This article is part of our FanDuel PGA DFS Picks series.
FedEx St. Jude Championship
Course: TPC Southwind (7,243 yards, par 70)
Winner: $2,700,000 and 2,000 FedExCup points
Memphis has been a staple on the PGA Tour calendar since 1958, but never has it had a bigger impact on the season than it will in 2022. It's no secret that FedEx has become one of the biggest sponsors of the sport and the PGA Tour has continued to reward the Memphis based company by elevating the event that they host. In 2019 the long-running FedEx St. Jude Classic was elevated to a World Golf Championships event, which immediately made it one of the strongest fields of the season after it struggled to attract many top names as a regular Tour event. This year the event takes on even more importance as the opening leg of the FedExCup Playoffs with a massive purse increase.
Since the FedExCup Playoffs inception in 2007, this will be the first time the opener will not be played in the Northeast. It is a bit unfortunate given the amount of really interesting golf courses in that part of the country that this event would rotate between, but at the end of the day money talks and that's why the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis will be the opening event of the FedExCup Playoffs for the foreseeable future. 121 of the 125 qualified players will tee it up this week with Lanto Griffin and Daniel Berger out with back injuries, Nate Lashley out with a toe injury and Tommy Fleetwood electing to skip the FedExCup Playoffs all together. There will be no alternates this week, as most of those that finished No. 126-200 in the standings will be focusing on securing their card for next year via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
The goal for everyone in the field in Memphis is to make the top-70 in points to advance to next week's BMW Championship. FedExCup points will be quadrupled for each of these next two events, which allow for some massive moves to be made with just one good finish. The top players will need to be on their game to best position themselves to go after the FedExCup at East Lake where seeding will determine how many strokes you are given to start the event with. Scottie Scheffler still holds over a 1,200-point lead over Cameron Smith for the top spot in the rankings, but with the winner at TPC Southwind slated to earn 2,000 points, that top seed going into East Lake could be someone else's very easily if Scheffler does not perform.
Memphis in August is usually not the most pleasant place to be, but the forecast this week doesn't appear to be too bad. Temperatures will be in the high-80's with gentle 5-10 mile per hour winds expected in each of the four tournament rounds. There will be some storms roll through for some of the practice rounds, but it appears it will be mostly dry for the rounds that count. TPC Southwind is not the easiest place on Tour to navigate safely around, but with light winds and receptive greens players should be in attack mode from the jump.
2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational – Abraham Ancer (-16)
2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational – Justin Thomas (-13)
2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational – Brooks Koepka (-16)
2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic – Dustin Johnson (-19)
2017 FedEx St. Jude Classic – Daniel Berger (-10)
2016 FedEx St. Jude Classic – Daniel Berger (-13)
2015 FedEx St. Jude Classic – Fabian Gomez (-13)
2014 FedEx St. Jude Classic – Ben Crane (-10)
2013 FedEx St. Jude Classic – Harris English (-12)
2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic – Dustin Johnson (-9)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Off-the-Tee
A few things stand out about TPC Southwind. For years when it hosted a full-field event it annually ranked amongst the top-three courses on Tour as far as most balls in the water. There are nine holes across the course where water will feature prevalently on a tee shot, approach shot or sometimes both. I supposed Tom Kim disproved it last week when he started with a quadruple-bogey and went on to win by five, but it's rare that anyone who takes an "other" goes onto factor come late Sunday afternoon. TPC Southwind is not overly long, but you can get yourself in trouble if you stray too far the fairways. The rough is typically not much of a penalty, but most of the fairways are either tree-lined or feature water on one side. The greens at TPC Southwind average just 4,300 square feet, which is small by PGA Tour standards. That will make iron play very important this week. Just a peek above at the recent winners will show you a bunch of players who hit a lot of greens in regulation. Small greens will also increase the importance of short game, especially on tricky bermudagrass like what surrounds the greens here. Putting has not proven to be a significant factor towards contending in recent editions of this tournament. Many of the top names should now be familiar with these surfaces after three years of this course hosting a WGC event.
FanDuel Value Picks
Xander Schauffele ($11,000)
Schauffele went Win-T5-T13-T18-T14-Win-Win-T15 over his last eight starts, and somehow there are still seven golfers ranked ahead of him this week. That's a great opportunity to get possibly the best player in the field and still save some money to apply towards the bottom of your lineup. Schauffele ranks top-11 on Tour this season in SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, total driving, GIR percentage, putts per GIR, sand save percentage, birdie average and par-4 scoring average. He also scored a T6 finish at TPC Southwind in 2020.
Matt Fitzpatrick ($10,900)
Fitzpatrick is in the mix of a spectacular season that he hopes to cap off with a strong showing in the playoffs. What better place for him to kick things off than TPC Southwind where he owns a T4 and a T6 in the last three years. Fitzpatrick is second to only Rory McIlroy in SG: Total and scoring average this season. His newly found distance, brilliant control with his wedges and extreme touch around the greens are perfect for this course.
Sungjae Im ($10,300)
While many of the top tier players will be dusting off the rust this week, Im comes in red hot off back-to-back runner-up finishes at the 3M Open and Wyndham Championship. There really is nothing not to like in the 24-year-old's game. He ranks third in total driving, 10th in GIR percentage, fourth in scrambling and third in par-4 scoring average.
Sam Burns ($10,100)
This is a clear buy-low situation with Burns. He is the No. 3 seed coming into the playoffs, but 16 golfers are priced ahead of him this week. Sure Burns doesn't have a top-25 in his last four starts, but TPC Southwind is the perfect place for him to change that and get back to his winning ways. The 26-year-old ranks 13th in SG: Approach, 19th in GIR percentage and ninth in birdie average this season. Burns also nearly emerged from the three-man playoff last year at TPC Southwind.
Longer Shots with Value
Scott Stallings ($8,900)
There's not many coming in with a better record over their last four events than Stallings, let alone someone that checks in at under $9,000 this week! The veteran went T8-T4-T10-T13 over that stretch which now brings his season total to six top-10's and 11 top-25's, both of which are well clear of his previous season highs. Stallings is gaining strokes in every measured category this season and also owns a runner-up finish at TPC Southwind back in 2013.
Mito Pereira ($8,500)
Similar to Burns, I think this is another great buy-low option. Pereira missed his last four cuts, but two of those were links courses and the other two he missed making the weekend by just one shot. Prior to that he started to become a household name with his performance at the PGA Championship which was right in the middle of a stretch where he collected seven straight top-27 finishes. Pereira's elite ball striking will make him a factor at TPC Southwind as he still ranks top-15 on Tour in SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green and GIR percentage.
Taylor Moore ($8,200)
Moore is striking it as well right now as he has all season. He is coming off consecutive top-6 finishes in Detroit and Greensboro, where he ranked top-10 both weeks in SG: Tee-to-Green and GIR's. Moore had some solid results early in the season, but he was simply too inconsistent. Now he has made his last six cuts going into the playoffs and is in great position to make the second leg as a rookie.
Chesson Hadley ($7,600)
Hadley came to the Travelers Championship with exactly one top-40 finish in 21 starts on the season. Since then all he has done is collect top-10s over seven starts and sew up a playoff spot. En route to a T8 in Greensboro last week, Hadley displayed tremendous iron play, ranking fourth in SG: Approach and second in GIR. That will certainly help him at TPC Southwind, where he posted a top-15 finish in 2014.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
All the fields throughout these playoffs are going to be exceptionally deep. That's just how many quality players make up the postseason for the best Tour in the world. That is going to give DFS players so many options on how they want to construct their lineups. The one interesting factor to keep in mind is that many of the top players have not played competitively on a non-links course since the U.S. Open or Travelers Championship. It would not surprise me at all to see a number of big names miss the only 36-hole cut that will occur in the playoffs at TPC Southwind, a course where big numbers are pretty easy to come by. It may not be a bad idea to stick with players who have had a chance to shake off some of the rust in one of the three events held on the PGA Tour since the Open Championship.