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World Golf Championships – FedEx St. Jude Invitational
|Yards (per official scorecard):||7,237|
|Rough:||Bermuda at 2.5″|
|Architects:||Ron Pritchard (1989)|
|Purse:||$10.25 million/$1.845 winner/550 FEC Points|
|Defending Champion (event):||Justin Thomas (Firestone)|
|Defending Champion (course):||Dustin Johnson|
|Fact of the Week:||Of the top 50 players in the OWGR, 45 are playing this week.|
|Missing Men:||Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rickie Fowler, Bernd Wiesberger and Shane Lowry.|
Previous Winners at TPC Southwind:
|2018||Dustin Johnson||-19||Record total since the switch to Bermuda in 2004.|
|2017||Daniel Berger||-10||Won by a shot to defend his title; first to do so since 2003-04 (Toms).|
|2016||Daniel Berger||-13||Cruised by three shots over Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka.|
|2015||Fabian Gomez||-13||Won by four, only player DDUP.|
|2014||Ben Crane||-10||Only player on this list that did not lead the field in SG: Tee-to-Green.|
|Safeway Open||Kevin Tway**|
|CIMB Classic||Marc Leishman|
|CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES||Brooks Koepka|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||Cameron Champ**|
|WGC-HSBC Champions||Xander Schauffele|
|Shriners Hospitals for Children||Bryson DeChambeau|
|Mayakoba Golf Classic||Matt Kuchar|
|The RSM Classic||Charles Howell III|
|Hero World Challenge*||Jon Rahm|
|Sentry TOC||Xander Schauffele (2)|
|Sony Open in Hawaii||Matt Kuchar (2)|
|60th Desert Classic||Adam Long**|
|Farmers Insurance Open||Justin Rose|
|Waste Management||Rickie Fowler|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||Phil Mickelson|
|Genesis Open||J.B. Holmes|
|WGC-Mexico Championship||Dustin Johnson|
|The Honda Classic||Keith Mitchell**|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||Francesco Molinari|
|THE PLAYERS||Rory McIlroy|
|Valspar Championship||Paul Casey|
|WGC-Match Play||Kevin Kisner|
|Corales Punta Cana||Graeme McDowell|
|Valero Texas Open||Corey Conners**|
|83rd Masters Tournament||Tiger Woods|
|RBC Heritage||C.T. Pan**|
|Zurich Classic of New Orleans||Ryan Palmer & Jon Rahm (2)|
|Wells Fargo Championship||Max Homa**|
|AT&T Byron Nelson||Sung Kang**|
|PGA Championship||Brooks Koepka (2)|
|Charles Schwab Challenge||Kevin Na|
|RBC Canadian Open||Rory McIlroy (2)|
|United States Open||Gary Woodland|
|Travelers Championship||Chez Reavie|
|Rocket Mortgage Classic||Nate Lashley**|
|3M Open||Matt Wolff**|
|John Deer Classic||Dylan Frittelli**|
|The Open Championship||Shane Lowry|
(* unofficial event; **First-time winner)
Facts and Figures:
|Tournament Record (course):||258; John Cook (1996)|
|Course Record:||62; Brandt Snedeker (2018)|
|Defending Champions (entered):||None.|
|Multiple Winners (entered)||Johnson (2018, 2012).|
|First TOUR win (WGC):||Lowry (2015) and Russell Knox (2015).|
|First win in first appearance:||Knox (2015).|
|Notes:||Field of 63 plays 72 holes, no cut and no alternates.|
|Notes II:||Of the 63 players, 25 are brand-new to TPC Southwind.|
Bouncing back after a major directly into a WGC event should help keep focus for the 63 players this week in Memphis. They won’t have to worry about packing for four different seasons in one day but they will have to worry about keeping dry, just from sweat, rather than rain.
Half a world away, the accents will be just as crazy and difficult to understand and so will the weather and the course conditions. Blustery, wet and windy days will be replaced by humid, hot and piercing sunshine. Fine fescue, gorse and sand dunes give way for Bermuda, Zoysia and plenty of water hazards (11) and trees.
Over the last few years the TOUR stopped in Canada the week after The Open to decompress and make some birdies before heading to this event in Akron the following week. Now, it’s straight on through to morning as another massive prize pool waits in the new, compressed schedule.
TPC Southwind has ranked in the top 15 of toughest courses annually this decade as it was used for prep the week before the U.S. Open. With tight fairways, water in play and greens only averaging 4,300 square feet on average, this suggests a week for the ball-strikers. The tiered greens will also provide a Bermuda test for the first time since Quail Hollow back at the end of April.
Those who embrace the heat and humidity and the speed on the greens should have the advantage this week. After a wet 2019 in general and early week, there’s no rain in the forecast for the four days of the tournament so this should also favor those who hit the most targets.
Last week I evaluated the OWGR top 50 so go back and read that if you need more info.
Dustin Johnson: He would sit No. 1 on this list if his form wasn’t absolute garbage, for him anyway. Oh, wait, he IS No. 1? Right-o, he is. He went back to swing coach Claude Harmon before The Open so he’s had a week to digest the reunion. The fruits of the labor should become more apparent this week plus he’s playing on a course where he’s won twice. I’ll also point out he MC at Carnoustie and won the following week at RBC Canadian Open last year so he’s used to flipping the switch.
Rory McIlroy: Welp. I’m not sure that making the weekend last weekend would have solved gamers’ problems but it sure could have helped (see: Molinari, Francesco). Now that’s over, it’s back to business. The microscope is gone this week and his best attributes, pounding fairways and greens, should make for a nice bounce-back performance this week. He leads the TOUR in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Total.
Brooks Koepka: If I had any guts, I’d fade him, because that’s exactly what his form chart says in non-majors this season. But my brain says he’s been close here twice and he doesn’t have to learn a new track so he should be in the mood. Brain > gut.
Jon Rahm: His worst finish in his last four worldwide is T11 last week at Royal Portrush. Not sure we need to dive any deeper, eh? Ok, one more: 16 starts and 10 top-10 paydays worldwide in 2019. Better?
Justin Thomas: Top three in approach and total will come in handy this week and most evidenced by his T9-T11 links finishes the last two weeks. The notorious summertime player is heating up as the sprint to the FedExCup Playoffs is in the home stretch. Time to jump back on.
Patrick Cantlay: An absolute machine, he leads the TOUR in scoring average and is second in SG: Total, so yeah. I get that he’s in a bit of a rut in his last three but two of those three events included major championships. Ring that bell son.
Hideki Matsuyama: Broke a streak of 20-something in a row with MC at Royal Portrush but that’s hardly a concern this week. With the rough not even three inches he’ll be able to pepper GIR, like usual, but if not he still sits 15th in scrambling.
Tony Finau: Exploded last summer after T10 at The Open as he cashed in the top 15 in five of his last seven events to close the year. Flashes he showed early in Minnesota carried over to Royal Portrush so let’s see if his ball-striking can stay as warm as the temperatures on the river in Memphis.
Chez Reavie: Back to happy hunting grounds for Reavie as he looks to continue his career-best year. T4 in 2017 backed up by T6 last year reinforces that it’s NEVER a bad deal to be accurate off the tee. It’s obvious this track fits his eye as his last four starts are all T27 or better.
Matt Kuchar: Blew a tire in the final round at The Open (79) to give away all of his hard work but he won’t be playing in those conditions this week. Sitting sixth in scoring average and inside the top 18 in both fairways and greens, it’s easy to connect the dots.
Webb Simpson: He sits fifth in scoring average because of his nasty short game. First in SG: Around-the-Green and 15th in overall putting average will be an asset when faced with smaller-than-average greens. Plus I love him in the humidity and on Bermuda and that’s the recipe this week and next at Wyndham.
Adam Scott: Played twice, both top 10s, so TPC Southwind isn’t new to the Aussie. His face-plant last week didn’t inspire but his ball-striking numbers are ridiculous this season and should revert to normal again this week.
Justin Rose: Here’s how good he was playing last week: He posted 79 in the final round and still finished the week in the red. Sorry to the gamers who had to live through that on Sunday though. Bermuda greens don’t bother the former Florida native as he was third at Quail Hollow and sits fifth in SG: Putting.
Patrick Reed: His turnaround began on Sunday at the U.S. Open and has produced a very solid run of form. The Houston native will feel right at home if and when the temperatures heat up and his game should follow.
Xander Schauffele: In 17 events he’s cashed in the top 25 12 times this season and sits seventh in SG: Total. He should be able to overpower this place with a conforming driver that shouldn’t cause any problems this week.
Brandt Snedeker: The course record holder posted T6 last year in his first visit since 2013. Riding a bike it seems isn’t that hard to remember so that should help some of the others returning for their first visit in some time as well. His super-short game should be dialed in as he has one eye on defending next week at Wyndham where he opened with 59 last season.
Billy Horschel: In his last five at TPC Southwind he’s cashed four in the top 10 so he knows what it takes to post a score. He’s only posted two top-10s form 22 starts this season but is T9 and T17 in his last two non-majors starts.
Danny Willett: Hard to ignore T12 at Pebble Beach and T6 at Royal Portrush. He doesn’t make his money holing a ton of putts either so tight driving and small greens shouldn’t bother him.
Tyrrell Hatton: Six straight on TOUR and that includes all four majors. Another week of learning Bermuda, his first since T9 at Match Play at Austin Country Club.
Rafa Cabrera Bello: T4 on debut in 2017 as he shared the 54-hole lead before fading on the weekend. Remember he was ON FIRE before lighting himself on fire and MC at The Open last week.
Henrik Stenson: T26 last year but was first in fairways and second in GIR before Shinnecock.
Sergio Garcia: In his previous life he cashed a T4 from four starts but also absorbed a pair of MC. Sounds like his current season as it has included more nothings than alls. Sitting in the top 12 in both SG: Approach and Tee-to-Green, I’ll take my chances.
Louis Oosthuizen: I’ll lean on the guy who was T7 and T20 in the last two majors if I’m looking deeper.
Matthew Wolff: Super-excited to see how he handles his first monster field. I’m guessing he gives ZERO fucks and goes out and plays with reckless abandon. On a course where pure power doesn’t trump I’m interested to see his artistry.
Andrew Putnam: Only made two bogeys and a double here last year plus was second in fairways. He won later last summer at this week’s opposite event, Barracuda, so he must have learned something getting boat raced by DJ in the final pairing. His super putter has him fourth in SG: Putting.
Cameron Smith: Starting to perk up as summer heats up, the Aussie posted his best payday since FEBRUARY in Detroit (T29) and followed it up with a great performance at Royal Portrush before a soggy Sunday knocked him back to T20. Scrambling eggs this week never hurts and that’s his bread-and-butter.
Kevin Kisner: Finally back to his preferred surface of Bermuda.
Paul Casey: He has one finish outside the top 30 when he’s played the weekend this season. Yep, last week, but his annoyingly steady ball-striking numbers should rebound to normal this week.
Tommy Fleetwood: A tough Sunday at Royal Portrush won’t be forgotten easily. A no-cut event will help him but I’m not sure a non-birdie fest is the way to get back on his feet. With a guaranteed payday lurking, I’m guessing he fades as the weekend moves along and it would be hard to blame him.
J.B. Holmes: I don’t do the week after 87, especially from the penultimate group in a major. I would be sitting naked in the dark wondering if I could ever take the club back again.