FedEx St. Jude Classic Betting Preview

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

With just one week before the second major championship of the year, the PGA Tour heads to TPC Southwind where Dustin Johnson will look to defend his title at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
 
2013 FedEx St. Jude Classic Fact Sheet

  • Course: TPC Southwind
  • Location: Memphis, Tennessee
  • Yardage: 7,239 yards, par 70
  • Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Ryan Palmer and Billy Horschel

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday –  1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

Key Storyline This Week
 
As mentioned above, we’re only one week away from the U.S. Open at Merion, so some players may be looking ahead to that event instead of trying to win this one. It makes things a little more difficult to handicap, since some players will be trying to prepare by hitting shots that they might not hit otherwise, just to try and get a better feel for where their games are. Outside of that, there should be a lot of focus on Dustin Johnson, who returns to defend his title and to be honest, nobody knows what to make of his season to this point. He won the opener on the PGA Tour at Kapalua, but since then, he’s been plagued by a back injury, and has been even more inconsistent than we’ve come to expect. In the eleven events since winning in January, Johnson has one top-10 finish, two WD’s and missed three cuts, including last week at the Memorial. In an event where only five of the world’s top-30 ranked players are present, Johnson stands out as the most talented player on the board, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how he’ll perform.
 
TPC Southwind
 
Despite being only a par-70, TPC Southwind is pretty long at 7,239 yards and was the most difficult of the 13 par-70’s used last year in relation to par with an average score of 71.24. Fairways and greens are notoriously difficult to hit here, and players who can score the best on the two par-5’s on the layout will likely put themselves in the best possible position to win. Those par-5’s were the two easiest holes on the course last year, with the third averaging 4.77 strokes and the 16th coming in at a ridiculous 4.47. The toughest hole on the course is likely to be the par-3 14th, which will be playing at 239 yards this week and played to an average of 3.32 in 2012. With a huge lake guarding the right side, and bunkers protecting the back left, it gave players fits last year. According to Rob Bolton of PGATour.com, it was the fifth hardest par-3 on the PGA Tour last season, and yielded the most double bogeys or worse of any par-3 in 2012, with a total of 38.
 
As has been the case for pretty much the entire season, weather is expected to come into play, with thunderstorms in the forecast for both Thursday and Friday. Cooler temperatures than you’d expect for a June weekend in Memphis are likely, but the weekend looks good, with only a little bit of wind. You can watch a flyover of the course below:
 

 
Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Phil Mickelson: Playing at TPC Southwind for only the third time in his career, and first since 2009, with his two finishes yielding a T-59 and a missed cut. He hasn’t played since missing the cut at the PLAYERS, and with his spotty record here and so far in 2013, his status as the favourite coming into the week seems based on name-brand value only.
  • Brandt Snedeker: A few months ago, nobody was hotter than Snedeker with four top-3 finishes and a win in five events. In the six events since coming back from a rib injury, he has two top-10’s, but has also missed three cuts. I’m not sure what to make of him at this point, but with only one top-10 finish here in six events, I’ll be staying away.
  • Dustin Johnson: Already touched on him above, but until he has some more solid finishes and he’s fixed whatever is plaguing his back, there’s no point in going near him.
  • Ryan Palmer: Hit and miss here with a T-10 and a T-3, to go along with three missed cuts in five appearances. He’s been at the top of leaderboards in his last three events, but he did just go through U.S. Open qualifying and a 12-hole playoff on Monday and Tuesday, so I wonder how fresh he’s going to be when he tees it up on Thursday.
  • Billy Horschel: Since winning a few weeks ago in New Orleans, Horschel has a missed cut and a T-41, and when you combine that with his ugly track record at TPC Southwind, I’ll be staying away from him this week.

Suggested Plays
 
Scott Stallings (Best Odds 35-1 at Paddy Power)
Coming off of back-to-back T-4 finishes, Stallings seems to be in a good spot with his game. He drives the ball well and is a good putter, but the short irons can sometimes cause him some trouble. Luckily for him, he doesn’t need to win to get into the U.S. Open anymore, as he got in with the withdrawal of England’s Roger Chapman.
 
Charles Howell III (Best Odds 37-1 at Betfair)
Howell’s in the discussion for most talented player in the field this week, and he does have a pair of top-10’s in six trips to TPC Southwind. In fields like this, you try and pick out talent and that’s Howell. He can still get into the U.S. Open, but he needs at least a top-4 finish.
 
Tim Clark (Best Odds 44-1 at 888 Sport)
Fairways and greens are never a problem for Clark, and I’m a little surprised that he hasn’t had better success here. In five appearances, his best finish is a tie for 18th, but he’s a good scrambler and his much talked about anchored putter is working pretty well for him at the moment. He’s finished inside the top-25 in three of his last four events.
 
Peter Hanson (Best Odds 58-1 at BETDAQ)
According to oddsmakers, Hanson is number 15 in the books this week, and it just seems crazy to me that they have 14 players listed in front of him. Outside of Mickelson, Snedeker and Johnson, Hanson’s the most talented guy in the field, and even though he’s never played the course before, I’m willing to take a flyer on him at this kind of price considering his skill set matches up pretty well with the course.
 
Gary Woodland (Best Odds 81-1 at BETDAQ)
I almost took Woodland last week and he had a decent showing at the Memorial until a final round 73 derailed his chances. Throw in the 79 that killed him on Sunday at the Byron Nelson, and he’s had two events in a row where one round has been his undoing. He is the biggest hitter in the field and his game seems to be coming around a little bit. If he can get to six or seven under par on those par-5’s this week, he’s got a shot and at 81-1, it seems like a no-brainer.
 
Robert Allenby (Best Odds 170-1 at Betfair)
Allenby has played in sixteen events in 2013, and has finished three of them. In his 38 rounds played, he’s got two of them in the 60’s, both coming at the notoriously easy Humana Challenge. He’s not going to win this week, and he may not even make the cut, but he’s got seven top-20 finishes here in nine tries, including four top-10’s. On an each way bet, you can do much worse.
 
Other Notes

  • Sponsors exemptions this week: George Coetzee, David Duval, Steven Fox, Shaun Micheel, Matthew Nesmith and Guan Tianlang.
  • Of the 156 players in the field, there are 67 PGA Tour winners for a total of 266 victories.
  • John Daly will be teeing it up for the 23rd time at the St. Jude, as he’s missed the event only twice since joining the PGA Tour back in 1989.
  • 72-hole record is 258 set by John Cook in 1996, but this tournament also hosted Al Geiberger’s 59 back in 1977 at Colonial CC. The course record at TPC Southwind is 61, held jointly by Jay Delsing and Bob Estes.
  • Paul Goydos makes his return to the PGA Tour this week after more than 15 months on the disabled list. The 48-year old had surgery on both his left wrist and index finger last year to remove bone spurs, but apparently he’s not impressed with the way he’s playing at the moment:

 

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2 Comments on “FedEx St. Jude Classic Betting Preview

  1. Top class website mate.One of the best about for golf tournament previews.Was wondering what you use for tracking data such as up to date driving and putting stats for the players?
    S.G

    • Thanks Simon, I appreciate it.

      I use several different sites to be honest, but the best one that I’ve seen is probably tour-tips.com

      You do have to pay to subscribe, but it provides a ton of useful information that would be very difficult to find otherwise.

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