Dave Tindall arms you with the stats that matter for a punt on the Top 5 and Top 10 Finish markets ahead of the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational...
"There can be few players who have taken to WGCs and majors as quickly as the American and Schauffele has a combined seven top 10s in both since he started playing them in 2017. In fact, look a little closer and six of them were top fives."
Jon Rahm - New No.1 seeks WGC first
Rahm has a second and two tied thirds in WGC events but, as with the majors, he's yet to win one. However, he has made a huge entry onto his CV in the last fortnight after winning at Memorial to become World No.1 for the first time. "It's an unbelievable golf course and I think it's only deserving that this event came here," he said of TPC Southwind last year. Rahm had started with a scintillating 62 although it was fuelled by making more than 140 feet of putts and he eventually slipped to seventh. Getting to No.1 was clearly a huge thing for him but we've seen before that it can weigh on a player's mind as they try and justify the status. That adds an element of risk with him this week.
Last four events: 1-69-27-37
Course form: 7
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 38%, Top 10: 56%
Rory McIlroy - Northern Irishman bids to find lost momentum
"It's always a good golf course, a golf course that rewards good ball-striking. I sort of like these events that have no cut. You sort of go out there and freewheel from the start." This was Rory last year and perhaps that latter point was understandable given that a week earlier he'd missed the cut in front of his home Northern Irish fans at Royal Portrush. Rory was the 54-hole leader after a stunning Saturday 62 last year before falling away on Sunday but it's certainly a great course for him. The negative is the drop off he's shown since the restart. McIlroy had reeled off seven straight top fives before golf was suspended but, hinting that he's finding the lack of crowds weirder than most, the three-time WGC winner hasn't made the top 10 in four starts across June and July.
Last four events: 32-11-41-32
Course form: 4-7-29
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 40%, Top 10: 60%
Justin Thomas - JT looks poised for big week
"From all I hear, it's imperative that you hit the fairway and have control coming in this greens," said Thomas before playing TPC Southwind for the first time last year. And after a Saturday 66, he had a similar view. "The course is so good, it's all in front of you, nothing's hidden, nothing's tricky. If you drive it well, it's gettable somewhat." Thomas, who finished T12 that week, has had three top 10s in five starts since golf returned and T18 in another. That includes a near-miss at the Workday Charity Open where he should really have won. He seems an obvious candidate to enjoy another big week.
Last four events: 18-2-MC-8
Course form: 12
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 26%, Top 10: 48%
Bryson DeChambeau - Muscle man hoping to go big
DeChambeau has been the talk of golf since the restart, his monster hitting forcing everyone, including Tiger, to answer questions about him during their own press conferences. The American reeled off seven straight top 10s (five of them top fives) either side of the break so the attention was deserved and he completed that sequence with a win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic before getting himself all worked up and missing the cut at Memorial. After a week to calm down and drink more power shakes, he'll be raring to go again but his course form is poor and in a combined 10 majors/WGCs he's managed just a single top 10. However, that was second place at the WGC-Mexico Championship so perhaps he's turned a corner.
Last four events: MC-1-6-8
Course form: 48-MC-45
Last 50 starts - Win: 12%, Top 5: 24%, Top 10: 42%
Xander Schauffele - Big-event record gives American appeal
"Just a really fair and fun WGC venue," said Schauffele after completing this event with a 1-under lap last year to take T27. His course form doesn't look much but five of his eight laps have been 69s and he's only shot over par once. Schauffele emerged from the three-month break with a top three at the Charles Schwab Challenge and has progressive form of 20-14-13 in his last three starts. But, in contrast to DeChambeau, Schauffele's main appeal is his excellent record in the top events. In the majors, he boasts four top fives and a T6 in just 11 appearances while his WGC record includes a win, a second and five more top 20s (also 11 starts).
Last four events: 13-14-20-64
Course form: 27-52
Last 50 starts - Win: 4%, Top 5: 22%, Top 10: 30%
Webb Simpson - 2019 runner-up returns in strong form
Simpson has a second and a third from his last three starts at TPC Southwind, the runner-up finish coming in 2019 when this event was played as a WGC for the first time. A winner in Phoenix in February, he added a second victory of the campaign in June when landing the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head before finishing T8 at the following week's Rocket Mortgage Classic. A missed cut at Memorial last time can probably be overlooked as the 2010 US Open champ appears to have an awful lot in his favour this week.
Last four events: MC-8-1-MC
Course form: 2-MC-3-29-MC-64
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 40%
Patrick Cantlay - Californian looks ready to peak
"I really like fast greens, so it felt easier putting today than last week (Royal Portrush). It's tough for me to adjust when I feel like I have to hit the ball harder, so this is a nice change of pace," said Cantlay after opening with 65 here last year. He added two rounds of 68 but a Saturday 73 was costly and denied him a top 10 (T12). He's hinted at a big week since the restart with finishes of T11 at the Travelers, T7 at the Workday Charity Open and T32 at Memorial and overall Cantlay gives the impression that he's about to peak for the big events ahead. He's good at that judging by his record of three top sevens in his last five WGC starts.
Last four events: 32-7-11-17
Course form: 12
Last 50 starts - Win: 4%, Top 5: 20%, Top 10: 36%
Daniel Berger - Double course champ loves this time of year
Berger deservedly makes his debut in these top 5/10 previews due to hot course and current form. This was the scene of his first PGA Tour win in 2016 when he fired 13-under to win by three and, lo and behold, he returned 12 months later to make a successful defence with 10-under. Showing his liking for the summer months, Berger added a third PGA Tour win six weeks ago in golf's comeback event at the Charles Schwab Challenge. A top three at Hilton Head made it four straight top fives before his purple patch ended with MC at Memorial. Why does he like this course so much? "I think a lot of it reminds me of the golf course that I grew up on. Bermuda greens, a lot of familiar tee shots, and overall it's just, it feels like I'm back home. I know it's Memphis, but it reminds me a lot of Florida."
Last four events: MC-3-1-4
Course form: MC-1-1
Last 50 starts - Win: 2%, Top 5: 10%, Top 10: 14%
Brooks Koepka - TPC Southwind ideal track for bounceback
"I love this place. This place has always been good to me. I feel like I play it really well," said Koepka before last year's event. Those positive vibes were even stronger a few days later as he fired 16-under to win by three shots and claim his first WGC title. "This golf course, if you hit the fairways, you're going to have a lot of wedges so you should be able to hit it close and shoot a low number. That's the way I see it." Sounds simple and he often makes the game look simple but that's not the case at the moment after two missed cuts and T62 in his last three starts. However, T7 at Hilton Head last month shows he's not just lost it and this would be an obvious place for Koepka to get back on track.
Last four events: MC-62-MC-7
Course form: 1-30-37-2-3-19
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 26%, Top 10: 34%
Tyrrell Hatton - Englishman is a form horse
Competitive rust is a problem for most golfers but Hatton doesn't seem to suffer from it. He emerged from winter wrist surgery to take T6 in the WGC-Mexico Championship followed by a breakthrough first PGA Tour win at the Honda Classic two weeks later. And after another lengthy absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hatton came back with a top three at the RBC Heritage and a fourth at the Rocket Mortgage. Speaking at the latter, he noted: "It's definitely exceeded my expectations. With the amount that I practised leading into Hilton Head to have a chance to win was obviously surprising." After another break, perhaps his less is more approach will have hugely positive results again. Fuelled by a hot putter, Hatton is certainly one of golf's hottest players.
Last four events: 4-3-1-6
Course form: 43
Last 50 starts - Win: 4%, Top 5: 10%, Top 10: 26%
There's a big event...in your neighbourhood.
Who you gonna call? Xander Schauffele!
There can be few players who have taken to WGCs and majors as quickly as the American and Schauffele has a combined seven top 10s in both since he started playing them in 2017.
In fact, look a little closer and six of them were top fives and that's why I'm happy to take the aggressive approach with him this week.
Schauffele is 9/25.4 to enjoy another top five and, given his strike-rate in top events, it's worth taking.
I'll back it up with a more conservative top 10 play on Webb Simpson at 9/43.3.
He's got some great course form and has a win and a T8 in his last three events on the PGA Tour.
That's a powerful combination and getting over 2/1 for another top 10 makes plenty of appeal.
Back Xander Schauffele for Top 5 @ 9/25.4
Back Webb Simpson for Top 10 @ 9/43.3