This week, the PGA Tour pays a visit to the land of Elvis Presley and Kyle Porter for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind. We have a star-studded field in Memphis, with 78 of the world’s best competing for the title and prepping for next week’s PGA Championship.
TPC Southwind is a par 70, just over 7,200 yards. On paper, it’s short by tour standards, but it actually plays much longer. Eight of the 12 par 4s are 445 yards or more, and half of them may force driver out of the hands of the longest players. This means we will see a lot of approach shots from 150 to 200 yards.
The ideal player for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational is elite with his mid-irons and can keep it in play off the tee. Those who miss a lot of fairways will be punished; it’s very difficult to hit approach shots close out of the rough on this course.
Let’s consider a few players who fit the description:
Justin Thomas $10,700
I don’t understand this price. Thomas is arguably the best player at TPC Southwind but is $700 cheaper than the most expensive player, Jon Rahm. Rahm’s recent win at the Memorial partly explains this, but JT is still undervalued. He has been knocking on victory’s door since the restart: three top 10s, including a playoff loss to Morikawa at the Workday. He has finished 12th or better in 15 of his past 20 events. Let that sink in: 15 out of 20! Thomas is also an ideal fit for this course. He is third in Strokes Gained: Approach, first in proximity from 150-175 yards, fourth from 175-200 yards, fifth around the green, and 14th off the tee.
Billy Horschel $8,500
Did you know that Horschel finished seventh and 13th at the two events at Muirfield Village? No? Well, that’s because he was barely shown on TV. But trust me, he is playing great golf right now. Horschel now heads to one of his favorite venues on tour. He finished ninth a year ago in the inaugural WGC event at TPC Southwind, and in his five appearances at the course prior to last year’s WGC, he broke into the top ten four times. Horschel relies on precision off the tee and a stellar putter. That recipe could have him in contention—maybe even on TV!—this weekend.
Berger continues to be underrated. Prior to his narrowly missed cut at the Memorial, he finished ninth or better in five consecutive starts, including his win at Colonial. This week, he gets a crack at a course he absolutely owns. Berger won at TPC Southwind in 2016 and ’17.
Koepka makes for a great contrarian pick. He hasn’t been playing well, and people are going to save him for a major. Sure, Koepka missed the cut (again) last week at the 3M Open, but if you dig into the stats, you’ll see some positive signs. Last week, through two rounds, he gained over five strokes combined off the tee and on approach. He lost over five strokes on the greens, which was his worst putting performance in 17 months. That seems more like an anomaly than a trend, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Koepka bounce back at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He loves TPC Southwind and has mentioned how comfortable he feels here, especially off the tee and on the greens. Plus, there’s a major coming up. These are the times when Brooks Koepka rounds into form.