Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel are just three of the big names included in the field for this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic which will be played around TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. It is a difficult track which has proven to be an excellent precursor to the US Open over the nearly 30 years that it has been a fixture on the PGA Tour.
The course has undergone some renovations in recent history with holes lengthened and trees planted to make the course even more testing. The player who ends up winning the $1million prize on Sunday evening will have to have played at the top of their abilities. Whilst driving is not particularly difficult here, there are a number of doglegs to plan for and water comes into play on the majority of the holes. You need patience here and more experienced players who have more of it have tended to outperform the young guns.
Dustin Johnson sits at the top of the betting but it is difficult to know whether to call him a young buck or an experienced player. He’s only 30 but has been on Tour for years, winning nine events. His ninth victory came this year at the WGC-Cadillac Championship where he was simply brilliant. He could have followed that win up in his last two events but for some costly mistakes. This time around the biggest price you can get on DJ is the 6/1 that Bet365 are offering. He’s the highest ranked player in the field and nobody hits it further than him off the tee. You don’t need to hit it miles to win around TPC Southwind but it never hurts to smash a drive 300 yards down the middle. You can expect Johnson to do all he can to tee off at Chambers Bay for the US Open on the back of a win here.
Jamie Donaldson sits firmly in the experienced camp of golfers. He turns 40 this year and has played his golf on the Challenge Tour, the European Tour and now gets to show what he can do in America with the PGA Tour. The man who hit the winning shot in last year’s Ryder Cup has never played in the St. Jude Classic before but plenty of first-timers have walked off with the win here. The Welshman is accurate and has skilful hands around the green to get him up-and-down should he find himself out of position. At 40/ with Coral, the popular Donaldson looks a great each way bet.
Finally, it’s time to look at the prospects of 100/1 (with Bet365) shot Will Wilcox. The 29-year-old only has conditional membership of the PGA Tour so needs to take all the opportunities he’s given. Only three players have a better green in regulation percentage than Wilcox this season and he’s in the top 20 for scrambling. He placed tied for 19th in his debut at TPC Southwind last season and could come in at a lovely big price if you back him each way.