Golf Betting: St Jude Classic
At just 26, Tennessee-born Chris Kirk far from fits the vets angle but he's in fine form and he has all the right attributes for Southwind.
As we head into the week before the US Open, Steve Rawlings previews who he fancies in the St Jude Classic.
Starting life as the Memphis Open in 1958, this will be the 55th staging of the St Jude Classic.
TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
Par 70 -7,244 yards
Stroke Index in 2011 - 70.99
TPC Southwind has been the event's permanent venue since 1989. It's always been a fairly stern test but it was made even tougher back in 2004 when 125 additional trees were planted, 15 new bunkers were added (taking the total up to 96), the par five fifth was converted to a par four (reducing the par to 70), fairways were re-contoured and narrowed and over 200 yards were added. The smaller than average greens were also changed from bentgrass to bermuda. Water is in play on 10 holes at Southwind and nine holes are dog-legs.
Last Five Winners
2011 - Harrison Frazar -13 (playoff)
2010 - Lee Westwood -10 (playoff)
2009 - Brian Gay -18
2008 - Justin Leonard -4
2007 - Woody Austin -13
What sort of player is likely to succeed at Southwind?
It's all about accuracy again this week. Although a fairly long par 70, precision over power off the tee is the way to go and with smaller than average greens pinpoint iron-play will reap rewards. Everyone will miss greens though and perhaps the most important stat to look at is scrambling. Six of the seven winners since the course changes were made have finished in the top-12 for scrambling.
Experienced and patient pros prosper here. Only two players under 30 have ever won at Southwind and nobody under 30 has won there this century. And big-priced winners are fairly common too so don't be afraid to back an outsider or two, especially if they're getting on a bit!
The in-form Zach Johnson yet again heads the market but although he ticks all the right boxes, with regressive Southwind form figures that read 5-12-35, his record here isn't as good as you'd perhaps imagine and I'm more than happy to let him go un-backed at just (11.0)
After three missed cuts in-a-row, Rory McIlroy will be desperately looking to find some confidence ahead of his US Open defence next week but he makes very little appeal at just (12.5). He's played here once before, back in 2010, when he finished tied 29th.
I was cursing that I hadn't backed Robert Garrigus last week as he hit the front early on but I needn't have worried, he soon slid back down the leaderboard. He's been in good form this year and I've been backing him a bit but I didn't think Muirfield Village would be anywhere near his sort of course. I'd have thought the same thing about Southwind too but you may recall he led this event by three shots on the final hole two years ago before the most spectacular of collapses. I'm not so sure 60.0 is a fantastic price but I couldn't let him go un-backed.
At just 26, Tennessee-born Chris Kirk far from fits the vets angle but he's in fine form and he has all the right attributes for Southwind. He's also already won in Tennessee, having taken the Knoxville Open on the Nationwide Tour two years ago and I thought he was a very fair price at 85.0, though some lucky bleeder got in early and loaded up at 150.0. Now that's what you call a wrong price!
I've been following Y.E Yang quite closely lately, almost in disbelief at how badly he's been playing, but all of a sudden, at the Crown Plaza Invitational, he started to play very much better. His finishing position of 31st doesn't look fantastic but that was due to a string of late bogeys, in all probability caused by an injury he picked up there, as last week he tweeted: "Injured myself yesterday at Colonial and now have to WD from Memorial. Yikes."
Obviously there's a chance he could withdraw again before the off here or, even worse, start and then have to pull out but the signs were there at Colonial and at 140.0 I was happy to take a chance.
George McNeil looks just the type to do well at Southwind and although he hasn't been in stellar form of late, 190.00 was big enough to take a chance on him considering he's already won this season at the Puerto Rico Open in March.
And last but not least, I've yet again thrown a few pounds at my old mate Matt Bettencourt. His form figures look awful but he might be in good heart given he yesterday qualified for the US Open with a birdie at the final hole at Harding Park.