FedEx St. Jude Classic picks, sleepers for daily fantasy golf contests

Written By Bennett Bedford

The US Open is almost here, but first we have the annual final US Open tuneup event with the FedEx St. Jude Classic played at TPC Southwind. It makes perfect sense that this event is the final chance for players (and those in daily fantasy golf contests) to prepare for the year’s second major, as TPC Southwind is one of the most difficult courses that we see all season long. Southwind consistently ranks toward the top of the rankings in terms of bogey and double-bogey rate, while also ranking toward the bottom in birdie rate. There is water in play on 11 of the 18 holes, and all of the these hazards see plenty of action throughout the week. In fact, TPC Southwind has seen more balls in the water than any other course on tour over the past 15 years. 

The field this week is unsurprisingly very weak given what is coming up next week on the schedule, with Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and two-time defending champion Daniel Berger the highlights of the field. The mid range this week is a total wasteland, and we are going to have to dive deep to find players who we are comfortable rostering. It’s also notable that this event has historically seen a high number of withdrawals, especially from players who are already in the field next week for the US Open. 

TPC Southwind is a second-shot course that rewards accuracy off the tee and puts a huge emphasis on approach shots. The water hazards and thick rough pushes many players to club down off the tee, but we’ve seen players like Koepka and Johnson stick with their driver to set up short irons and wedges into the majority of the greens. Driving accuracy is a very hard stat to pin down, especially with the different options off the tee, but players who keep it in the fairway and avoid the water will instantly get a leg up on the competition. TPC Southwind is a Par-70 layout with only two Par 5s, so I’ll be looking at Par-4 scorers, as well as guys who can grind out pars on this difficult layout. 

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Key Stats:

Strokes Gained: Approach 
Par 4 Scoring 
Driving Accuracy 

FedEx St. Jude Classic picks (Daily Fantasy Golf)

Top-Tier Targets

Brooks Koepka - DK: $11,100, FD: $12,400

Another week, another chance for me to write up Koepka. He has a very solid history here at TPC Southwind with two top-five finishes in the past three years, to go with a T-37 here last year. Koepka will opt to stick with his driver, which will give him a huge advantage over the rest of the field as long as he can avoid the water hazards off the tee. Brooks was locked in with his approach shots last time out at TPC Sawgrass and will contend yet again this week if he can maintain that level of iron play. Spoiler alert: I also love his chances of defending his US Open crown next week at Shinnecock Hills. 

Henrik Stenson - DK: $10,400, FD: $12,200

TPC Southwind is an ideal layout for a guy like Stenson. He is going to keep in it play off the tee to set up his lethal approach game, and he has all the tools to grind out pars on this tough track. His game has been trending in the right direction all year long, and he has been an excellent fantasy asset, meeting or exceeding his salary expectation on 71 percent of his starts since the beginning of last season. 

Others to Consider: Daniel Berger, Dustin Johnson (GPP) 

Mid-Tier Targets

Kiradech Aphibarnrat - DK: $8,400, FD: $9,600

The Barn Rat, as he’s known among the DFS golf community, is one of my favorite characters on tour and is an excellent option this week given the lack of great mid-range choices. He played great at the Memorial last week, grinding out a T-13 finish and is in the top 15 in the field in terms of overall talent in my opinion. He has averaged 4.58 birdies per round over his past tournaments, good enough for seventh best in the field.

Shane Lowry - DK: $7,600, FD: $9,100

Lowry has cost me boatloads of money over the year or so, but I’m going to continue to target him whenever we get to a difficult course. We have seen Lowry have winning upside in much stronger fields, and it’s very encouraging that his game is finally starting to trend in the right direction after a disastrous 2017. He has made five straight cuts and has limited his mistakes during that time, averaging only 8.4 bogies per tournament. 

Others to Consider: Byeong-Hun An, Luke List, Kevin Chappell (GPP) 

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Value Targets 

Joel Dahmen - DK: $7,100, FD: $8,700

Oh man, the value tier this week is brutal, so we’re going to have to take some shots on players who make us a little uncomfortable. Dahmen hasn’t teed it up very often lately, but he has been playing excellent golf when he does with three straight top-20 finishes. His approach game has especially been on point, as he gained 4.4 strokes on approach his last time out in Fort Worth. 

J.T. Poston - DK: $7,000, FD: $8,500

Poston is another guy in the value tier who hasn’t been playing a ton of golf this season, but he has been very solid when he has, finishing within the top 30 in all three of his showings during the Texas swing. He has been accurate off the tee, and while his approach game hasn’t been clicking on all cylinders, his short game and putting have both been well above average. 

Others to Consider: Ben Crane, James Hahn, Keith Mitchell 

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