WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2021 picks: Is DJ the play in Memphis?
After picking a pair of winners in consecutive weeks, our expert handicappers finally cooled off at the Olympics men’s golf tournament. Shockingly, no one on our normally very pro-Xander Schauffele betting panel was on Xander to win gold, despite many signs pointing to that outcome.
That just means we’ll be digging a bit deeper this week. How deep, you ask? Our very own Stephen Hennessey just had his first baby girl last week, and he’s still grinding away and making his picks. Can you say … perspective? We've learned from Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy that there's nothing more dangerous than a new father, and that goes for betting on golf as well as playing it ... we hope.
We have a no-cut event for a second straight week with the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational, meaning the live-betting options will be very enticing. Of course, there’s always some great plays pre-tourney, too, which we’ll be getting into below. TPC Southwind is a place that puts a premium on driving and putting, hence why players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas have fared so well.
Our entire betting panel comprises an anonymous caddie; Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network/DraftKings; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports, myself and Hennessey. Read on to see who we like this week at TPC Southwind.
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Dustin Johnson (18-1, DraftKings) — DJ in a 60-some man field at these odds … and no Jon Rahm? This is tasty. It’s not DJ-like to not have a victory in the calendar year—it’s worth the bet at a course that emphasizes driver, and where he’s won before.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Daniel Berger (20-1, DraftKings) — No one has better course history than the two-time winner of this event. Couple that with the fact his irons are on fire (Berger has gained strokes on approach in nine straight measured events) and you pretty much have to take him here.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Daniel Berger (22-1, FanDuel) — Berger has two wins at this course in his career and didn’t play the Olympics last week. He should have fewer travel concerns than the other elite in the field, which he certainly qualifies as. Berger’s iron play puts him top 10 over the past three months, per datagolf.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Jordan Spieth (16-1, BetMGM) — It’s well documented that Spieth has been one of the top players on tour this year but I don’t think he’s getting credit in the right areas. Yes, it’s true that he’s third on tour in SG/approach since January, first and sixth in “Short Game” (around-the-green plus putting) in the same timeframe. But it’s the driver that has unlocked everything else. Spieth has gained strokes off-the-tee in nine consecutive measured events and has only lost one in his last 12 starts -- per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That’s a stark contrast to the 12 events before that stretch, where he lost strokes off-the-tee in every single one.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Louis Oosthuizen (22-1, William Hill) — Regardless of the fact he has zero wins in North America in his career, Oostie might be playing the best golf, collectively, of anyone in 2021. It’s time to pay that off with a victory. He’s No. 1 in my model this week, ranking high in so many categories—third in SG/approach; second in par-4 scoring between 450-500 yards; seventh in Good Drives Gained, per Fantasy National. He’s also 13th in this field in SG/total over the past 24 rounds at TPC Southwind. I’m banking on this being the week Oostie gets off the schneid.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Dustin Johnson (18-1, DraftKings) — Look in the mirror and repeat after me: “Buy the dip. Buy the dip. Buy the dip.” It’s a strategy that’s worked well for a lot of bettors in 2021, i.e. Justin Thomas at 22-1 at the Players Championship, Brooks Koepka at 50-1 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, etc. DJ being 18-1 (or 20-1 if you grabbed it early) absolutely falls under that buy-the-dip umbrella, especially at a course he’s dominated at with two wins and three other top 10s. Don’t make this week more complicated than it is. Bet Deej.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Reed (40-1, DraftKings) — Reed ranks third in the field this week for SG/putting on Bermuda greens so it’s not surprising to see that he ranks 11th in the field this week for total strokes-gained on similar conditions. His form is also very good with him ranking third for total strokes-gained over the last two years and 16th for total strokes-gained over the last two months.
Recent results: Golf Digest's betting panel has been red-hot the past two seasons—and we’re finishing this season on a strong run, too. Our experts have now predicted 11 of the past 24 winners—an insane clip in predicting golf events (after going up 225.30 units last season!). Christopher Powers predicted Cameron Champ’s victory at the 3M Open (at 150-1), giving him three wins in 2021 (Justin Thomas at 18-1 at the Players; Brooks Koepka at 50-1 at the WMPO). Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports picked up his second win of the year by predicting Collin Morikawa’s victory at The Open (at 40-1, after hitting Garrick Higgo at the Palmetto, also at 40-1). Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel predicted Cam Davis’ win in this column at the Rocket Mortgage (at 100-1), and Stephen Hennessey predicted Jason Kokrak’s victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge a few weeks ago (at 45-1), giving him two wins on the year (Jordan Spieth at 11-1 at the Valero). Rick Gehman also has two wins this year (Thomas at the Players; Daniel Berger at 14-1 at Pebble Beach), as does Pat Mayo, who predicted Koepka’s WMPO win as well as Collin Morikawa’s WGC-Workday win at 33-1. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (above) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Corey Conners (55-1, DraftKings) — The Canadian very quietly was tied for the second-lowest final 36 holes at the Olympics, behind only C.T. Pan (and tied with Joaquin Niemann). Conners’ elite ball-striking was on display at The Open, too. It wouldn’t be a stretch if those consistent irons and off-the-tee prowess brought him into contention.
Mayo: Sergio Garcia (70-1, DraftKings) — Only the Open champion, Collin Morikawa, has been better than Sergio when it comes to ball striking over the last two months. If he can just putt a little bit, this is a great number for the former Masters champ.
Gdula: Jason Kokrak (42-1, FanDuel) — Look back at the winners of WGC events. It’s virtually always a stud, so that means I don’t want to punt with any outright. Kokrak’s putter is trending up, and that’s gotten him two wins already this year. Asking for a third is a bit steep, but he has the game to do it at TPC Southwind.
Gehman: Max Homa (150-1, DraftKings) — It’s been a rough patch for Homa, missing the cut in four of his last seven starts, but he won’t have to worry about the cut sweat this week. Otherwise, he’s starting to lay the foundation of great play, gaining strokes off-the-tee in five consecutive events and gaining on approach in five of his last seven. He needs to plug the leaks in his short-game but that’s something he’s been improving on recently. If he can marry those two aspects of his game together, he can certainly contend.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sergio Garcia (70-1, DraftKings) — God bless it, we’re banking on Sergio making some putts. Hold your breath and place the wager. The Spaniard’s ball-striking numbers were insanely good at the 3M Open, gaining 13 strokes/tee to green. He lost more than seven strokes on the greens, which is insanely poor. He’s coming off 15th-place finishes at The Open and the U.S. Open. There’s enough upside with this number for me to pull the trigger.
Powers, Golf Digest: Matthew Wolff (130-1, DraftKings) — The hardcore stats folks will say that Wolff is a complete stay away right now, especially after he lost nearly five strokes off the tee at the 3M Open. But he is such an elite driver that there’s no reason he can’t flip that in Memphis. If so, the other areas of his game—approach and putting—have been solid since his return at Torrey Pines. Like my DJ play, this is another great buy the dip opportunity. Wolff was 30-1 at 3M, and now he’s all the way up to 130-1 of a top-40 finish? Seems wrong.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Harris English (40-1, PointsBet) — English comes into this event ranked fourth for total strokes-gained over the last two months and seventh for total strokes-gained over a longer period of two years so his short and long term form is fantastic. We already know English loves this course, having already recorded a win and a further top 10 here previously.
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Xander Schauffele (14-1, DraftKings) — It’s so easy to lose focus for one or two swings out here, and coming off last week, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Olympic gold-medal winner struggle out of the gates.
Mayo: Bryson DeChambeau (35-1, DraftKings) — Hasn’t played well of late and has a terrible record at this course.
Gdula: Xander Schauffele (14-1, FanDuel) — I never thought I’d fade Xander, but after he finally broke through last week, he has to get right back to it in a loaded field and grind for another four rounds. I’d rather go with Spieth at the same number.
Gehman: Justin Thomas (16-1, FanDuel) — It’s terrifying to fade someone as talented as Thomas, especially as he defends his title this week. However, the version of Thomas we are seeing now is nothing like the version who won this event last year or won The Players in March. He has struggled with his irons, the best part of his game and has been a consistent loser off-the-tee. I worry that he “flips the switch” this week, but Thomas has historically foreshadowed his results and normally builds up to victories.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (14-1, William Hill) — It’s a cop-out fade, but c’mon … that was such an emotional win last week at the Olympics for Xander. Plus all the travel—you could convince me of most of the other favorites; not Xander at this number.
Powers, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (14-1, DraftKings) — Would imagine he’s been raging quite a bit in celebration of his gold medal, as he should be. He’s earned himself a sleepwalk to a T-17 finish if he wants.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Collin Morikawa (12-1, BetMGM) — Morikawa has had a hectic last month; traveling to and winning The Open Championship, then traveling to Japan for the Olympics. This has got to have taken a toll. Add into this his poor putting, specifically on Bermuda greens and he’s worth a fade this week at odds of just 12-1.
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (-120) over Webb Simpson (DraftKings) — The kid’s been so elite in these big events. It would not be a shock if Scheffler contends, and we haven’t seen much from Webb lately.
Mayo: Billy Horschel (+115) over Tony Finau (DraftKings) — Finau has a not-so-great track record at TPC Southwind while Horschel has a great one. He also loves Bermuda and has been elite off the tee these last few months.
Gdula: Paul Casey (-112) over Webb Simpson (FanDuel) — Casey has to travel back from the Olympics but is on fire tee to green lately. Simpson has played this course well historically but doesn’t have quite the same form as Casey the past six months.
Gehman: Patrick Cantlay (-120) over Patrick Reed (DraftKings) — Reed is about to complete a grueling four-week stretch that took him from England to Minnesota to Tokyo to Memphis—without much to show for it in terms of great results. Cantlay missed the cut at the Open Championship in his last start but should be well-rested and has been near the top of the leaderboard consistently in the last few months.
Hennessey: Rory McIlroy (-112) over Justin Thomas (PointsBet) — I guess JT’s getting the edge in this match up with his win here last year. But I think that’s being overvalued. Rory outplayed JT at the Olympics, at The Open, the U.S. Open … I’ll think the wrong guy is favored here.
Powers: Joaquin Niemann (-120) over Adam Scott (DraftKings) — It’s been a quiet year for Adam Scott, though he has sprinkled in some top 20s here and there. He could very well do that again this week, but I like Niemann to contend to win, and we haven’t seen an in-contention-on-Sunday type performance from Scott in quite some time. Niemann, meanwhile, has been knocking on the door all of 2021 with three runner-up finishes.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brooks Koepka (-120) over Collin Morikawa (DraftKings) — As you can see above, I have concerns about Morikawa’s fatigue this week. Kopeka on the other hand comes into this event well rested on a course he absolutely loves. He has a win, two runner-ups and a third-place finish here.
Matchup results from the Olympics: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Paul Casey (-120) over Patrick Reed); Gdulda: 1 for 1 (Abraham Ancer (-105) over Shane Lowry); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Joaquin Niemann (-110) over Shane Lowry); Powers: 1 for 1 (Corey Conners (-110) over Sungjae Im); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-118) over Si Woo Kim); Mayo: PUSH (Thomas Pieters (+115) over Alex Noren); Hennessey: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 23-14-3 (up 7.33 units); Alldrick: 24-14-1 (up 4.78 units); Powers: 21-17-4 (up 2.05 units); Gdula: 21-19-2 (up 0.99 units); Gehman: 19-21-2 (down 2.44 units); Caddie: 15-23-4 (down 8.39 units); Mayo: 15-23-3 (down 9.23 units).
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2021 picks: Top 10
Caddie: Brian Harman (+450, William Hill) — At this point, you must realize: This guy is a big-game hunter. He can go toe-to-toe with these guys and contend into the weekend. He’s going to hit fairways, give himself birdie looks and grind out pars, which is what you need to do at times here.
Mayo: Billy Horschel (+400, DraftKings) — Love him head to head over Finau but do think he can contend this week as well with his off-the-tee prowess.
Gdula: Scottie Scheffler (+230, FanDuel) — Scheffler finished 15th here last year but was fifth in SG/tee to green. His numbers in tough fields—recent majors and WGCs—have been stellar, as well.
Gehman: Brooks Koepka (+110, DraftKings) — I usually go further down the board for a top 10, but I can’t pass up Koepka. He’s getting healthy and piling up top-10 finishes. He’s enters Memphis with three consecutive top-six finishes -- two of which came in majors. He finished T-2 at the last WGC event we had, at The Concession, and I am finally getting around to mentioning his win in Phoenix earlier this year. That makes (six) top-10 finishes in his last 10 starts, with little signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Shane Lowry (+410, FanDuel) — His tee-to-green game has been so good since the PGA—leading to his fourth-place at the PGA, the sixth-place at Memorial, T-12 at The Open and he played great at the Olympics, too.
Powers, Golf Digest: Jim Herman (+2500, DraftKings) — Bit of a dart throw here, and I’d actually prefer him top 20 at +900, but we’ll sprinkle some on Jim Herman to finish top 10 and maybe even outright at 500-1, too. The guy is just playing some sneaky great golf right now with four consecutive top-30 finishes, in each of which he has gained strokes with the putter, normally not his strong suit. In a no-cut, limited-field event you might as well take a few fliers, and Herman is my No. 1 flier this week.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brian Harman (+450, FanDuel) — Although Harman has not played this event in the last five years, he does have a sixth-place finish to his name here in 2014. One of the reasons for this is his excellent putting on Bermuda greens, where he ranks eighth in the field this week for SG/putting on Bermuda. His form coming in has been decent too with him ranking 12th for total strokes-gained over the last two months in the field this week.
Top-10 results from the Olympics: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Xander Schauffele (-115)); Everybody else: 0 for 1.
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 9 for 39 (up 12.35 units); Hennessey: 7 for 37 (up 2.13 units); Powers: 8 for 39 (down 0.37 units); Tour caddie: 7 for 38 (down 13.98 units); Gdula: 3 for 38 (down 19.5 units); Mayo: 2 for 38 (down 23 units); Alldrick: 2 for 37 (down 27 units).
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2021 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Daniel Berger — Berger is the type of golfer that you plug into this event before the season even starts. He is an ultimate course horse for TPC Southwind. Since 2015, he is gaining 2.67 strokes per round on the field, which is the fifth best mark by any player at any course on the PGA Tour (min. 14 rounds).
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Daniel Berger. Valspar: Paul Casey. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. AT&T Byron Nelson: Sam Burns. PGA Championship: Collin Morikawa. Charles Schwab Challenge: Charley Hoffman. Memorial Tournament: Billy Horschel. Palmetto Championship: Lucas Glover. U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka. Travelers Championship: Keegan Bradley. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Jason Kokrak. John Deere Classic: Kevin Streelman. 3M Open: Maverick McNealy.
Hennessey: Louis Oosthuizen — I used him in most of my one-and-done pools, but I haven’t used him here—if you got ’em, it’s probably the last time you’d use him
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson. Valspar: Charley Hoffman. Wells Fargo: Max Homa. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele. Charles Schwab Challenge: Abraham Ancer. Memorial Tournament: Collin Morikawa. Palmetto Championship: Matt Fitzpatrick. U.S. Open: Jon Rahm. Travelers Championship: Paul Casey. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Bryson DeChambeau. John Deere Classic: Alex Noren. 3M Open: Bubba Watson.
Powers: Justin Thomas — Evidently I saved a lot of the big dogs for this end-of-season run so might as well start to use them. JT it is. He may have found a little sumthin’ sumthin’ on the weekend in Tokyo, plus, he’s the defending champ at Southwind, a place that’s produced many a multi-winner.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Kevin Kisner. Valspar: Patrick Reed. Wells Fargo: Patrick Cantlay. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy. Charles Schwab Challenge: Joaquin Niemann. Memorial Tournament: Jon Rahm. Palmetto Championship: Harold Varner III. U.S. Open: Bryson DeChambeau. Travelers Championship: Scottie Scheffler. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Doc Redman. John Deere Classic: Brian Harman. 3M Open: Dustin Johnson.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com
2.65 - While Daniel Berger has been dominant at TPC Southwind, don’t overlook Dustin Johnson, who has gained 2.65 strokes per round at this course since 2015. That’s the sixth-best mark by any player at any course on the PGA Tour.
4,300 - The average green size, in square feet, at TPC Southwind. That’s the third-smallest on the PGA Tour behind only Pebble Beach & Harbour Town.
1.79 - The strokes gained per round by Patrick Cantlay on “small greens” -- 5,000 square feet or less since the start of 2015, the best mark in this field.
0.66 - The number of strokes gained putting per round for “Bermuda Sam” Burns on Bermudagrass greens since the start of 2015. That is, by far, his best putting surface and second in this field to only Matt Fitzpatrick (+0.86)
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (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.