Sobel's FedEx St. Jude Preview: It's Time To Bet Morikawa

Sobel’s FedEx St. Jude Preview: It’s Time To Bet Morikawa

Click arrow to expand 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship odds via BetMGM
Golfer value
Rory McIlroy +1000
Scottie Scheffler +1400
Cameron Smith +1600
Patrick Cantlay +1600
Justin Thomas +1800
Xander Schauffele +1800
Jon Rahm +2200
Matt Fitzpatrick +2200
Tony Finau +2200
Will Zalatoris +2500
Jordan Spieth +2800
Sam Burns +2800
Cameron Young +3000
Collin Morikawa +3300
Shane Lowry +3300
Sungjae Im +3300
Joohyung Kim +4000
Viktor Hovland +4000
Billy Horschel +4000
Hideki Matsuyama +5000
Joaquin Niemann +5000
Russell Henley +5000
Tyrrell Hatton +5000
Aaron Wise +5000
Max Homa +5000
Corey Conners +6600
Cam Davis +8000
Davis Riley +8000
Taylor Pendrith +8000
Chris Kirk +8000
Adam Scott +10000
Brian Harman +10000
Christiaan Bezuidenhout +10000
Harold Varner III +10000
J.T. Poston +10000
Keegan Bradley +10000
Sahith Theegala +10000
Scott Stallings +10000
Seamus Power +10000
Si Woo Kim +10000
Adam Hadwin +12500
Alex Noren +12500
Cameron Tringale +12500
Chez Reavie +12500
Denny McCarthy +12500
Emiliano Grillo +12500
Gary Woodland +12500
Jason Day +12500
Justin Rose +12500
Keith Mitchell +12500
Maverick McNealy +12500
Mito Pereira +12500
Tom Hoge +12500
Troy Merritt +12500
Webb Simpson +12500
Adam Long +15000
Alex Smalley +15000
Anirban Lahiri +15000
Brandon Wu +15000
Brendan Steele +15000
Brendon Todd +15000
Jhonattan Vegas +15000
John Huh +15000
Lucas Herbert +15000
Marc Leishman +15000
Mark Hubbard +15000
Russell Knox +15000
Sebastian Munoz +15000
Stephan Jaeger +15000
Taylor Moore +15000
Wyndham Clark +15000
Andrew Putnam +15000
Callum Tarren +15000
Kevin Streelman +15000
Matt Kuchar +15000
Aaron Rai +20000
Adam Svensson +20000
C.T. Pan +20000
David Lipsky +20000
K.H. Lee +20000
Kevin Kisner +20000
Kurt Kitayama +20000
Luke List +20000
Martin Laird +20000
Matthew NeSmith +20000
Ryan Palmer +20000
Stewart Cink +20000
Trey Mullinax +20000
Chesson Hadley +25000
Greyson Sigg +25000
James Hahn +25000
Joel Dahmen +25000
Lee Hodges +25000
Patrick Rodgers +25000
Tyler Duncan +25000
Vince Whaley +25000
Doug Ghim +30000
Dylan Frittelli +30000
Hayden Buckley +30000
J.J. Spaun +30000
Lucas Glover +30000
Mackenzie Hughes +30000
Max McGreevy +30000
Michael Thompson +30000
Peter Malnati +30000
Rickie Fowler +30000
Scott Piercy +30000
Beau Hossler +40000
Danny Lee +40000
Kevin Tway +40000
Matthias Schwab +40000
Nick Taylor +40000
Patton Kizzire +40000
Robert Streb +40000
Sam Ryder +40000
Adam Schenk +50000
Kramer Hickok +50000
Ryan Brehm +50000
Sepp Straka +50000
Chad Ramey +75000
Nick Watney +75000

MEMPHIS — Good luck trying to piece together all of the historical data for this one.

Starting in 1958 as the Memphis Open, the PGA TOUR’s Memphis-based event moved to host venue TPC Southwind in 1989. It then underwent a litany of name changes over the years, culminating in being called the FedEx St. Jude Classic for its final eight editions through 2018.

Despite remaining in the same location, that tournament ceased to exist the following year, instead becoming the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and inheriting all the history of the erstwhile WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which is how Tiger Woods is the all-time leading money winner of that event by more than $7 million without ever competing in Memphis.

This week, it becomes the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the first event of this season’s FedEx Cup playoffs, which used to be The Northern Trust and before that was The Barclays, which in turn means the leading money winner in the history of this tournament is now Dustin Johnson, who’s already resigned from the PGA TOUR and (despite winning twice in Memphis) will likely never play in anything called the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

Make sense?

Here’s another mind-bender: Of the top-10 in Memphis last year (which included a total of 11 players), five are no longer eligible to play here.

Well, at least they’re not until perhaps Tuesday afternoon, when a court will rule on “Mickelson et al vs. the PGA TOUR,” which could make Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones eligible for the playoffs after being indefinitely suspended for joining LIV Golf.

Just imagine reading any of those words a year ago and trying to understand what they meant or how they were even possible.

On to this week’s tournament plays, where many of the big names return for the first time since the year’s final major championship, as the golf world prepares itself for another dramatic week — both inside and outside the ropes.

All outright odds listed for picks are via FanDuel and as of Monday at noon ET. Prop odds are via DraftKings.


One player to win the tournament.

Collin Morikawa (+2900)

First things first: During a summer of lost luggage, it’s nice to know that a player whom you’re betting has all the right tools of the trade arrive at his destination — and that is the case with Morikawa this week, though it wasn’t without a bit of trepidation.

Here’s hoping he wore out those clubs during his recent three-week break, following a pair of missed cuts at the Scottish Open and The Open Championship.

Even though he was the defending champion at the latter, I don’t put too much stock into form at those overseas starts. In his last appearance on U.S. soil, Morikawa finished in a share of fifth place at the U.S. Open.

What I do like is that his odds have drifted, which historically has been a signal that we should start playing him and that he’s one of the few top-10 players to really pop this year.

In a game that’s so often cyclical, we’ve seen an uptick on players such as Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Smith, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas, just to name a few. As they often say in NBA games, every team goes on a run at some point. This just might be Morikawa’s time to go on a run, much like Patrick Cantlay last year.

Despite those recent struggles, Morikawa’s iron game has remained elite. We know he owns the ability to win whenever his putting is just above-average, which means only a small improvement from his past two Memphis starts. On a course where iron play is the most important metric, I like Morikawa to start that proverbial run.


Potential selections for one-and-done options.

Cameron Smith (+1600)

If you’ve somehow made it through the entire regular season without using Smith — especially at one of his three winning spots, where he was a popular play at each — I’m truly sorry. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that you still have him while your fellow poolsters likely don’t.

Smith finished fifth at this course last year and — in case you hadn’t heard — is playing some decent golf right now. There’s a narrative that Smith might have some specific reasons for playing three more weeks of solid golf to pad his resume tape, but while he’s here, he remains as good a choice as any to post another big-time result.

Joohyung “Tom” Kim (+4500)

In last week’s preview, I wrote about Kim potentially playing with “house money” after clinching his PGA TOUR playing privileges for next season. Well, that house money hit the jackpot. Now a champion after just 15 career starts, Kim’s victory at the Wyndham Championship was historical for a few different reasons.

First, he’s just 20 years old –- born in June 2002! Second, he opened with a quadruple-bogey on Thursday, which my pal Justin Ray of the 21st Group confirmed was the first time in the modern era that any player started with a score that high in relation to par and still won the event.

If he was playing with house money last week, then he’s playing with a free credit line at this event. While others are jostling for positioning, he can continue to step on the gas pedal.

Will Zalatoris (+2600)

I have no fool-proof analytical evidence of this, but there have been more than a few times over the years when a player moved away from working with his long-time caddie — either permanently or temporarily — and enjoyed immediate success thereafter. In a strange move for the timing as much as anything else, Zalatoris fired his caddie, Ryan Goble, halfway through last week’s Wyndham, giving the bag to coach Josh Gregory for the final two days.

Zalatoris has already told reporters that Joel Stock will work for him over the next three weeks. Even if that’s not a permanent fix, it could be the spark he needs, like an NFL team going to the backup quarterback for a second-half rally.

It’s not like Zalatoris is too far off, with finishes of T20 and T21 the past two weeks. As someone who was on him for each of those, I’m not jumping ship now that he could feel a bit recharged with someone new helping him out on the course.

Cameron Young (+2600)

As I’ve written many times over the past few months, the most impressive part of Young’s success during his rookie campaign isn’t just the results, but where they’ve happened. Essentially, he’s finished top-three on some of the most wide-ranging venues on the entire schedule.

There’s no reason to think that’ll stop now. I’ve also written about his value in OAD pools. If you burned most of the big names in majors and other significant events, you might be searching around for a relevant player at this one. Young certainly qualifies and if you haven’t used him yet, well, you don’t want to go the entire season without doing so.


One player to finish top-five

Tony Finau (+400 for top-five)

Following the second of Finau’s recent back-to-back victories at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic, I asked this question on my SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio show: Was this good timing for Finau as he now rolls into the playoffs with plenty of momentum, or was it poor timing as a little earlier might’ve yielded his first major and a little later might’ve yielded a FedEx Cup title?

I get it. The initial response is to suggest that there’s no “wrong” time to win two events in a row, but that’s a given, so it’s really not what I’m asking here. Instead, I side with the latter portion of that question — and the rationale why is really a compliment.

It’s my assertion that if Finau was playing his best golf against the best competition, he would have beaten more than a few inferior fields. That remains a hypothetical, of course. What we do know is that he’s riding a heater and should be a strong play to contend once again.

Top-10

One player to finish top-10

Aaron Wise (+550 for top-10)

A late stretch that included just one birdie and a bogey in his final 10 holes on Sunday afternoon kept Wise from a top-10 finish at the Wyndham (he finished T13), but it’s hard not to like how he’s playing right now. That said, he was essentially neutral with his irons in the opening round, then got progressively worse each day, culminating with a strokes gained number of -2.32 on approach shots in the final round.

Normally, that would be enough to fade a guy at the following event, but for a player who ranked 24th in this category entering last week, I have confidence he can turn it around. With his driver and putter already in strong working order, a few days of iron work on the Southwind range should be enough to have him knocking on that top-10 door again.

Top-20

One player to finish top-20

Max Homa (+190 for top-20)

I had initially tabbed Tommy Fleetwood for a top-20, but with him tweeting that he’s spending time with family instead of playing in the playoffs, I’ll go with Homa, who owns a similar percentage of top-20 cashes this year. In 16 starts, he owns nine of ‘em. At that rate, I like him against the implied probability of these odds. Expect his consistency to continue.

Top-30

One player to finish top-30

Scott Stallings

Prior to last week’s Wyndham Championship, Stallings had finished 8th-4th-10th in his previous three starts, thanks to the fact that he’d gained strokes with his driver, irons and putter in each one. In Greensboro, he “only” finished T13 and “only” gained strokes with his irons, essentially remaining just about neutral with the driver and putter. That’s a lot of golf and a lot of contending for a guy who hadn’t posted three straight top-15 finishes since 2013 — and, oh by the way, one of those was a share of runner-up honors here at TPC Southwind. I’m reluctant to go back to the well too many times here, but I do think a more cautious prop play on Stallings still makes sense this week.

Top-40

One player to finish top-40

Rickie Fowler

To suggest Fowler back-doored his way into the playoffs is a severe understatement.

After missing the cut for a second straight week to end the regular season and without a top-20 finish in his last 19 starts, Fowler comes flying into the postseason at 125th on the points list, flying in on the wings of his T3 finish at the CJ Cup way back in October.

There’s obviously not much to like right now about Fowler’s game and quite honestly, I’m having trouble talking myself into this play, let alone anyone else, but I do have a hunch that he will be playing decently enough to cash this conservative ticket. For a player who’s largely been competing in the biggest and best tournaments since he joined the PGA TOUR, he’s rarely gotten himself up for the events which, frankly, he needs to play well in these days.

Call it a hunch, but I do believe that seeing the game’s best players this week could be the spark he needs to have a good couple of days on a course where he was T15 two years ago. 


A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.

Justin Thomas

Much like with Morikawa, I’m essentially trying to buy low and get a little bit of a discount here, as Thomas has finished 37th-MC-53rd in his past three appearances. The last time he posted just two consecutive results outside of the top-50 was the summer of 2017 — and within two starts after that, he became a major champion for the first time.

Thomas also tends to heat up in Memphis, where he won two years ago and owns a scoring average of exactly 68.00 in his past dozen rounds. I think a big one is coming (again) very soon for Thomas, and it makes sense that it could happen this week.

DFS ‘Dog

A lower-priced option for DFS lineups

Stephan Jaeger

One of my favorite metrics is final-round ball-striking for players who competed the previous week. At the Wyndham, Jaeger ranked second to only Russell Henley on Sunday, leading to a T13 finish that followed a solo fifth the previous week. He’s heating up at the right time and at 91st on the eligibility list, he could use a strong performance to survive toward another start at next week’s BMW Championship as part of the top-70.

A native of Germany, Jaeger spent his formative years in Tennessee and still lives there, so this one should hold a little special meaning to him — and maybe a little advantage, as well.


One player to post the low score Thursday.

Sam Burns (+4000 for FRL)

Coming off a playoff loss in Memphis last year, I considered Burns for my favorite outright play this week but decided he might be more worthy as an FRL play instead.

When Burns plays well, he usually starts strong, as evidenced by a 68 to open his Sanderson Farms victory and a 64 to begin the Valspar. (He did shoot a Thursday 71 at the Charles Schwab, it should be noted, before improving in each round on his way to the title.) After ranking 16th in R1 scoring average last season, he’s 27th this season, all of which suggests it’s more trend than coincidence that he regularly starts with a low one. He opened with a 66 here last year. 


Matchup Man

One player who should beat comparable players.

Russell Henley (+4500)

Over the past two weeks, what we’ve seen from Henley is a player with elite approach skills who doesn’t make too many bogeys or other big numbers, yet doesn’t post as many birdies as he’s needed to, either.

While I don’t regret listing him as my favorite outright in last week’s preview — we at least had some skin in the game well into the weekend — I do think these characteristics tend to make him a more valuable play in matchups, considering that floor seems high right now, but the ceiling might be a bit limited against such an elite-level field. 

Also Receiving Votes

Other players who should provide value

Matt Fitzpatrick (+2200), Tyrrell Hatton (+5500), Chris Kirk (+10000), Sahith Theegala (+11000), Mito Pereira (+12000), Tom Hoge (+12000), Maverick McNealy (+12000), Brendan Steele (+12000), Sebastian Munoz (+14000), Callum Tarren (+21000), Lee Hodges (+32000)

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