World No. 2 Dustin Johnson will be extremely comfortable this week when the 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational tees off from TPC Southwind in Memphis. Johnson finished a stunning 19-under par to win at TPC Southwind last year — the final year the event was known as the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He also won the event in 2012. Now that it’s an even more prestigious World Golf Championships event, Johnson will be looking to snap out of a slump that’s seen him miss the Top 10 in every tournament since he took second at the PGA Championship. Bookmakers list Johnson at 10-1 in the latest 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational odds, just behind favorite Rory McIlroy who’s 9-1. Brooks Koepka (11-1), Jon Rahm (11-1), Justin Rose (14-1) and Justin Thomas (14-1) also are considered serious contenders. Before you make any 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational picks or PGA predictions, you’ll want to see what legendary golf expert Sal Johnson has to say.
A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson is red-hot this year. He featured Tiger Woods in his best bets for the Masters, and Woods walked away with his fifth green jacket. Then, Johnson promoted Brooks Koepka in his PGA Championship best bets, and Koepka made a mockery of that major, building a seven-shot lead entering the weekend and cruising to victory.
Last month at the Travelers Championship, Johnson promoted 50-1 long shot Chez Reavie as a potential winner, citing Reavie’s momentum following his third-place U.S. Open finish and noting how his game (second in fairway accuracy, eighth in proximity to hole) suited TPC River Highlands perfectly. The result: Reavie cruised to a four-stroke victory, finishing 17-under for his first PGA title in 11 years.
And Johnson knows TPC Southwind like the back of his hand. In 2017, Johnson promoted Daniel Berger as a potential back-to-back winner of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind, writing: “He showed last year the course was good for him. He can do it again and win.” Berger promptly shot 10-under to win the tourney for the second straight year. Last year, Sal Johnson called Dustin Johnson “a volcano ready to explode.” The result? Dustin Johnson broke out for a six-stroke win, capping his triumph with a 170-yard eagle on the final hole. Anyone who has followed Sal Johnson has reaped huge rewards.
Now, Johnson — the first producer of “Inside the PGA Tour,” a longtime ABC Sports golf producer and the founder of the world’s biggest golf stats database — has issued his highly confident 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational picks. He made those picks, which he’s sharing at SportsLine, based on his revealing breakdown of TPC Southwind.
“TPC Southwind has been a stern test,” Johnson told SportsLine, noting it was the 11th-toughest course on the PGA Tour last year. In fact, TPC Southwind has ranked among the Top-15 toughest courses eight straight years. “Last year, only 59.3 percent of the greens were hit as it ranked fifth-toughest in that category. In 2017, 55.68 percent of the greens were hit as it ranked sixth-hardest,” he continued. “Over the last eight years, it’s never been easier than ninth. So you can see why more and more players will find it challenging.”
We can tell you Johnson wants no part of Dustin Johnson this week even though he’s won twice at TPC Southwind, including last year. In fact, Dustin Johnson doesn’t even crack his Top 10.
“His putting has totally torpedoed him this year,” Sal Johnson told SportsLine. “He’s 185th in making putts from 4 to 8 feet.”
Johnson has a strong read on Koepka, who tied for fourth at last week’s British Open. Amazingly, that was Koepka’s fourth Top-4 finish in a major this year. If he wins the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Koepka would all but clinch Player of the Year honors. While there’s no cut this weekend with only 64 golfers participating, Koepka has never missed a cut in five events at TPC Southwind, and he’s also finished in the Top 3 twice.
Johnson also has locked in the fate of Hideki Matsuyma, who has won two WGC events and comes in at 20-1. Matsuyama, 27, missed the cut at last week’s British Open, but according to Sal Johnson, TPC Southwind “is tailor-made for his game.”
“He ranks third in strokes gained tee to green and 22nd in greens in regulation,” Johnson said, noting Matsuyama was playing very well before his British Open disappointment. Matsuyama has five Top-10 finishes this year. He’s been knocking on the door, many believe, and this could be his week.
Strikingly, Johnson is high on a colossal long shot higher than 60-1 who’s finished in the Top 10 in four of his last five tournaments at TPC Southwind. This darkhorse is a sneaky good putter no one is betting on, but Johnson believes in him. Anyone who backs this underdog could hit it big.
Who wins the 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational? Where do Koepka and McIlroy finish? And which massive long shot stuns the golf world? Check out the latest 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson’s full leaderboard and picks, all from the consummate golf insider who knows TPC Southwind inside and out.
Rory McIlroy 9-1
Dustin Johnson 10-1
Brooks Koepka 11-1
Jon Rahm 11-1
Justin Rose 14-1
Justin Thomas 14-1
Patrick Cantlay 16-1
Tommy Fleetwood 20-1
Hideki Matsuyama 20-1
Xander Schauffele 22-1
Paul Casey 25-1
Webb Simpson 25-1
Jason Day 28-1
Byson DeChambeau 28-1
Henrik Stenson 28-1
Tony Finau 33-1
Adam Scott 33-1
Jordan Spieth 33-1
Tyrrell Hatton 40-1
Gary Woodland 40-1
Rafa Cabrera-Bello 50-1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 50-1
Louis Oosthuizen 50-1
Chez Reavie 50-1
Patrick Reed 50-1