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FedEx St. Jude Championship: 3 best derivative bets

Nick Hennion of The Action Network shares his best derivative bets for the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

Scottie Scheffler tees off on the 3rd hole during Day Four of The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course on July 17, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Scottie Scheffler tees off on the 3rd hole during Day Four of The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course on July 17, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Read moreKevin C. Cox / Getty Images

The first event of the PGA Tour playoffs has arrived, with 121 players set to tee it up at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

Beginning Thursday at TPC Southwind in Memphis, the tour’s first of a three-event playoff series sees Rory McIlroy (+1000) arrive as a consensus favorite. Following closely behind on the odds board are Masters champion Scottie Scheffler (+1400), Patrick Cantlay (+1600), Cameron Smith and Xander Schauffele (both +1800).

Which players should bettors target in the various derivative markets this week in Tennessee? Based on a combination of statistical modeling and relevant course history, I’ve identified three plus-money markets that provide value to prospective bettors.

Before we dive into those players, though, here are the key stats I used to sort the field in my statistical model this week:

With those stats in mind, let’s dive into my three best derivative bets for the FedEx St. Jude Championship. All odds come courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook and are reflective at time of writing.

Best Bet #1 - Scottie Scheffler Top-10 Finish (+160)

Scheffler has cooled off a bit since his torrent run of form earlier this calendar year, but still remains a wildly impressive talent.

Dating back to the Masters, the Texas-native has played in nine events. In the seven events in which he’s made the cut, Scheffler has posted no worse than a T-21st finish. Although he only has three top-10′s in those seven events, I expect Scheffler finding himself at a venue that has treated him well -- 14th here last year, 15th in 2020 -- will help better that percentage.

In terms of his statistical modeling output, the Masters champion ranks out very well across the board. Over his last 24 qualifying rounds, he’s sixth overall in the field. In terms of his individual measures, he’s eighth in good drives gained -- defined as either hitting a fairway or reaching the green from the rough -- while sitting 23rd in SG: Approach, third in GIRs gained and 16th in Par 4 Efficiency.

Plus, Scheffler ranks 22nd in birdies or better gained over those same 24 qualifying rounds, but improves that output to sixth overall in the field across his previous 36 rounds. At a course that has (historically) seen low scores, expect Scheffler’s record in that department to aid his chances this week at TPC Southwind.

With Scheffler taking nearly a month off since his last event, I also expect he’ll arrive well-rested and primed for success. For this market, play him at +140 or better.

Best Bet #2 - Shane Lowry Top-20 Finish (+170)

Lowry’s showing last week at the Wyndham can only be categorized as abysmal, but TPC Southwind sets up as a more favorable track.

Consider this: in his last two appearances at this course, the 2019 Open champion finished in a tie for 23rd a year after tying for sixth. If you include his appearance at 2018 -- when this event was a WGC event -- he’s never finished worse than 30th at TPC Southwind. Plus, in 10 events prior to the Wyndham, Lowry finished T-25th or better in all but two and inside the top-20 in six.

Lowry also models out well in my statistical projections. Overall, he sits ninth in my 24-round model and fifth overall in my 36-round projection. In the latter projection, Lowry established himself as an elite ball striker. He’s sixth in good drives gained, second in SG: Approach and 14th in GIRs gained. Further, although he rates out 49th in birdies or better gained, he also ranks second in the field in Par 4′s between 450 and 500 yards and 29th or better in both proximity metrics.

The Irishman also knows how to get himself out of trouble, both historically and at this course. He’s ninth in the field in sand saves over his last 36 rounds and sixth in SG: around the green in his last 12 rounds at TPC Southwind.

Given Lowry’s biggest flaw -- his putter -- sees a downshift in emphasis this week, expect his ball-striking to help carry him to another strong finish. Back this major winner at +150 or better for a top-20 finish.

Best Bet #3 - Taylor Pendrith Top-40 Finish (+100)

Pendrith missed a big chunk of the season with an injury, but I’m willing to take a shot with him based on his recent results.

Although he’s never appeared at TPC Southwind professionally, Pendrith has posted three consecutive top-13 finishes since returning from injury. Additionally, Pendrith finished in a tie for 13th last March at the PLAYERS, another stacked field like the one this week. Overall, the PGA Tour rookie has six top-40 finishes in his last nine starts on tour.

As for his modeling outputs, Pendrith’s ball-striking capabilities are informative. Over his last 36 qualifying rounds, he’s eighth in GIRs gained, 12th in good drives gained and 35th in SG: Approach. He’s also 21st in birdies or better gained and 30th in the field on Par 4′s between 450 and 500 yards.

More importantly, though, he’s (largely) improved on those metrics since returning from injury. Over his last 12 rounds, Pendrith is seventh in good drives gained (+5 spots), 21st in SG: Approach (+14 spots), 20th in GIRs gained (-12 spots) and 13th in birdies or better gained (+8 spots). Further, he ranks 23rd in overall Par 4 Efficiency and ninth on such holes between 450 and 500 yards.

Based on those outlays, I’ll back Pendrith at -110 or better for a top-40 finish.

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