WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic Picks
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Play time is over on the PGA Tour. Only four events remain to be played before the season-ending Tour Championship is contested in Atlanta the weekend before Labor Day. Three of those four are events with big purses and big implications, starting this week with the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

Let’s see where the value lies as we dive headfirst into our picks and predictions for the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

You can tell that this event has gravitas just by the players in the field this week. The only top-10 player in the Official World Golf Ranking not in the field is world #1 Jon Rahm. That’s an interesting choice from Rahm, who is currently fourth in the FedEx Cup season standings.

Atop that list is Open champion Collin Morikawa; right behind him is Jordan Spieth. Rahm stands to lose valuable ground in the chase for the $15 million bonus that the FedEx Cup Champion will receive.

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic Betting Picks

VALUE PICK: JUSTIN THOMAS TOP 10 (+150)
LONG SHOT PICK: IAN POULTER TOP 10 (+500)
PICK TO WIN THE WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS-FEDEX ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL: PATRICK CANTLAY (+2500)

Because the field is so loaded, the odds are bunched tightly. Brooks Koepka is the favorite at +1100. Spieth and Morikawa are both +1200. Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele is +1400. We haven’t seen a field like this since the Open; we gave you the winner in that tournament and we will try to replicate that feat here.

VALUE PICK: JUSTIN THOMAS TOP 10 (+150)

Justin Thomas will probably be pretty happy to see the 2020-2021 PGA Tour season come to an end. Thomas lost his longstanding and lucrative endorsement contract with Ralph Lauren in January after getting tripped up by a hot microphone. He bounced back with a win at the The Players Championship in March, but it turned out to be something of a dead cat bounce.

Thomas has been ordinary to poor since that win in March. His highest finish in a major championship in 2021 was at tie for 19th at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June. His most recent finish was a tie for 40th at the Open, 14 shots behind Morikawa. At least he made the cut in those events; he shot 75 twice at Kiawah Island and didn’t make the weekend at the PGA Championship.

So why are we picking him here? Because he won this event at this golf course last year. Because he finished tied for 12th in the same event at the same course in 2019. Because he won another WGC event in 2018. Especially lately, Thomas has an iffy record in majors. But in these tournaments where they just throw money at the field (the purse this week is $10.5 million), Thomas usually finds a way.

LONG SHOT PICK: IAN POULTER TOP 10 (+500)

Ian Poulter finished eighth alone in this event in 2019, but that’s not the reason to pick him to finish in the top 10 this week. Poulter finished in a tie for third at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May, but that’s not the reason to pick him to finish in the top 10 this week. Poulter finished in a tie for fourth at the abrdn (not a typo) Scottish Open four weeks ago, but that’s not the reason to pick him to finish in the top 10 this week.

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The reason to pick Poulter to finish near the top of the leaderboard this week is that the Ryder Cup will be played in late September. As things stand right now, Poulter will need to convince European captain Padraig Harrington to use one of his three wildcard selections on him. Poulter’s Ryder Cup record is an astounding 14 wins, six losses and two halves. But if Poulter chunks it around this week, Harrington may look elsewhere. Poulter loves the Ryder Cup, and a high finish in this event can only help him punch his ticket to Whistling Straits.

PICK TO WIN THE WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS-FEDEX ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL: PATRICK CANTLAY (+2500)

Patrick Cantlay’s most recent Tour victory came at the Memorial in June, otherwise known as the tournament that Rahm was going to win going away until a positive COVID-19 test took him out of the running. Other than that “win,” the back half of Cantlay’s season has been pretty forgettable.

Cantlay missed the cut at the Open. He finished tied for 15th at the U.S. Open and tied for 23rd at the PGA Championship. Cantlay’s most recent high finish (other than the Memorial) was back in February, where he tied for third at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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But the first half of Cantlay’s season was so productive (including a win at the ZOZO Championship last October) that he currently sits third in the FedEx Cup season standings. Despite so much underperformance in the last few months, one really good week could put Cantlay in the pole position to win $15 million. He’s the ninth-ranked player in the world, and these odds are too good to pass up.

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