Vincenzi: FedEx St. Jude Championship First Round Leader picks

Aug, 2023

With the PGA Tour’s regular season in the books, the top-70 players in the FedEx Cup standings will make the trip to Memphis, Tennessee to play the 2023 FedEx St. Jude Championship. This is only the second season in which TPC Southwind will host a FedEx Cup playoff event, but the course has been a mainstay on the PGA Tour since 1989.

In the past five tournaments at TPC Southwind, there have been six first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the six, five have started their rounds in the morning wave, and one has started in the afternoon. Five of the six first-round leaders have started on the first hole, and one has started on the 10th.

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With a 70-man field this week, starting times and weather will be less important to monitor.

2023 FedEx St. Jude First-Round Leader Picks

Hideki Matsuyama +4000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 9:38 a.m. ET

Despite his relative struggles, Hideki Matsuyama still ranks 1st in the field in Opportunities Gained in his past 24 rounds. The birdie chances have been there for Hideki, but he’s yet to capitalize. Heading back to a course where he lost in a playoff should stir up some positive vibes for the former Masters champion. The 31-year-old was in poor form prior to the event in 2021, but that didn’t stop him from gaining 8.9 strokes on approach.

Hideki also ranks 5th in the field in Bogeys Avoided, which is always important when trying to shoot the low score of the day.

Denny McCarthy +5000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:38 a.m. ET

Denny McCarthy has had back-to-back disappointing results, but I believe he faces a good bounce back spot at TPC Southwind this week. In his two starts at the course, he’s finished 18th and 20th, and now he heads to the course at the end of what was arguably the best season of his career.

I always love to back great putters for first-round-leader bets and McCarthy still ranks first in the field in his past 24 rounds in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Cameron Davis +5500 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 9:50 a.m. ET

Cameron Davis is seemingly finding his form at the right time and comes into the week off back-to-back top-10 finishes. In those two starts, he gained 6.6 and 7.9 strokes from tee to green.

Last year, the Aussie finished 13th and shot a final-round 66, which is his best round to date at TPC Southwind. Seeing as he’s gotten progressively better at the course, I believe he could have a low one in store on Thursday.

Harris English +6600 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 10:32 a.m. ET

Thing are setting up extremely well for Harris English as we begin the FedEx Cup playoffs. Last week at Sedgefield, English gained 5.8 strokes on approach, which is not typically how the former Georgia Bulldog gets it done. That’s an extremely encouraging sign for English, who finally seems to be in the form that made him a two-time winner on Tour in 2021.

English won at TPC Southwind back in 2013 and is the only former course winner in the field this week.

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