The Confidence Factor: FESJC

TPC Southwind will host for the final time before the U.S. Open as the PGA TOUR calendar will see them pick up a WGC position next season. World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will debut during the 2018-19 PGA TOUR Season.

He sure is. Notice both of them listed!

Here’s Part I of The Confidence Factor to get you started.

My picks will show up here tomorrow at the normal time!

Ed: Picks posted 1:10 ET Wednesday

Ed: Changed from FedExCup Playoff to WGC event above.

61st FedEx St. Jude Classic

TPC Southwind



TPC Southwind Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,244
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Champion Bermuda; 5,420 sq. ft. on average
Stimpmeter: 11.5-12′
Rough: Bermuda at 3″
Bunkers: 94
Water Hazards: 10
Architects: Ron Prichard (1989)
Purse: $6.6 million; $1.188 million, 500 FEC points (winner)
Defending Champion: Daniel Berger (-10, 270)
Fact of the Week: Only Billy Horschel or James Hahn can qualify for the U.S. Open with a win this week.



  • Field of 156.
  • Top 70 and ties will play the weekend.


Bar Bets

  • The last player to win the week before the U.S. Open and go on to win the year’s second major? Nobody.
  • The last player to win the week before a major? Rory McIlroy at the 2014 WGC-BI followed by the PGA Championship at Valhalla.


2017-18 Winners

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)
Memorial Bryson DeChambeau


The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM and contains plenty of course information, winner’s trends and the like.

Take a look here: 

You need course form? Read the above.

You need keys to victory? Read the above.

You need course preview? Read the above.

You need a history lesson? Read the above.

Every week.

Every column.

Previous Champions last 10 years

*- playoff

X- first-time winner on TOUR

Italics = first-time playing and winning the event

Year Winner Total (Par-70)
2017 Daniel Berger 270
2016 X- Daniel Berger 267
2015 X- Fabian Gomez 267
2014 Ben Crane 270
2013 X- Harris English 268
2012 Dustin Johnson 271
2011 Harrison Frazar 267*
2010 Lee Westwood 267*
2009 Brian Gay 262
2008 Justin Leonard 276*


Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 262; Gay, 2009
Course Record: 62; Woody Austin, 2007
Defending Champion(s): Daniel Berger is the only one after the 2004 renovation.
Multiple Winners Playing: Berger (2)
First TOUR Win: See above
First Win in First Appearance: See above
Low Round Last Year: 64; six players
Rookies of Note Last Year: Too many to note; Amateur Braden Thornberry was T4.
Odd Fact: This event has produced the last two winners who did NOT make a birdie in their final round. Take a bow Ben Crane (2014) and Justin Leonard (2005).



In order of preference for this week and this tournament; LTO= LAST TIME OUT; LW= Last week; LY= Last year this event. I’m tired of typing all that out!

Dustin Johnson: He’s back! In five starts he’s won, and added two more top-10 finishes plus a T24. His addition to the field makes it very top-heavy all of sudden and a win this week (only) will take him back to World No. 1. I’m not betting against him.

Brooks Koepka: Just press play. He’s posted 63 in three of his last five rounds. Of his 16 rounds at TPC Southwind, seven have gone for 67 or better.

Henrik Stenson: His 3W should romp all week. He leads the TOUR in fairways and greens.

Phil Mickelson: As I wrote in The Confidence Factor, if he’s showing up, he’s a big fan of the track. He’s used this event for U.S. Open prep for six seasons running this week. His worst payday in the five previous is T11.

Daniel Berger: If he can go T5, 5th and T18 in three straight in Houston before a major, surely he can go WIN, WIN and T8 before another.

Billy Horschel: Last four starts here = four top-10 finishes. The only way he plays next week at Shinnecock is a win this week as he sits No. 86 in the OWGR.

Charl Schwartzel: Good: One poor round in 14 loops in his last four. Bad: One round was 77 and resulted in MC last week that burned everyone riding three top-10 finishes in a row. He should get OAD looks this week as he posted nine-under (T2) last year WITH A 74. #Mickelsonian.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat: The Barn Rat is now STM. I doubt he cares. He just balls out whenever and wherever they tell him to tee it up. Wentworth? Sure, T5. Memorial? Sure, T13. He’s a bad man.

Steve Stricker: For the second year in a row he’s had to qualify on Monday of this event for the U.S. Open. If you think old people get tired, you’re right. Last year he qualified and went on to T2. I’m guessing this year won’t be much different!

Tony Finau: There have been plenty of bombers littered through the top 10 over time. It would not surprise me if he adds his name to the list. Just give him a 3-iron and let him go. He’s raking each week.

Byeong-Hun An: I documented last week how he annually plays Wentworth-Memorial before the U.S. Open and that shouldn’t be an issue. His P2 last week reinforced that belief and qualified him for Shinnecock regardless of this week.

Austin Cook: Woo Pig Sooey! Not my jam that, but IIRC he was a sponsor’s exemption for T13 in ’14 and T22 as a Monday Qualifier. Little Rock rocker.

Luke List: Trending in the right direction plus since February, he hasn’t gone more than two events in a row without a top 10. This is event three.

Brian Gay: A bit all-or-nothing here and on TOUR, I have him too highly rated, probably. His last eight here he’s won, finished sixth, T15 and T39 with four MC, including last year, sprinkled in.

Ben Crane: This is No. 9 in a row. He’s cashed in the previous eight and probably should have won another one last year. It doesn’t hurt his T8 LTO is his best of the season either.


Next Tier

Just missed the list above because of a wart or two.

Joaquin Niemann: OK, do it again. Plenty of firsts last week and I’ll be interested to see how this does or does not affect his performance. He’s accepted STM and will have unlimited opportunities for the rest of the season. This should free him up in body and in mind but it could also take off the edge he’s been playing with recently. The 19-year old is the second-youngest recipient of STM as Sergio Garcia was two months younger in 1999.

Charles Howell III: If you have to ask…

Matt Jones: I tried to find a nice place to hide him from the guys in my league who read this. He’s 15-under here the last three years and 11 of 12 rounds are par or better. He was T13 LTO and this week qualified for the U.S. Open by making birdie in an 11-for-3 playoff. #HeatCheck.

Tom Hoge: Five in a row, eight of nine and the best of the bunch was LW at Memorial with four rounds under par. He was 12-under his first six rounds here. He’s 10-over in his last four. Haha.

Kevin Chappell: A back injury at the WGC-Match Play slowed down this runaway train. His only payday in his last five was defending at Valero. He’s played here twice for T4 and T22 with nothing worse than 71. #BreakOut.

Chez Reavie: He needs to be in the top 10. He’ll be in every lineup I have this week. Numerologists will fade him as he’s playing in an EVEN-numbered year for the first time. He’s 17-under in his last three trips.

Joel Dahmen: He was T18 last year and enters this week on eight on the bounce. He’s taken over Nick Watney’s spot in here. Now, he needs a top 10 like Watney provided at Quail Hollow.

Braden Thornberry: He announced that he’s returning to Ole Miss this week but he did finish T4 last year. He had the only other bogey-free round on Sunday with Berger last year. I’m not sure he can repeat that but there’s plenty of talent there. He’s also in the U.S. Open as he qualified  earlier this week.

Harris English: He should be further up the list but his inconsistent play factors here. If he posts 274 this week as he did LTO at Colonial, he’ll add his third top-10 finish in six starts here. He’s not my lead but makes great support staff.

Scott Piercy: He’s probably too high up the list as he hasn’t taken the momentum from his team with Horschel and parlayed it. His ball-striking numbers suggest Colonial might be a one-off. This tournament has been known for crowning 30-something champs with a few exceptions.

J.B. Holmes: Seven of his last eight rounds on TOUR are under-par. In a thin field, I’ll bump him up. He didn’t fire under the bright lights last weekend at Memorial or he would be higher.

Grayson Murray: Love it. Won in similar conditions at Barbasol last July and makes enough birdies to keep me interested. His T18 last year included 17 of them.

James Hahn: He won at Quail Hollow after MC seven in a row; T6 in 2014. Along with Horschel, he’s the only other player in the field this week that win = in the U.S. Open.

Danny Lee: He’s never missed in three tries and the heat doesn’t bother him one bit. The bad news is he’s never cashed better than T32.

Chris Kirk: Veteran steady that should enhance any lineup. Check his metrics is you need to be reinforced. #SolidAF.


Off the Beaten Path

Great flexibility for multiple games, formats, course horses, hot players, etc.

Troy Merritt: He’s making cuts (9/10) and has rattled off six straight. He was second here in 2014 to Crane.

Kevin Tway: Everyone ran to the front last week after back-to-back top 10’s in Texas and got T65. It’s obvious he’s playing well so I don’t think a bounce-back performance is out of the question. He’s just outside the top 50 in SG OTT.

Scott Stallings: Tennessee native qualified for the U.S. Open in Memphis earlier this week. It’s the first decent golf he’s played in a couple of months so I’m riding the momentum.

Andrew Putnam: As long as he keeps making cuts, he stays in here. The streak is seven with four T20 or better. He closed with 65 at Trinity Forest and opened with 64 at Colonial in his last two.

J.T. Poston: He’s had one bad round in two months and that was the last time he was in this column (Wells Fargo). The course historians will be off his trail as well as he MC here last year.

Bronson Burgoon: T16 LTO at Trinity Forest, T16 LT at Southwind in 2016.

Corey Conners: Just missed out on the U.S. Open as he lost in a playoff; I’m more interested in his 63-69 weekend for T8 at Colonial LTO.

Vaughn Taylor: Not every pick is sexy but I’ll take 8/9 here and solid play from the Texas two-step weeks.

David Hearn: This will be event No. 8 in a row at TPC Southwind. He has three rounds above 71 during that stretch and only one MC.

Cameron Percy: Close call last week on his home course on the pushes him up. It doesn’t hurt he’s 11th in fairways and 23rd in GIR.

Michael Thompson: Threw out 65 at Trinity Forest and followed that with 64 at Colonial.


Proper Long Shots

Ken Duke: Arkansas native and fan favorite has two top 10’s and three top 30’s in his last five starts.

Harold Varner III: Four rounds of 71 or better at a tight TPC Sawgrass LTO saw him pick up his first top 10 since Wyndham last year. Nobody is looking this way.

Shawn Stefani: He’s produced two top 10’s in five starts here plus he won’t mind the heat as he’s from South Texas. He didn’t miss from three tries in May.

Bob Estes: His results on the PGA TOUR Champions are fantastic. This will be his 27th FESCJ on this course.

Ethan Tracy: He’s cashed in his last four on TOUR including a season-best T13 at Trinity Forest LTO. The former Razorback will be at home in this heat.

Tyrone Van Aswegen: T31 or better here the last three years with only 2 of his 12 rounds above par. He’s cashed in 18 of 22 events this season.

Peter Malnati: He’s cashed four straight on his own ball but don’t be surprised if it goes quiet on the weekend.

T.J. Vogel: He’s qualified on Monday SIX times this year. He’s made the cut in the last three and has opened his last two in the 60’s.

John Peterson: He only has this event plus one more to meet the terms of his MME. He opened with 65 at Quail Hollow LTO so there something there.


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me


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