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Odds and Ends

WGC-FedEx St. Jude: Expect a Strong Showing from Scheffler

by Patrick McDonald
Updated On: August 4, 2021, 10:53 am ET

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Another week, another limited field, no cut event. With only 66 players teeing it up at TPC Southwind for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, head-to-head matchups are limited and extremely tight. These types of events are always a struggle when it comes to finding an edge as each player is guaranteed to play the weekend. 

As such, those Friday paydays where an opponent misses the cut won’t be a thing at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude, making our job a bit more difficult. Alas, we move onto analysis as we can take plenty from the likes of Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Daniel Berger

All victors at TPC Southwind within the last five years, all have relied heavily on their ball-striking en route to their successes. That will once again be the case this week, as short-game tends to take a backseat around this par-70. Not that it won’t be important, that is never true, but it won’t be the end all be all. 

The odds makers at PointsBet Sportsbook have done a fantastic job of pricing the head-to-head market ahead of tomorrow’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. With 48 out of the top-50 players in the world teeing it up, we’ll have our work cut out for us as we take you through a few matchups. 

Head-to-Head Matchups (Odds Via PointsBet):

Sergio Garcia (-134) over Tommy Fleetwood 

It’s never an easy prospect to side with Garcia given his putting issues, yet here I am writing about him not once, but twice. Making an appearance in our first-round leader article, I love the Spaniard to have a solid week at TPC Southwind. And while the putting has left plenty, and I mean plenty to be desired, the rest of his game is in too good of shape to ignore. 

With five top-25 finishes in a row, Garcia has been flawless tee-to-green over the past couple of months. Most recently, at the 3M Open, he led the field in said category, thanks in most part to a terrific iron performance, posting +7.2 Strokes Gained: Approach for the week. While he did lose more than seven-strokes on the greens, I expect that to be an outlier, even for Garcia’s standards. 

Fleetwood meanwhile is coming over from Tokyo where he finished in a tie for 16th in his first Olympic Games. For a moment, let’s take out Fleetwood’s third round where he carded a 7-under 64. The other three rounds were compiled of inconsistencies and poor ball-striking, specifically with his irons. 

Fleetwood has always had a way of drawing people in by posting one solid round to get everyone’s hopes up. That was his third round at Kasumigaseki Country Club, where he posted +2.595 SG: Approach. However, for the rest of the tournament, he lost a combined 2.85 strokes on approach. I figure a similar type of tournament will unfold for the Englishman, and while he may provide some fireworks, it’s Garcia who I like to come out on top by the end of the week. 

Daniel Berger (-118) over Dustin Johnson 

Two players who have two victories at TPC Southwind and are both coming off a T-8 finish at The Open at Royal St. George’s. The parallels between Berger and Johnson stop there as Berger has been the model of consistency, while Johnson has well, not. That’s what we have grown accustomed to from the world No. 2 and while it’s never fun to wager against him, knowing he could peak at any moment, Berger’s recent play makes a strong argument for us to do just that. 

Posting positive results with his irons in seven consecutive starts, the rest of Berger’s game is beginning to come around. Struggling on and around-the-greens in the early part of the spring, the former Florida State standout has since rediscovered his chipping and putting. This has led to two consecutive top-10 finishes in major championships and should yield a similar result this week at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. 

While Johnson’s ceiling is higher, his floor may arguably be lower. After struggling in the spring, missing the cut at both The Masters and the PGA Championship, it appeared that he had finally steadied the ship heading into the summer months. Four consecutive weekend appearances were put to an abrupt end at the 3M Open where he surprisingly missed the cut.  

While his play at TPC Twin Cities wasn’t all that bad, gaining 2.1 strokes on approach, the volatility is too much for me personally. Instead, I’d rather look to Berger who in all likelihood hovers around the top-10 for most of the week, while Johnson could either win the whole tournament or finish outside the top-50.

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Scottie Scheffler (-118) over Bryson DeChambeau 

Has anyone in golf had a worse month than DeChambeau? Let’s recap, shall we? It began at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where just moments before his Round 1 tee time, it was announced that DeChambeau and long-time caddie, Tim Tucker, had parted ways. The defending champion in Detroit would go on to miss the cut and head to The Open with plenty of questions swirling around not only his team, but now his game. 

At The Open, DeChambeau did himself no favors, criticizing his equipment manufacturer after a frustrating first-round at Royal St. George’s. To his credit, he apologized, battled back, made the cut, and put together a strong final-round to finish in a tie for 33rd. With all the noise seemingly behind him, DeChambeau was prepared to head to Tokyo to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. However, it was not meant to be as the American tested positive for COVID-19 just a week before competition thus having to withdraw. 

In total, it’s been a whirlwind, emotional month for DeChambeau, and I can’t confidently say that I expect him to play well this week in Memphis. The same can’t be said for Scheffler, who has shown an uncanny ability to contend in these big-time events. Whether a major championship or a World Golf Championship, the Texan finds his name on the first page of the leaderboard time and time again. 

A runner-up finish to Billy Horschel at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is accompanied by top-5 finishes at the WGC-Workday Championship and the Memorial. Add in three top-10 finishes in the last three major championships, and the reigning Rookie of the Year has done just about everything but win on golf’s biggest stages.  

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Patrick McDonald

Patrick McDonald joined NBC Sports EDGE in the spring of 2021. When he’s not chasing longshots, he’s chasing his golf ball around the local muni. You can find Patrick on Twitter @AmateurStatus.