Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Preview

By on June 7, 2016
 Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the ninth tee during the second round of the 2016 AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at TPC Four Seasons Resort - Las Colinas. (photo Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports)

Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the ninth tee during the second round of the 2016 AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at TPC Four Seasons Resort – Las Colinas. (photo Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports)

As most of the top players in the world gear up for next week’s US Open, the PGA tour makes a stop at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. Widely considered as one of the toughest tests of the year by tour players, the 7,244-yard par 70 course offers a chance to win to all types of players. Over the past 10 years everyone from the likes of Brian Gay to Dustin Johnson, have conquered the Ron Prichard designed course as well as the brutal Memphis heat.

With a premium being put on hitting greens rather than driving distance, look for the top ball strikers in the world to be in contention late on Sunday. That coupled with some of the smallest greens on tour, TPC Southwind will reward any greens hit in regulation with quality birdie opportunities.

With temperatures expecting to climb over 90 degrees all week, and the recent moisture the east coast has surrendered, expect the steamy conditions to favor some of the longer hitters as they will be able to gear back and still carry the ball plenty far in the humid air.

The Favorites

  1. Dustin Johnson: Johnson won the St. Jude Classic in 2012 and is coming of a 3rd place finish in last week’s memorial tournament. He is coupling his usual fantastic ball striking numbers with an above average putting year for his standards. Expect that to translate to some wins very soon.

  2. Phil Mickelson: The big lefty has three top 11 finishes at the St. Jude Classic in the past three years, and tends to play well the week before majors. With the chance for his first Open Championship looming at Oakmont next week, expect Mickelson to have his game in major championship mode.

  3. Charles Howell III: “Chucky three sticks” as he is referred to by his peers, is leading the tour in under par rounds and rounds in the 60’s so far this year. Despite his below average driving numbers, he is at a golf course that rewards second shots, which is considered the strength of his game. If he gets the putter rolling this week, look for Howell to take the next step in becoming a top 25 player in the world.

The Sleepers

  1. Gary Woodland: The ex college basketball player is one of the most streaky guys on tour and right now he is on a good streak. He held a share of the lead after 54 holes last week and tends to play well in bunches. Expect a lot of stinger 2 irons off the tee from him this week, as he is one of the longest on tour.

  2. David Toms: A guy nobody is talking about this week, but has a proven track record around this course winning in 2003 and 2004. At age 49, he still has one of the sweetest motions on tour and is still a long way away physically from joining the Champions tour. Don’t be surprised if he creeps up the leaderboard on the weekend.

My pick

Brooks Koepka: It’s only a matter of time before the 26 year old goes from almost to almighty. There are virtually no holes in his game and he is coming off a 3rd place finish here last year, as well as a loss in a playoff in Texas two weeks ago. If he ever figures out how to keep the spin down on approach shots into the bermuda greens, there are very few golf courses he can’t attack.

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