PGA Tour Picks: St. Jude Classic Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/5/2013
As usual, I will recap last week's recommendations on the PGA Tour before looking to this week's event, which is the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis, the final tournament before the U.S. Open.
Was it a shocker that American Matt Kuchar won last week's star-studded Memorial Tournament? Not at all. He's one of the world's best players, already had won the Match Play this year and had finished runner-up the week before the Memorial. He's up to a career-high No. 4 in the world and has a multiple-win season for the first time in his career. Kuchar is definitely in the Player of the Year conversation so far.
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Certainly, the Player of the Year right now is Tiger Woods with his four wins. He was the overwhelming favorite last week, having won Jack Nicklaus' tournament five times. What happened this time at Muirfield was totally shocking. Tiger had multiple triple-bogeys in a tournament for the first time -- that's a front nine for me -- and finished at 8-over 296, the second-highest finishing score of his career. He shot a 79 on Saturday, including the worst nine-hole score of his career, a 44 (I can do that!). I wouldn't read too much into that, however. Three of Tiger's worst 22 finishes as a pro have now come at Muirfield. He'll still be the huge favorite for the U.S. Open. By the way, Bovada offers an interesting prop on how long Tiger's upcoming next contract with Nike will be. His current contract, signed in 2006, is set to expire sometime before the end of the year, but a new one could be announced at the U.S. Open. The site lists the “over/under” at four years. Take the over (-140).
I did like Tiger on a Top 10 and a win, so that obviously was blown money. Kuchar was one of the favorites at 20/1, but I wasn't big on him. I also liked Keegan Bradley for a Top 10, and he finished T50 and never broke 70. I did hit on Adam Scott at -110 against Rory McIlroy and Fred Couples at -140 against Kenny Perry in a matchup of Champions Tour players. Couples played better than Tiger. I also mentioned Rickie Fowler as a decent long-shot candidate at 50/1, but he finished T37. So it was mostly a lost weekend.
So now we move to Memphis, and generally most top players don't like to play the week before a major, so the St. Jude Classic field isn't stellar. In fact, just five of the world's Top 30 are at TPC Southwind, led by defending champion Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker. The top Europeans playing are Ian Poulter and Peter Hanson.
Last year, Johnson shot a final-round 66 to win by a shot over John Merrick. At the time, it was only Johnson's second event after three months off due to a back problem -- those have been an issue at times in 2013 as well. The Top-5 finishers in the St. Jude Classic all were Americans. Euros rarely win here, but the St. Jude Classic is the answer to this trivia question: When was the last time Lee Westwood won in the States? (2010). The first official round of 59 also came in the Memphis event, shot by Al Geiberger in 1977.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: St. Jude Classic Favorites
Snedeker, the 12/1 Bovada favorite, looked like the best player in the world early this year. He had four top-three finishes in his first five events, including a win at Pebble Beach. But a rib injury has thrown him off course. He missed about a month due to it and has missed three cuts in six events since, including last week where he shot 80 on Friday. He last played here in 2011 with a T15.
Mickelson is 14/1. Lefty usually plays the Memorial but decided to change things up and play this event instead -- maybe to finally win the U.S. Open instead of finishing second again. Lefty is playing in Memphis for the first time since 2009. Mickelson has been uneven this year. He missed the cut last time out at the Players but also has two thirds and a win in 2013. By the way, no winner of the PGA Tour event the week before the U.S. Open has ever then won the Open that year.
Johnson is 18/1 to repeat. Because of his back, he has entered just two tournaments since the Masters. He withdrew from one and missed the cut at the other. It's a shame, because he's so talented.
The favorites are rounded out by Ryan Palmer (20/1) and Billy Horschel and Russell Henley (both 28/1). Palmer has made six straight cuts but with just one Top 10 in there. He was T3 here last year and may have won if not for an opening 74. Horschel hasn't played much since winning in New Orleans and hasn't played all that well when he has. He was T72 at the 2012 St. Jude Classic. Henley is a Rookie of the Year candidate. He won the Sony Open and has two other Top-10s, including last week.
PGA Tour Picks: St. Jude Classic Betting Predictions
Only five times has this tournament been won by a European, so don't bother there. That said, I would take Swede Robert Karlsson at +275 for a Top-10 finish as he has lost in a playoff twice in Memphis. I'd take Lefty too at +115. I'd also roll with Scott Stallings at +260 as he enters off back-to-back T4s on Tour. Head-to-head, go with Mickelson (-130) over Johnson (even) and Snedeker (-140) over Johnson (-110). I just don't think DJ is healthy.
Any player who wins this week gets into the U.S. Open. Thus, I think that motivates someone who isn't in yet, like Charles Howell III. He seems due with five Top-10s this year. He was T3 here back in 2011. I think Chucky Three Sticks breaks through, so jump on him at 33/1.
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