There are two types of golfers on the planet (well more than two but bear with me): Those who like to play a tournament the week before a major championship and those who prefer to practice on their own ahead of a major. Most of golf's big names are choosing the latter approach this week as the PGA Tour stops at TPC Southwind in Memphis for the FedEx St. Jude Classic ahead of next week's U.S. Open. Only six of the world's Top 30 are playing -- no Tiger, no Rory, no Jordan.
Need To Know
Dustin Johnson, the 2012 St. Jude champion, and Phil Mickelson head the field. Brooks Koepka, a winner in Phoenix, was a last-minute addition and gives the event seven of this season’s PGA TOUR winners. Two-time St. Jude champion David Toms, who tops the all-time earnings list in Memphis, is back for his 24th appearance.
Despite a greater international presence in recent years, just five St. Jude winners have come from outside U.S. shores – Nick Price (1993, ’98), Gary Player (1974), Greg Norman (1997) and Lee Westwood (2010). Also know this: No winner of the PGA Tour stop preceding the U.S. Open has gone on to capture the Open. Overall, just nine men have claimed a major the week after winning on TOUR – though Rory McIlroy joined that club last year (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship).
As host of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, the course hasn't changed much after a renovation in 2004. This will be the 10th consecutive edition that is plays as a par 35-35=70. Since 2007, it's measured 7,239 yards. Averaging +0.718 strokes to par last year, TPC Southwind was the hardest par 70 in a non-major for the second time in three years. Scrambling splits always hover around 60 percent, thus giving the field of 156 reason to be aggressive on approach.
A place in the U.S. Open is still available for anyone who moves into the top 60 of the world rankings after the St. Jude’s conclusion. Among those hoping to move up: AT&T Byron Nelson winner Steven Bowditch and former world No. 1 Luke Donald. Ben Crane won last year but is a huge long shot to repeat because he is having a terrible season.
Dustin Johnson (6/1): Johnson hopes to raise his game after a mediocre string of results since placing sixth at the Masters. When he won the 2012 St. Jude, it was his first start following a back injury that kept him out of that year’s Masters.
Billy Horschel (14/1): Horschel quietly left Memorial with a T-11 finish, his third straight top-20 result. He appears to be comfortable at TPC Southwind, with top-10 finishes each of the last two years, and as his run to the FedEx Cup showed last season, he is prone to hot streaks that can stretch for weeks.
Phil Mickelson (14/1): . In his last four starts, "Lefty" has a tie for second (Masters), a missed cut, a tie for fourth (Wells Fargo) and tie for 65th last week, so if the pattern continues, he could be in contention come Sunday. Lefty has shown a recent knack for peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open, chasing his T-2 finish in 2013 at this event with a T-11 result last year.
Ryan Palmer (16/1): Palmer is among the Tour's best when it comes to making birdies in bunches, and scores tend to go low each year in Memphis. Palmer finished T-10 in Dallas in his most recent start, currently sits fifth on Tour in scoring average and contended at this event in both 2012 (T-3) and 2013 (fourth).
Webb Simpson (16/1): Simpson is teeing it up for the first time since a runner-up finish at the Wells Fargo Championship, and he finished T-3 at this event last year in his first appearance since 2010. His lone missed cut this season came back in February and he has cracked the top 25 in exactly half of his 12 starts.
Category : Betting Picks
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