We are one week away from our first major of the 2020 PGA Tour calendar, but first up is a World Golf Championships event in Memphis. New world No. 1 Jon Rahm will be playing in his first tournament as the best player on the planet while defending WGC-FedEx St. Jude champ Brooks Koepka will be looking to defend his title and shake the current rut he has found himself in.
It’s a stacked field as the best players in the game are attempting to get a final tune-up before heading to San Francisco for the PGA Championship and a unique format could provide golf fans an excellent viewing opportunity this weekend.
Most events on the PGA Tour consist of playing fields that could have up to 150 or even more players playing on Thursday and Friday. After the first 36 holes, the playing field would usually be cut down to 70 as play entered the weekend. At WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, not cut will be needed.
Exactly 90 percent of the world’s top 50 golfers will be participating at the event in Memphis as the WGC tag added to the event makes this a much more interesting tournament. Those elite golfers will makeup 57.69 percent of the 78-player field as this figures a highly contested event with some of the best players in the world.
So don’t be upset if you miss some of the action on Thursday or Friday because everyone will still be in play come the weekend when the coverage switches to CBS.
Top Dog Debut
Jon Rahm is your new No. 1 player in the world unseating Rory McIlroy fresh off of his victory at the Memorial Tournament. Rahm previously held the title of World Amateur No. 1 for a record 60 weeks before turning professional following the 2016 U.S. Open. Now the 25-year-old phenom has risen to the top of the golf world and we’ll get to see how he plays with a target on his back.
Rahm currently ranks in the top-10 in strokes gained off the tee and in the top-25 in strokes gained putting. He is really, really good starting and finishing which has led to him having a very successful young career. He is still looking for his first major title and he’ll be using the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational as a warmup to get ready for next week’s PGA Championship.
Before winning at Memorial, Rahm had not been producing consistent results since play resumed following the COVID-19 hiatus so we will see how the week off treated him. Just how long will the Spanish golfer be able to hold on to the top spot in the world? When here as a youngster he was able to hang around for a very long time.
Can Finau Breakthrough?
Tony Finau currently sits at No. 16 overall in the world golf rankings and is fresh off of back-to-back top-10 finishes at both the Memorial and 3M Open. Finau has a scorching 30 top-10 finishes since the 2016-17 season, but he has yet to claim a victory in that run. This year we’ve seen the 6-foot-4 bomber finish second to Webb Simpson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in addition to his strong recent performances.
The Utah native has had three top-five finishes at majors since 2018 and is consistently at the top of leaderboards. He currently ranks 25th in the FedEx Cup Standings and is looking to finally get a win to highlight his strong play as of late. He’s one to keep an eye on as he’s been knocking on the door for awhile.
When looking for our plays this week, the area we are focusing on is what golfers are best at getting off the tee and combining that with a solid second shot that can get them onto the green as fast as possible. For that, we’re going to the Tee-to-Green strokes gained measure.
6 of the last 8 winners at TPC Southwind led the field that week in strokes gained tee to green.
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 28, 2020
Playing off of that stat, it’s time to scoop up Rory McIlroy when he has some value. The former No. 1 has just been replaced by Jon Rahm and he hasn’t been great since play resumed. However, he’s due for a breakout and should hopefully have some motivation after being knocked out of the top spot. McIlroy is the co-favorite with Rahm at 11-1, but this feels like a good spot and tournament where a big dog likely comes out the winner.
As far as sleepers go, there is one golfer that has performed very well here lately and turns out he is a recent winner on the tour.
Best scoring average at TPC Southwind last 10 years (min. 10 rounds played) —
Daniel Berger, 67.8
Dustin Johnson, 67.9
Brooks Koepka, 68.3
Rory McIlroy, 68.4
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 27, 2020
Daniel Berger is currently sitting on 28-1 odds for this weekend and ranks in the top-20 in strokes gained Tee-to-Green. The 28th ranked golfer in the world has two top-five finishes since play resumed and with +225 odds to finish in the top-10 this feels like our best bet of the week.