WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational Preview7 min read
Shane Lowry is the newest major champion after his dominant win at The Open on Sunday but most of the world’s best players are already moving on swiftly for the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational which starts on Thursday.
The World Golf Championship was previously held at Firestone but has now been replaced by TPC Southwind with a new date on the calendar immediately after the final major of the year. The Memphis par 70 course plays to 7,244 yards and the reduced field will face very different conditions to the stormy wind and rain which battered Royal Portrush on Sunday.
Hot weather and relatively light winds are forecast this week with players that regularly competed at the St Jude Classic at an advantage.
Johnson can dominate again in the WGC
With Tiger Woods opting to sit out this week, Dustin Johnson is in a class of his own when it comes to accumulating WGCs. The American has been limited to one major title in his career but has been the most consistent winner over the past decade in the second tier of elite events with six WGC victories. His latest win, at the WGC Mexico Championship in March, underlined his confidence levels in these tournaments.
Johnson also has the best record of anyone in the field at TPC Southwind. The 35-year-old won on his first course start in 2012 and claimed a second victory in Memphis last year shooting 19 under par. Johnson, who was also fifth in 2016, has been in mediocre form over the last month by his standards but it should not take long for him to rediscover top gear at a course he is exceptionally comfortable on. The 20-times PGA Tour champion is a worthy 8/1 favourite and should be in the hunt for a Memphis hat-trick on Sunday.
Justin Thomas is making his first start at TPC Southwind but the American looks close to his best form and should challenge for the title this weekend. Thomas comes in as the defending champion, albeit on a different course, after his win at Firestone last August. This remains his last victory and a motivated Thomas is determined to add some overdue silverware.
A wrist injury forced Thomas to miss several tournaments in May, including the PGA Championship, but is slowly working his way back to peak form. A closing round of 65 at the Scottish Open secured a tie for ninth and he followed this up with 11th place at Portrush – his best finish at The Open by some distance. With nine PGA Tour titles already, the 26-year-old is a prolific winner and is fresher than most of his peers due to his enforced injury break. Ranked second this year for strokes gained tee to green and third for approaches to the green, a focused Thomas is backed to contend at 14/1 each way.
Confident Reed ready to win again
Patrick Reed has been in poor form for much of this season but last year’s Masters champion looks to be close to rediscovering the level which took him to major success at Augusta. Reed has made his last five cuts and his performances over the last month indicate confidence in his swing has returned. The brash American finished fifth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the end of June and secured his best Open result with tenth place at Portrush.
Reed is 34-under-par for his last three tournaments and his approach play has been impressive after finally bedding in swing changes. The 28-year-old has six PGA Tour victories and is a proven closer if he gets into contention. He was fifth in Memphis in 2013 as a winless rookie and comes in this week as a prolific champion. Reed has his swagger back and looks ready to claim another victory at 40/1 each way.
Andrew Putnam has been in consistent form over the last couple of months and the American looks capable of contending at a tempting price. Putnam’s decision to head over to Europe early paid off with a tie for fourth at the Scottish Open. His performance at The Open was also encouraging with 32nd place despite a final-round 78 in treacherous conditions. He has made his last seven cuts and was third at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May.
Putnam should be confident heading to Memphis after an excellent showing at the course last year when second. The 30-year-old shared the lead on 15 under par, after three rounds, before Johnson ran away from the field. But it was an impressive performance which he backed up with his maiden PGA Tour title in August at the Barracuda Championship. Putnam, who is fourth for strokes gained putting this season, can get among the birdies at TPC Southwind and threaten the places at 50/1 each way.
Dustin Johnson Each Way
Justin Thomas Each Way
Patrick Reed Each Way
Andrew Putnam Each Way