FedEx St. Jude Classic
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bentgrass; 5,240 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2.5”
Water Hazards: 11
Course Architect: Ron Prichard (1987)
Winner’s Share: $1,044,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Harris English claimed his first victory on TOUR as he defeated Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings by two shots.
Dates: June 5-8
Notes: This is the 57th edition of the tournament since 1958. The tournament moved from par 71 to par 70 following the 2004 edition.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 21 of 29 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes and Brendon Todd have won for the USA.
Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Matsuyama joins Seung-yul Noh as the Asian representatives and Martin Kaymer is flying the flag for Europe with his victory.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd and Matsuyama are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had nine in 29 events so far in 2014. #onpace
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32) and Adam Scott (33) have also added to the Prime Timers total.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer (29), Brendon Todd, 28 and now Matsuyama, 22, are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
The FESJC opened up for business in 1958. It moved to TPC Southwind in 1989 and was heavily renovated in 2004. I will go back to 2005 for any relevant scoring comparisons.
There have only been seven first-time TOUR winners in 56 previous editions. Interestingly, three of those have happened in the last four years as Dustin Johnson (2010), Lee Westwood (2011) and Harris English have won in their debuts in Memphis.
Since 1993, only Dickie Pride (1994), Harrison Frazar (2012) and English have made the FESJC as their first win on TOUR. #experiencepays
In 56 events, only four, foreign-born players have been victorious. Westwood was the last to accomplish this. Before him it was Gary Player, Greg Norman and Nick Price. #bigcompany
In the last six seasons, three Sundays have gone to extra holes to determine a winner.
Harris English, 23, is the youngest champion. He’s only one of three players since the turn of the century to win in his 20s. He joins Notah Begay and Dustin Johnson. #experiencepays
Woody Austin was 43 when he won in 2007. Jeff Maggert was 42 when he won in 2006.
Since the renovation in 2004, only Justin Leonard (2005, 2008) has multiple victories on this track.
David Toms went fourth, WIN, WIN, second, T10 and third, T37 and second from 2002-2009. #landlord Toms is one of three players (Lee Trevino, 1971-72; Dave Hill 1969-70) to accomplish this. #rare
The course record, since the renovation, is 62, last set by Woody Austin in 2007.
Brian Gay fired 262 (-18) to set the tournament record in 2009.
Gay and Austin (2007) have won this event by five shots, the largest margin of victory.
There have been only four wire-to-wire winners. Between 2001 and 2009 three of those took place. Brian Gay was the last player to accomplish this.
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14 season. Patrick Reed is the only player of this triumvirate that is teeing it up this week.
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
No player has ever won the week before the U.S. Open and the U.S. Open.
Only eight players in history have won the week before claiming a major championship:
Byron Nelson: 1945 Chicago Open; PGA
Ben Hogan: 1946 Winnipeg Open; PGA
Sam Snead: 1949 GGO; 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; Masters
Tiger Woods: 2007 WGC-BI; PGA
Phil Mickelson: 2013 Scottish Open; The Open Championship
Past Champions Since 2005
2013: Harris English -12
2012: Dustin Johnson -9
2011: Harrison Frazar -13
2010: Lee Westwood -10
2009: Brian Gay -18
2008: Justin Leonard -4
2007: Woody Austin -13
2006: Jeff Maggert -9
2005: Justin Leonard -14
Inside the Ropes
When TOUR players and fantasy gamers see the letters “TPC” in the title of a course on TOUR, it usually means “birdie fest”. TPC Southwind in Memphis is the exact opposite of this thought as the tough, windy, crooked layout can play havoc on the TOUR’s best players. After being redone in 2004, the days of 59 and massive scores under par have passed. The course now plays annually as one of the toughest on TOUR.
Recent Course Ratings
2005: 9th-most difficult in relation to par
Phil Mickelson suggested after his T2 last year that TPC Southwind would be an excellent tune-up for Pinehurst in 2014. Here we are and Mickelson is in the field as he tries to sharpen up before Pinehurst. The smallish greens in Memphis, although not as crowned as No. 2, will be an excellent opportunity to get a feel for some of the target golf that will have to be played next week. I don’t think that TPC Southwind goes to the extremes that SHO does to make it “like Augusta” but the challenges are there. This course requires players to work the ball both ways off the tee and from the fairway which isn’t usually the case each week on TOUR. It’s also another reason why higher scores win and veterans prevail as patience and placement are just as valuable as power. Putting will be another P I’ll take a look at this week as well as players like Justin Leonard and Jeff Maggert have lit up the greens here in their victories.
With over 90 bunkers and 11 water hazards affecting decision making around TPC Southwind, the FESJC will play similarly to the Honda Classic. Players will have to be aware of the wind, water and sand as they tee it up and as they approach the green. The smallish greens will reward the accurate ball-strikers and will provide a benefit to the scramblers. With only two par-five holes, the pros will have to make birdies on the par-four and par-three holes as well. With four of the five most difficult holes in the final seven, it’s imperative to not throw away shots on the front side.
I’m looking for ball-strikers this week that can take advantage of their length and hit GIR to have multiple birdie chances. Par will be a decent score this week as well and the more bogeys avoided, the better the chances. This would suggest the getting up-and-down is important as well. Winner Harris English made 10 bogeys last year. Ryan Palmer was T4 and only made four, including only one in his last 54 holes. #morethanonewaytoskinacat