This week the Tour heads to Memphis for the WGC Bridgestone FedEx St. Jude Classic Invitational hosted at TPC Southwind… or whatever the Tour decides to call it. This limited-field event features 63 of the best players in the world. Shane Lowry was slated to play but decided to WD and continue the party back home in Ireland after winning some tournament across the pond this past Sunday.
TPC Southwind should be a good test for pros. You can’t fake it around this course; you need supreme ball-striking if you want to be on the front page of the leaderboard come Sunday. The course plays long and has water hazards (sorry, not calling them penalty areas) on many holes. Players who can either find a lot of fairways or bomb it far enough to have wedge approaches will have an advantage in holding the firm greens. You most likely won’t see someone take it super deep for all four days, but I would expect a winning score around -16.
Let’s look at a few players to target this week:
Rory McIlroy $11,100
It’s going to be interesting to see where the ownership goes towards the top this week. DJ is a course-history monster here, Brooks is Brooks, JT is striking it amazingly well, and Rory is coming in off a missed cut. My pick of those is actually Rory. He will be determined to bounce back from last week’s disappointment. Historically, he has performed very well after MCs, finishing first, eighth, 12th and first in his past four post-MC starts. TPC Southwind is all about ball-striking, and Rory is the best in the field in that category—and it’s not even close. In 13 of his past 15 events, he gained strokes both off the tee and on approach. He is the only player in the field who is top five in both categories over his last 50 rounds. Rory also has one of the highest birdie rates, which will further help his DraftKings scoring.
Keith Mitchell $6,500
Mitchell is a bermuda greens specialist. He has one of the craziest bermuda vs. non-bermuda splits you’ll see. With no cut this week, the emphasis will be on birdie-makers, and Mitchell can fill the scorecard with red. He is priced at the bottom of the field, which could help you fit in a few top-end players like Rory McIlroy. Last year, Mitchell placed 37th at TPC Southwind. A middle-of-the-pack finish filled with birdies would more than pay off his salary.
With the season coming to a close, your one-and-done picks are more dependent on whom you have left than on who is the best player in the field. If you have any studs left, use them. Otherwise, here are two mid-tier options:
Horschel has finished 10th or better in four of his past five trips to TPC Southwind. His game is based on superb ball-striking. He has gained strokes off the tee and on approach in every event since April except for last week’s Open (links golf is always a different animal). Being back on bermuda greens also favors Horschel, as that is the type of putting surface he is most familiar with.
Reavie is another player whose game is based on ball-striking. Just last month he got third at the US Open and followed it up with a win at the Travelers. He has finished 12th or better in each of his past three trips to TPC Southwind.