatton (-115) over Matthew Fitzpatrick (DraftKings) — I’ll go down with the ship on my fade of Fitzpatrick, but these two golfers don’t even compare at the moment. Fitzpatrick has made four of his last five cuts with two top-25s. Hatton has only finished outside the top 6 in one of his last six starts. Going back even further, he has nine top-10 finishes and two wins in his last 10 starts worldwide. Hatton has a smaller sample size than others, but he leads the tour in strokes gained this season.

Hennessey: Rory McIlroy (+100) over Jon Rahm (William Hill) — It's tough to pass up Rory McIlroy at plus-money against anybody in a WGC. I'm expecting big things from Rory over the next couple of weeks, and that starts with threatening to win this week. Rahm could play well but will need to keep up the top-five machine that is Rory in these WGCs.

Powers: Gary Woodland (+110) over Daniel Berger (DraftKings) — The course history for Berger is impossible to ignore, which is why he’s such a big favorite over the reigning U.S. Open champ here. But I’ll roll with the live dog in Woodland, who put the Ping driver back in the bag at Workday and gained strokes off-the-tee (3.4) for the first time since the restart. He’s been feasting with his irons and putting it surprisingly well, too. If everything clicks on the same week, G Dubs is going to win again very soon.

TOUR Championship - Preview Day 3

Kevin C. Cox

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Webb Simpson (+105) over Patrick Cantlay (DraftKings) — Easy on this for me. I like Simpson to win this week and Cantlay is my fade of the week.

Matchup Results from the 3M Open: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Harris English (-115) over Bubba Watson); Tour Caddie: 1 for 1 (Tony Finau (-120) over Tommy Fleetwood); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Emiliano Grillo (-120) over Russell Knox); Christopher Powers: 1 for 1 (Tony Finau (-120) over Tommy Fleetwood); Mayo: 0 for 1; Gehman: 0 for 1; Alldrick: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season: Powers: 11-4-1 (+7.42 units); Tour Caddie: 14-8-1 (+5.29 units); Hennessey: 10-6 (+4.92 units); Alldrick: 15-9-2 (+3.95 units); Gehman: 4-3 (+0.62 units); Gdula: 10-13-2 (-2.35 units); Mayo: 11-15 (-3.86 units)

Top 10 (odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)

Caddie: Tyrrell Hatton (+280) — He’s been one of the best players in the world, but he doesn't play much so no one talks about him the way we should. He's due for a win, if I wasn't so sure about Bryson's success, I'd pick Tyrrell to win.

Mayo: Chez Reavie (+1000) — Reavie’s turned around his ball-striking, looking more like player who took a run at the U.S. Open and won the following week a year ago. He’s straight off the tee to navigate the thin fairways and is actually 25th in this field of elites with his irons over the past month.

Gdula: Matthew Fitzpatrick (+300) — We’ve seen Fitzpatrick contend in recent weeks, and he actually ranks as the second-best Bermuda putter in the field over a 100-round sample, per FantasyNational.com. He finished 48th and fourth at TPC Southwind in the past two years and gained five strokes tee to green last year. He’s an above-average ball-striker who’s one of the betters putters on this surface.

Gehman: Tommy Fleetwood (+300) — Fleetwood’s missed cut last week wasn’t that bad. He looked rusty and struggled when he found himself in some awkward positions around TPC Twin Cities. On the flip side, he flashed brilliance with his irons at times, reminding us of peak-Fleetwood. He also dropped three strokes putting last week which was his second worst putting performance in the last three seasons.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Ian Poulter (+750) — For a lot of reasons, I think it's fair to throw out the Memorial this week in terms of comparing play to TPC Southwind. The weekend was so extremely difficult, it doesn't bother me that a player missed the cut. Take Ian Poulter. He had just finished fifth at the Workday a week before and also had a top-15 at the RBC Heritage. He was backed by a massively hot putter at Workday, sure, but that's not out of the ordinary for Poulter. These are attractive odds for someone playing well.

Powers, Golf Digest: Erik van Rooyen (+1200) — EVR was the belle of the ball on golf gambling Twitter last week. He then proceeded to miss the cut horribly, which has caused quite the overcorrection in his odds. In just 16 PGA Tour starts, the South African has eight top 25s, including a third at the WGC-Mexico this past February and an eighth at last year’s PGA. This is clearly a big-game player in a big-game field, and I’m betting on a bounce back from him after last week’s MC.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Rickie Fowler (+430) — Webb Simpson may rank first in total strokes-gained on these types of courses but Fowler ranks a close second. He also puts extremely well on Bermuda so expect a return to big things from him this week

Top 10 Results from 3M: Powers: 1 for 1 (Charles Howell (+900); Everyone else: 0 for 1.

Top 10 Results from this season: Mayo: 4 for 24 (+11.5 units); Hennessey: 4 for 15 (+4.75 units); Alldrick: 5 for 25 (+1.5 units); Gehman: 1 for 7 (even on season); Powers: 2 for 15 (-2.3 units); Gdula: 3 for 26 (-7.8 units); Tour Caddie: 1 for 33 (-19.5 units)

By The Numbers, courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:

4,300 — The average square footage of greens at TPC Southwind. They are the third smallest greens on the regular PGA TOUR schedule behind Pebble Beach and Harbour Town.

0.47 — The average strokes gained per round for Brooks Koepka since winning this event last year. Compared to the 1.49 strokes he gained per round in the year prior to winning this event.

79.33 — The scoring average for Dustin Johnson in the three rounds since his win at the Travelers Championship. This includes two 80s at The Memorial and a 78 at TPC Twin Cities before withdrawing.

309 The number of days since Tyrrell Hatton’s last missed cut anywhere in the world. He missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship and has only one finish outside the top 20 since.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the 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.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.

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