Scott Shapiro's WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational preview
After a week off for the Olympics, action on the PGA Tour will return Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee.
For many of the world’s top golfers, the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind will be their final tournament before the FedEx Playoffs kick off in New Jersey later this month. The no-cut event drew a field of 66 players that includes 48 of the top 50 golfers in the world.
Historically, this event was played in June and was known as the St. Jude Classic, but in 2019 the tournament was pushed back on the calendar and elevated to part of the World Golf Championship series, to replace the WGC Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio.
Two years is too small a sample size to draw significant conclusions, but elite golfers have captured the title since the change — Brooks Koepka in 2019 and Justin Thomas in 2020. It is likely that will happen again this week.
The field is led by Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele. The San Diego native has been in contention regularly the last few years but has struggled to win tournaments. However, he was able to knock down a couple key putts in Tokyo, which led to his first victory since he hoisted the trophy at the Tournament of Champions in January of 2019.
This medal is for my country and my family, especially my dad!🥇🇺🇸— Xander Schauffele (@XSchauffele) August 1, 2021
Proud and honored to bring the gold back to the USA! #Olympics #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/w2gMIWqur3
Schauffele is listed as the co-favorite, along with Dustin Johnson, at +1100. Both obviously have significant chances, but I am concerned with a letdown from Schauffele and the current form of D.J.
Instead, I will lean on one golfer immediately below them in the outright market.
FedEx St. Jude Invitational 2021
Sun, August 8 2021, 9:00 PM
Brooks Koepka (+1200)
Perhaps it is because he has not won a major this season, but somehow the incredible campaign Koepka has put together in 2021 has flown under the radar.
The four-time major winner got off to a slow start, when he missed the cut at the American Express and the Farmers Insurance Open to start the year, but since then, the 31-year-old has rattled off a win, two seconds, and three other top six finishes over his last 10 events. That includes a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, a fourth at the U.S. Open, and a sixth at the Open Championship, his most recent start.
BROOKSY!— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 25, 2021
159 yards for eagle from @BKoepka. 🦅 pic.twitter.com/iJdwTr3OOO
Koepka rates extremely well this week at TPC Southwind. He ranks second in the field over his last 24 rounds in strokes gained ball striking, third in strokes gained tee to green, eighth in strokes gained approach, and eighth in opportunities gained.
Combine his dominant current form with his affinity for the course and you have a golfer who provides solid value as the co-third choice. Look Koepka to earn his first victory of the year in Memphis.