Starts: 30th July 2020
Course: TPC Southwind
Par: 70 (35-35)
Length: 7,277 yards
Grass Type: Bermuda
Defending Champion: Brooks Koepka
Overall Profit/Loss: +28pts
Pre-Event Six to Watch
Collin Morikawa - 28/1
T2nd Brooks Kopeka - 30/1
T52nd Marc Leishman - 70/1
T6th Chez Reavie - 125/1
T15th Ryan Palmer - 140/1
T44th Mackenzie Hughes - 150/1
In-Play Bets: +28pts
31 July 2020 (+28 Points)
4pts Justin Thomas - 7/1 @Betway
Opened in 1988, TPC Southwind was designed by Ron Prichard with assistance from Fuzzy Zoeller and Hubert Green. The course underwent an upgrade in 2004, with Loren Roberts overseeing a host of changes including new trees, additional bunkers, narrowing of the fairways and a change to Bermuda grass on the greens.
The course hosted regular a regular PGA Tour event (formerly the Memphis Open and latterly the St Jude Classic) for 30 years until last year when the event became a WGC tournament. We have plenty of course form to go on.
There are two very reachable par 5s and four 3s. Greens are smaller than average and run fast. Fairways too are smaller than average. Water is in play on over half the holes and players will do well not to be in the water at some point. Over 5,000 balls have met such a fate at TPC Southwind since 2004 - and to put that in context, TPC Sawgrass comes next with 3,500 in the same time frame. Particular danger holes for players are 12 and 18.
Continue to exercise an abundance of caution (credit: Chase Koepka and the PGA Tour) in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
With this switching to a WGC event previous trends hold less weight.
There's little to be gained from assessing the importance of having played here before. Daniel Berger and Dustin Johnson both won on their first starts here in recent years. Past champions have also found success here with Berger, Johnson and Justin Leonard having twice triumphed in the past 12 years.
American golfers have dominated with only Lee Westwood and Fabian Gomez having won from other countries since 2000.
Six of the last eight winners have led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green so an emphasis is placed on players who are striking the ball well. With smaller than average greens, and water a persistent threat, it's no surprise a sound long game is required.
Winners have tended to be within striking distance going into the final day but not necessarily leading. Koepka was a stroke back last year and overcame Rory McIlroy to win. Both DJ and Daniel Berger won in 2018 and 2016 respectively when leading after the third round. Berger's second win in 2017 came from three shots off the pace with a round to go.
In summary, it's a course where it is difficult to force a good score with so much water in play. Players who are within three strokes of the lead are preferred going into the final round.
Six To Watch
Collin Morikawa - 28/1 @ William Hill
Collin is making his debut at Southwind but, like most other courses, he should be perfectly suited to the test. It is a course which gives advantage to faders of the ball and rewards high class iron play. Although 48th in his last appearance at the Memorial, Collin admitted to making some bad decisions that week and showed he can bounce back in fine fashion at the Workday Charity Open, winning after missing his previous cut. Finally, our Profile shows that Collin plays best after a week off where he can fine tune his game – both of his wins and two second places on tour have all followed a rest.
Brooks Kopeka - 30/1 @ William Hill
The defending champion is a generous price following a poor run of MC-62-MC but we are happy to take a gamble on a course specialist. Only Dustin Johnson (who narrowly missed out on our six to watch due to concerns with his recent performance) boasts a better track record. He cruised to victory last year to win by three shots and has never finished outside the top-40, including a 2nd in 2016 and a 3rd in 2015. Despite the missed cut last week, Koepka looked sharper with his iron play on the Friday which bodes well for a tougher test.
Marc Leishman - 70/1 @ 888 Sport
Marc finished 3rd on his course debut here last year and it was particularly eye catching as it followed a missed cut in his previous start. This year he enters in similarly average form, however he is fresh after a week off, similar to his best performances of the year at the Farmers Insurance Open and Arnold Palmer Intonational. Marc is always one to follow at tough tracks and is extremely comfortable under pressure so keep an eye on him making a move.
Chez Reavie - 125/1 @ Betfred
Chez has caught our attention with solid finishes of 17th and 22nd in his last two starts. It very much seems like he is bubbling at the surface and could seriously contend soon. He has a particularly strong record at Southwind – form figures of 27-6-4-12-27 in his last five starts. A win in June last year at the Travellers shows he likes this time of year and a 3rd at the US Open shows his credentials for tough tracks in top class fields. Chez is ticking a lot of boxes for us and a expect a solid week.
Ryan Palmer - 140/1 @ Bet365
With the wind expected to blow early on, Ryan could get himself in the mix again following his 2nd at the Memorial in his last start. Ryan pushed Jon Rahm all the way amidst the strongest field of the season and will have taken a lot of confidence. Ryan can also draw back memories of back-to-back 4th and 3rd places at Southwind some years ago.
Mackenzie Hughes - 150/1 @ William Hill
Mackenzie is climbing the world rankings at a furious pace - he began this season 272nd and is now 75th. He finished 2nd at The Honda Classic in the event before lockdown and since the break has finished 3rd at the Travelers and 6th at Memorial. It is also noticeable how well he is performing in high quality fields and the calibre of opponents doesn’t seem to phase him. He has only played here once where he missed the cut but he was in terrible form at the time. A PGA Tour winner in 2016, it might be a big ask for him to bag his 2nd title here but he is more than capable of contending at a juicy price.
31st July 2020
Our 30/1 'Six to Watch' selection Brooks Koepka has hit the front with an opening 62 yesterday so we hope a few of you got on whilst he was making his move. He is best odds of 9/4 at the bookmakers now and is expected to go wire to wire now. Brooks sounded very confident when interviewed after his round yesterday, saying he feels more like his old self and managing his back problems better now. It was also a warning to the field for next weeks PGA Championship.
It is difficult to know whether Brooks will maintain his good play for four days and it has indeed been a long time since he did put four good rounds together. We have identified who we think will be Koepka's closest challenger. Please note that it is an early start today at 1pm with bad weather expected later on, so the wind may be blowing before the storm arrives.
4PTS JUSTIN THOMAS - 7/1 @ BETWAY
Although four behind Brooks, we rate Justin Thomas as less than a 7/1 chance to catch and defeat Koepka. Justin was really impressive yesterday tee to green, hitting 16/18 greens in regulation and 2nd SG: Approach the green. Iron play is going to be the order of the day this week by the looks of things and Brooks was the only player who ranked above him.
He doesn't have much traffic to pass to get to Brooks and we can see this potentially becoming a two-horse race - WGC's have history of the cream rising to the top. Given the unpredictability of Brooks at the moment, it is worth chancing Thomas who is generally very consistent but often starts slow. One final incentive for Thomas is the possibility of returning to world number 1 if he wins this week.