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PGA Tour - Golf: Steve Palmer's FedEx St Jude Championship betting tips

10 August 2022 06:31:43 EST
Justin Thomas already has a victory at TPC Southwind on his CV

The PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs start on Thursday and Racing Post Sport's golf guru Steve Palmer is on hand to mark your card.

The FedEx Cup playoffs used to be the best chance of the year for golfers to earn megabucks - it has traditionally been the most lucrative event of the season - and $18million is up for grabs this time.

WhatFedEx St Jude Championship
WhereTPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
WhenThursday 11th August - Sunday 14th August
How to watchSky Sports Main Event and Golf, bet365's Live Golf Tracker
OddsRory McIlroy 10/1, Scottie Scheffler 14/1, Cameron Smith 18/1, Justin Thomas 18/1, Patrick Cantlay 18/1

Of course, that remains a huge amount of money - and an enormous carrot for the PGA Tour stars to chase - but there are riches available elsewhere in these days of LIV Golf. The new Saudi-backed circuit has been offering signing-on fees to some players which dwarf the millions on offer in the FedEx Cup.

The fracture of the golfing world caused by the creation of LIV means those who remain on the PGA Tour have a better chance than usual of claiming the FedEx Cup. Some superstars are banned from competing due to their LIV involvement.

Henrik Stenson, the 2013 FedEx Cup champion, won the last LIV Golf event and is no longer allowed to tee up on the PGA Tour. The same goes for Dustin Johnson, who won the FedEx Cup two years ago.

Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Louis Oosthuizen are four others who will not be involved in the FedEx playoffs.

Patrick Cantlay was victorious in last year's FedEx Cup, defeating Jon Rahm in a thrilling duel at East Lake, Georgia. The American can be backed at 18/1 to win the FedEx St Jude Championship - this week's opening event of the playoffs - while Rahm is on offer at 20/1 for the TPC Southwind shootout.

The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings who still hold PGA Tour membership have earned the right to tee up in Memphis this week. The top 70 after the FedEx St Jude Championship will move on to the BMW Championship next week at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware, before the PGA Tour season and FedEx Cup finale - the Tour Championship at East Lake, where only the top 30 get invited.

Getting among the FedEx Cup leaders for East Lake is important - because a handicap system is in operation. The FedEx Cup leader will start the event on 10-under-par, with the man in second place on eight under, and so on. The likes of Cantlay, Rahm and Rory McIlroy, who is available at 10/1 this week, will know the importance of playing well throughout the playoffs.

Standard each-way terms of a quarter the odds, the first five places, are available for the FedEx St Jude Championship. Alternative odds and terms are on offer in the Each Way Extra section.

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FedEx St Jude Championship course details

TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee, is a 7,238-yard, par-70 with only two par-fives. The Ron Prichard-designed layout hosted the St Jude Classic from 1958 to 2018, then the WGC-St Jude Invitational from 2019 to last year. This week, for the first time, Southwind becomes the first of the three FedEx Cup playoff events.

The track had an extensive overhaul after the 2004 Classic, overseen by Loren Roberts. All the greens were reconstructed, with bermuda grass replacing bentgrass, while fairways were narrowed and new tees added to increase the yardage.

The three ponds at the course were enlarged, 125 trees were planted, 15 bunkers were added and the toughened-up layout has perennially ranked as one of the most difficult on the PGA Tour ever since. The 485-yard par-four fifth is a devil of a hole, usually averaging well over par.

The par-three 11th draws comparisons with Sawgrass's 17th, requiring a flick of the wrists with a short iron to a small island green. The two par-fives (third and 16th) are relatively straightforward and provide relief during a challenging assignment. The second and 15th also represent great birdie opportunities.

TPC Southwind has traditionally been the domain of dead-eye drivers and precision operators. Since the course changes, Justin Leonard (twice), Jeff Maggert, Woody Austin, Brian Gay, Ben Crane and Fabian Gomez, all accurate short-hitters, have won this event, and even prior to the modifications the likes of David Toms and Bob Estes thrived at Southwind. It is a tight, fiddly, dangerous venue where straight hitting is essential.

FedEx St Jude Championship course winner taking part

Justin Thomas.

Three to follow

Justin Thomas

The US PGA champion is the only player in this field who has won at TPC Southwind - a three-shot triumph in the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational - and the pint-sized powerhouse will fancy his chances of further glory.

Thomas flopped on his visit to Scotland last month, missing the cut in the Scottish Open before a distant 53rd place in the Open Championship at St Andrews, but he is yet to master links golf. This week's assignment is much more his cup of tea and plenty of punters will be sniffing around the 18/1 against his name.

Tony Finau

A fortnight of success in the 3M Open and the Rocket Mortgage Classic made Finau a four-time PGA Tour champion and has sent confidence coursing through his veins for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Finau romped to a three-shot victory in the 3M Open, then cruised home by five in the Rocket Mortgage. He has never made an impact at TPC Southwind, but the 22/1 chance will fancy himself anywhere in his current mood.

Xander Schauffele

Another player who is heading into the playoffs with sky-high self-belief is Schauffele, who won the Travelers Championship at the end of June, then followed up by winning the JP McManus Pro-Am and the Scottish Open.

Schauffele was 15th in the Open and heads to a stiff tee-to-green test which suits him. The 18/1 should be popular this week.

By Steve Palmer

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