WATCH: COURSE PREVIEW – TPC SOUTHWIND
As the PGA Tour heads over to Memphis, we shift our attention to the FedEx St. Jude Classic. This tournament will not have the level of star power that the Memorial featured last week, but it’s shaping up to be an interesting week nonetheless. This week’s tournament is being held at TPC Southwind, where it’s been held since 1988. TPC Southwind is a par 70 course that plays just over 7,200 yards. The course hovers around the 9th or 10th most difficult course on tour each year. It has small greens and difficult fairways which put a heavy premium on accuracy, like most par 70 courses.
In the past 10 years, the lowest winning score has been -13 for the week. Bogey avoidance will be slightly more important this week because a big number on one or two holes can put golfers out of contention in a hurry with the way this course plays. As we go with the grain, we’ll be focusing in on Greens in Regulation and Par 3 Scoring. If we’re looking for some contrarian options, it can be valuable to target Par 5 Scoring even though golfers will only see eight Par 5s for the week.
Side Note: Par 3 Scoring vs. Par 5 Scoring is an interesting debate because most people will tell you to emphasize Par 3 Scoring on Par 70 courses. It’s important to note, though, that the best par 5 scorers can still make up enough ground on par 5s to compete, even on par 70 courses.
Going With The Grain
Adam Scott ($11,000) is one of the best ball strikers in the world and should fit well on a course like TPC Southwind. He hasn’t made a start here since 2007, but he did finish in 7th place that week, so he’s had success on this course before. With a lack of recent course history, we need to take a close look at course fit, and Scott checks all the boxes. He’s Top-30 on tour in both of our “With the Grain” stats (Strokes Gained: Approach and Par 3 Birdie or Better). If you like to focus on recent form in your research, Scott has finished in the top-15 in nine of his last 13 starts.
The defending champion here is Daniel Berger ($9,300). He finished three strokes clear of the field last year and tied for the second-lowest winning score since 2005. He has made 5-of-6 cuts recently and is well above average in our target stats this week. Berger is top-25 on tour in both Par 3 and Par 4 Birdie or Better Percentage, which will prove to be important on this par 70 course.
Charl Schwartzel ($7,900) seemed to get his game back together last week with a 35th place finish in a strong field at the Memorial. Coming into last week his Proximity to the Hole on Approach Shots was outside of 40 feet, but he cut that down to 32 feet in Ohio last week. An improvement in his ball striking of that measure is worth taking note of and could put his season back on track.
Hudson Swafford ($7,100) presents an interesting case for me this week. While it seems like he possesses almost no cut equity at this point, his game is intriguing here for a DraftKings tournament. Swafford is 31st in the field when it comes to Proximity in the last 12 tour events. Despite the missed cut last week, his putter started to warm up as he posted his first positive rounds in Strokes Gained: Putting since March.
Honorable Mention: Daniel Summerhays ($7,800) & JT Poston ($6,700)
Going Against The Grain
With the higher priced golfers, it’s always difficult for me to put them into either category. Rickie Fowler ($12,000) is no exception because he has performed so well in 2017. If you go by Strokes Gained categories, Fowler is putting together his best statistical season. He is currently no worse than 45th in any of the Strokes Gained categories. Fowler has been in the top-25 in seven of his last eight starts. His Par 5 Scoring is good enough for 3rd on tour and should give him an advantage this week.
Russell Henley ($9,800) finished 7th here in 2016 and is looking to repeat a strong performance. Henley is no worse than 18th in Par 3, 4 or 5 Scoring Average and has put together a good season so far in 2017. After two mediocre outings, his approach game seems to be on its way back.
The cat may be out of the bag when it comes to Peter Uihlein ($7,200). He flew under the radar for many PGA-only DraftKings players since he spends so much time on the European Tour, but his T25 in a strong field last week put him squarely on the map. Uihlein doesn’t technically have enough rounds on the PGA Tour this year to qualify for statistical categories. In his few appearances stateside, he’s posted numbers that would be good enough for 5th on tour in Par 5 Birdie or Better.
Honorable Mention: Willy Wilcox ($6,800) & Kevin Tway ($7,400)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is matt13jones) 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.