The smart way to bet $1,000 on the WGC-FedEx St. Jude, according to an expert

One of the smartest plays we’ve made at GOLF.com was to go all in on Erick Lindgren as our expert prognosticator. Lindgren is a star of the professional poker circuit, with more than $10 million in career earnings. But he has proven to be a shark at golf wagering, too, having picked four outright winners already this year in our weekly picks roundtable, among other profitable tournament bets.

That sparkling track record inspired us to strike a deal with Lindgren: every week through the end of the 2021 season, we’re giving him a $1,000 gambling budget (just play money!). In return, he’s giving us — well, you — his five best bets for that week’s event. Here’s Lindgren’s play list for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, which starts Thursday, at TPC Southwind, in Memphis, Tenn.

(Looking to place any of these bets yourself? We teamed with BetMGM, and the online sportsbook is offering a “Bet $20 Win $100” promotion regardless of your wager’s outcome, as well as a “Risk-Free Bet” up to $600.)

1. Webb Simpson over Abraham Ancer for the tournament, risking $330 to win $300

Just because they fly private doesn’t mean they don’t get jet lag. Lindgren regards that as a big factor this week. Hence his decision to go heavy on Simpson, who stayed Stateside this week and should be tan, ready and rested, over Ancer, who will be winging back from the Olympics in Tokyo. Another consideration is Simpson’s strong track record in Memphis, where he finished second to Brooks Koepka in 2019, followed by a T-12 last year

2. Louis Oosthuizen over Rory McIlroy: risking $330 to win $300

After bowing out in a bronze-medal playoff in Tokyo this past week, McIlroy will be crossing half the world to compete in Memphis. Oosthuizen opted to rest instead. Throw in the fact that the South African has been in rarefied form of late, and you start to see why Lindgren loves this call.

3. First-round leader, Max Homa: risking $140 at 80-1

Homa hits it plenty far. But that’s not why Lindgren is high on him this week. TPC Southwind is a water-laden layout where, Lindgren says, power is secondary in importance to precision. He likens the layout to Pebble Beach, and that is why he really likes Homa, a dead-eye iron player who also has the benefit of not having flown to Japan last week.

Max Homa’s accuracy should help his chances this week.

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4. Top 5 after first round, Will Zalatoris: risking $100 at 90-1

Lindgren is looking to iron play this week, and Zalatoris, he says, “is an absolute flusher.” As in, he flushes his approaches. Never mind that Zalatoris banged up his wrist at the Open Championship. Lindgren has brushed up on the medical reports and he isn’t worried about the injury.

5. Phil Mickelson to win: $100 at 100-1

In golf gambling, as in golf, a short memory is essential. Forget about Phil’s woeful showing at the Open Championship, Lindgren says. He prefers to look back farther to 2020, in Memphis, where Mickelson finished T2. It was the start of a revival that culminated in Lefty’s historic PGA Championship win. Speaking of history, Mickelson also has a sterling record at Pebble (see Homa, above).

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.