PGA Tour Golf Odds and Predictions: FedEx St. Jude Classic
by Alan Matthews - 6/6/2012
Can we go ahead and just forget about last week’s Memorial Tournament? I not only didn’t like Tiger Woods to win last week, his second victory on Tour this year (yeah, he’s about back, although Tiger will never be the dominant force he was), but I thought he would finish outside the Top 10 after three below-average tournaments heading in. I liked Phil Mickelson to finish inside the Top 10 despite not often playing well at the Memorial, but he blew up with a first-round 79 and then took his clubs and went home (which is not cool to the fans who bought tickets to see him on Friday).
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I liked Jim Furyk as the best value play at 25/1 to win and also at +250 to finish inside the Top 10. He finished T13. At least a few things went right: Justin Rose did finish inside the Top 10, paying at +135, and suddenly awful Rory McIlroy finished outside it at -140.
It’s a definite letdown week on Tour this week as it visits TPC Southwind in Memphis for the FedEx St. Jude Classic. It’s a bit of a downer because it’s the week after the return of all the Tiger hoopla and he’s not playing. In fact, most of the world’s top players are sitting this out to prepare for next week’s U.S. Open at Olympic in San Francisco. The only Top-10 player is, oddly enough, McIlroy, who seems to really need a week on the range the way he’s going. The other Top-25 players in the field are Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell.
Harrison Frazar is the defending champion. He was close to retiring before beating Robert Karlsson in a playoff for his first career win in his 355th event. Frazar and Karlsson finished at 13-under 267. In 2001, TPC Southwind was the ninth-hardest course on Tour with a 70.987 average (its eighth straight year over par) as 14 of its 18 holes played over par. The course surrendered just 2.82 birdies per round, seventh-lowest all season. It’s not a great warm-up course for next week as Southwind is completely different from Olympic.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: FedEx St. Jude Classic Favorites
Two weeks ago, Zach Johnson was the 14/1 favorite to win at Colonial, which is arguably his favorite track. I didn’t recommend Johnson then and he did win. He’s the Bovada favorite again this week at 8/1. Johnson is one of those rare players who likes to play the week before a major. He took last week off after winning at Colonial but doesn’t think that will affect his recent form, which includes two runner-up finishes as well as that victory in his past four events. Johnson’s best finish in this tournament was T5 in 2006 and he was T32 a year ago.
Can McIlroy (9/1) get his form back this week? The world's No. 2 has missed a stunning three straight cuts (including one on the Euro Tour) after last week’s second-round 79 -- his highest PGA Tour score this year -- knocked him out on Friday at the Memorial. Before these struggles, McIlroy did have 11 top-five finishes in his previous 12 worldwide events. He has only played this event once, finishing T29 two years ago.
Dustin Johnson (16/1) returned from an almost three-month absence due to a back injury to finish a solid T19 last week. It’s DJ’s first time playing this event.
The favorites are rounded out by a trio at 25/1: David Toms, McDowell and Robert Karlsson. Toms won here back-to-back in 2003-04, has three other top-five finishes and is the all-time money leader at this tournament. He did miss the cut last year, however, and enters off a missed cut at Colonial.
McDowell has been rather inconsistent. He missed a cut at the Players Championship, finished second at the Volvo Match Play and then missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship on the Euro Tour. He still hasn’t won anywhere on the PGA Tour outside of that surprising 2010 U.S. Open. Karlsson probably will be tempting for a lot of people because he has finished runner-up in Memphis the past two years. But Karlsson has yet to have a Top-10 on Tour this year and, in fact, has gone 18 full-field stroke-play tournaments without one.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: FedEx St. Jude Classic Predictions
My Top-10 choices of the week: McIlroy to finish outside it at +125 (I think he does make the cut but will be more practicing for next week); Zach Johnson to finish inside at -165; Karlsson to finish outside at -400; Dustin Johnson to finish outside at -240; and Toms to finish inside at +225.
Ryan Palmer at 33/1 to win this week is interesting. He has finished T9 or better in three of his past four events this year. He had a T10 at this tournament in 2006 but has missed three straight cuts in Memphis since.
Camilo Villegas is worth considering at 40/1. He has finished in the Top 10 here the past two years. Of course, he also doesn’t have a single Top-10 finish on Tour this year.
But I’m going with Spencer Levin at 40/1 to win this week. He held the 54-hole lead at the Memorial before fading to a share of fourth place with a Sunday 75 (he also blew a 54-hole lead in Phoenix). Levin was second in fairways hit en route to a T15 here last year. Levin also will be highly motivated. Currently he hasn’t qualified for next week’s U.S. Open -- he woke up Monday as the 61st-ranked golfer in the world, one spot shy of automatic qualification. Levin then missed out in a Monday sectional qualifier. To make a long story short, he would need a good finish this week and to get some help to play at Olympic. The U.S. Open set aside five spots in case players not already eligible moved into the Top 60 in the world ranking this Sunday.
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