It's not often that a last-place finisher overshadows the winner of a golf tournament, but then again Tiger Woods doesn't finish last every day. And that's where Woods wound up at last week's Memorial Tournament, which he had won five times previously. Tiger shot an unbelievable 85 in Saturday's third round, the worst round of his pro career. He had a quad, two doubles, six bogeys and one birdie.
It was only the third time he has shot in the 80s. One of those (82) came earlier this year in the Phoenix Open. In 2015, Woods has 17 completed rounds, with two scores in the 80s and only three in the 60s. If you are wondering, Jack Nicklaus had 16 scores in the 80s as a pro, with six coming before he turned 40. His highest score was an 85 at the 2003 Masters, when Nicklaus was 63. Tiger had to play by himself on Sunday because 71 players (an odd number) made the cut. He shot 74 in well under three hours. Tiger admitted Monday he needs to play more to improve his game. He has played only five times this year on Tour. He dropped to 181st on Monday in the Official World Golf Ranking. Tiger's 302 final score was the worst of his career in a 72-hole event, and his 14 over was his second-worst score to par.
I didn't have Tiger winning last week, but I thought he would at least play well at a course he had mastered previously. I definitely didn't have David Lingmerth winning, and he beat Justin Rose in a three-hole, sudden-death playoff. It was his first Tour win; Lingmerth had lost a playoff at the 2013 Humana Challenge. It was his first Top 10 in 378 days. Rose led the field by three at the start of the day but shot 72 in the final round. Jordan Spieth shot a final-round 65 to finish third, two shots back of Lingmerth and Rose.
My winner was Matt Kuchar as he almost always plays well at the Memorial, but his disappointing season continued with a T26. On the "over/under" finishes prop I hit on Spieth under 9.5, Dustin Johnson under 15.5, Jim Furyk under 21.5, Rickie Fowler over 23.5 (missed cut), Jason Day over 21.5 (also missed cut) and Phil Mickelson over 25.5. Missed on under 27.5 for Tiger. Also hit on Top 10s for Spieth (-200) and Furyk (+185) and Rose at even money as the top European. Head-to-head, winners were Spieth over Johnson, Furyk over Fowler, Kuchar over Mickelson and Rose over Day.
This week the Tour heads to Memphis for the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind. The Top 60 in the world rankings after this tournament earn exemptions to next week's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay if not already qualified. It appears most of the big names are preferring to practice at Chambers Bay (or wherever) rather than play this week as only six of the Top 30 in the rankings are teeing it up. No Rory McIlroy, Spieth or Tiger. I'm a bit surprised Mickelson is playing with how badly he wants to win the U.S. Open, but he has a good track record here. No winner of the Tour stop preceding the U.S. Open has gone on to capture the Open.
The first 59 in Tour history was shot at this tournament, then called the Memphis Classic and played at Colonial Country Club. That was in 1977 by Al Geiberger. The best round at TPC Southwind is 61. Last year Ben Crane won this event, having to play 30 holes on Sunday. Crane closed with a 3-over 73 for a one-stroke victory, going wire to wire for his fifth career win. That came only six days after Crane failed to gain entry to the U.S. Open at a qualifier. Crane hasn't won since and is having a terrible season. He's a 100/1 long shot. Troy Merritt was second to Crane by a shot at 9-under.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: St. Jude Classic Betting Favorites
To no surprise, Johnson, the highest-ranked player in the field, is the 6/1 favorite. This is a long course for a par 70, and that plays into his hands. Johnson comes off a solid T13 at the Memorial. He won here in 2012 and was T10 the next year before a T24 in 2014.
Billy Horschel and Mickelson are 14/1 -- can't remember the last time Lefty was a second-favorite. Horschel has had back-to-back Top 15s in stroke play events at the Players and Memorial. He was sixth here in 2014, his second straight Top 10 in Memphis. Mickelson didn't play well last week with a T65 off a promising effort in Charlotte (T4). He was second here two years ago and 11th in 2014.
The favorites are rounded out by Ryan Palmer (16/1), Webb Simpson (16/1) and Harris English (22/1). In two of his past three starts here Palmer has been in the Top 4. Simpson was T3 here a year ago. English won here in 2013 and missed the cut last year.
PGA Tour Picks: St. Jude Classic Expert Betting Predictions
On the finishing props, go under Johnson at 9.5, Palmer at 19.5, Horschel at 17.5 and over Mickelson at 16.5 and Simpson 21.5. On the Top-10 props, I like Johnson at -200, Horschel at +125 and Palmer at +125. Head-to-head, go with Johnson at -185 over Mickelson (+145), Simpson (-130) over English (even), Luke Donald (-105) over Jamie Donaldson (-125), and Graeme McDowell (-115) over George McNeill (-115).
I like Donald at 4/1 as the top European, Aaron Baddeley at 7/1 as the top Aussie. I am taking a Big 4 of Johnson, Mickelson, Horschel and Palmer at +220 against the field (-300). Clearly I like one of those four guys above to win, but it's not Mickelson. I'm taking Palmer. He has been very hit-or-miss this season but does come off a Top 10 at the Byron Nelson.
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