Horses for Courses: WGC – FESJI

I typed it all out for Expert PIcks so get over it.

Course form runs deep here and big names have produced.

Justin Thomas loves this event regardless where it has been played as he’s won two of the last three editions.

via @WGCFedEx Twitter

With only this week and next left on the schedule, walking in Memphis will turn into a sprint for the 66 players looking to lock up FedExCup Playoff positions.

Ron Prichard’s TPC Southwind has hosted a TOUR event since its inception in 1989. In 2007 the course became the final tune-up before the US Open and held that position thru 2018. The 2019 season saw a shift as TPC Southwind was elevated to host the World Golf Championships – FedEx St Jude Invitational replacing Firestone South (Akron, Ohio). TPC Southwind will be hosting the WGC-FESJI for the third and final time as the TOUR announced today that TPC Southwind will host the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs in 2022 so Memphis, the home of FedEx, will remain entrenched in the TOUR schedule moving forward.

RELATED: | Expert Picks

TPC Southwind has an interesting dichotomy as it leads the TOUR in balls in the water while also ranking No. 1 in shots holed from off the green. For my money, the answer is in the middle, the middle of the fairway and middle of the greens. Keeping out of trouble and grinding out pars will be the successful formula. Of the last nine winners, seven have led the field in Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green.

Playing 7,233 yards to Par-70 Bermuda greens return to the menu for the first time since Congaree in early June. At just under 4,400 square feet, the Champion Bermuda greens roll PERFECTLY this time of year and plenty of putts will go in from everywhere. 419 Bermuda rough is only 2.5 inches and that will help in attacking the smaller greens.

The field of 66 will be led by last year’s winner Justin Thomas as he looks to join Tiger Woods (2007) as the only players to defend a WGC event. Of the top 50 players in the OWGR, 48 are entered (Jon Rahm, Christiaan Bezuidenhout). On the line is a purse of $10.5 million with first place claiming $1.89 million and 550 FedExCup points.

Recent Event Winner Stats

Justin ThomasBrooks KoepkaDusitn JohnsonDaniel Berger
To Par13-under16-under19-under10-under
CutNo Cut – WGC eventNo Cut – WGC eventEven; FINAL TOUR event2-over; TOUR event
Disantance – All Drives1615519
Driving AccuarcyT12T9T36T36
Putting: Birdie or Better %355617
SG: Off-the-Tee16543
SG: Approach-the-Green211212
SG: Around-the-Green4541410
SG: Putting5511244
SG: Tee-to-Green1611
Bogey AvoidanceT412T11
Par-3 ScoringT8T12T13T8
Par-4 ScoringT211T20
Par-5 ScoringT18T482T3

Recent Winners

2020 – Justin Thomas (-13, 267)

Final round 65 makes up a four shot deficit to win by three. … Career victory No. 13 in event at age 27. … Trailed by seven after 36 holes before closing 66-65. … Third player in four years to lead Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green. … Lost strokes on the greens over four rounds and still won. … Wins his second WGC-FESJI in three years. … Second overall WGC title. … Third win of the 2020 season. … Entered the week with three top 10 finishes including a playoff loss at Workday since the restart in June. … Becomes the fifth consecutive winner of this event (Memphis or Akron) who ranked either in the top three in the FedExCup standings or OWGR or both.

Notables in the field this week:

2017 and 2016 FedEx St Jude Classic winner Daniel Berger (T2) racked up another podium finish. … Defending champion Brooks Koepka (T2) opened with his TOUR-best 62 to lead after 18 holes. … Tom Lewis (T2; not entered) added his name to the list of players who own the course record with 61 in Round 3. … Phil Mickelson (T2) added his fifth top 10 in 10 starts here. … Xander Schauffele (T6) made only one bogey but also made a quad while leading the field in scrambling. … Matt Fitzpatrick (T6) backed up his T4 from 2019 quite nicely. … 2015 event winner Shane Lowry (T6) was one of six players to post all four rounds in the 60s. … Louis Oosthuizen (T6) improved on his T20 from 2019. … Just five players 10-under or better. … Only 12 over-par rounds for the top 24 players. … 15 bogey-free rounds. … 69.554 scoring average. … No cut event.

2019 – Brooks Koepka (16-under, 264)

Bogey-free 65 on Sunday to win by three. …Beat Rory McIlroy (T4) by six shots in the final pairing. … Led the field in Strokes-Gained: Putting, Scrambling and Bogey Avoidance. … Only winner in the last four years NOT to lead the field in SG: TTG and only the second in the past nine. … Made 63 of 65 putts inside of 10 feet. … Scrambled at 91 percent! … First WGC victory in his 15th start. … Becomes fifth player to win a major and WGC event in the same year. … Picks up seventh TOUR win in 122nd start at age 29. … Second win of the 2019 season. … Played five straight at TPC Southwind before with T2 2016 and T3 2015 the highlights. … Entered the week as PGA champion and runner up at the Masters and US Open.

Notables in the field this week:

Webb Simpson (2nd) closed with 64 for his best WGC result. … Marc Leishman (3rd) posted 63 in Round 3. … Tommy Fleetwood (T4) recorded his fourth top 10 in 16 WGC events. … Matt Fitzpatrick (T4) was T2 GIR and led by two after 36 holes. … Rory McIlroy (T4) couldn’t hold the 54 hole lead but posted the co-low round of the week with 62. … Ian Poulter (8th) led the field in Putts with 100. … Billy Horschel (T9) picked up his fifth top 10 in his ninth start here. … Defending champion Dustin Johnson (T20) posted all four rounds in the 60s and co-led the field with 22 birdies with Jordan Spieth (T12). … Jon Rahm (not entered) led the field after 18 holes with 62. … 14 bogey-free rounds for the week. … Seven players were 10-under or better. … Scoring average 69.504.

2018 – Dustin Johnson (19-under, 261)

Walk-off eagle wins by 6. … Final year as host before the US Open. … Tied after 54 holes on 15-under. … Led by one after 36 holes after 63. … Only needed 104 putts. … Third place was 10 shots back. … Becomes fourth multiple champion at TPC Southwind (2012) since 2000. … Picks up win No. 18 in start 232 at age 33. … Every result here in eight starts is T25 or better. … Entered the week as Sentry TOC winner and T17 or better in four straight.

Notables in the field this week:

Stewart Cink (T4) finished 11 shots adrift. … 3-time WGC event winner (omitted below, my bad) Phil Mickelson (T12) opened with 66 and closed with 65. … Brooks Koepka (T30) went on to win the US Open the following week at Shinnecock. … Shane Lowry (T30) was T7 GIR. … Two-time defending champion Daniel Berger (MC) didn’t play the weekend. Only 10 bogey-free rounds. … Only two players 10-under par or better. … Cut was Even. … Scoring average 70.445.

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green
1Collin Morikawa
3Brooks Koepka
4Patrick Cantlay
6Justin Thomas
7Paul Casey
8Bryson DeChambeau
9Viktor Hovland
10Sergio Garcia
11Rory McIlroy
12Xander Schauffele
13Corey Conners
14Will Zalatoris
15Tyrrell Hatton
16Tony Finau
17Hideki Matsuyama
18Dustin Johnson
20Jordan Spieth
21Shane Lowry
22Louis Oosthuizen
28Joaquin Niemann
29Daniel Berger
1Webb Simpson
2Patrick Cantlay
12Brian Harman
13Ian Poulter
14Louis Oosthuizen
18Harris English
19Abraham Ancer
23Si Woo Kim
24Matt Jones
30Daniel Berger
35Jusin Thomas
36Kevin Na
37Ryan Palmer
38Patrick Reed
40Sungjae Im
World Golf Championships
Dustin Johnson 6
Rory McIlroy3
Justin Thomas2
Patrick Reed2
Hideki Matsuyama2
Adam Scott2
Justin Rose2
Ian Poulter2
Collin Morikawa1
Billy Horschel1
Kevin Kisner1
Brooks Koepka 1
Xander Schauffele1
Shane Lowry1
Stewart Cink1

Horses for Courses – WGC Winners

Previous winners in WGC events entered this week

Player (Starts/Cuts Made)Top 10s Top 25Most RecentRecent Others/Notes
Justin Thomas (2/2)12Win (2020)T12 2019; 19-under aggregate
Phil Mickelson (2/2)11T2 (2020)57th 2019; see below
Daniel Berger (1/1)11T2 (2020)2017 and 2016 winner
Louis Oosthiuzen (2/2)12T6 (2020)T20 2019; Last 7 rounds are 17-under
Shane Lowry (1/1)11T6 (2020)All 4 rounds in the 60s
Matt Fitzpatrick (2/2)22T6 (2020)T4 2019; 20-under aggregate last 2 years
Xander Schauffele (2/2)11T6 (2020)T27 2019; all 8 rounds 70 or better
Dustin Johnson (2/2)02T12 (2020)T20 2019
Brooks Koepka (2/2)22Win (2019)T2 2020; TOUR best 62 here
Webb Simpson (2/2)122nd (2019)T12 2020; 21-under aggregate with all rounds in the 60s
Marc Leishman (2/2)113rd (2019)T52 2020
Rory McIlroy (2/2)11T4 (2019)T47 2020; 62 in 2019 
Tommy Fleetwood (2/2)11T4 (2019)T35 2020
Ian Poulter (2/2)118th (2019)T69 2020
Billy Horschel (2/2)12T9 (2019)T25 2020
Justin Rose (1/1)0111th (2019)DNS 2020
Jordan Spieth (2/2)01T12 (2019)T30 2020; 7 of 8 rounds 70 or better
Patrick Reed (2/2)01T12 (2019)T47 2020
Patrick Cantlay (2/2)01T12 (2019)T35 2020
Cameron Smith (2/2)01T12 (2019)T59 2020
FESJC Horses for Courses201820172016Others/Notes
Dustin Johnson (5/6)WINdns5th2012 Winner on debut; T10 2013
Daniel Berger (2/3)mcWINWINOnly defending champion in recent history
Phil Mickelson (7/8)T129T2T3 2015, T11 2014, T2 2013; T12 is the WORST
Harris English (4/6)mcT10T262013 Winner on debut
Lee Westwood (2/3)   2010 Winner on debut; first appearance since 2014
Brooks Koepka (5/5)T30T37T22015 T3
Billy Horschel (6/8)T51T4T8T6 2014, T10 2013
Stewart Cink (9/10)T4T10T655-5 last decade
Matt Jones (4/7)T51T18T26T3 2015 
Adam Scott (2/2)dnsT10dns7th on debut 2007

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