Golf Betting Systems: St. Jude Classic Picks and Expert Analysis
As the PGA Tour embarked on another journey to Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, for the ever-popular Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus, the excitement level for this tournament was at an all-time high. Some of the biggest and best names were in the field, including Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. While the final leaderboard featured DJ, Thomas, McIlroy and Fowler inside the top-10, Woods was lurking for the majority of the final round before closing with a 2-over 38 on the back nine.
However, despite all that fame and firepower, it was 24-year old Bryson DeChambeau who emerged victorious on the second playoff hole to capture his second career PGA Tour win and a cool $1.6 million. DeChambeau shot a 1-under 71 after bogeying 18 to get himself into a playoff with Kyle Stanley and Byeong-Hun An. Stanley would eliminate himself from contention on the first playoff hole by making bogey, while An and DeChambeau exchanged pars. On the second playoff hole DeChambeau nailed a 12-foot birdie putt for the win. The difference between winning and losing for DeChambeau could be summed up in two ways - his Par-3 dominance, which gained him 5.15 strokes over the field, and his ability to scramble (converted 80 percent of missed greens in regulation).
But enough about last week. It's time to look ahead to this week's St. Jude Classic.
The field is composed of 152 total players and the top 70, and ties will make the cut to play on the weekend. As of writing this, Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite at +700, with Brooks Koepka right behind him at +900, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson at +1400. Charl Schwartzel and Tony Finau are +2500, while Adam Scott, Billy Horschel, Byeong-Hun-An and the two-time defending champion, Daniel Berger are all priced at +2800.
St. Jude Classic - Course Layout
In order to completely break down the field and use the process of elimination to build out the golf card, we must understand what kind of course we are dealing with. The St. Jude Classic is played at TPC Southwind, which is a Par-70 course that plays on the longer side at 7,244 yards. The greens are Bermuda, and the rough will have a major impact on your round should you find yourself struggling to hit the fairway. There are a total of 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards that protect the course, and it's a mixture of long, medium and short holes to keep the field honest.
In terms of the winning scores of this event in the past, the course is very "gettable" as the last five winners posted winning scores of double-digits under par. The course was ranked 15th of 50 in terms of difficulty, and you have to go back six years to find a winner with a score of single digits under-par (Dustin Johnson -9 in 2012).
St. Jude Classic - Key Stats
Strokes Gained - Approach
There are potentially two ways to build your card for this week's tournament. The first way, and I believe the best way to play, is to load up on players who are dialed in with their irons. This course may play particularly long, but the shorter players can contend just as much as the bombers because the main thing off the tee is to avoid disaster. Guys I am looking at this week are Henrik Stenson, Keegan Bradley and Peter Uihlien. Staring with Stenson -- he hasn't won yet this year, but he's posted three Top 10s and finished no worse than T23. He's gained at least 3.5 strokes on the field in SG: Approach over the last 24 rounds, which means he's dialed in with his irons. Bradley is the kind of player who plays well in all facets golf, not including putting. Bradly ranks second in the PGA in SG: Approach through 60 rounds this PGA season, second only to Scott Piercy. If he can turn in a rare solid putting performance, Bradly should be able to contend on Sunday. And lastly, Uihilien may be ranked 111th overall in SG: Approach, but he has played well over his last handful of tournament. Just last week he finished in the Top 10 in SG: Approach. If he can keep that momentum going and find a way to tweak other parts of his game then his T5/T21/T5 run should continue.
I've always been a big believer that Par-4 scoring is vital to having any success on Tour. The courses are tough enough already, so I believe the mentality to have approaching any Par-4 on Tour is that you have to make at least a birdie or at least avoid making a bogey.
Among the field, DJ is the highest ranked in terms of Par-4 scoring, checking in at 21.87 percent. Mickelson is right behind him at 21.39 percent, with Stenson rounding out the Top 10 at 20.16 percent. Uihlein ranks 41st in Par-4 birdie or better percentage at 17.88, while Bradley's putting woes have been well documented and have him ranked 129th at 15.59 percent.
On a course such as TPC Southwind, avoiding disaster off the tee is only half the battle that both bombers and shorter players have to contend with. Making birdies on a course littered with some extremely long Par-4 holes are what's going to make or break the top of the leaderboard.
After going through the entire field and focusing in on my two biggest keys for this weekend, I've short-listed just one golfer that I believe have what it takes to win the tournament. That golfer is Henrik Stenson. Stenson rates out very well among both key categories. And just by watching him play on a weekly basis, I can see he is really dialed in with his irons and is ready to break out with a win sooner than later. It's not ideal that he is among the favorites at 14-1, but he checks all the boxes for me and it would be great for Stenson to break his goose egg this year before heading to the US Open.
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