McIlroy, Horschel intriguing plays at St. Jude Invitational
The PGA Tour returns stateside to the TPC Southwind in Memphis for the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational.Formerly known as the Bridgestone Invitational and moved from Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, this tournament also replaces what was known as the FedEx St. Jude Classic, which was held at Southwind. This time, however, it is a World Golf Championship event rather than a full-field tournament.
The St. Jude Classic was held a week prior to the U.S. Open, but unlike the prior tournament at Southwind, a win this time carries at three-year Tour exemption rather than two, and 550 FedEx Cup points are in store for the champion. The course is at 7,244 yards and played as a par-70.
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Two players of note are missing, including Tiger Woods, who captured this tournament when it was at Firestone eight times. He never made an appearance in the St. Jude Classic, either.
Also missing is Open Championship winner Shane Lowry, who withdrew Tuesday.
Dustin Johnson, who comes off a lackluster performance in the Open, is the only past St. Jude Classic winner playing in this tournament (he won in 2012 and 2018). At +900, he won't offer much in value, but given his track record on this course, he will be difficult to ignore and merits consideration for all wagers.
For my top selection, though, I will go with Rory McIlroy, who comes off a disastrous appearance on home turf at Royal Portrush. He opened up last week with a quadruple bogey on the first hole and never recovered.
This week—as a consequence of missing the cut last week—he'll be fresh and without the same pressure. Also in his favor is the fact that twice in the past two years he's followed a missed cut with a win.
McIlroy ranks first on the PGA Tour in strokes gained total, second in scoring average and third in birdie average. The area he tends to struggle the most is his putting, which has been very erratic. He appeared in the St. Jude Classic twice—in 2010 when he finished in a tie for 29th and two years later when he tied for seventh. He's worth a play at +1000.
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He'll be paired with world No. 1 Brooks Koepka in matchups, which should make for interesting wagers.
As for a longshot, I like Billy Horschel, who as of now is +6100. Though he never won the St. Jude Classic, he recorded four top 10 finishes and obviously loves the venue.