PGA Tour Picks: St. Jude Classic Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/4/2014
Quite a wacky finish to Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament in Ohio last week, finally won by 22-year-old Hideki Matsuyama, a Japanese phenom who was low amateur at the 2011 Masters and will be winning more tournaments on the PGA Tour.
It seemed like everyone got the yips off the tee on the final few holes Sunday at Muirfield. For example, Bubba Watson had a one-shot lead with five holes to play. He was 3-over the rest of the way thanks largely to hitting into someone's backyard on No. 15 and leading to double bogey. World No. 1 Adam Scott was tied for the lead until playing the last seven holes in 4-over. Matsuyama hit into the water on No. 16 for double-bogey and flew his approach on No. 17 over the green for a bogey. However, he birdied No. 18 -- after his drive bounced off a tree and landed in the fairway; he snapped his driver in anger before seeing the final result -- for the fourth straight day and then beat Kevin Na in a playoff with a 10-foot par putt when Na yanked his tee shot left and it landed in a creek. Matsuyama obviously couldn't use his driver on the playoff hole, using a 3-wood instead.
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Matsuyama became the first player to win the Memorial in his debut since the first year of the tournament in 1976. He has five wins in a little more than a year as a pro, the other four coming on the Japan Tour. Matsuyama jumped to No. 13 in the world, while Watson, after his solo third place, passed Tiger Woods to move up to No. 3. A victory would have been his career-high third on the season. Don't feel too bad for Na. The high finish jumped him high enough in the world rankings that he's now in the U.S. Open instead of having to play a qualifier. The guy who had the worst week was Phil Mickelson, who never broke 70, finished T49 and now has the FBI investigating him for insider trading. Perhaps that's why Lefty has struggled all year? I'm sure he has known about it. He went to play Pinehurst, site of the U.S. Open, on Monday and Tuesday before heading to Memphis.
Needless to say, I didn't recommend Matsuyama last week. I liked Jim Furyk at 25/1, and he finished T19. Also thought Bo Van Pelt had a shot to contend as a long shot, but he finished T19 as well. About all I hit on was Scott at 2/3 as the top Aussie finisher. Head-to-head I hit on Watson (-115) over Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth (-165) over Day, who was T37. I also got Furyk in a threesome at +200 against Justin Rose (missed cut) and Luke Donald (T49).
This week it's the final warm-up for the U.S. Open with a fairly weak field at the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis. Mickelson leads six of the Top 25 in the world. I've always found it fascinating which players choose to play the week before a major and those who don't. Phil has liked doing it in recent years, and it worked for him at last year's British Open. Tiger, by contrast, never does. He already has scratched himself for next week. Almost none of the top Europeans are playing, either. No player has ever won the U.S. Open when winning the PGA Tour stop the week preceding it.
Harris English is back to defend his title. He birdied Nos. 16 and 17 on Sunday for a two-shot win over Mickelson and Scott Stallings. It was English's first PGA Tour victory. The only player this century to repeat here was David Toms in 2003-04. English is just outside the favorites at 25/1 at Bovada.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: St. Jude Classic Favorites
Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar were 14/1 favorites at Bovada. Johnson won here two years ago and was 10th last year. He has a win and two runner-up finishes this season but hasn't been better than T14 the past two events. Remember how a few weeks ago I said bet on Kuchar for a Top 10 every week? Well, Mr. Consistent has been a bit off. He had a missed cut at Colonial and a T15 last week. The guy should take a week off, but he rarely does. Apparently he took my advice. Kuchar withdrew on Tuesday (Bovada still has him active).
Mickelson is 16/1. Still no Top-10 finishes this year, and I don't think he really cares about winning here. Phil simply wants to work on parts of his game that will be key next week at Pinehurst. Lee Westwood, the top European, is 18/1. He won here in 2010. It's Westwood's first PGA Tour event since a T6 at the Players Championship. Ryan Palmer (22/1) rounds out the favorites. This guy hasn't won since 2010 but has come close a handful of times. He has two second-place finishes this season and was fourth in Memphis in 2013 and third the year before.
PGA Tour Picks: St. Jude Classic Predictions
Bovada is offering Top-5 props on every player, but there's not a guy I love that much except Palmer at 4/1. I certainly would take him at +185 for a Top 10. Ditto Westwood at +165 and Johnson at +125. I don't expect much from Lefty. Take Paul Casey, who has really been playing well, at +225 as the top Englishman over Westwood (so obviously a Top 10 for Casey too). Robert Allenby at 9/2 as the top Australasian. He has a strong track record in Memphis, led by a runner-up in 2008. Head-to-head, take Westwood (-115) over Mickelson (-115), English (-115) over Webb Simpson (-115), Casey (+105) over John Senden (-135) and J.B. Holmes (-115) over Rickie Fowler (-115).
I could see Justin Leonard contending and he's way down at 150/1. He won this tournament in 2005 & '08, and while he's not the same player, he also qualified for the U.S. Open on Monday at a qualifier, so all the pressure will be off him in Memphis. But I'm going with Palmer.
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