This article is part of our FanDuel PGA DFS Picks series.
FedEx St. Jude Championship
Course: TPC Southwind (7,243 yards, par 70)
Winner: $3,600,000 and 2,000 FedExCup points
We've finally made it. After 44 point-accruing events, the top 70 in the FedExCup Standings have advanced to the postseason. The reduction from 125 players to 70 players qualifying for the playoffs has made this season one of the most competitive in history. So competitive in fact, that regular playoff contenders like Justin Thomas (71st), Adam Scott (72nd), Shane Lowry (78th), Billy Horschel (90th), and Gary Woodland (94th) all failed to qualify. While disappointing for those veterans, we've seen a lot of rookies step up and play some really good golf, such as Eric Cole (40th), Thomas Detry (52nd), Taylor Montgomery (53rd), Sam Stevens (64th), Vincent Norrman (68th), and Ben Griffin (70th).
The goal for everyone in the field for the FedEx St. Jude Championship is simple: make it inside the top 50 of the standings to advance to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields. Nick Hardy currently holds the 50th spot with 868 points, four clear of Alex Smalley in 51st. No. 70 seed Ben Griffin sits at 617 FedExCup points, and while 251 points sounds like a big ask, FedExCup points for the first two playoff events are quadrupled. So instead of Griffin needing a solo second to break into the top 50, he could finish just outside the top 10 in Memphis and still have a chance to advance. Just like any other sport, your work in the regular season can certainly put you in position to achieve the ultimate goal, but failing to perform in the playoffs will quickly end those hopes.
The first playoff event used to be known as The Northern Trust -- The Barclays before that -- which rotated around throughout many courses in the Northeast. Once that sponsorship ended, however, it really only made sense that FedEx -- one of the biggest partners of the PGA Tour -- would swoop in and land a playoff event in their home base of Memphis. FedEx hosted the FedEx St. Jude Classic from 1986 to 2018 in June, and at TPC Southwind since 1989. They then became the title sponsor of the WGC Invitational from 2019-21, also hosted at Southwind. Last year was the first time Memphis hosted the playoff opener, and it was won in dramatic fashion by Will Zalatoris, who knocked off Sepp Straka in a playoff.
With only 70 players teeing it up there will not be a cut. Even if a golfer gets off to a slow start he will have an opportunity to advance with a big weekend. With the top 50 in the final FedExCup Standings securing spots in all of the designated events next season, there is arguably more pressure to advance to the BMW Championship than there will be trying to advance to the TOUR Championship in two weeks. That won't be something the top three players in the world -- Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy -- have to worry about as that trio enters the playoffs as the top three seeds. Weather will be a factor as it always is in August in Memphis. Much like last week in Greensboro, expect a delay or two for a passing storm. Temperatures will reach the 90s and some gusty winds in this area can't be ruled out.
2022 - Will Zalatoris -15 (TPC Southwind)
2021 - Tony Finau -20 (Liberty National)
2020 - Dustin Johnson -30 (TPC Boston)
2019 - Patrick Reed -16 (Liberty National)
2018 - Bryson DeChambeau -18 (Ridgewood)
2017 - Dustin Johnson -13 (Glen Oaks)
2016 - Patrick Reed -9 (Bethpage Black)
2015 - Jason Day -19 (Plainfield)
2014 - Hunter Mahan -14 (Ridgewood)
2013 - Adam Scott -11 (Liberty National)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Tee-to-Green
- GIR Percentage
- Driving Accuracy
TPC Southwind has historically been a ball striker's paradise. There is danger all over the place, with water coming into play on over half the holes. When it hosted a full-field event it was always among the leaders in water balls. The fairways on average are the second narrowest on Tour and the greens the third smallest. You really have to control your swing for four days if you're going to contend. We won't see the high GIR and FIR numbers we did last week at Sedgefield, where the putter can make your score. Shots that are just a little off at Southwind can get punished.
With all the heat and humidity, golf balls are going to be flying all over the yard at Southwind. Distance is certainly nice, but there plenty of holes on which the players will club down off the tee. I'd prefer a target-golf plodder over someone who likes to play bomb-and-gouge, although with all the water it would be more like bomb-and-drop this week. Those who skipped the Wyndham Championship will get their first test on Bermuda greens in some time, so that will certainly be an adjustment and could play into the hands of those who excel around the greens, especially considering how small the putting surfaces are. It's safe to say SG: Tee-to-Green is going to rein supreme this week, which transitions perfectly to the top player in our picks.
FanDuel Value Picks
Scottie Scheffler ($12,300)
The best ball striker in the world, Scheffler leads the PGA Tour in SG: Tee-to-Green at 2.807 strokes per round -- 0.669 strokes clear of second place. That is on track to be the best Tee-to-Green season since Tiger Woods in 2006. Scheffler's highly-discussed top-12 streak came to an end at The Open Championship, but he's still on a top-25 streak that has reached 20 tournaments. The world No. 1 was shut out in the majors in 2023, so you know he wants to end the season with a statement, especially after failing to secure the FedEx Cup last year despite a four-victory campaign.
Tyrrell Hatton ($11,100)
We've talked about how good the "Big 3" have been this season, but Hatton has been the best of the rest if we go by total strokes gained on average. There is just no weakness in his game, as he ranks 10th in SG: Off-the-Tee, 12th in SG: Approach, 23rd in scrambling and sixth in SG: Putting. Hatton's worst finish over his last nine starts was a T27 at the U.S. Open. During that stretch he racked up four top-6 finishes.
Collin Morikawa ($11,000)
With trouble all over the place, tight fairways, and small greens, this is the perfect course for Morikawa to take advantage of. The two-time major champion ranks top-6 on Tour in driving accuracy, SG: Approach, GIR percentage and proximity to the hole. Morikawa is the ultimate target golf player, and it should come as no surprise he has finished T20-T26-T5 in three starts at Southwind. The putter is still a question, but Morikawa gained on the greens in four of his last five starts.
Rickie Fowler ($10,600)
Fowler has very similar numbers across the board as Hatton, and he brings good value as only the 12th option on the FanDuel board. Fowler was just okay by the standard he has set this season at the Scottish Open and Open Championship, but his win at the Rocket Mortgage followed 12 top-20 finishes in a 14-event stretch. The 34-year-old is sixth in birdie average, 24th in total driving, eighth in SG: Approach, 22nd in SG: Around-the-Green and 31st in SG: Putting. Fowler also owns a pair of top-15s in four starts at Southwind.
Longer Shots with Value
Cameron Young ($9,800)
This is the best DFS value on the slate for me. While Young missed the cut at the 3M Open, that was just a few days after he ran circles around most of the field in all the ball-striking categories at The Open en route to a T8 finish. The start prior to that he finished T6 at the John Deere Classic after ranking top-5 in SG: Off-the-Tee and GIR. It was a grind through a lot of the spring, but Young has found his game again and wants to show he belongs on the Ryder Cup team.
Sepp Straka ($9,500)
Straka missed the cut at the 3M Open, but it's hard to hold that against him, as it was the week after a T2 finish at the Open in which he gained 10.84 strokes in the ball-striking department. His start before that was a win at the John Deere Classic in which he ranked top-7 in both SG: Putting and SG: Tee-to-Green. Straka can be inconsistent at times, but on the season he ranks top-32 in total driving, driving accuracy, SG: Approach and GIR percentage. Clearly he likes Southwind after nearly prevailing in a playoff here last year.
J.J. Spaun ($8,200)
Spaun is a very sneaky play this week. He has been dialed in with his ball striking as of late and now ranks 37th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 34th in total driving, 30th in GIR percentage and 23rd in proximity on the season. Spaun's short game has also taken off, and he now ranks eighth in scrambling. Many people see a T42 last year at Southwind when you look at the course history, but fail to realize that Spaun was in control of the tournament for three days before a brutal 78 on Sunday dropped him way down a crowded leaderboard.
Alex Smalley ($8,100)
I was on Smalley last week at Sedgefield and he just missed the cut, and I'm confident he will get back on track at a course that should fit his skill set better. Smalley has been one of the best iron players in the world for the last few months. Over his last six tournaments he averaged about 1.2 strokes gained on approach per round, which would slot him second on the season in that category behind Scheffler. The putter is the biggest concern, but small greens should mitigate that weakness.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
With 70 of the best players in the world in this field, there is value all over this slate. When you can easily jump into the $7K range and get a guy like Adam Schenk ($7,700) or Mark Hubbard ($7,600) who have showed on several occasions this season the ability to pull a high finish out of their pocket, it makes me think that all the $11K and $12K golfers should be pretty highly owned this week. With no cut to be able to separate things, you're going to need to find a couple players who can outperform their value over four rounds. I don't think it's a great week for the guys who gain all their strokes with the putter like J.T. Poston ($9,600) and Denny McCarthy ($9,300), but it is certainly a great opportunity for those who have been super consistent with their ball-striking lately like Lucas Glover ($9,200) and Stephan Jaeger ($9,100).
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