Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
In yet another change to the PGA Tour schedule, the world's top golfers tee it up at the WGC-Fedex St. Jude Invitational this week. This event takes the place of the former WGC event at Firestone Country Club, but the location is a familiar one on the PGA Tour. For the last 30 years, the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind has been a staple on the Tour schedule, most recently serving as the lead-in event to the U.S. Open.
Be mindful of course history this week for that reason - the WGC is adamant that this event is replacing Bridgestone, not the FedEx St. Jude Classic. When examining past performance, start with confirming your data matches TPC Southwind and not Firestone.
Southwind is a Memphis, TN-based track that measures 7,244 yards to its par 70 and features numerous bodies of water and some of the most difficult greens to hit on Tour. The course has ranked inside the top seven in lowest greens in regulation percentage in each of the past five seasons. To say that hitting the greens at TPC Southwind is important would be reductive -- hitting the green is important every week -- but particularly at Southwind, where golfers made the 17th most birdies and the 10th most bogeys in 2018, and the 16th most birdies and 10th most bogeys in 2017.
The pre-major events often attract a spotty field in terms of star power, but the WGC paydays always bring out the big boys. Aside from the predictable withdrawal of Tiger Woods, the field is mostly intact coming back across the Atlantic. With no cut and a small, strong field, DFS players can expand their risk profile a bit when building lineups.
The forecast this week looks to be hot and sunny, with no precipitation or wind concerns of note. It is worth mentioning that the weather in Memphis could be much warmer than golfers are used to, as early June and late July are a different beast in this part of the country.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: TPC Southwind
Distance: 7,244 yards
Tees/Fairways/Rough: Zoysiagrass tees and fairways, Bermudagrass rough
|Season||Par||Yardage||Average||O/U Par Avg||Rank|
TPC Southwind is a staple on Tour and most of the field has had a crack at this course when hosting the old FedEx St. Jude, but it remains to be seen whether the WGC status ramps up the difficulty or opens up the scoring a bit. Southwind is middle of the pack in terms of driving distance, but is consistently among the 10-11 lowest average accuracy courses on the schedule.
It would be easy to look at last year's runaway winner, Dustin Johnson, and assume this is a bomber's track. But while DJ did go HAM here off the tee, most of the rest of the top 25 are better known for their accuracy. Hitting the ball further than everyone generally has its benefits, but with narrow fairways and hard-to-hit greens, getting an approach shot opportunity from the fairway will be key this week.
We are also back on Bermudagrass this week after a few months of bent and poa annua courses. For certain golfers, the change is significant (hello Keith Mitchell!). Putting is the least predictive performance stat anyway, but looking at either longer term or Bermuda-only splits would make sense.
Comp course characteristics include those Bermuda greens, hard-to-hit fairways and greens, water hazards, and pretty difficult scoring. Those all sound like the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort, home of the Valspar Championship. Innisbrook is a bit longer thanks to the full allotment of par 5s, but both bombers and shorter straight hitters have found success both there and TPC Southwind. The big name in this course comparison is obviously Paul Casey, the two time defending Valspar champion. Casey did visit Southwind once, back in 2014, and posted a T24 finish.
Other comps include the Country Club of Jackson, which hosts the Sanderson Farms Championship, and TPC San Antonio - Oaks, of the Valero Texas Open.
These stats will be key to success in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind.
|Key Stats for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Good Drives Gained|
|Proximity Gained: 150-200 yards|
Keeping the ball in play and cleaning up after yourself if you miss is the name of the game this week. Last year, Johnson absolutely blitzed the field and won by six strokes at -19. Andrew Putnam was the only man within 10 strokes, finishing at -13. They were both in the top 10 in strokes gained: approach and good drives gained.
Given how hard the greens are to hit, golfers need to be prepared to find themselves in the rough on approach and figure out how to scramble to save par. Good short gamers like Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson, and Brandt Snedeker have had decent finishes at TPC Southwind.
For proximity ranges, combining 150-175 and 175-200 makes sense this week depending on the profile of the individual golfer being researched. Longer hitters will be closer to the cup and get a shorter iron or even a wedge in, whereas the shorter hitters will be more likely to find themselves in the short grass but will need to be accurate from the longer range.
Course History Studs
Daniel Berger won the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind back-to-back in 2016 and 2017 before missing the cut last year. Too bad he’s playing the Barracuda this week! (This was mean)
Mickelson has six straight top-12 finishes, including runner ups in 2013 and 2016 and a tie for third in 2015.
Brooks Koepka and Johnson are the class of just about every field, and each has strong course history to lean on this week. DJ is the defending champion at Southwind, and Koepka as made the cut five years running with a T2 finish in 2016 and a T3 in 2015. Ah the simpler time, when Koepka cared about more than four events on the schedule.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.