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St Jude Classic Picks: Fitzpatrick a good +3300 play

Can Justin Thomas repeat and win the 2021 St Jude Classic?
Can Justin Thomas repeat and win the 2021 St Jude Classic?
By J.N. Campbell

Justin Thomas is the defending champion but our golf man J.N. Campbell has his eye on the man currently sitting in 57th place in the FedEx points list as his winner this week...

Course: TPC Southwind

Location: Memphis, TN

Date: Aug 5—8, 2021

Par: 70/Yardage 7,237

Prize: $10.5 Million/Winner $1.82 M

Fairways/Rough: Zoysia/Bermudagrass

Greens: Champion Ultradwarf Bermudagrass

Defending Champion: Justin Thomas

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The Tokyo Olympic Golf experience is now in the books, and American Xander Schauffele emerged with the Gold. If you had Rory Sabbatini on the stand, then you are a better golf ‘capper than I am. Interesting cross-culturally how a South African who lives in Florida, and is married to a Slovakian, wins a medal (Silver) for that country. Even though Sabbatini hasn’t been very relevant of late, he was impressive throughout the rain-delayed, miserable Japanese weather.

As for our “props,” we zeroed in on Rory McIiroy, and he did not disappoint. If it were not for a slow start, he could have easily rivaled Schauffele for the Gold. Losing in a 7-way playoff for the Bronze was not too terrible, especially for a guy whose Olympic perspective was quite narrow at the beginning of the competition.

Turning our attention back to the PGA Tour, we find ourselves in the stretch run for the FedEx Cup. If you do not know, the final run of the season was designed in 2007 to offer players the opportunity to compete for a major cash prize—the FedEx Cup. Standings are kept through next week’s Wyndham Championship, and then it is “playoff” time. A progressive cut ensues with The Northern Trust and BMW Championship, before the playing of The Tour Championship. Leapfrogging and massive movements up and down the standings are coming … so, that puts an even greater emphasis on these last tournaments, like the St. Jude.

Designed back in the 80s with the help of pros like Fuzzy Zoeller, the TPC Southwind is one of the many “Tournament Players Club” venues which is operated by the PGA Tour. The course itself is a mixed bag of distance tests on the fairways, and small greens that look to defy regulation. The big bombers will have a field day, but they still need a soft touch around the greens, in order to rack up from low scores. The Mid-South has seen its share of rain over the past week, so it will be interesting to see how the setup of the course fairs come Thursday.

Last year, Justin Thomas (-13) notched the victory by combining some clever shot-making with pin-seeking accuracy on his approach shots. He is back again to defend his title. With 48 of the Top 50 players coming into this Tourney (Jon Rahm, No.1 is still out with COVID), we have the makings for a true shootout. Who do we look to this week, as the push for FedEx Cup really starts to roll? Have a read …

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A few promising prop bets …

“To Make the Weekend” play … (Paul Casey +2800)

The Cheltenham-product was pretty strong over in Japan, and he showed some true mettle as he contested the 7-man playoff for the Bronze. With 20+ of “pro” experience under his belt, he continues to be relevant. The AZ State Sun Devil has some inviting numbers, and I would find a way to use him in a variety of bets. He could easily shoot a low round, and I think he is a lock to make the “Weekend.” His 4th place in the PGA Championship reflected inspired play, and he rarely misses cuts … a true mark of consistency. His exemption runs through 2022, so it is time to return to some winning ways. Last year, he qualified for the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the 10th time. If he does well enough down the stretch, I could see him being a Captain’s Pick for Team Europe in the Ryder Cup.

Versus to the finish … (Justin Thomas +1800) (Brooks Koepka +1200)

Ever since he won The Players Championship back in March, something looks decidedly amiss with Justin Thomas. It is tough out there on the Tour, and a constant battle to keep up with the DJs, the Koepkas, and the DeChambeaus of the world. He only missed the “Cut” at Kiawah Island, so we cannot be too tough with our appraisal. However, this Thomas we are talking about, is a striker who was the FedEx Cup Champion back in 2017. That wasn’t all that long ago, but he needs to up his game as we enter the last stages of the season. If you put him up against, say Brooks Koepka, then that might be an inviting “prop” because most will take Koepka. Pundits might not think that Thomas has what it takes. But with the right odds, this might be a bet that could go in our favor. I will take Thomas because I think he is due for a Top 5 ending.

Low round goes to … (Webb Simpson +2800)

If you are looking for a solid bet that seems entirely plausible, then do not sleep on Webb Simpson. The North Carolinian from Wake is up-and-at‘em after a Top 20 in The Open Championship. The week off for the Olympics probably did him good, since he did not have to grapple with adapting to the major shifts in time zones. I like his performance in the RBC Heritage (T-9th), and his game suits this course in Memphis quite well. This guy is a sand saving machine, which means he can get himself in and out of trouble. That might be of some use in the St. Jude, a WGC Tourney that he finished T-12 in 2020. I would like to see him improve once he is dancing on the greens. If he can cut down on misses, and drain some tough ones, then he might have a chance to mix it up on Sunday. A low round from him is very feasible.

The FedEx arrow points to … (Matthew Fitzpatrick +2800)

The 26-yr-old Matthew Fitzpatrick from the UK is currently hovering around 57th on the FedEx list. Most of his stats reflect a “middle of the pack” rating, when it comes to the numbers. He is not atrocious off-the-tee, nor is he overtly stingy around-the-greens. Why am I bullish on “Fitz?” The main reason is that he is particularly solid in this Tourney. Last year, he ended up T-6th, and before that he was T-4th. That was impressive since 2020 was his 1st full season as a PGA Tour member. Long off the tee, his greatest weakness could be his second shots. If he can make some inroads there, then he his numbers might improve further, especially when it comes to chipping. If you could get 28/1 on him, I think that is a bet … Clearly, the St. Jude is up his alley, and that is a pretty square price in my estimation. Fitzpatrick for the “win!”

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Enjoy the final drive to the FedEx Cup! It’s time once again for the St. Jude from Memphis …

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