No rest for the weary as this week's WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational is the only WGC event that directly follows a major championship this year. WGC events are tough to skip because they're no-cut affairs that are high on OWGR and FedEx Cup points, and we see that reflected in this elite field.
Let's take a look at this week's contest.
What: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational | When: July 25-28
Where: TPC Southwind -- Memphis, Tennessee
Ranking the field (odds)
- Dustin Johnson (10-1): He has a couple things going for him here. The first is that he won on this course last year (for the second time), and the second is that he had a stress-free weekend out of contention at the Open Championship.
- Rory McIlroy (10-1): There's a reason he's the co-favorite. Nobody in the world has played better golf for the entirety of 2019. I'm fascinated by how we'll perceive the 2019 Open affecting him as a golfer, too.
- Justin Thomas (16-1): He's been flying so far under the radar. T11 and T9 in his last two starts and poised for a run at the FedEx Cup (and $15 million!).
- Patrick Cantlay (20-1): No. 2 in scrambling so far this season, which will be a big key this week. Also, he might be the hottest golfer in the world.
- Jon Rahm (12-1): Played wonderfully at times at Royal Portrush, but got blown out to sea on Sunday. Four top 11s in his last four starts.
- Brooks Koepka (12-1): He crushes on this course. He does not, however, crush at non-majors.
- Matt Kuchar (30-1): Koepka took over his FedEx Cup points lead last week in Northern Ireland. He'll try to get it back this week ahead of the Wyndham Championship. Whoever is in first after that event gets $2 million (!).
- Henrik Stenson (25-1): If hitting greens is the name of the game, and it seems like it is, Stenson has been the best in the business so far in 2019.
- Hideki Matsuyama (30-1): Matsuyama is coming in off a MC at The Open, but he's second in approach shots behind Stenson on the season.
- Kevin Kisner (80-1): Third behind Chez Reavie (!) and Dustin Johnson in strokes gained on this course since 2010 (min. 8 rounds played).
Field strength -- A: Tiger is missing, and Rickie Fowler is also skipping. But pretty much everyone else in the upper crust of golf will be in attendance.
Three things to know
1. Wait, what course? If there's confusion over how Dustin Johnson could have won on this course but not be the defending champion of this tournament, I empathize with you. This WGC event used to be played at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, while the St. Jude Classic was played the week before the U.S. Open. The PGA Tour nixed Firestone, though, and made the St. Jude a WGC event, which is why we (sort of) have two defending champions.
2. Where is The Open champ? Lowry has withdrawn from this tournament. Who can blame him? You only get so many chances to party at your home club in Ireland following a major win.
3. Also, where is Tiger? He's (by far) the biggest name skipping this tournament. Woods is prepping for the FedEx Cup Playoffs -- which start in two weeks -- by trying to get his body to recover following The Open.
"I just want some time off just to get away from it," said Woods after missing the cut at Royal Portrush. "I had a long trip to Thailand and then trying to get ready for this event, to play this event. It's been a lot of travel, a lot of time in the air, a lot of moving around and different hotels and everything. I just want to go home."
- 2018: Justin Thomas
- 2017: Hideki Matsuyama
- 2016: Dustin Johnson
- 2015: Shane Lowry
- 2014: Rory McIlroy
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational picks
Winner: Rory McIlroy (10-1) -- I would not have thought McIlroy would have worse odds in a smaller field for a non-major than he would have had last week at Royal Portrush (8-1).
Top-10 lock: Dustin Johnson (10-1) -- His performance on this course is impossible to ignore. Take away the cauldron of a major championship week, and it would be a lot more shocking if he finished outside the top 10 than if he won.
Sleeper: Billy Horschel (60-1) -- He has a great strokes-gained number here, and he has three top 20s in his last four starts.