2023 FedEx St Jude Championship Preview: Everything To Know About TPC Southwind
The FedEx St. Jude Championship returns to Memphis to kick off the PGA TOUR’s 2023 FedEx Cup Playoffs at TPC Southwind. The top 70 qualify for the field, a change from last year’s rules of the top 125. Find longer golf odds at the best sports betting sites to increase your potential FedEx St. Jude Championship payouts. Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy are the favorites for this year’s FedEx St. Jude Championship.
It seems like an eternity ago that Danny Willett hacked up what has still held as the choke of the year at the 2023 Fortinet Championship. Since then, another full PGA TOUR season has come and gone, as we can now officially turn the page to the FedEx Cup Playoffs. First stop, the FedEx St Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis. Our weekly preview begins as always with a look at Southwind and the FedEx St Jude odds.
The FedEx Cup Playoffs continues to see year-over-year change. Last year marked the first time the FedEx St Jude had shifted from a regular PGA TOUR stop to a playoff event, replacing THE NORTHERN TRUST, which had previously served as the kickoff to the playoffs. This year, we also see the smaller field of 70 from the FedEx Cup Standings.
Despite all the change, TPC Southwind is no stranger to the PGA TOUR, as it has hosted events each year since 1989. We’ve gotten our fair share of high stakes, limited-field action here as well, with the top-70 players in the world coming for the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational from 2019-2021. TPC Southwind is known for extremely firm, fast Bermuda greens, penal Bermuda rough and persistent water hazards throughout. Those have given players a stern tee-to-green test and kept winning scores in a modest range.
Typically when we see a loaded field of all the game’s best players in one place, it comes on a rotating course set up, for majors or a playoff event. The unique combination of a limited yet jam packed field on familiar grounds should result in fewer surprises and a more predictable result from one of the presumptive favorites, and therefore breed a tighter, more top-heavy betting card. I’ll look to hone in on the players who are best in terms of SG: APP, Total Driving and SG: P (Firm & Fast Bermuda) when building out my card.
Consider A Donation
I’d be remiss to kick off a preview of this event without encouraging anyone with some spare gambling winnings to consider a donation to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It is without a doubt one of the best charity organizations out there, and one I’m proud to help donate to each year.
Now let’s get into the key facts and info about TPC Southwind for the 2023 FedEx St Jude Championship.
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FEDEX ST JUDE ODDS: THE FAVORITES
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FEDEX ST JUDE ODDS: FIELD AT A GLANCE
The field is set with the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings ready to tee it up in Memphis. In this reduced field of 70, there will be no cut, so all players will have the security of four full rounds ahead of them.
A dramatic conclusion to the 2023 Wyndham Championship last week caused some re-shuffling to the final field, as Lucas Glover’s victory catapulted him from No. 112 to No. 49. Consequently, Justin Thomas and Adam Scott were bumped as the first two players on the outside looking in at the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
While no official withdrawals have been announced, Hayden Buckley and Tom Kim are two names to keep an eye on with lingering injury concerns. Buckley is unlikely to tee it up as he continues to recover from a June rib injury. We’re more likely to see Tom Kim in Memphis, as his withdrawal from the Wyndham Championship seems more precautionary to rest up his ankle ahead of this playoff push. Should there be any withdrawals, there will be no backfill from alternates.
Despite its long history between the WGC-FedEx St Jude and St Jude Classic, Harris English, 2013 St. Jude Classic champion, is the only past winner at TPC Southwind in the field this week. For reference, Will Zalatoris, Abraham Ancer, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson have each won this event over the last decade, but are either not qualified for the 2023 playoffs, or have since left the PGA TOUR for LIV.
INTRODUCTION TO TPC SOUTHWIND
This tournament has endured many changes over the years, but despite the rotating events that have run through TPC Southwind, the course has remained a mainstay since 1989. TPC Southwind hosted the St Jude Classic and kept the event on the schedule here through 2018. In 2019, the WGC Bridgestone at Firestone CC became known as the WGC St Jude Invitational, attracting the top 75 players in the world to Memphis for increased prize money. In its three years as host to the WGC event, TPC Southwind produced winners of Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Abraham Ancer.
At 7,233 yards, TPC Southwind measures fairly average in terms of length by PGA TOUR standards, and the list of contenders over the years would suggest that distance is not a prerequisite for success. The top-10 players in SG: TOT at TPC Southwind are Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Seung-yul Noh, Chez Reavie, Austin Cook, Webb Simpson, Harris English and Billy Horschel. Generally speaking, that suggests an emphasis on players who can consistently position themselves well off the tee and are predominantly comfortable putting on pure Bermuda greens. Since the St Jude Classic evolved into the WGC FedEx St Jude, we’ve seen a progression of the cream rising to the top. Skilled players from tee-to-green should naturally be best suited to navigate this course.
How It Breaks Down
As another par 70, TPC Southwind deprioritizes the emphasis on Par-5 Scoring. Just two exist on the property, which in turn mitigates the volume of birdie-or-better opportunities. The two par 5s, each reachable in two, are the only holes at TPC Southwind with a scoring average better than 0.1 under par. By contrast, 12 holes have a scoring average above par, with half averaging at least 0.1 strokes over. That sets us up a complete tee-to-green test. It will reward well-rounded players who can keep their tee shots in the fairway and scramble often to save par.
Unlike Sedgefield CC, TPC Southwind features a balanced distribution of hole ranges, which should again suit the most skilled players in the field who possess a diverse arsenal of shots. With that said, a concentration of nearly one in every three approach shots came from 150-175 yards in last year’s WGC FedEx St Jude. So, players with strong mid-irons should capitalize most on the scoring opportunities. Ten holes fall between 400-500 yards, so as tends to be the case on any given PGA TOUR event, the players who can capitalize on these holes should find themselves in contention by week’s end.
For TPC Southwind course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past FedEx St. Jude winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our FedEx St. Jude Championship odds page.
COURSE HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
Of the players with top-10 career course history at TPC Southwind, only Harris English has qualified amongst the top-70 of the PGA TOUR this year. That, by default, makes this a week to discount past results and lean more heavily on recent form and course fit instead. English won in his 2013 debut at TPC Southwind, and has followed that performance up with two additional top-10s over his last three appearances in Memphis.
The top-10 in this field terms of total strokes gained at TPC Southwind after English includes Rory McIlroy, Sepp Straka, Hideki Matsuyama, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Denny McCarthy, Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns, Jon Rahm, and Andrew Putnam.
Looking at results over the last four years, just five players have posted multiple top-15 finishes: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, and Matthew Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has shown the most consistency in Memphis amongst that group, with three top-6 finishes since 2019.
The emphasis of driving accuracy over distance (particularly to avoid water hazards and gnarly Bermuda rough), and putting on smooth Bermuda greens, are staples of Florida golf that that should translate well to TPC Southwind. As evidence, the success seen in recent years by Florida residents Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Daniel Berger.
The course that jumps out as the closest embodiment to these conditions is East Lake. East Lake features the same agronomy of Zoysia fairways and pure Champion Bermuda greens, moderate scoring conditions with severe penalty for missed fairways, and consistent names atop the leaderboard like Billy Horschel, Thomas and Rory McIlroy.
In addition to East Lake, TPC Sawgrass comes to mind next as a more challenging TPC layout with a similar emphasis on positional tee shots and the option to get more aggressive with driver from hole to hole. TPC Scottsdale, PGA National, Harbour Town, Waialae CC and Innisbrook Resort each also feature similar Bermuda grass layouts with overlapping results from players with comparable profiles.
On a secondary level, it’s hard to deny the overlap of success between Pebble Beach and TPC Southwind. Both tracks have exposure to wind with water in play throughout and have rewarded players with a combination of accuracy off the tee and precision with mid-irons. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger, and even Chez Reavie highlight the top 10 of course history at both courses.
Combine performance across this list and the top-10 players in Comp Course History here are Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Tyrrell Hatton, Xander Schauffele, Russell Henley, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, and Matt Fitzpatrick.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER
- SG: T2G
- SG: APP / SG: Ball Striking
- Fairways Gained
- Opportunities Gained
- Scrambling Gained
- Prox 125-200
- SG: P (Bermuda) / SG: P (Firm & Fast greens)
- Par-4 Scoring: 450-500 Yards
- Course & Comp Course History
Rather than overcomplicate the model here, I prefer to hone in on the players who enter in the best overall form. Over the last 12 rounds going into this week, the top-10 players in SG: T2G are Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Alex Smalley, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler, Russell Henley, Stephan Jaeger, Patrick Cantlay, Vincent Norrman, and Viktor Hovland. Just eight players rank top 30 in SG: T2G and above-average to the field in SG: P on Bermuda greens: Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Schenk, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Wyndham Clark, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, and Cam Davis.
Approach will remain a crucial stat this week on a golf course which has consistently rewarded trending ball strikers. The top 10 in SG: APP entering this week are Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama, Mark Hubbard, Alex Smalley, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, and Jordan Spieth.
The firm and fast greens are a significant piece of TPC Southwind’s identity. We’ve seen players who excel in these particular conditions go on to find more repeated success at this course. The top-10 players in SG: P (Firm & Fast Greens) are Denny McCarthy, Andrew Putnam, Taylor Montgomery, Sam Burns, Tyrrell Hatton, Harris English, Jason Day, Taylor Moore, Patrick Cantlay, and Tommy Fleetwood. Notables who raise their putting baseline on Firm & Fast Bermuda greens compared to average include Kurt Kitayama, Matt Kuchar, Ben Griffin, and Thomas Detry.
The ideal player for this week should rank above-average across the weighted putting categories, SG: T2G, Fairways Gained, Scrambling Gained, and SG: APP. Only five players meet that criteria in this week’s field: Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Denny McCarthy, Max Homa, and Andrew Putnam.
Looking at the correlation charts this week for TPC Southwind, Double Bogey Avoidance noticeably jumps into the top-10 most important stats. More than 5% of the field makes double-or-worse on three different holes, a side effect of the 11 holes where water hazards come into play.
We also see a larger than usual jump in the importance of SG: APP and SG: Short Game this week compared to TOUR average. Each of these categories enters the top 10. On the flip side, Par-5 Scoring, Par-3 Scoring and SG: OTT will be stats to deprioritize this week. They have proven far less consequential here than on TOUR average.
Only 10 players in the field rank above average in each of the above 10 key stat categories: Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Wyndham Clark, and Rory McIlroy.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Sam Burns
A return to Memphis means we’re staying on Bermuda grass, which is right where Sam Burns wants to be to kick off his playoff push and make his final case for the vacant 12th Man spot on the Team USA Ryder Cup team. If I were in Zach Johnson’s shoes today, it’s Burns’ name I would call personally for that final spot, as he continues to polish up one of the most underrated seasons on TOUR this year.
In addition to his win at the WGC Dell Match Play, Burns has finished inside the top-20 in 10 of his 20 starts, including a T14 at last week’s Wyndham Championship, another positional Bermuda layout. As one of the longest hitters on TOUR, Burns is not the first name you’d come to think of on positional tracks, and yet he’s proven to do the most damage on sub-7,200 yard courses. Six of his top-20s this season – including his win at Austin Country Club – have come on short positional courses, an encouraging sign for his prospects leading into Memphis.
What’s most encouraging, however, is his early track record at TPC Southwind itself. Burns fell in a playoff to Abraham Ancer here in 2021, and followed that up with another solid T20 showing last year, in which he improved tee-to-green year-over-year, but sustained one of the worst putting outings of his season. Burns has not lost a full stroke putting since this event last year, so we should expect an elevated baseline on the greens in 2023 to improve his chances of contending.
With a loaded field in store this week, I expect we’ll catch some appealing odds on Burns come Monday, as he continues to fly under the radar this season.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2023 FEDEX ST JUDE CHAMPIONSHIP
Part of me still holds resentment towards this event for replacing THE NORTHERN TRUST, which used to be my best opportunity to attend a golf tournament in the Northeast each year. I remain puzzled that the PGA TOUR has continued to not host events in the New York/New Jersey area. But personal gripes aside, this shapes up well as an action-packed tournament, concentrating the best 70 players on the PGA TOUR in one place as they vie for a place at East Lake. The incoming scheduling changes will place even further urgency to reach the top-30 after this season, with more limited fields in the “Signature” events with the highest purses in 2024.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2023 FedEx St Jude odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.
2023 FedEx St. Jude Model Breakdown
In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: T2G, SG: APP, Comp Course History, Weighted Putting (L36, Bermuda, and Firm & Fast Conditions), followed by a more balanced mix of Fairways Gained, Prox 125-200 and Scrambling Gained.
In one of the most loaded fields we’ve seen all season, it’s none other than Patrick Cantlay who takes No. 1 overall honors for this week’s model. Cantlay’s been as steady as they come from tee-to-green this season, losing strokes in that department just twice since the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship. He’s one of a select few top-tier players who raises their baseline on Firm & Fast greens as well, which should bode well for his confidence. Interestingly, he’s failed to finish inside the top-10 at TPC Southwind wince 2019, but with playoff wins in each of the last two seasons, it’s tough to overlook a play of Cantlay’s caliber at this stage of the season.
After Cantlay, the rest of my model’s top 10 features Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Viktor Hovland, and Jordan Spieth.
When FedEx St Jude odds open on Monday, I’ll look to build out a tight, top-heavy card after seeing which elite names have the most drift. As of now, I’m eying Sam Burns, Tommy Fleetwood, and Jordan Spieth. Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck navigating the 2023 FedEx St Jude odds!
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