2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational Picks, Predictions, Preview

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from TPC Southwind. Plus, a recap of the 2019 British Open and a quick look at the 2019 Barracuda Championship

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2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational Field

Field: 64 Players | No Cut
First Tee: Thursday, July 25 at 10 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson

Talk about upward mobility: The St. Jude Classic escaped the rigmarole of the PGA proletariat and elevated itself into the bourgeoisie of the WGC circuit. No longer is the event concerned about beet rations and the needs of the many. It’s all about consolidating power, fact beet parties, and controlling the means of production these days. Like when everyone takes off to college, then heads back home for Thanksgiving, and, at the local, there’s that guy who was super weird in high school, but now he has clothes that fit, he speaks, and got a hair cut that doesn’t scream “Pete Rose.” Mostly, everyone is in; there are a few stragglers, though. They believe senior year hierarch will exist in perpetuity. And, for them, it will, because they’ll never leave that town.

Now being in the World Golf Championship rotation, the 2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational has attracted the field you’d expect for a stateside WGC event. Of the 64 participants in Memphis, the only top tier talent taking a pass on the proceedings are Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, Lee Westwood and Bernd Weisberger. That leaves 40 of the world’s top 50 players in the field, including the four highest ranked players in the world: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose; the newest Major winner Shane Lowry, and a cast of notables like Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm and Matt Kuchar. Kevin Na is eligible to play but hasn’t teed off since withdrawing after the first round of the 3M Open three weeks ago. If he took a pass on the British Open, it’s a safe to guess he’ll skip the action this week, too. Although, all he needs to do is show up, hit his first tee shot and withdraw to collect one of those hefty last-place WGC paychecks. God bless no-cut events.

While the regular Memphis visitors will be in Reno for the Barracuda at an alternate event, there are a few new names making the leap as WGC players. With their wins this year, Matthew Wolff, Nate Lashley, Adam Long, Kevin Tway, CT Pan, Sung Kang, Max Homa, Keith Mitchell and Corey Conners are all PGA regulars making their WGC stroke play debuts.

There will also be an influx of international names coming stateside for those guaranteed paydays. Matt Wallace, Aaron Rai, Eddie Pepperell, Tyrrell Hatton, Hao Tong Li and Thorbjorn Olesen have made the trek from the Euro Tour. World No. 385, Swede Philip Eriksson is representing the African Tour. While a slew of players fro Asian Tour pros — Kodai Ichihara, Mikumu Horikawa, Shugo Imahara and POOM (Shake, Shake, Shake the room) Saksansin — are venturing over as well.

2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 4s Gained
Opportunities Gained
Strokes Gained Putting

Mayo’s Custom Stat POWER RANKINGS from FantasyNational.com

2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Course

Course: TPC Southwind
Yardage: 7,237
Par: 70
Greens: Bermuda
Field: 64 (No Cut)
Rank: 11/51 in 2018 Difficulty
Par 5 Eagles in 2018: 20

2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Past Winners

2018: Dustin Johnson -19
2017: Daniel Berger -10
2016: Daniel Berger -13
2015: Fabian Gomez -13
2014: Ben Crane -10
2013: Harris English -12
2012: Dustin Johnson -9
2011: Harrison Frazar -13
2010: Lee Westwood -10

2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Notes

Strokes Gained Approach has been more than two times more impactful on the Top-5 finishers over the past five years (1.28 APP to 0.49 OTT).

In the past eight years, only one winner has finished worse than 16th in SG: OTT for the event. And, for approaches, no winner has finished outside the Top 20 the year they hoisted the novelty check. Two of the past three champs, Berger (2016) and Gomez (2015), topped the list for SG: APP that week; Dustin Johnson was second to only Robert Garrigus a year ago with the irons when he won by six strokes. The Fantasy National’s Stokes Gained: Ball Striking stat should take care of these skills in the best way.

Speaking of Garrigus, he should have a permanent invitation to any event held at this course after his derrière-soaked meltdown on No. 18 in 2010.

Sneakily one of the longer course on TOUR once you adjust for Par.

Seven of the 12 Par 4s measure more than 450 yards.

Average Driving Accuracy (54%) and Greens in Regulation (58%) are almost 10 percentage points lower at TPC Southwind than the average course.

This event was previously the WGC Bridgestone held at Firestone in Akron. Do not get confused when doing your research.

A PGA Tour event has been hosted in Memphis every year since 1958.

Since a 2004 course overhaul, more than 5,000 balls have found the water. Not a typo. Five thousand. That’s the most water balls of any course and almost 1,500 more than second-place TPC Sawgrass. Most of the wetness will be absorbed by holes 12 and 18. No. 12 has seen more than 850 balls get wetter than Ethan Hawke in Training Day the past 15 years, good for third most of any TOUR hole. And 18 has had the fifth most, just over 820 water balls.

Of players in the field, only Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Billy Horschel, Sung Kang, JB Holmes and Kevin Tway have played this course three or more times in the past five years.

2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational Picks — Targets From Each Range

Justin Thomas

A loser of stokes putting in his past seven measured events, maybe a return to Bermudagrass is exactly what JT needs to take advantage of his elite ball striking as of late. Despite the putting woes, Thomas remained a viable threat overseas with a Top 10 at the Scottish and a T11 at The Open, and this venue and setup plays to a lot of his strengths: Bermuda greens, no cut and a Par 70. Five if his nine career wins have come at no-cut events.

Hideki Matsuyama

Like Thomas, Matsuyama is another player who does some good work at no-cut events. Already a winner of two WGC events, Matsuyama has been lingering on the precipice of a win for ages now. Before failing to see the weekend at The Open, he’d gone a full calendar year without a missed cut, and he enters Memphis with 20 consecutive events gaining strokes with his irons. An untrustworthy putter always has held Hideki back from consistent, elite results, but he’s in the midst of the best putting stretch of his career, having gained in six straight measured starts; all Top-25 finishes.

Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson caught the early flight home from Portrush after a mediocre Open, but no need to dwell on that too much. In his two starts previous, DeChambeau churned out consecutive Top-Six finishes that saw his ball striking return to elite levels. Hopefully that’s something that is consistent stateside. Quality results haven’t manifested in his previous two turns at TPC Southwind, but those weren’t due to poor ball striking. In each of his two starts Bryson gained with his driver and irons; he just couldn’t put it together with the flat stick. Hopefully this time around, with an extra few days of prep versus most in this field, and now at a value, DeChambeau can get his game together across the board.

Max Homa

While getting to greens and everything onward from there can be a mixed bag, Homa almost definitely will gain with his driver. He’s gained over 2.5 strokes against the field off the tee in four of his past seven starts and actually had gained against the field with his irons in six straight before a calamity at the 3M Open. The results haven’t been inspiring since his breakthrough win at Quail Hollow in May, but this will be his first time back on Bermudagrass since that victory. Maybe that can cure his putting woes; it’s the only surface he’s been a positive putter on against the field in his career. Additionally, among the bottom quadrant of the field, it’s essentially him and Corey Conners who rate out in the Top 25 in birdies or better gained and Par 4s gained. With all four rounds to work with, expect an overflow of extra birdies versus the others in his range.

Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Corey Conners, Chez Reavie, Nate Lashley, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland

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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 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award, and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2019 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year). His 17 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.