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Brooks Koepka of the United States acknowledges the crowd after putting on the 12 the green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland on July 20, 2019.
Brooks Koepka of the United States acknowledges the crowd after putting on the 12 the green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland on July 20, 2019.|Matt Dunham | Associated Press
Golf

Golf: Kern picks the FedEx St. Jude Classic where Dustin Johnson, Brooks Keopka, and Jon Rahm are the favorites

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

So last week we gave out Tommy Fleetwood as one of our picks, at 25-1, and he came in second at the Open Championship in Northern Ireland to Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who went off at 100-1 and wound up winning by six. Fleetwood shot 66 in Saturday’s third round and lost three strokes to Lowry. Hate when that happens to my guy. I hope you at least took my suggestion and maybe put some money down on Fleetwood to finish in the top five or 10 so you could get some of your investment back or maybe even come out a little ahead.

Now it’s on to the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Memphis has had this tournament for 30 years, but this is the first time it’s a World Golf Championship event. So there is a difference. The 64-man field includes all but four of the top 50 on the planet. Of course one of the four who won’t be there is Francesco Molinari, who of course is my choice in the yearlong pool I’m in that I have to select back in December. Why ask why. Just as of course I had Rory McIlroy last week, and he didn’t even manage to stick around for the weekend after making a quadruple bogey 8 on his opening hole.

McIlroy is the favorite this week, at 9-1. This is the first time he’s played at the TPC Southwind (which I once played a long time ago) since 2012, when he tied for seventh just before winning the PGA in Championship. Dustin Johnson is 10-1. He’s won this thing twice, and he’s the defending champ. His problem at the moment is he isn’t making many putts. He ranks 185th on the PGA Tour from the dreaded 4-to-8 foot range, and that ain’t even close to being good enough. Brooks Keopka, who’s finished in the top three twice on this course, is 11-1. But this isn’t a major, which means he probably won’t play the same as he does in those.

Jon Rahm, who’s been hot until fading late last week, is also 11-1. Justin Rose, who can’t seem to hit his ball where he wants but can scramble with the best, is 14-1. Ditto Justin Thomas, who hasn’t played this course before but won last year when the event was held in Akron. Patrick Cantlay is 16-1. Fleetwood and Hideki Matsuyama are 20-1. Xander Schauffele is 22-1. Paul Casey and Webb Simpson are 25-1. Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau and Henrik Stenson are 28-1. Tony FInau is 31-1. Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth are 33-1. Among the others, recent U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland is 40-1, Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Reed 50-1.

Billy Horschel and Chez Reavie, both of whom have played well at this venue, are 60-1. Danny Willet, the 2016 Masters champ who seems to be getting back in form after dealing with some physical issues, is 65-1.

For what it’s worth, there were no odds available on Lowry, who was scheduled to play but is probably still busy celebrating across the pond. Can you blame him?

I’m going to do something I rarely do, which is take the fave. Golf has a funny way of writing stories that defy logic. Rory McIlroy might not even want to be here. Or he might just come out and play great. I’m betting that he’ll have something to prove. So I’ll take him, at 9-1. I’ll also try Tony Finau, at 31-1. I know he’s hardly ever won, but he played well at the Open and one of these times it probably has to be his time. Or not. I’ll still give it a shot. And I’m going to take three at longer odds. You don’t have to put much on them. Just something to keep you interested in case one or even more than one of them does something. So give me Billy Horschel, Chez Reavie and Danny Willett, at either 60-1 or 65-1. Nothing more than an educated stab, but what the hey. There’s been more than a few longshots coming in this season. Let’s see what any of that can get us.

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