The WGC – St. Jude Invitational in Memphis is the final WGC event of the season, and it comes in the next to last week for players to make their way into the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings to qualify for the playoffs. The Barracuda Championship, a PGA Tour satellite tournament, is also taking place this week before the regular season concludes with next week’s Wyndham Championship.
A number of top golfers who participated in the Tokyo Olympics are in the field, including gold medal winner Xander Schauffele, defending WGC – St. Jude Invitational champion Justin Thomas and bronze medal playoff participants Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, and Hideki Matsuyama, so it will be interesting to see if jet lag plays a factor in their performance. Jon Rahm is the only top ten player in the FedEx point standings not in Memphis, as he is still out of action due to a positive Covid-19 test.
This tournament became a WGC event in 2019 after hosting a PGA Tour stop since 1958 and has been played on the 7,233-yard, par-70 TPC Southwind course since 1989. Thomas won by three shots in 2020 over Daniel Berger, 2019 champion Brooks Koepka, Tom Lewis, and Phil Mickelson after firing a closing 65 to post a score of 13 under par 267.
Brooks Koepka… four-time major champion already has a victory in this event on a course that rewards familiarity, and he has been playing very good golf, with four top-six finishes in his last five starts, including three majors.
Former champion Brooks Koepka is the betting favorite at odds of +1200, just ahead of WGC – Workday at the Concession winner Morikawa and Schauffele at +1400 and Jordan Spieth and the defending champion at +1600. With odds of +1800, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy are next with “close but no cigar” Louis Oosthuizen and Bryson DeChambeau at +2200.
Matsuyama, following the disappointment of failing to medal in the Olympics that was held on his home soil, has odds of +2500 along with two-time FedEx St. Jude winner and 2020 runner-up Daniel Berger. Other notables include former Masters champion and 2020 Olympic participant Patrick Reed at +3500 with Tony Finau and 2019 Open Championship winner Shae Lowry, who also participated in Tokyo last week, at +4000.
The top of the Olympic leaderboard was filled with players in the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational, but the players that chose not to participate or didn’t qualify would appear to have an advantage in the energy level department including Brooks Koepka. The four-time major champion already has a victory in this event on a course that rewards familiarity, and he has been playing very good golf, with four top-six finishes in his last five starts, including three majors.
Dustin Johnson was a two-time champion of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, most recently in 2018, and it seems as if it’s just a matter of time before the reigning FedEx Cup and 2020 Masters champion return to the form he demonstrated beginning with a tie for 12th at this tournament last year.
Despite playing in Japan last week, it’s difficult to discount Collin Morikawa after his victory in the Open Championship and then almost capture a medal in the Olympics. Although comparisons to Tiger Woods may be a bit unfair, Morikawa has a way of getting himself into contention in big tournaments.