The PGA Tour took a week off for the Olympic Games but returns to Memphis for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational with an elite field of just 66 players. World No. 1 Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw from the Olympics last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and is not in this week's field. However, 48 of the OWGR Top 50 players will be, as Marc Cohn sang, "Walking In Memphis."
Brooks Koepka (12-1) won the first WGC event in Memphis in 2019. He has finished sixth or better in six of his last eight starts. Collin Morikawa (14-1) was part of a seven-way playoff and just missed out on a bronze medal. One man who did not miss out on a medal was Xander Schauffele (14-1), who held on to win Olympic gold and now is in another short field in a no-cut event in which he has thrived during his young career. Jordan Spieth (16-1) makes his first start since finishing runner-up at the British Open three weeks ago.
Justin Thomas (18-1) is the defending champion of this event. Dustin Johnson (20-1) is a two-time winner at TPC Southwind when it hosted the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Rory McIlroy (20-1) was also in that massive playoff for the bronze in Tokyo last week but came up short. Daniel Berger (22-1), like Dustin Johnson, is also a two-time winner on this course.
Louis Oosthuizen (22-1) responded nicely to another close call disappointment in a major championship with a T-2 at the 3M Open two weeks ago as he still seeks his first career victory on American soil.
The WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational is in its third year in Memphis, after it was held at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, from 1999 to 2018. However, the PGA Tour has made an annual stop in Memphis every year since 1958. FedEx, headquartered in Memphis, has been the title or presenting sponsor of this event for 31 of the last 34 years. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has been the tournament's charity since 1970 when entertainer Danny Thomas agreed to attach his name to the event in exchange for St. Jude being the tournament's primary charitable beneficiary.
The field consists of players drawn primarily from the Official World Golf Ranking and the winners of the worldwide tournaments with the strongest fields.
1. The top 50 players from the Official World Golf Ranking as of July 26.
Abraham Ancer (2)
Daniel Berger (2,3)
Sam Burns (2,3)
Patrick Cantlay (2,3)
Paul Casey (2,3)
Stewart Cink (2,3)
Corey Conners (2)
Bryson DeChambeau (2,3)
Harris English (2,3)
Tony Finau (2)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (2,3)
Tommy Fleetwood (2)
Brian Harman (2)
Tyrrell Hatton (2,3)
Garrick Higgo (2,3)
Max Homa (2,3)
Billy Horschel (2,3)
Viktor Hovland (2,3)
Sungjae Im (2)
Dustin Johnson (2,3)
Kevin Kisner (2)
Brooks Koepka (2,3)
Jason Kokrak (2,3)
Marc Leishman (2)
Shane Lowry (2)
Robert MacIntyre (2)
Hideki Matsuyama (2,3)
Rory McIlroy (2,3)
Phil Mickelson (2,3)
Collin Morikawa (2,3)
Kevin Na (2,3)
Joaquín Niemann (2)
Louis Oosthuizen (2)
Ryan Palmer (2)
Victor Perez (2)
Patrick Reed (2,3)
Justin Rose (2)
Xander Schauffele (2,3)
Scottie Scheffler (2)
Adam Scott (2)
Webb Simpson (2)
Cameron Smith (2)
Jordan Spieth (2,3)
Justin Thomas (2,3)
Lee Westwood (2)
Matthew Wolff (2)
Will Zalatoris (2)
Jon Rahm (2, 3) will not play, nor will Christiaan Bezuidenhout (2).
2. The top 50 players from the Official World Golf Ranking as of Aug. 2.
Lucas Herbert (3)
3. Tournament winners, whose victories are considered official, of tournaments from the Federation Tours since the prior season's WGC Invitational with an Official World Golf Ranking Strength of Field Rating of 115 points or more.
Min Woo Lee
4. The winner of selected tournaments or leaders in tour Order of Merit.
Asian Tour: 2020-21 Order of Merit leader – Wade Ormsby
PGA Tour of Australasia: 2020-21 Order of Merit winner – Brad Kennedy
Japan Golf Tour: Bridgestone Open (2020) – Canceled
Japan Golf Tour: Japan Golf Tour Championship (2021) – Ryosuke Kinoshita
Sunshine Tour: Dimension Data Pro-Am (2021) – Wilco Nienaber
TPC Southwind was designed in 1988 by Ron Prichard and has been the venue for the PGA Tour in Memphis ever since. It is a relatively tough and technical track that has been made even harder with the move from its early June date for the former FedEx St. Jude Classic to the late July/early August WGC date when the temperatures are substantially warmer. Southwind is a par-70 of 7,233 yards. Hitting the Zoysia grass (East Lake, The Tour Championship; 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive) fairways is even more important than usual due to the 2.5-inch Bermuda rough. Eight of the 10 par-4s measure 450 yards or longer and the track only has two par-5s, so there aren't a lot of easy birdie holes. Water is in play on 11 holes and there are 75 bunkers. The Champion Bermudagrass (Quail Hollow, Wells Fargo Championship; Sedgefield, Wyndham Championship) greens will roll a bit slower at an 11 on the stimpmeter and the greens are on the smallish side (4,300 square feet on average).
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
2020: Justin Thomas (-13/267); 12-1
2019: Brooks Koepka (-16/264); 11-1
FedEx St. Jude Classic
2018: Dustin Johnson (-19/261); 7-1
2017: Daniel Berger (-10/270); 28-1
2016: Daniel Berger (-13/267); 33-1
2015: Fabián Gómez (-13/267); 400-1
2014: Ben Crane (-10/270); 175-1
2013: Harris English (-12/268); 66-1
2012: Dustin Johnson (-9/271); 20-1
2011: Harrison Frazar (-13/267); 275-1*
2010: Lee Westwood (-10/270); 12-1**
* playoff win over Robert Karlsson
** playoff win over Robert Garrigus and Robert Karlsson
STATS AND ANGLES
Three of the last five winners at TPC Southwind have rated first or second in the field for SG: Approach during their winning weeks. Four of the last five winners at TPC Southwind have rated top 5 or better for SG: Off-The-Tee during their winning weeks.
1. Collin Morikawa 41.6
2. Paul Casey 25.9
3. Louis Oosthuizen 25.1
4. Daniel Berger 24.6
5. Rory McIlroy 24.5
6. Hideki Matsuyama 24.1
7. Sergio Garcia 21.7
8. Brooks Koepka 21.6
9. Jordan Spieth 20.7
10. Jason Kokrak 19.3
Note: Last 24 rounds
SG: Ball Striking (SG: Off-The-Tee + SG: Approach)
1. Collin Morikawa 56.7
2. Brooks Koepka 40.4
3. Sergio Garcia 35.5
4. Viktor Hovland 34.6
5. Paul Casey 34.1
6. Jason Kokrak 32.7
7. Justin Thomas 32.7
8. Corey Conners 31.7
9. Patrick Cantlay 31.5
10. Hideki Matsuyama 31.4
Note: Last 24 rounds
Six holes at TPC Southwind measure 450-500 yards.
SG: 450-500 Yards
1. Collin Morikawa 24.1
2. Louis Oosthuizen 18.4
3. Abraham Ancer 16.8
4. Rory McIlroy 15.8
5. Wilco Nienaber 13.5 (12 rounds)
6. Patrick Cantlay 12.7
7. Justin Thomas 11.6
8. Jordan Spieth 11.1
9. Carlos Ortiz 10.3
10. Corey Conners 9.8
Note: Last 24 rounds
Ten of the last 11 winners at TPC Southwind have finished top 10 or better in the field for Greens In Regulation during their winning weeks. Only 48 players in total across 2012-20 have broken 70% Greens in Regulation at Southwind.
1. Collin Morikawa 49
2. Louis Oosthuizen 36.8
3. Patrick Cantlay 33.9
4. Corey Conners 33.1
5. Paul Casey 33
6. Daniel Berger 31.5
7. Xander Schauffele 28.2
8. Brooks Koepka 28
9. Shane Lowry 27.7
10. Sergio Garcia 27.6
Note: Last 24 rounds
Five of the last seven winners have rated eighth or better in the field for Scrambling during their winning weeks.
1. Brian Harman 15.6
2. Kevin Kisner 13.8
3. Justin Thomas 13.1
4. Matt Jones 11.8
5. Patrick Reed 11.7
6. Patrick Cantlay 11.4
7. Robert Streb 10.2
8. Louis Oosthuizen 10
9. Jordan Spieth 7.9
10. Webb Simpson 7.3
Note: Last 24 rounds
Brooks Koepka 12-1
Koepka won this event two years ago and has four top-3 finishes in his six starts in Memphis.
He has four top-5s in his last five starts along with a second, fourth and sixth in the last three majors.
Other than Morikawa, who seemingly always leads in ball striking, no one is putting up better numbers than Koepka in that category.
Scottie Scheffler 33-1
Scheffler posted top-10s in three majors this summer and has three top-10s in his last five events.
He also rates sixth in SG: Total over the last 24 rounds and first in Birdie or Better on par-4s.
Paul Casey 35-1
Although he fell just short of an Olympic medal, Casey seemed to relish the opportunity to represent Team Great Britain in international competition with more to come later this fall at the Ryder Cup.
Cross-country travel seems to affect players differently. However, Casey has already experienced this earlier in the year, having played in Southern California the week before making the trek to the Dubai Desert Classic and emerging victorious (tipped in this column).
Cameron Smith 46-1
Smith ranked fifth with his irons in Japan, gaining more than five shots on the field. He had a birdie that did not drop on 18 to get himself into the playoff for the bronze.
The strongest club in his bag, the putter, let him down as he dropped a half shot to the field on the greens. However, over the last 24 rounds, the Aussie is No. 1 in this field for SG: Putting.
Jason Kokrak 62-1
Kokrak is having a career year with two victories thus far this season (CJ Cup and Charles Schwab Challenge).
He rates top 10 in this elite field for Approach, Ball Striking and Putting.
While most of the top players are in Memphis this week for the WGC-Fed Ex St. Jude Invitational, most PGA Tour players are playing the Barracuda Championship to improve their position in the FedEx Cup standings with just two weeks before the cut off to reach the top 125 and keep their tour cards.
Emiliano Grillo, who has missed four of the last five cuts, and Maverick McNealy lead the field at 18-1. Both players were in contention on Sunday at this event last year but settled for top-10 finishes. Branden Grace (20-1) already won an alternate event this year at the Puerto Rico Open, which was tipped in this column. Mito Pereira (20-1) earned the battlefield promotion in June from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA Tour and has three straight top-6 finishes, including a T-4 as part of the seven-man playoff for the bronze medal last week in Tokyo.
Gary Woodland (28-1), the 2019 U.S. Open champion, has fallen all the way to No. 76 in the OWGR but did win this event in 2013. Troy Merritt (28-1) has finished runner-up here each of the last two years. Aaron Wise (33-1) was eighth here last year and Patrick Rodgers (33-1) was third in this event in 2015. Brandt Snedeker, Harold Varner III and Thomas Pieters (all 35-1) make their event debuts this year. Defending Barracuda champion Richy Werenski returns this year at a price of 66-1.
The Barracuda Championship has been held in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area yearly since 1999 and started as the Reno-Tahoe Open before computer security and data storage company Barracuda Networks became the title sponsor in 2014. It has always been an alternate event played opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which is now the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. This alternate event winner does not earn a Masters invitation but does earn 24 OWGR points, 300 FedEx Cup points, a full two-year PGA Tour exemption and an entry into the PGA Championship.
Since 2012, this event has used the Modified Stableford scoring system, which was used previously at the International event in Colorado.
Points Strokes in relation to par
Albatross + 8 points (3 under par)
Eagle + 5 points (2 under par)
Birdie + 2 points (1 under par)
Par 0 points (par)
Bogey -1 point (1 over par)
Double bogey or worse -3 points (2 over par or more)
Tahoe Mountain Club's Old Greenwood Course in Truckee, Calif., plays host to the Barracuda Championship for the second time after many years at the Montreux Golf & Country Club. The track plays as a par-71 of 7,425 yards; however, it is played at near 6,000 feet of altitude, so it will play closer to 6,800 yards. The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus in 2004. Old Greenwood is a resort track that is a combination of mountain forests and desert. Water is in play on six holes and there are 95 bunkers. The fairways and greens (5,300 square foot average) are Bentgrass/Poa Annua and the rough is Bluegrass cut to about 1.75 inches. With a Modified Stableford scoring system in place, there's obviously a premium on making eagles and birdies, and the players are rewarded for doing so more than they are penalized for scores of bogey or worse.
2020: Richy Werenski 39; 33-1
2019: Collin Morikawa 47; 10-1
2018: Andrew Putnam 47; 28-1
2017: Chris Stroud 44; 75-1*
2016: Greg Chalmers 43; 300-1
2015: J.J. Henry 47; 66-1**
2014: Geoff Ogilvy 49; 66-1
2013: Gary Woodland 44; 40-1
2012: J.J. Henry 43; 40-1
* playoff win over Greg Owen and Richy Werenski
** playoff win over Kyle Reifers
Patrick Rodgers 35-1
Rodgers may come in refreshed here considering he played eight weeks in a row before last week's Olympic break.
He sits 126th in the FedEx Cup standings. A good finish would lock in his status for next year.
Adam Schenk 45-1
Schenk sits 113th in the FedEx Cup standings and a good result would lock in his status for next season on the PGA Tour.
He rates third on tour for Total Birdies.
Brandon Hagy 66-1
Hagy has seemed to take a liking to Jack Nicklaus designs with a second at PGA National and a fifth at Glen Abbey to go with a 12th place here last year.
He also has a top-10 (sixth in Detroit) and a top-20 (18th at John Deere) in his last three starts.
Brendan Steele 70-1
Steele was born and raised in Idyllwild, Calif., which is 5,400 feet above sea level, so he grew up playing golf in high-altitude conditions.
He has an eighth (2012), fourth (2013), 25th (2014), seventh (2015) and fifth (2016) across seven attempts at the Barracuda.
Wyndham Clark 100-1
Clark finished 35th here last year, but he made 25 birdies in the event, so he just needs to cut out the mistakes because he can go nuts with birdies.
He grew up in Colorado and lives in Las Vegas, so he is used to playing at altitude.
Michael Gellerman 180-1
Gellerman ranked third for SG: Approach at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, 12th at the John Deere, then led the field in the 3M Open.
He is also sixth for Greens In Regulation and 32nd in Strokes Gained: Approach for the season.
Englishman Daniel Gavins primarily plays on the European Challenge Tour, the European answer to the Korn Ferry Tour, and was ranked No. 995 in the OWGR at the end of 2020. Gavins, priced at 100-1 last week, is now a first-time European Tour winner after posting a bogey-free Sunday 65, overcoming a seven-stroke deficit heading into Sunday's final round. Gavins is half the price at 50-1 this week at the Hero Open in Scotland.
Fairmont St. Andrews hosted the Scottish Championship as part of the makeshift 2020 European Tour schedule. It now hosts this week's Hero Open. Englishmen Andy Sullivan (14-1) and Marcus Armitage (22-1), who finished T-7 on this course last year, top the market. Masahiro Kawamura (22-1) has consecutive top-5s over the last two weeks at the Cazoo Open (fifth) and ISPS Handa World Invitational (T-3). Ryan Fox (22-1) returns to the tour after participating in the Olympic Games (T-42). Jordan Smith (22-1) also finished T-3 last week at Galgorm Castle. Adrian Otaegui (25-1) won the aforementioned Scottish Championship on this track last September.
The Torrance Course at Fairmont St. Andrews, as part of the Fairmont St. Andrews Bay five-star hotel, hosts this week's Scottish Championship. The course is named after former European Tour player and course designer Sam Torrance, who ranks 10th on the European Tour all-time wins list with 21 and is an eight-time European Ryder Cup member, including a win as captain in 2002. Torrance carved out a links course on agricultural land in Fife, Scotland, in 2001. It is a par-72 of 7,230 yards and was redesigned by Gary Stephenson in 2009. The course has links characteristics but is not considered a true links by links purists. It is a clifftop track that overlooks the North Sea. The fairways are wide and generous with a fair amount of undulation within the Bentgrass and Fescue surface overseeded with Rye. The Bentgrass and Fescue greens are relatively large and fast but well protected by pot bunkers. A composite of the Torrance and Kittoch courses have hosted numerous British Open qualifiers and the Torrance course has hosted the Senior Scottish Open from 2009 to 2014.
TRENDS AND ANGLES
Here is the Strokes Gained data for last year's top-5 finishers at the Scottish Championship at Fairmont St. Andrews:
1st: Adrian Otaegui: OTT: 22nd; APP: 1st; T2G: 1st; ATG: 5th; P: 6th
2nd: Matt Wallace: OTT: 20th; APP: 3rd; T2G: 2nd; ATG: 11th; P: 24th
3rd: Aaron Rai: OTT: 6th; APP: 15th; T2G: 3rd; ATG: 9th; P: 36th
4th: Chris Paisley: OTT: 30th; APP: 19th; T2G: 22nd; ATG: 46th; P: 4th
4th: Garrick Porteous: OTT: 4th; APP: 49th; T2G: 13th; ATG: 8th; P: 9th
ATG: Around The Green
As you can see, last year's results indicate that the iron play is even more at a premium to go along with a hot putter.
SG: Approach Leaders (in this week's field)
1. Eddie Pepperell + 0.84 per round
2. Ryan Fox 0.78
3. Nicolai Højgaard 0.69
4. Benjamin Hebert 0.67
5. Dale Whitnell 0.62
6. Matthew Southgate 0.59
7. Chris Wood 0.58
8. Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño 0.58
9. Alejandro Cañizares 0.57
10. Robert Rock 0.56
SG: Tee-To-Green Leaders (in this week's field)
1. Ryan Fox 1.56
2. Daniel Von Tonder 1.16
3. Adrian Otaegui 1.14
4. Jordan Smith 0.94
5. Masahiro Kawamura 0.91
6. Connor Syme 0.91
7. Dale Whitnell 0.76
8. Nicolai Højgaard 0.75
9. Marcus Armitage 0.72
10. Ross Fisher 0.72
Eddie Pepperell 33-1
Pepperell finished T-16 on this track last fall.
The Englishman leads this week's field for SG: Approach.
Marcel Siem 45-1
At 41, Siem has had to rebuild his career on the Challenge Tour. He has done just that of late having won the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge, which earned him a start the following week, where he finished a respectable T-15.
Hugo Leon 66-1
Chile's Leon has four top-20 finishes in his last six starts and two top-10s in his last three.
Chase Hanna 66-1
American Hanna, who played his college golf at Kansas, plays primarily on the Challenge Tour and has mustered four top-7 finishes in his last six starts there. In addition, he finished T-6 at the Cazoo Open two weeks ago on the European Tour.
Nicolai Højgaard 100-1
Thus far as a professional, Nicolai has been in the shadow of brother Rasmus.
However, this could be a week to emerge from the shadows as the Dane ranks third in this week's field for SG: Approach and eighth for SG: Tee-To-Green.
Chris Wood 130-1
Wood is a long way from his 2016 BMW Championship victory when he was just outside the OWGR Top 20.
Now ranked at No. 820, Wood has struggled in recent years, but he ranks seventh in this week's field for SG: Approach and fifth for SG: Putting.