Originally scheduled to begin July 2, the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational now tees off Thursday in Memphis with a stacked but limited field. Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy are favoured on the golf odds.
There are four WGC events annually on the PGA Tour, they are limited to around 75-80 players (there’s no cut) and their $10.5 million (US) purses are only surpassed by non-Grand Slam events by the Players Championship and Tour Championship. For those not fortunate enough to qualify for this tournament, there is an opposite-field event this week in California called the Barracuda Championship. Some Canadians are playing there.
This tournament used to be called the WGC-Bridgestone and played at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, but Bridgestone dropped off as a sponsor following the 2018 event and FedEx took it over. The PGA Tour happily moved the tournament to Memphis, the home of FedEx’s headquarters. The company is arguably the biggest sponsor on Tour, including the FedExCup playoffs.
TPC Southwind is a former dairy farm southeast of Memphis that plays to about 7,240 yards and par 70. It used to host the FedEx St. Jude Classic, which was a regular PGA Tour event. The par-3 11th has an island green similar to the famous No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Odds
Brooks Koepka is the defending champion and +3000 to repeat. Then ranked No. 1 in the world, Koepka shot a final-round 65 to finish at 16-under 264 and three shots ahead of Webb Simpson. It was Koepka’s first-ever WGC title, and he became only the fifth player to win one of those and a major in the same season. However, Koepka has largely struggled this year and comes off a missed cut at the 3M Open.
McIlroy (+900) entered last year’s final round with the lead but struggled to a 71. He and Koepka were paired together on Sunday. This will be the first tournament for Spain’s Rahm (+900) since winning the Memorial on July 19 and reaching No. 1 in the world for the first time. He finished T8 last year and in a classy move pledged to donate set amounts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for each birdie and eagle. Rahm raised $23,000.
Justin Thomas is +1100 with Bryson DeChambeau +1200. Thomas was T12 last year and didn’t play this past week. DeChambeau also skipped the 3M Open and was T48 here last year. Michael Thompson won the 3M Open on Sunday, his first PGA Tour victory since 2013, and is +9900.
Tiger Woods has won this event a record eight times, but again, not at this course. In a bit of a surprise, he’s skipping this year – but maybe not a surprise as he almost never plays the week before a major. The PGA Championship is next week.
No Canadian has come relatively close to winning this tournament since its overall debut in 1999. Corey Conners was the only one to play in 2019 and finished tied for 27th at 3-under 277. He’s +7600 this week. Adam Hadwin is +9000. Neither played the 3M Open.
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Predictions
Take McIlroy and two-time St. Jude Classic winner (when it was a regular Tour event) Daniel Berger for Top 10s, but the winner at +4800 is Billy Horschel. He has five Top 10s at this course in his past six visits and hasn’t been worse than 13th in his past two PGA Tour events this year.