The FedExCup Playoffs get underway this week in Memphis. It's a loaded field, as you would expect to see in post-season play. This is when the big-game hunters come out to play.
The course is TPC Southwind, a tricky course with a lot of risk-reward shots and lots of water balls. Those go hand-in-hand because most of the risk-reward shots come into play when you are firing over those water hazards. As a result, steady ball-strikers often rise to the top of the board at Southwind but only the bold will take enough chances to get paid off with a big win. That puts a big emphasis on iron play.
Let's take a look at the odds board to see if any head-to-head tournament matchups look appealing.
Joaquin Niemann over Max Homa - Tournament Matchup (-110)
This one is a play against Homa who has elevated in his game in recent years but continues to struggle at TPC Southwind. Homa has lost strokes the field in 11-of-19 rounds played at the course with five of those losing 4.5 or more strokes to the field. Niemann on the other hand has lost 4.5 or more strokes to the field in just 8 rounds in his entire career.
The other piece of the puzzle is that Homa has carded more birdies than the field in just four of his last 13 rounds played leading up to this event. He's trending in the wrong direction and now facing off against a course that has been very unkind to him in the past. I'm going to side with the steady Chilean this week.
Will Zalatoris over Tony Finau - Tournament Matchup (+100)
I said we should put an emphasis on iron play this week and that instantly draws our attention to Zalatoris. The Texan has gained strokes on approach in 69 percent of his rounds this season, fifth best in the field. Finau is right behind him in that regard, no slouch himself, but I will talk about why I'm going against Finau in a minute. Zalatoris also gained 3 strokes on approach last year in his TPC Southwind debut.
As for Finau, he's finished outside of the top 25 in all four trips to TPC Southwind. "Not the grass I prefer, bermuda. Growing up in Utah, we don't deal with bermuda, bermudagrass, but it's a golf course I have had some nice rounds on. I haven't been able to put together four good rounds here, but we're looking to change that this week." He hinted at it with that comment on Tuesday but that was something we knew already from the stats. When you compare baseline performance to performance on courses with bermudagrass greens, Finau ranks last in the field, nearly a shot worse per round compared to his two-year baseline.
Of course, Finau is arriving off back-to-back wins so I'm really attacking the form beast but relying on the bermuda to trip him up a time or two over the course of 72 holes this week at TPC Southwind. Back to Zalatoris, he should be relieved to get back to a challenging course as his game isn't as well-suited for some of the birdie-fests that we've seen in recent weeks.