PGA TOUR PICKS: FedEx St. Jude Championship


Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland has claimed the FedEx Cup three times, but he might not be the player to bet on this week in the PGA Tour Playoffs opener, the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn.

The top 70 players from the FedEx Cup standings after the regular-season finale last week, the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., qualified for the first of three playoff events.

The top 50 after this week will move on to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields Ill., with the top 30 there playing the final event in the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, where the winner of the FedEx Cup will be determined.

While McIlroy, ranked No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings and No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings, might be a good bet to claim the FedEx Cup, as we said, this might not be the best week to bet on him.

That’s because McIlroy’s only top-10 finish in 10 appearances in this tournament was a tie for sixth in 2019, the only time he has broken into the top 10. And last year, he missed the cut before tying for eighth in the BMW Championship and then taking home the FedEx Cup again with a one-stroke victory over Scottie Scheffler and Sungjae Im of South Korea.

McIlroy didn’t talk with reporters after missing the cut last year TPC Southwind, but he touched upon it a little bit the next week before the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields.

“Yeah, (Olympia Fields) is a good golf course,” McIlroy said after a practice round. “It’s a golf course that’s sort of is a little more up my alley compared to say last week (at TPC Southwind) in Memphis.

“I was a little rusty last week, as well, but a lot more drivers off the tee, a lot of room off the tee, a lot more, I guess, scope to hit driver. Length is an advantage here, where in Memphis it’s not really. Sort of just my sort of golf course that I feel like I can excel on.

“Anywhere I can actually have my length, it’s going to be an advantage.”

McIlroy is so good that he’s still among the betting favorites this week in Memphis, with Scheffler being the overall pick because of the hot run he’s been on this season, even though he missed the cut last year at TPC Southwind, too.

In addition to that, McIlroy is so good that he can find his “A” game at any time on any golf course.

Recently, Rory was talking with reporters and simply oozed confidence.

“I think about trying to go and win a fourth FedEx Cup here in a couple weeks’ time, then go try to win a fifth Race to Dubai title, and then go and win a fifth Ryder Cup,” McIlroy said without batting an eye. “I just keep looking forward.”

That’s why, even though he’s not the No. 1 pick this week, you can never count McIlroy out.   


1. Scottie Scheffler, United States—The top-ranked player in the world hasn’t won since the Players Championship in March, but he has 19 consecutive finishes in the top 25, and he also won in Phoenix in February, giving him six victories in the last two years. Scheffler, who is second in the FedEx Cup standings, best result in the playoff opener was a tie for fourth in 2020.   

2. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland—The three-time winner of the FedEx Cup, including last year, is right there again at third in the standings with wins in the CJ Cup, the Genesis Scottish Open and the Dubai Desert Classic among 10 finishes in the top 10 this season. McIlroy, who has won 37 times as a pro, had his best finish in the playoff opener with a tie for sixth in 2019.    

3. Jon Rahm, Spain—The leader of the FedEx Cup standings has claimed four victories this season, the last at the Masters in April, but he his coming off a tie for second in the 151st Open Championship and has 11 results in the top-10 this season. Rahm, who has never won the FedEx Cup, has five top-10 finishes in the playoff opener, the best being solo third two seasons ago.

4. Rickie Fowler, United States—Claimed the Rocket Mortgage Classic for his sixth PGA Tour victory and also tied for fifth in the U.S. Open among eight top-10 finishes, and 15 in the top-25 in his comeback season to stand ninth in the Fed Ex Cup Rankings. Fowler’s best result in the playoffs opener was a tie for seventh in 2016, and he also tied for ninth in both 2013 and 2014.  

5. Viktor Hovland, Norway—The fifth-ranked Hovland is seventh in the FedEx Cup standings after a season in which he won the unofficial Hero World Challenge and The Memorial, while recording 16 finishes in the 25, including a tie for second in the PGA and a tie for seventh in the Masters. His best in the playoff opener was a tie for 18th in 2020 and he tied for 20th last year.

6. Xander Schauffele, United States—Even though he hasn’t added to his total of seven PGA Tour victories since winning three times last year, the six-ranked Schauffele has placed in the top 25 on 15 occasions, including in all four major championships. His best finish in the playoffs opener was a tie for 16th in 2021, when he shot 62 in round two, and he tied for 17th in 2017.

7. Patrick Cantlay, United States—After winning five times since 2021, the fourth-ranked Cantlay hasn’t found the winner’s circle this year, but he has 12 finishes in the top 20, including a tie for ninth in the PGA Championship and ties for 14th in the U.S. Open and the Masters. His best results in the playoffs opener were a tie for eighth in 2018 and a tie for 10th the year before.

8. Tyrrell Hatton, England—The 10-time pro winner hasn’t won on the PGA Tour this season, but his 13 finishes in the top 25 have helped him climb to No. 14 in the World Golf Rankings and No. 17 in the FedEx Cup standings. Hatton finished second in the Players and third in the Wells Fargo and the RBC Canadian Open. His best in the playoff opener was a tie for 20th in 2018.    

9. Jordan Spieth, United States—Proved he could still win in the last two seasons as he fought back from a huge slump, but is winless this season despite 10 finishes in the top 25, including a tie for fourth in the Masters and a playoff loss in the RBC Heritage. Spieth, who is back up to No. 12 in the world, finished second in the playoffs opener in 2017 and tied for sixth in 2019.

10. Tony Finau, United States—With victories in the Houston Open and Mexico Open among his 12 results in the top 25 this season, Finau ranks No. 10 in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 17 in the World Golf Rankings. The playoffs are nothing new to him since he beat Cameron Smith on the first hole of a playoff for one of his six PGA Tour titles in the 2021 opener.  

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Tommy Fleetwood, England; Wyndham Clark, United States; Hideki Matsuyama, Japan; Max Homa, United States; Tom Kim, South Korea; Matt Fitzpatrick, England; Jason Day, Australia; Sam Burns, United States; Russell Henley, United States; Sungjae Im, South Korea.


1. Aaron Rai, England—Six-time winner as a pro has yet to break through on the PGA Tour, but he has eight top-10 finishes this season. Rai finished T-51 in playoff debut opener last season.

2. Eric Cole, United States—PGA Tour rookie has won 12 times on lower tours and lost in Honda playoff for one of nine top-25 finishes this season. Cole is making his playoffs debut.

3. Thomas Detry, Belgium—Two-time winner on lower tours tied for 13th in 151st Open among 11 finishes in the top-25 this season. Detry will be making his debut in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

4. Beau Hossler, United States—Hoss, who lost to Ian Poulter in playoff at 2018 Houston Open, has 10 finishes in the top 10 this season. His best in three playoff openers was T-49 in 2022.  

5. Stephan Jaeger, Germany—The six-time winner on lower tours was T-14 at Wyndham last week, his eighth top-25 this season. Jaeger tied for 46th in playoff debut last year with three 60s.

For first-round tee times and the FedEx Cup standings, visit:

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