The first major of the year is just around the corner, but first there's a WGC trophy up for grabs this week in Memphis.
A 78-man field will tee it up this week in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the second edition of the event since its move from Firestone to TPC Southwind. Jon Rahm will make his first start as world No. 1, while Brooks Koepka returns as a defending champ in desperate need of some momentum.
While Koepka carved up Southwind last year in shooting 19 under, the course traditionally produces some of the highest numbers in terms of water balls on Tour and stretches to nearly 7,300 yards despite being a par 70. From a former WGC champ to three Tour winners from earlier this season, here are players to consider when building your roster for this week's event:
Xander Schauffele ($9,800 on DraftKings): This feels like the sort of event where Schauffele should shine, and perhaps win. Four of his five career Tour titles have come in no-cut events, including a WGC victory in China in 2018. He's had a number of close calls since then, including a playoff loss earlier this year in Kapalua and a T-3 finish at Colonial where he let the trophy slip away with a costly short miss. While he hasn't picked up many headlines since, his game has remained steady: three straight top-20s, including a T-13 finish at the Memorial where he battled back from an opening 77. He's 10th on Tour this season in total strokes gained and has the type of steady game that should shine this week.
Tyrrell Hatton ($9,700): Hatton broke through for his maiden Tour victory in March at Bay Hill just before the sport shuttered. While that remains a highlight, his strong play dates back nearly a year and also includes more recent results like a T-3 finish at Hilton Head and a fourth-place showing in Detroit. While Hatton plays sparingly in the U.S., he's currently leading the Tour in both strokes gained: putting and total strokes gained, and he sits second in SG: tee-to-green. That's a potent combination for any venue, but his reliable ball-striking should prove even more valuable this week where fairways and greens are (relatively) harder to hit.
Collin Morikawa ($9,500): Morikawa may not qualify as an auto-play just yet, but at this salary level he is tough to pass up. While his second week at Muirfield Village didn't go nearly as well as his first, the 23-year-old is still riding high from win No. 2. He's also still a marksman from the fairway, leading the Tour this season in SG: approach and ranking sixth in SG: tee-to-green. Morikawa showed both at Workday and at Colonial that his best is good enough to hang with the top players in the world, even on a course he has never played before competitively. It could certainly be a similar story this week in Memphis.
Marc Leishman ($7,700): Given the world circumstances, Leishman's victory at Torrey Pines in January feels like it happened six years ago, as did his runner-up at Bay Hill in March. But those results show just how high the ceiling is for the affable Aussie, who also finished third at this event a year ago. While his post-lockdown results have yet to materialize, he's still ranked fourth on Tour this season in SG: approach and remains one of the most reliable players with iron in hand. Don't be surprised if this week he breaks out of a mini-slump and puts his name near the top of the TPC Southwind leaderboards for the second year in a row.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($6,800): Bezuidenhout might not be well-known to many American fans, but the South African won on the Challenge Tour earlier this year and finished second in Dubai at a high-profile European Tour event. Since then he has shifted his focus to the U.S., with two top-30 finishes in four starts since the PGA Tour returned to action. He's 12th on Tour in SG: putting and 24th in SG: approach, two metrics that could carry extra weight this week.
Tyler Duncan ($6,200): Duncan is playing in his first career WGC event by virtue of his win earlier this season at the RSM Classic, where he outlasted Webb Simpson in a playoff. The Purdue product didn't do much in the early part of the new year but appears to be trending in the right direction since the lockdown, having made the cut in each of his five starts since June. That includes top-40 finishes at both Colonial and Harbour Town where a premium is placed on accuracy, and should he improve on that threshold in this week's no-cut event he could prove to be a valuable player to roster in the No. 6 slot.