FedEx St Jude Championship 2022 picks, predictions & best bets from golf expert Diane Knox Balas

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Diane Knox Balas

Golf · 1 month ago

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Golf analyst for Pickswise.

It’s playoff time! After a sensational victory by Tom Kim at the Wyndham Championship, which began with a quadruple-bogey on his very first hole, the top 125 players in the FedExCup standings have been set and will move onto the first round.

I also have another article explaining how the FedEx Cup Playoffs work, so stay tuned for that before play begins on Thursday. In a nutshell, the top 125 from the season-long points list will play this week in the FedEx St Jude Championship, and the top 70, come the end of Sunday, will advance to the second stage of playoffs.

One thing to note right away – the FedExCup points are QUADRUPLED in the playoff events, which equals a lot of volatility and movement. So, instead of the usual 500 points awarded to the winner, they’ll receive 2,000 and make a huge leap up the standings. To put that into perspective, Scottie Scheffler currently leads the way with 3,555.983 points, with Cam Smith in second place with 2,334.997.

Also, only 122 players will tee it up (correct at time of writing) with Daniel Berger, Tommy Fleetwood and Lanto Griffin opting out. We do, of course, have a pending LIV-related legal issue that could potentially allow Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones and Talor Gooch back into the field. Watch this space…

Anyway, this first playoff round looks a little different in 2022. Formerly known as The Northern Trust, the FedEx St Jude will be played at TPC Southwind, a course that’s familiar to the field. Over the last three years, one of the World Golf Championships has been played here, and has been won by Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer. Last year, Tony Finau won this round of the playoffs in a playoff against Cam Smith, and that propelled him all the way to No.1 entering the BMW Championship. He eventually finished T11 in the Tour Championship. 

TPC Southwind: What you need to know

TPC Southwind is a par 70 measuring 7,243 yards. This is the first time the course has hosted a FedExCup Playoff event. Last year, when the course hosted the WGC, it played to an average score of -1. Abraham Ancer beat Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns in a playoff to win. Over the week, he was 1st in scrambling, 4th tee-to-green, 5th in approach and greens in regulation, and 10th in driving accuracy. 

Iron play seems to be a premium around this course. Expect undulating fairways and interesting doglegs, and greens that aren’t overly tricky. Last year for the WGC, the course boasted the lowest number of 3-putts all season on the Tour.

There’s a lot of water hazards in the form of streams and lakes, and they will cause problems this week. Since 2003, TPC Southwind’s 5,989 balls in the water is the highest at any PGA TOUR course, beating TPC Sawgrass. In fact, the 11th hole is similar to the iconic 17th at TPC Sawgrass, but plays slightly longer. Si Woo Kim would like to forget the 13 he recorded on this hole last year.

The 18th hole is dramatic finishing hole, with a severe dogleg-left, that cost Cam Smith the title in ’21 after he blasted his tee shot right and hit his second shot out of bounds.

This week, I’m looking at a great all-round player with excellent iron/approach skills and someone who’s in great form entering their playoff journey.

Knox’s Knockout FedEx St Jude Championship picks

Rory McIlroy (+1100)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. 

He came heartbreakingly close at The Open last month, and after a fantastic season, I’m tipping the Northern Irishman to go all the way. Rory’s looking to become the first three-time FedExCup champ, and currently ranks 6th in the standings. Yes, short odds and he’s definitely one of the favorites, but I couldn’t leave him off my card. McIlroy’s season has been exceptional with two wins and eight top-10s, and has finished in the top-8 at all four majors. However, the OWGR No.3 won’t be content with his year until he wins something big, and the FedExCup is his final chance. We’ve seen such special moments from McIlroy this year, and a T4 at this course in 2019 included a third-round 62. 

Sam Burns (+3400)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. 

With so many strong players in the field, Sam Burns is available at slightly higher odds than I’d expected – so I’m taking him right away! He lost in the playoff last year in the WGC at TPC Southwind, but had put together three fantastic rounds over the course of the week – a 66 and two 64s. Always so solid off the tee, Burns has three wins and eight top-10s this season, and is 3rd in the FedExCup standings. He’s 10th in total strokes gained, 10th in putting and 13th in approach, which is going to be big. As I said, I love his odds – and his game – so Burns is a big pick for me this week.

Aaron Wise (+7500)

Odds available at Bet365 Sportsbook at time of publishing. 

Course history shows that iron play is important en route to success in Memphis, and Aaron Wise is one of the best on Tour. At 27th in the FedExCup, it’s clear to see he’s had a great season, with a runner-up at Memorial serving as his highest finish. He finished T13 at the Wyndham last week, was 2nd off-the-tee and avoided every single hazard all week – key when navigating your way around the water at TPC Southwind. I’m also going to take him at +600 odds for a top-10 finish.

Taylor Pendrith (+9500)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. 

I tipped Pendrith a few weeks ago, and his comeback after injury has been impressive. Despite missing four months of the season after a T13 at The Players, the Canadian sits at No.60 in the FedExCup standings. Since making his return at the Barbasol, he’s finished within the top-13 each time he’s teed it up, highlighted by a runner-up at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He’s a big hitter with excellent iron play (6th in greens-in-reg for the season) and last week at the Wyndham was 9th tee-to-green, as well as 8th in scrambling, which is also important at TPC Southwind. Watch out for Pendrith!

FedEx St Jude Championship Prop Bets

Cameron Young top-5 finish (+600) 

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing. 

After the year this guy has had, there’s no way I could leave him off my card this week. A sure-winner of Rookie of the Year, Cameron Young is coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes at The Open and the Rocket Mortgage. He’s finished in second place five times this season, which is simply incredible. At No.9 in the FedExCup standings, Young is still searching for his first win, and if that win came now, the FedExCup is well within his grasp. I missed him in my picks at The Open, and I won’t make that mistake again.

J.T. Poston top-10 (+700) 

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing. 

Let’s see if The Postman can deliver a top-10 in Memphis! Sitting at No.21 in the standings, he will certainly have the Tour Championship (in which the top-30 play) in his sights. Poston is a fantastic putter, but we’ve really seen such an up-turn in his game in the latter part of the season. He finished second at the Travelers, then won the John Deere and finished T11 at the 3M Open. He’s gained almost four strokes in approach over his last five events, and over four strokes on the greens. What a time for his game to trend!

Pickswise is the home of free expert Golf picks and Golf predictions. Our PGA expert picks go live every Monday or Tuesday, so check out our latest golf picks, best bets and analysis for this week’s tournament now.

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