FedEx St. Jude Classic
Yards: 7,239 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bermudagrass; 5,240 square feet on average
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2.5”
Water Hazards: 10
Course Architect: Ron Pritchard (1987); PGA TOUR Design Services (2004)
Winner’s Share: $1,026,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson fired a 66 on Sunday to chase down and pass a trio of 54-hole leaders for the victory.
Dates: June 6-9
Notes: The FedEx St. Jude Classic (FESJC) moved to TPC Southwind in 1989.
Only Dicky Pride (1994), Lee Westwood (2010) and Dustin Johnson (2012) have won the FESJC in their maiden voyages since it moved to TPC Southwind in 1989.
Johnson joined Notah Begay (2000) as the only players to win this event in their 20s. Sounds like a week for grizzled veterans!
Americans have won 13 of the last 14 (Westwood, 2011) titles in Memphis. Sounds like a week for grizzled, American veterans. Cough, Phil, cough…
Which leads us to this “good news, bad news” stat: Only eight players in history have won a major coming off a win the week before. Are you ready for this list?
Byron Nelson (1945 Chicago Open; PGA)
Ben Hogan (1946 Winnipeg Open; PGA)
Sam Snead (Greater Greensboro Open; Masters)
Art Wall (1959 Azalea Open; Masters)
Lee Trevino (1971 Canadian Open; The Open Championship)
Sandy Lyle (1988 GGO; Masters)
Phil Mickelson (2006 Bell South Classic; Masters)
Tiger Woods (2007 WGC-Bridgestone; PGA)
Hmmmmmmmmmmm, that one name keeps popping up, BUT notice nobody on that list has followed a TOUR victory with a win at the US Open. That’s a trend, people!
There are seven former champions in the field this week:
Dicky Pride (1994)
Bob Estes (2001)
David Toms (2003-2004)
Jeff Maggert (2006)
Justin Leonard (2005, 2008)
Brian Gay (2009)
Dustin Johnson (2012)
This will be the 56th edition of the FESJC. Only six players have made this event their first win on TOUR. The last two to accomplish this were Dicky Pride and Harrison Frazar (2011). By the way, has anyone heard from or seen Harrison Frazar in the last six months? Me, neither…
Only six players have won this event in their maiden voyage around the course. Westwood and Johnson were added to this list with their victories so that makes two of the last three winners to do so. #trendnotatrend. This would suggest that premium players would be the exception, not the rule, around TPC Southwind.
In 2013 11 of the 21 full-field, stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) have gone on to victory. Matt Kuchar has found both ends of the spectrum as he could not hold his lead at Colonial but he backed up his 54-hole lead with a victory last week at the Memorial.
There have been 23 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 19.
There have also been nine first-time winners this season.
There have also been just two multiple winners, Woods (four times) and Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial).
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22),Bae (26) and Weekley (39). The young folks (30 and younger) now have nine victories; the 30-somethings have racked up a dozen victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. Ken Duke, 44, was T17 this week to fly the flag for the over-40 crew.
Rank and File
Only eight of the top 50 OWGR are in the field this week.
As the golfing world looks ahead to the US Open the TOUR has its final tune-up this week at the TPC Southwind in Memphis. Opening for business in 1989, Southwind went through a major overhaul in 2004 when the TOUR came in and performed renovations. They took out the Bentgrass greens and replaced them with Champion Bermudagrass that is sturdy enough to handle the hot, humid summers along the Mississippi River. I won’t take much, if any, of the history before 2004 into account this week because of the differences in putting surface. After three weeks of Bentgrass greens in Texas and Ohio, Bermudagrass “likers” will be investigated more heavily this week.
TPC Southwind over the recent years has been a ball-strikers paradise as the course renovation tightened up the fairways and also tilted them in new directions. The greens, which are just about average in square footage, have plenty of tilt and undulation so this should be an excellent warm-up before those who are qualified head to Merion next week.
Here’s how TPC Southwind has ranked annually in difficulty on TOUR since its renovation in 2004:
This test will incorporate seasonal winds that will blow plus plenty of water hazards to avoid. Think The Honda Classic in June! Stretched over 7,200 yards both long hitters and accurate players have succeeded around here but over the last three years Lee Westwood, Harrison Frazar and Dustin Johnson, the last three winners, aren’t guys who are shy about getting it down the fairway. Robert Garrigus was also a 72-hole co-leader a couple of years ago. Conversely, David Toms, Justin Leonard, Jeff Maggert, Woody Austin and Brian Gay, all winners from 2004-2009 aren’t winning any long-drive contests. Notice there’s only one young buck in that group? Me too.
Experience will be a factor this week along with guys who are premium ball-strikers and short game specialists. There are only two par fives to make up any ground so I’ll be looking for guys who can score on par fours. This tournament has seen a winner at 276 (four-under) and 262 (18-under) and everything else in between. Also, since 2007, this week serves the final chance for players to play themselves into the US Open. No pressure if you’re not already qualified!
Top 10, Plus One
Brandt Snedeker: He leads the TOUR in top 10 finishes with six and par four performance at 22-under. He’s 15th in scrambling and 18th in strokes gained putting. Those numbers aren’t bad considering he’s 10th in driving accuracy and 11th in GIR. The Tennessee native played this event five straight years before missing last season with the rib injury he suffered at the Memorial. After his 72-80 there this season, I can be he’ll be happy to be back in Tennessee. As with most premium players, you can take last week and throw it out the window. Form is temporary; class is permanent.
Ryan Palmer: He’s 25th in ball-striking and 36th in total putting and that has resulted in a very steady beginning to 2013. He’s now made eight weekends from nine and his last three opening rounds have been 62, 65 and 67. He also makes plenty of birdies on par threes and par fours and that will be helpful this week. Palmer has only made two cuts in five starts yet both have resulted in top 10s (T3, 2012; T10 in 2006).
Scott Stallings: Hot golf is hot golf and only Matt Kuchar is hotter than Stallings at the moment. Stallings backed his T4 at Colonial with T4 at Memorial so there’s no doubt he’s in form as he heads to Memphis. His numbers across the board are very steady but it’s his form this week that interests me the most. Keep it simple, stupid.
John Rollins: In 11 weekends in 2013, Rollins has hit the top 25 in nine of them and that’s quite steady in 15 events. Even though he MC last year, he was T25 in 2011 and T15 in 2010 so his history here is not a deterrent. He’s 12th in ball-striking, 20th in the all-around and 17th in par four performance.
Tim Clark: He racked up four rounds in the 60s at Colonial his last time out to finish T7 so that tells me that the South African is on song with his current set up, anchored putter be damned. He’s made four straight weekends since they changed the surface in 2004 and he has no problems hitting fairways and finding the hole with that putter. He’s 20th on TOUR in par four performance and is also 18th in scrambling.
Phil Mickelson: I like the fact that he’s adjusting his schedule because he’s not getting the results he thought he would before majors. If there’s one thing we know about Mickelson is that he RARELY, if ever stands pat. Two drivers in the bag. Phrankenwood. Belly putter. Vegan. Padres. Tax complaints. Five Guys. Vacations. Those are just off the top of my head. He’s not boring, that’s for sure, and that’s why folks love him. It’s too bad that he can’t score “entertainment” points in most fantasy leagues. He knows that nobody has won the week before the U.S. Open and then has gone on to win it. Mickelson likes a challenge. Fantasy gamers like consistency! GAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Freddie Jacobson: Here’s what the Swede has done in relation to events and cuts made the last three season and counting: 21 of 25 2011; 15 of 17 2012; 10 of 11 2013. The Junkman has been in fine form and his short game is first class. He’s fifth in par four performance, 11th in putting and 13th in scrambling. He’s also made nine of 10 cuts lifetime in Memphis which is not surprising see those numbers above.
Russell Henley: The youngster from Georgia won in his first event on TOUR as a professional and has backed that up with two other top 10s including last week’s T6 at Memorial. He’s fifth in the all-around ranking and absolutely eats up par fours. It doesn’t hurt that he’s 12th in total putting. He looks like Brandt Snedeker “lite” and he’s playing like it as well.
Josh Teater: He’s been another cut making machine on TOUR as he’s hit 11 of the last 12 weekends PLUS he’s been the medalist for The Open AND The US Open qualifiers he played in recently. He’s not only hot but he’s 24th on TOUR in ball-striking so it’s not smoke and mirrors. WD Tuesday morning.
Charles Howell III: Speaking of cut making machines, Charley Three Sticks has banged out 13 of 16 and has hit top 10 in five of those weekends. He’s finished T30 or better in 10 of 13 of those. Since his first outing here in 2004, he’s four of six with two top 10s including T3 in 2011. Yes, please.
Dustin Johnson: The defending champion returns to the scene of his only victory in 2012 in similar circumstances as last year. Johnson missed most of March, April and all of May before “warming up” with T19 at Memorial before winning here. This year, Johnson tweaked his back at THE PLAYERS and made his return at the Memorial yet MC. He’s on THIS list because he had a week to knock the rust off his game and he he’s had success with pinging GIR on smallish greens throughout his career.