Justin Thomas walks to the 14th green during the second round of the Memorial golf tournament, Friday, July 17, 2020, in Dublin, Ohio. Thomas is one of the favorites to win the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Justin Thomas walks to the 14th green during the second round of the Memorial golf tournament, Friday, July 17, 2020, in Dublin, Ohio. Thomas is one of the favorites to win the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.|Darron Cummings | Associated Press
Golf

Betting the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Kern has the odds and picks a fave, a second tier, a long shot, and a really long shot

It’s the final World Golf Championship of the season. Thursday-Friday, 2-7 p.m. (Golf Channel).

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

OK, it’s time to try and come up with something for the WGC-St. Jude Invitational, from the TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn. This was supposed to be played in early July. It’s the final World Golf Championship of the season, and they’re the next-best thing to a major (and the Players). And it’s the last stop before the first major of the season, the PGA Championship from San Francisco, which will be held next week at Harding Park some three months later than it was originally scheduled for.

We haven’t done anything the last two weeks, but we did have winners in both the events before that so let’s try to get warmed up … again.

It’s why we’re all here.

This is, as you’d expect, a strong field — even without Tiger Woods (once again). There are 78 players, and there’s no cut. Which means there’s a lot of value out there. We just have to find the right ones.

Jon Rahm, who just won and just became the No. 1 player on the food chain, is 8-1. Justin Thomas, who has not won since the restart but who has been playing very well, is 9-1. Bryson Dechambeau is 11-1. He just won and has also been playing as well as anyone. Rory McIlroy is 11-1 too. You could surely make a case for any of those four blokes and it would be hard to argue.

By the way, until last year this was played at Firestone in Akron, Ohio. Just thought it was worth duly noting.

Patrick Cantlay is 18-1. Tyrrell Hatton is 20-1. He has a third and a fourth in his last two starts, won back in February and was sixth at the WGC-Mexico earlier in the year. Webb Simpson, who’s having a big year, is also 20-1. Matthew Fitzpatrick is 25-1. He’s coming off a good showing at the Memorial and was top five here a year ago.

Daniel Berger and Dustin Johnson are 28-1, which seems like a lot on DJ except he’s struggled the last few weeks with back issues. Defending champion Brooks Koepka is 28-1 as well, along with Hideki Matsuyama and Collin Morikawa, who won not too long ago. Until I see something encouraging from Koepka I’m just opting to stay away.

Viktor Hovland, another guy having a fine year, is 30-1. Patrick Reed and Tony Finau are 33-1. Tommy Fleetwood, who can be as good as anyone but just came over to the States and has yet to win on the PGA Tour, is 35. Again, that’s a high number for someone that good. But when that happens there’s usually a reason.

Abraham Ancer is 40-1, as is Jason Day (who played well last week) and Gary Woodland. Billy Horschel is 34-1. Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth are 50-1. How the mighty have dropped. Paul Casey, who I took last week, is 65-1. Ditto Sergio Garcia and Kevin Na.

Matthew Wolf, who’s done some stuff lately, is 80-1. Henrik Stenson, who hasn’t played over here in a long time, is 100-1. Max Homa, who was third last week despite putting poorly, is 125-1. And plus $900 to finish in the top 10, which might be worth a long look.

I honestly don’t know which way to go. I usually look for longer odds, just because. Full disclosure is I have Finau in my yearlong pool that I pick back in December. He often contends but never gets it done. The good news is in that pool I get whatever money he wins, so even a top five or 10 isn’t bad. Which of course means he will finish 78th or 77th. I know my limitations.

I will try to choose wisely. Don’t I always? Try, that is. The wisely is debatable.

If you put a gun to my head and made me take one of the favorites, I would go with Justin Thomas. I just try to avoid the faves unless I’m really convinced. But I know some of you like going that way. And it can pay off. You just have to bet more to get a decent return.

Among the second tier I would go with Tyrrell Hatton. Like many in this field he’s definitely on the upswing. Maybe this turns into his week. Once more. And 20-1 ain’t too shabby.

On the guys who are a little bit longer how about giving Abraham Ancer a shot. You don’t have to bet too much to get something substantial back.

And in the real longshot category I would lean toward Max Loma, at 125-1. Even if it’s only for a couple of bucks. And by all means back it up with a top 10 at 9-1.

See you next week for the first major of the season, and first in 13 months. Hard to believe. But that’s our world now. Just be happy we finally have at least that. Can the U.S. Open or Augusta be far behind?

Kern’s Picks

A Fave: Justin Thomas (9-1)

Second Tier: Tyrrell Hatton (20-1)

Long shot: Abraham Ancer (40-1)

Really long shot: Max Loma (125-1)

WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS — FEDEX ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL

Site: Memphis, Tenn.

Course: TPC Southwind. Yardage: 7,238. Par: 70.

Purse: $10.5 million. Winner's share: $1,787,560.

Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-7 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, noon to 2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-7 p.m. (CBS).

Defending champion: Brooks Koepka.

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