The 2019 major season might be over after last week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of big golf left to be played over the next month+.
And that starts this week in Memphis with the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind. The PGA Tour has been going to the Memphis course for years, but this marks the first time the event is a World Golf Championships event, featuring the top 64 players in the world.
The field was reduced to 63 on Tuesday when Open Champion Shane Lowry withdrew. Also missing will be Tiger Woods, who is resting up for the start of the PGA Tour Playoffs.
Even without Woods and Lowry, the field is stacked. Dustin Johnson – the defending champ at Southwind before it became a WGC – is the headliner, along with Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.
Which players should you be keeping a close eye on this week in the no-cut event? Here are the players our caddies like…
- Patrick Cantlay. “That golf course rewards people who drive the ball well, so I’ll go with Patrick Cantlay. TPC Southwind is totally a first-shot golf course. Being a bomber helps. Cantlay is up there. If you’re basing picking a favorite on stats this week, he’d have to be in the top three. He’s first on Tour in scoring average; second in strokes gained: total; fourth in strokes gained: tee to green; second on Tour in scrambling. The list goes on. For all those reasons, I like Cantlay. It’s a perfect set up for him. And if he doesn’t win, I’ll guarantee a cut made for him and everyone else I pick this week! (the field in Memphis is 63, so there is no cut).”
- Justin Thomas. “I think his form is coming back. I think he played really well at the Open, finishing T11 – his best finish since the Masters (T12). He was off just shy of two months for the wrist issue after the Masters and had been pretty quiet since coming back at the Memorial. But the Open was a good sign that things are looking up. He’s another bomber, so TPC Southwind sets up well for him.”
- Nate Lashley. “He had the win recently at Rocket Mortgage and finally broke through, which was a great story. I think he was pissed off a little about how he finished at the British, missing the cut by a shot. So Lashley will be the dark horse pick this week. Why not elevate his game all the way up to winning a WGC?”
- Dustin Johnson. “I know it’s not the same tournament – it’s a WGC event now – but DJ is the last player to win at TPC Southwind, having done so just last June. With the exception of Tiger’s astounding 18 WGC wins, no other player has won more in these events than DJ with six. In fact, his last win was the WGC-Mexico Championship back in February. He’s due for another.”
- Patrick Cantlay. “Statistically speaking, Patrick has been the best overall player on Tour this season. I love his chances at TPC Southwind.”
- Matthew Wolff. “Hard to believe that this guy turned pro in the middle of June and is already pegging it in a WGC event, but here we are. They grow up so fast, don’t they? We’ve seen VERY early on in his career that it can be feast or famine for Wolff. Picking off a win so early and getting everything that comes with it – especially a two-year exemption – means he’s playing with house money.”
- Rory McIlroy. “OK, he missed a rare cut last week in the British Open, but so what? He had the weight of a country on his shoulders and still bounced back with an inspiring 65 to miss the weekend by a single shot. He’s got nothing to prove, but – with another major-less year – surely wants to wind down the season on a high note.”
- Tommy Fleetwood. “How has this guy not won in the U.S. yet? He’s a four-time European Tour winner and finished runner-up to Shane Lowry last week in the British. He played great, but – like everyone else – just ran into a buzz saw. Tommy’s maiden PGA Tour win is coming soon, so why not this week against a world-class field in Memphis.”
- Cameron Smith. “The Aussie was terrific through three rounds at Portrush, but stumbled home Sunday in tough conditions with a 5-over 76 to finish T20. Even still, there were positives to take away from the week. He’s currently 85th in FedEx points. This week – in a no-cut WGC event – he has a great chance to snag a boatload of points and inch closer to a spot in the Tour Championship.”