The FedEx St. Jude Classic is a well-regarded PGA Tour event but it is scheduled in a fairly difficult time. While some of the world’s best golfers like to play their way into form ahead of a major championship, others prefer to take a week away from the course to work with their coaches. So, while we’ve got Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to look forward to at TPC Southwind this week, many of the other players towards the top of the world rankings will be busy preparing for next week’s US Open.
Still, the St. Jude Classic has a growing reputation as an event where surprise results are very possible. Both Fabian Gomez and Ben Crane were backed at treble figure odds before going on to win in the last two seasons and pretty much every player in the field this week will feel that they’ve got a genuine chance of glory. Unfortunately, a large proportion of the players are going to end up disappointed, as TPC Southwind can chew even the best golfers up and spit them out.
Southwind has been the host venue for this event since 1989 and over the time the track has undergone a series of changes to make it as tough as possible. Over 200 yards were added so that it now measures 7,239 yards and the par five fifth hole has been turned into a par four. Around 100 trees have been added to the course and the greens, which are small and raised, have been relaid. In general the changes mean that it is incredibly important to hit high quality iron shots in to the greens and to chip well to keep bogeys off the scorecard.
Both Johnson and Mickelson will have their backers this week but both of them have failed to make the most of their chances in recent months so the front runner to back is Gary Woodland. You might think that he is a better bet around golf courses that put a premium on distance but the stats show that he is an excellent approach player and he ranks 14th for shots gained tee to green. Woodland’s been playing well, showed excellent touch at Muirfield Village last week and should be backed at 25/1 with BetVictor.
One of the events that correlates well with the St. Jude Classic in terms of winning form is the OHL Classic. Players who do well at one, tend to do well at the other which will be music to the ears of Graeme McDowell. The Northern Irishman won the OHL Classic earlier in the season and is feeling good about his game so bet on him each way at odds of 66/1 with Coral.
It’s not just long shots who have done well at TPC Southwind before, but debutants have also come up with the goods in previous years. It is hard to argue that there are any classier debutants this week than Ernie Els. The South African has been threatening to really bounce back into form and he is worth a small stakes each way bet at 200/1 with Betfred.
Also this week: Lyoness Open