Squad Up Daily Fantasy PGA Preview: FedEx St. Jude Classic

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The FedEx St. Jude Classic is a tricky tournament to navigate for fantasy purposes. Played at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn., it comes one week ahead of the U.S. Open. With players booking their tickets to the year’s second major at qualifying events throughout the week, withdrawals can come at any time. Even those who still attend TPC Southwind can pull out of the tournament if their weekend doesn’t start how they envisioned.

The major keys of the week will be previous success and experience at the course, and the strong motivation of a number of players looking to win their way to Erin Hills. It can be a good tournament to fade the highest-priced golfers in each tier.

From FantasyInsiders, the key stats to monitor for this week are Par Scoring Average (P4S), Strokes Gained: Approach (SGA), and Birdie or Better Percentage (BoB).

Sample Tournament Lineup

POSITION GOLFER FPPG SALARY
G1 Brian Gay 26.8 25K
G2 J.T. Poston 27.6 25K
G3 Chris Stroud 27.0 25K
G4 Rickie Fowler 33.1 106K
G5 Phil Mickelson 30.6 94K

A thin field allows for high-upside options at the minimum salary in each of the first three positional slots. With many of the tour’s top-ranked golfers taking the week off prior to the U.S. Open, the field is filled with those hoping to book a ticket to Erin Hills with a win this week. Mickelson won’t be playing in next week’s event, giving him a little extra motivation to win this week.

Group 1

  • Top Play – Kyle Stanley (33K): Stanley is coming off his fourth top-10 finish of the season with a sixth-placed showing at the Memorial Tournament. He has three top 10s and one missed cut in his past five events. He has played this event four times in the past five years, missing the cut twice. His current form increased hopes for this year’s appearance, as he ranks ninth in P4S, seventh in SGA, and 26th in BoB.
  • Value Target – Brian Gay (25K): Gay has made just 10 of 15 cuts this season, with his year highlighted by sixth-placed results at the Valero Texas Open and the RBC Heritage. He won the St. Jude Classic in 2009 and came sixth in 2016. He did miss the cut three times in between, but he also owns a third top 10 with a fourth-placed showing back in 2007.
  • Fade – Hudson Swafford (52K): The first positional slot lacks top-end talent with Swafford’s middling price also being too much. Squad Up owners are best off opting for the cheaper options as others have their salaries inflated by the weaker field. Swafford has missed eight of 18 cuts this season, including each of his past three events. He has played this event three times, never finishing higher than 29th and missing a cut.

Group 2

  • Top Play – Francesco Molinari (102K): Molinari is the statistical favorite of the week, ranking second in SGA, fifth in P4S, and 11th in BoB. He mostly recently finished sixth at the THE PLAYERS, picking up his second top 10 on the PGA Tour this season. He finished as the runner-up at the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship in the interim. He finished 34th in his debut at this event last season.
  • Value Target – J.T. Poston (25K): Poston received his berth in the U.S. Open in an early week qualifier. He remains in the field for the major as of Wednesday and is set for one final tune-up. His lone top-10 finish of the year came in a very weak field at the Puerto Rico Open, offering some comparison to this week’s level of competition.
  • Fade – William McGirt (71K): McGirt represents a lackluster middle tier between the top-priced Molinari and a solid group of golfers at the minimum salary. McGirt has finished outside the top 60 in both of his last two events, and he has missed seven of 18 cuts on the season. He missed the cut in three of his past five tries this tournament.

Group 3

  • Top Play – Russell Henley (66K): Henley was off for two weeks following a missed cut at the AT&T Byron Nelson. It was just his fourth MC in 16 events this season, picking up three top 10s and a win at the Shell Houston Open. He has played this event just three times in his career, but he finished seventh last year.
  • Value Target – Chris Stroud (25K): Stroud is the best of a very poor bottom tier. In fact, Group 3 is by far the worst of the week. Stroud missed four consecutive cuts before a 41st-placed finish at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational. He hasn’t made the cut at this event since a finish of 47th in 2009.
  • Fade – Jim Furyk (53K): Furyk’s salary is purely based on name value and recognition, as he has missed each of his past five cuts. He has never played in this event and can’t rely on previous experience.

Group 4

  • Top Play – Rickie Fowler (106K): Fowler ranks just 21st in Par 4 Scoring, but he prominently ranks fifth in SGA and fourth in BoB. His lone appearance at TPC Southwind came in 2014, when he finished 13th. Owning Fowler runs the risk of him pulling out with a bad first round, but he is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 9 in the world.
  • Value Target – Ben Crane (25K): There isn’t much appeal at the bottom end of the fourth roster spot, so owners can lean on Crane’s 2014 victory at this event. He has never missed the cut, but he has no other top 10s. He doesn’t rank higher than 118th in any of the three key stats.
  • Fade – Russell Knox (83K): Knox needs to have a shot at the top-five placing bonus in order to return value at his salary, but he hasn’t finished higher than 11th in 2017. He finished eighth here in 2015, but he missed the cut twice and finished just 74th in his three previous tries.

Group 5

  • Top Play – Phil Mickelson (94K): As mentioned above, Mickelson will miss out on yet another opportunity to finish second at the U.S. Open. He has had tremendous, yet similar, recent success at the St. Jude Classic, finishing second in 2013 and 2016, and third in 2015. He could be set for his first win since 2013 without the looming pressure of next week.
  • Value Target – Peter Uihlein (25K): Uihlein will make his debut at the FedEx St. Jude Classic this week. He finished 25th at the Memorial, his third made cut in as many tries on the PGA Tour. He has played predominantly on the European Tour, picking up three top 10s and missing just one cut in 11 tournaments.
  • Fade – Scott Piercy (65K): Yet another example of why to steer clear of the middle tiers, Piercy missed the cut in 2011, his only appearance at this event.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

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