Sam Burns is the outright pick at +3500 with DraftKings Sportsbook
Billy Horschel win at +5000 and +450 top 10 at with bet365
Chez Reavie top 40 at +120 with BetMGM
Pick made on 08/10/2022 at 09:45 AM EST
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If this tournament feels a little familiar it should do.
It started life as a regular tour event, graduated to World Golf Championship status, and is now the first stage of the end-of-year FedExCup Playoffs.
It’s bad news for the WGC, a concept that started with such high hopes but which is increasingly something of a damp squib, but good news for the tournament.
The field, however, is not quite the one that the sponsors and hosts, never mind the PGA Tour hierarchy, would have had in mind when this change of direction was announced last year.
LIV Golf has, of course, had a huge impact on the circuit and no fewer than four past champions of the tournament are among the rebels playing for Greg Norman’s breakaway circuit (Abraham Ancer, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Lee Westwood).
It makes for a sad state of affairs, but one of the most vocal supporters of the PGA Tour, Justin Thomas, is also a past champion (in 2020) and he’ll be keen to start the Playoffs in style and then perhaps end the season in perfect fashion.
While the elite will be chasing the win, others will have their eyes on a secondary target because only the top 70 players in the rankings after this week’s action will tee it up in next week’s BMW Championship – and from there only the top 30 will make it to the Tour Championship.
A par-70 played at around 7,300 yards TPC Southwind is not a track that hugely tests the players with length.
Instead is it breezes and grass which tend to fix them.
The wind can be blustery and unpredictable. The grass is grainy Bermuda on the greens and Zoysia on the fairways which pops the ball up for pure lies, but which tends to suit sweepers of the ball rather than aggressive hitters.
Johnson is a double-winner here, as is Daniel Berger. Koepka, Thomas, and Ancer are the last three winners on the track.
That suggests that quality rises to the top, but before it was a WGC event, the winners were often a different brand of golfer – those who favor short par-70s, with lots of wind and that tricky grass on the greens.
And, to some degree, even the successes of Thomas, Berger, and Ancer back that up.
Sam Burns is a golfer heading in the right direction.
In the last year and a bit he has made 32 starts, winning four times while adding another eight top 10 finishes.
He’s performed well in a variety of conditions, hinting that he has potential at the top of the game, but he has also quite clearly been favored by the type of conditions he will face this week.
Par-70s with small greens? He won this year’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.
Bermuda grass greens? He’s a two-time champion at the Innisbrook Resort.
If that suggests that we are playing a bit of a guessing game in trying to work out if he is a good fit this week then think again because 12 months ago he backed up all the theory by making the playoff which Abraham Ancer won.
It’s also notable that if Burns plays a course well once he tends to back it up in subsequent visits.
There was little evidence in Billy Horschel’s first three visits to TPC Southwind that he liked the place.
He missed the cut in 2009 and 2011, before only registering T72nd in 2012.
Then the penny dropped and he suddenly understood what was needed to pass the test.
In his last eight starts, he’s only once failed to make the top 25 and has five times ended the week inside the top 10.
It’s also only two months since he won the Memorial Tournament and he went sub-70 in all four rounds last week in the Wyndham Championship.
He also averages one top 10 in the FedExCup Playoffs every year in the last decade.
Rather than highlight a tournament match bet this week I’m going to take a slightly different angle and suggest a player to make the top 40.
That golfer is Chez Reavie who has both a superb course record and is also in great form.
At TPC Southwind the American missed the cut in his first appearance (a bit like Horschel), but he has been excellent ever since, landing six top 30 finishes in a row, including three top sixes in his last four visits.
And his form? He’s missed just two cuts in his last nine starts and has five top 40 finishes in that spell including a victory at the Barracuda Championship.
He’s +120 to land another top 40 this week at BetMGM and that’s worth backing.
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|Tournament||The FedEx St Jude Championship|
|Location||TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee|
|Time||Thursday, August 11 – Sunday, August 14|
|How to watch||Thursday-Friday 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday 1-3 p.m (Golf Channel) 3-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday 12-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (NBC). And all four days on Sky Sports.|
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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