Golf tips: PGA Tour, FedEx St. Jude Classic betting preview

THIS week’s event is often regarded as one of the toughest on Tour. It’s a perfect challenge as the precursor to the second major of the season, with The US Open kicking off next Thursday.

And clearly many of the world’s best agree with a very decent field using The FedEx St Jude Classic as their warm up. The likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson will all be teeing it up in Memphis.

Dustin Johnson will compete against the world’s best

Measuring at 7,224 yards, the par 70 TPC Southwind is one of those tough tracks that requires a great deal of mental fortitude and patience to post a good score. With tight fairways and much longer than average rough, you’d think accuracy off the tee would be vital.

However, when you look at the winner’s stats, it’s not actually been a massive factor. That’s mainly because however good you are off the tee, you’re always going to drift on these sort of fairways, so importance gets laid heavier on ability from the rough.

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Stats wise take a look at things like proximity from the rough and birdie or better percentage from the rough. A top class iron game and scrambling is also key, as well as the short stick on notoriously difficult greens.

With 8 par 4’s measuring over 450 yards, those with a tactical approach and good mid-iron game will end up conquering. Basically we’ve just described a very good all-rounder…

Interesting to note that 3 winners since Dustin Johnson in 2012 have all been first timers round here, but you do start to notice similar names at the top of the leaderboard over recent years.

Henrik Stenson

Henrik Stenson has been slowly going about his business this season, putting in some very consistent finishes in the build up to some majors that could suit his game. In 2018 he has accumulated 5 top 10’s in 9 outings, including difficult events like The Masters and The Arnold Palmer.

Whilst, he’ll have one sneaky eye on Shinnecock Hills next week, he does fit the bill perfectly out of the top boys and does give us a bit of value. He has taken some distance off his driving game in recent years but he’s been at his ever-best tee to green. He’s always been one of the top scramblers and putters as well, so he makes so much sense.

Obviously if the likes of DJ or Mickelson get going they’ll be tough to beat, whilst Koepka does look like he’s in outrageous shape and form at the moment. However, it’ll be the Iceman for us…!

Charl Schwartzel

He may have missed the cut last week, but all in all Charl Schwartzel is coming in with some decent form. A very impressive T2 at The Players and a T9 at the Wells Fargo show that he’s working his way back after a poor year or so. The odd injury and putting woes have halted this otherwise imperious talent and he showed at Sawgrass that he is getting close to a first win since 2016.

So coming onto a track where he finished second last year and was just a shot off Daniel Berger even after a shocking 74 on the Saturday, makes us think he could be in with a great shout.

He has the tee to green game as we all know. His driving and irons are formidable, whilst interestingly he’s 31st in birdie or better percentage from the rough.

If the short stick gets hot he’ll be in contention, therefore represents very good value.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

A late addition to proceedings, Kiradech Aphibarnrat has been playing some fine golf in the past year. So much so he’s jumped to 30th in the world rankings and starting to play more and more on US soil. A T13 last week got him a place here and when you see he was T9 for driving accuracy, T26 for GIR and 8th for putting average you get rather excited.

He has the perfect all-round game for this sort of challenge and it truly doesn’t bother us that he has never played here. He already has his placed booked for The US Open and should be feeling confident.

Kevin Chappell

We can’t deny that Kevin Chappell has been out of form coming into this week. Which obviously begs the question why he’d enter our thinking. Firstly, recent winners haven’t actually recorded amazing results in the lead up and secondly on paper he fits the bill perfectly. If he brings his a-game obviously.

He finished T4 last year and is genuinely one of the best tee to green. However, like so many others his putting can let him down and that needs to be strong if he’s to contend. Interestingly he’s 8th in the stats for birdie or better percentage from the rough and has always been a decent scrambler.

If you think most people with his recent form would be in the 3-figures, but we’re looking at that positively because it shows the bookies are still wary over someone of his class.

Trey Mullinax

After a promising amateur career, it hasn’t been total plain sailing for Trey Mullinax since turning pro. He has a lot of promise, but is yet to win on the PGA. He’s still so young and we’re confident it won’t take him much longer and this is the sort of week where he could contend.

His T2 at the Valero a few weeks back is his best finish amongst the big boys and he did have a T9 at the US Open last year which proves he can mix it with the best.

He’s inside the top 11 for both birdie or better percentage from the rough and rough proximity whilst he’s still officially the longest driver of the ball which means he hits it an absolute mile. If he can keep it in play he’ll be a threat.

Ben Crane

Ben Crane played some pretty decent golf last week on his way to a T8 and enters our thinking as a player who clearly loves this track having won here in 2014 and had a T10 in 2017. He is a good ball striker that has always been comfortable with the putter. His results have gradually been getting better which will encourage him and he should have some confidence at a place he knows very well.

As far as outsiders go, he ticks quite a few boxes and whilst we were interested in Matt Jones at a similar price, Crane just about gets the nod because of his form here.

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