PGA betting: Why we're backing Will Zalatoris in a head-to-head at the FedEx St. Jude Championship

·Betting analyst
·2-min read

The first stop of the PGA playoffs takes place in Memphis this week for the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind. The rough can be troublesome, so I’m backing solid ball-strikers. Here are two full tournament head-to-head matchups I like.

Will Zalatoris (-130) vs. Sam Burns

If I’m looking for ball-strikers, between these two, that’s Willy Z. Zalatoris has gained strokes ball-striking in every tournament he’s played this year, while Burns has lost strokes either off the tee or on his iron play. Where Burns’ strength lies is in his putting, and though he excels on Bermuda greens, Zalatoris can produce a higher ceiling despite his flat-stick struggles because of his ball-striking ability combined with his around-the-green capability. Burns has not only been inconsistent with his ball-striking, but he also has lost quite a few strokes around the green in his last three tournaments played.

I’m always inclined to back the player with more consistency rather than hope that a player dependent on putting skills can produce once again on a course that requires both accuracy and iron play. Willy Z did finish T8 on this course last year with Burns finishing T2 in the WGC Invitational, but I am weighing recent form and that shows Burns is in a bit of a rut as of late.

Tyrell Hatton (+115) vs. Shane Lowry

When you have two players that are both solid ball-strikers, then you look for the thing that separates them. The edge for Hatton comes in the form of putting. Not only is Hatton generally a good putter, but Bermuda greens are his best surface. Hatton comes into this week having found a bit of his game and is now on a roll. After losing strokes with his irons in three straight tournaments, Hatton has gained strokes in his last three since the Scottish Open.

Lowry on the other hand is coming into this week with some question marks. In last week’s Wyndham Championship, he closed out his fourth round with three bogeys and a triple on No. 18 with an out of bounds off the tee. He’s lost strokes putting in five straight events, including losing nearly 7.5 last week on another Bermuda surface. With two solid ball-strikers, I'm turning to the better short-game player.