One & Done: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
July 24, 2019
By Rob Bolton , PGATOUR.COM
- Rory McIlroy's last appearance at TPC Southwind was a T7 in 2012. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
"Well, that didn't go according to plan." ~Fantasy Gamer's Lament
Give Rory McIlroy another crack at The Open Championship at Royal Portrush and you know he'd fare better, even contend. Or win. He'll get that chance at least twice more in his career, so don't forget this moment in time.
Then again, how could we?
McIlroy was as obvious a selection for a major since, well, Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open last month. Alas, the five-time winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, including earlier this year, finished T52 at Pebble Beach. Hey, at least Tiger Woods reconnected at the Masters and Brooks Koepka repeated at the PGA Championship.
McIlroy helps headline a field of 63 at this week's World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis. He hasn't appeared on the property since a T7 in 2012 when it was the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but all experience has value.
In his last 10 starts in stroke-play WGCs, McIlroy has a win, a second, a T3, a T4, a T5, a T6, a T7, a T9 and a T11. Despite last week's disappointment, dare I state that there's rarely a bad place to play him. If you're chasing, the time is now. If you're out front, hang onto him for the Playoffs where FedExCup points are quadrupled. However, if you're in an earnings-based league, the WGC is richer than the first two Playoffs events, so don't hesitate regardless of your position.
Since the Playoffs are on the horizon and questions have been rolling in about how to handle the TOUR Championship, let's take a moment to focus on that now.
PGA TOUR Fantasy One & Done will treat the Playoffs finale exactly like THE NORTHERN TRUST and the BMW Championship. Refer to SCORING in the Rules on the gaming platform for that language.
For all private leagues, I offered multiple solutions in this space during the week of the CIMB Classic. If you've yet to determine how your league will finish – I know, I know, there are only five weeks remaining, but I'm still fielding inquiries – give it a read as it should help.
Perusing Future Possibilities below, only Mickelson, two-time FedEx St. Jude Classic champion Dustin Johnson and Billy Horschel have the WGC-St. Jude listed beside their names. You could make a case that Horschel arrives with the best form, but chasers might want a bigger name despite his four consecutive top 10s at TPC Southwind from 2013-2017. Even as the current front-runner in my little league, I'm hesitant if for no other reason than I'd be leaving a slighter bigger piece on the board as a defensive measure. Plus, Horschel has shown a tendency to light fire in the Playoffs.
Mickelson has a better record at TPC Southwind than Horschel, but Lefty's game has abandoned him. So, consider holstering and hoping he plays well, and then revisit for THE NORTHERN TRUST at Liberty National where he finished T6 in 2013 and in front of his New York City-area allegiance.
Like McIlroy, DJ has value just about everywhere. He's been scuffling and on tracks where we expected him to make noise, but he's the most recent winner at TPC Southwind. While it benefits all, the kicker is that he's guaranteed four rounds this week. He's your guy.
Brooks Koepka also has been a regular here and with success, having cashed in all five appearances in the old iteration of the PGA TOUR stop. His overall record in the Playoffs is good but not great (yet), so regardless of your position, this could be the last best time to strike.
So many others such as Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Justin Thomas make sense this week, so lay out the remainder of the season to see who fits best with projected Playoffs positioning. Remember, there are only three events. After 125 play in the opener, only 70 compete in the second. As mentioned before, I'm saving Rose for the TOUR Championship, which hosts only 30.
Two-man gamers who are pacing should consider a combination of Horschel and Jon Rahm or Xander Schauffele. Granted, so many of the notables are no longer available, but everyone is in the same boat.
Off-the-radar values include Danny Willett, Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick and 2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic runner-up Andrew Putnam.
Rank Expert Pick Comment 38th
Tony Finau Fresh off a career-best third in a major at Royal Portrush, I can't help but want to hop on the bandwagon. He also ranked T3 in GIR in each of his last two starts.That frequency is the ticket on the small greens at TPC Southwind. 44th
Chez Reavie He cooled a bit since his hot streak in June, but he has a good history at TPC Southwind. 56th
On the Mark
Xander Schauffele X marks the spot at TPC Southwind. It is a ball-strikers place that rewards a complete game - sounds like Xander to me. 66th
After a disastrous swing-and-miss last week, I'm sending in my shell-shocked selection as I hide under the covers. Johnson, a two-time winner at TPC Southwind, will break out of his slump on a familiar track in familiar hot, steamy weather.
Xander Schauffele I love backing this guy when he has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. 589th
Patrick Reed Really trending in the right direction.
NOTE: Select golfers committed to the tournament are listed alphabetically. Future tournaments are sorted chronologically and reflect previous success on the courses on which the tournaments will be held in 2018-19. The numerical values in parentheses represent the order of relative confidence of where to use each golfer if multiple sites are listed (e.g. 1 for strongest, 2 for next-strongest and so on). To present weighted confidence in real time, numerical values will not change all season no matter how many tournaments remain listed for each golfer. All are pending golfer commitment.
Rafa Cabrera Bello … Wyndham (4)
Paul Casey … TOUR Championship (3)
Sergio Garcia … TOUR Championship (2)
Billy Horschel … WGC-St. Jude (3); Wyndham (7); TOUR Championship (1)
Dustin Johnson … WGC-St. Jude (6); TOUR Championship (7)
Hideki Matsuyama … Wyndham (7); TOUR Championship (5)
Rory McIlroy … TOUR Championship (6)
Phil Mickelson … WGC-St. Jude (3)
Kevin Na … Wyndham (5)
Jon Rahm … TOUR Championship (7)
Justin Rose … TOUR Championship (2)
Xander Schauffele … TOUR Championship (1)
Adam Scott … TOUR Championship (3)
Webb Simpson … Wyndham (1)
Cameron Smith … Wyndham (3)
Brandt Snedeker … Wyndham (1; defending)
Jordan Spieth … TOUR Championship (8)
Henrik Stenson … Wyndham (8); TOUR Championship (7)
Justin Thomas … TOUR Championship (3)
Bubba Watson … TOUR Championship (8)