FedEx St. Jude Classic Preview

06-06-17

Daniel Berger defends as the 60th edition of the FESJC tees it up Thursday as preparation for the U.S. Open next week.

#HUSHYALL

I want one for MY KIDS.

 

FedEx St. Jude Classic

 

TPC Southwind

Memphis, Tenn.

 

Yards: 7,244 per the official scorecard;

Par: 70 (35-35);

Greens: Champions Bermudagrass; 5,420 square feet on average;

Stimpmeter: 11.5-12′

Rough: Bermudagrass at 2.5″

Water Hazards: 10

Bunkers: 94

Course Architect(s): Ron Prichard (1987)

Purse: $6.4 million; $1.152 million-winner; 500 FedExCup points

Defending Champion:  The 36 and 54-hole leader Daniel Berger cruised to a three-shot win for his first Tour victory.

Notes: 156 players; top 70 and ties play the weekend.

 

 

2016-17 Winners

 

Frys.com: Brendan Steele

CIMB: Justin Thomas

WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama

Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**

Shriners: Rod Pampling

OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez

RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**

SBS TOC: Justin Thomas

Sony Open: Justin Thomas

CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*

Farmers: Jon Rahm*

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama

AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth

Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson

Honda: Rickie Fowler

WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson

Valspar: Adam Hadwin*

Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman

WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson

Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley

Masters: Sergio Garcia

RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**

Valero Texas Open: Kevin Chappell*

Zurich Classic: Cameron Smith* & Jonas Blixt

Wells Fargo Championship: Brian Harman

THE PLAYERS: Si Woo Kim

AT&T Byron Nelson: Billy Horschel

Colonial: Kevin Kisner

Memorial: Jason Dufner

 

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

 

 

 

Previous Champions

 

 

2016: Daniel Berger, 267

2015: Fabian Gomez, 267

2014: Ben Crane, 270

2013: Harris English, 268

2012: x-Dustin Johnson, 271

2011: x-Harrison Frazar, 267*

2010: x-Lee Westwood, 270*

2009: Brian Gay, 261

2008: x-Justin Leonard, 276*

2007: x-Woody Austin, 267

2006: x-Jeff Maggert, 271

2005: x-Justin Leonard, 266

X-not playing this week

* playoff

 

The Particulars:

Usually when the words TPC are included on the scorecard gamers usually roll their eyes knowing that 100 birdies and a wide open field waits.

Not this week.

Not this course.

With only two par fives, crooked and canted fairways plus plenty of sand and water, TPC Southwind is no mark.

This will be the 11th consecutive season that this track prepares 156 pros for the ultimate test next week, the U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson, six-time runner-up at the U.S. Open, wouldn’t waste his time using this event as an Open prep if that wasn’t the case.

Dustin Johnson won here in 2012 on nine-under-par 271. The next four years have seen exactly nine golfers post double-digits-under-par and four of those were last season.

It’s back to Champions Bermudagrass this week after a three-week stint on Bentgrass (which will be on the greens next week at Erin Hills) for the last-chance saloon to qualify for next week.

TPC Southwind has catered to all kinds since its redesign in 2004. Put simply, proper shot making is rewarded and those who are inaccurate must be able to recover. With Bermuda rough off the fairways and around the greens, recovery artists can flourish. The pin placements also reward shot makers as this event leads the Tour in hole-outs.

Course experience is nice but there have been plenty of first-time winners on Tour in the last few years and that will expand our choices this week. As you can see below, you better find some grinders who can hang on with both hands come the weekend as this place is the opposite of easy.

 

Good luck!

 

 

Course Ratings:

2005: 9th-most difficult in relation to par

2006: 2nd

2007: 6th

2008: 4th

2009: 20th

2010: 11th

2011: 9th

2012: 10th

2013: 14th

2014: 12th overall, HARDEST non-major par 70.

2015: 9th

2016: 10th

 

Weather:

The forecast was all jacked up last week and it didn’t rain until late Sunday afternoon so take this part of the column with a grain of salt.

Memphis is usually dry this time of year and this year is not any different with less than a half an inch of rain over the first five days of the month. With PERFECT weather Thursday and Friday on the cards, nobody will mind temperatures pushing 90 come the weekend.

For the second week in a row we should see some variation of firm-and-fast, exactly what Erin Hills is planning for next week.

 

 

Facts and Figures:

 

  • 60tj consecutive event in Memphis.
  • 40th anniversary of Al Geiberger’s 59 (on a par 72!!) at Colonial Country Club (not that one).
  • Tournament record event: 261; Gay, 2009.
  • Course record: 62; Austin, 2007.
  • Defending champions: N/A.
  • Multiple champions: Leonard, 2008 (last).
  • Maiden Tour victory: three of the last four
  • First time at event: four of the last seven (Westwood, Johnson, English and Berger).
  • USA > Internationals 54-5 in the win column.
  • Since 2000, only four players in their 20’s have won.
  • Berger is the youngest winner since 1968 (23 years, 2 months).
  • Last player to win the week before a major: Rory McIlroy, 2014 WGC-BI.
  • No player has ever won the week before the U.S. Open.

 

 

The Field

 

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament

Rickie Fowler: His only blip on the radar this spring on his own ball would be T-60 at TPC Sawgrass. He leads the Tour in SGT and could have won last week at Memorial. The last time he played a par 70 event on Tour he won the Honda Classic in late February.

Brooks Koepka: Some will argue that Koepka’s course form should supersede Fowler for the top spot and I won’t argue THAT angle. Koepka is 22-under-par here the last three seasons finishing T-19, T-3 and T-2 last year and seven of 12 rounds are in the 60’s. He turned the corner at Match Play and has cashed checks in his last seven tries.

Phil Mickelson: He’s 34-under in the last four years in preparation to complete the career grand slam. Similarly to the U.S. Open, Mickelson has littered the FESJC with podium finishes, three in the last four years, but hasn’t unlocked the final secret. He should be at the top of all OAD lists this week but I’m still curious how NEXT week is going to play out and whether or not that will affect his play. It’s never boring with Mickelson!

Francesco Molinari: The Italian’s excellent run of form stretches back 14 months so if you haven’t bought in by now, I’m not sure T-6 at THE PLAYERS and solo second at the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour will convince you either. His ball-striking, especially off the tee, should put him in position A attacking the greens all week. He’s seventh in scoring average and the first-timer stat here tells me that shouldn’t hold him back.

Adam Scott: I like Adam Scott most weeks. I love Adam Scott on courses where par is an excellent score and this week qualifies. The harder the course tee-to-green, the more I like his chances. He’s been turning the engine over but hasn’t really put together four stellar rounds yet. I’m not going to be on the sidelines when he does.

Brian Gay: He’s played in every event since the redesign save for one when he was injured. He holds the tournament record and has five other T-16 or better finishes. Last year he showed gamers that he was back in action as he finished solo sixth. He’s a super putter who should be playing out of the middle of the fairway as well most of the week.

Billy Horschel: He’s had one poor round in his last 10 so his MC shouldn’t bother you. Hell, he had FOUR MC’s IN A ROW before he won at TPC Four Seasons so you know he doesn’t care! The angle with Horschel is that he burns white hot so hop on and enjoy the ride. He’ll lose plenty of impatient people after the MC last week and that’s fine with me. The added bonus this week is he’s hit the top 10 in his last three visits here (2013-15) and is 19-under-par.

Daniel Berger: The reigning champ will look to be the first to defend since the redesign in 2004 and first since David Toms early last century. Berger added to the TPC Southwind mystique last year as he added his name to the list of players who won in their maiden voyage in this event. He added his name to the last six winners that have all finished in the top 18 SGATG and five of the last six who were top 16 SGOTT. The third and final component is five of the last six were all in the top 19 in SGP. It’s a total examination through the bag.

Russell Henley: Wonderfully solid across the board, Henley sits in the top 11 in both scoring average (10th) and SGT (11th). He’s made two of three weekends here and half of his rounds are 68 or better. He picked up his win this season on Champion Bermuda at the GCH the week before the last major, the Masters.

Ryan Palmer: He sits in the top 22 in SGATG, SGOTT and SGTTG so I’ll take my chances with his putter. Of his last 20 rounds here, 10 are in red figures including eight 67’s or better. He was a letdown on the Irving/Ft. Worth swing so I’m expecting nothing less than “Dufner-ing” it this week.

Daniel Summerhays: Sure he had a three-shot lead after 54 holes last week and shot 78 to finish T-10. He also hit the top 10 at Oakmont and Baltusrol last year and those are hardly easy tracks. Somewhere in the middle is the answer. I’ll lean on guy who was 13-under after 54-holes last week.

Kyle Stanley: With top 10’s in two of his last three and four of his last eight, he should be higher up the list. With fantastic ball-striking numbers, scoring numbers and all-around numbers, he should be higher up the list. With only four rounds in the red and nothing better than 68 from 12 tries in Memphis, this seems just about right.

J.T. Poston: With only one MC in his last 10 on Tour and a U.S. Open sectional qualifying medal around his neck, Poston is quietly flying under the radar. In those last 10 starts, seven have cashed for T-32 or better. Although he finished T-41 last time at Colonial it didn’t go unnoticed that he opened with 65.

 

Next Tier

Just missed; no particular order of preference

Kevin Chappell: Pro gamers will point out his past fantastic finishes at the U.S. Open and suggest he should start trending that way this week. He’s been scuffling along but I saw signs during the middle two rounds last weekend at Memorial. He shot 64 in his second round here (T-22) in his first and only appearance in 2015.

Ian Poulter: Speaking of 64, that’s what Poulter closed with during his last trip here in 2014 and finished T-6. His recent form has more good (T-11, RBC Heritage; T-2, PLAYERS) and he sits in the top 10 SG Approach and Around the Green.

Graeme McDowell: He’s 11 for his last 12 worldwide but he’s 18-OVER-par here the last two years. I’ll lean on his class.

Russell Knox: He hits too many fairways and greens and this test might be exactly what he needs to get out of his funk. I saw signs of life last week with 71-70 to open on a tough, but fair, Memorial. I’m trying to catch him on the way up when everyone else is dozing off. He collected T-8 money last time he was here in 2015.

William McGirt: He closed with 83 in his defense at Memorial but it was the three rounds before that saw him lurking in the top 20. He’s in the top 33 in both fairways and greens.

Peter Uihlein: I stuck him in here last week but lower down the list. His streak is now 13 in a row world wide as he added T-25 from Memorial and a spot in the U.S. Open over the last seven days.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello: He backed up a trio of MC’s with T-24 at Wells Fargo and T-4 at THE PLAYERS before missing out again this week. This will be his first look at TPC Southwind and that should help erase 78-71 from last week.

Stewart Cink: This is a recording. He’s been inside the top 30 in eight of his last 10 including back-to-back top 25’s. This is a recording.

Chad Campbell: He’s played and made every one since 2010 and six of his last eight are under par.

Charl Schwartzel: The wrist injury fears subsided with four rounds last week. The South African was T-10 GIR and made a ton of pars. He made three doubles on par threes but was T-5 in bogeys for the week. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Patrick Rodgers: He’s made the weekend in two of his last three and put all four rounds at par or better in his only trip here in 2015.

 

Off the Beaten Path

Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings, general mish-mash.

Scott Brown: Yes. No. Yes. Sometimes. Maybe. I’ll take my chances in deep formats on Bermudagrass.

Sam Horsfield: No amateur has ever made the cut here but there’s always a first time for everything.

Braden Thornberry: See above. He’s the NCAA stroke-play champ from down the road in Oxford.

Harold Varner, III: He’ll have to tighten it up here after T-19 at wide open Memorial but he was T-16 last year.

Jonathan Randolph: Another Ole Miss product, he broke a T-24, T-27 and T-8 with a MC at TPC Four Seasons.

Grayson Murray: Forget the social media, he’s making cuts, seven in a row, and that’s what gamers SHOULD be paying attention to!

Ben Crane: He’s made 10 in a row here and his stroke average is under par from 11 events.

Boo Weekley: He’s played seven weekends on the bounce in Memphis and taken home the cash for T-8 and T-12 the last two seasons.

Harris English: In 14 rounds 11 have been signed for under par but the 2013 champ hasn’t seen the top 15 since Torrey Pines. He posted T-29 at Colonial, another track where he’s had solid history, his last time out.

Camilo Villegas: He’s posted five top 18-or-better finishes in the last seven years. Circled.

Tom Hoge: T-12 in 2015 and T-34 last year.

D.A. Points: The PRO champ can flush it as he sits in the top 33 of both fairways and GIR.

Fabian Gomez: His two wins are here and Sony and some will suggest there might be a correlation. I believe it’s always easier the following year for the former defending champ.

 

Next:

 

Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s