The boys head to Memphis this weekend, where they’ll get one last chance to tune things up before the U.S. Open. at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
MEMPHIS, TN – JUNE 11: A course scenic shot of the 11th green during the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind on June 11, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
The St. Jude Classic is played at TPC Southwind which clocks in at just over 7,200 yards. The course ranks as one of the top 15 toughest courses on the PGA TOUR. The par 3 11th has a similar feel to the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, with a short iron shot over water onto an island green. Three holes later you reach another par 3 at the 14th, measuring at 239 yards it is consistently one of the most difficult par 3s on TOUR. With TPC Southwind being long and narrow, it will suit some golfers better than others.
One of the guys to keep an eye on is Dustin Johnson. DJ has a great track record at TPC Southwind which dates back to 2012 when he won in his debut. He followed that up by tying for 10th in 2013 and then tied for 24th last year. Out of the 12 rounds he has played at the course, Johnson has shot par or better 11 of those times.
"“I just think it’s just a good all-around golf course,” Johnson said. “… I like the shape of all the holes. It sets up good to my eye. Just something about the course that — each hole is different, but, you know, I like the sight lines off the tees.”"
It seems as if DJ has been contending in almost every tournament he plays in and has recent back-to-back top 15 finishes. With a weak field like this week, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that he’s in the winner’s circle come Sunday. However, no golfer has ever won the FedEx St. Jude Classic and then gone on to win the U.S. Open the following week, so Dustin might want to save his winning for next weekend at Chambers Bay.
One of the other headliners in this week’s field is Phil Mickelson. Mickelson will take full advantage of playing in this week’s tournament, as he preps for the U.S. Open. Mickelson will be looking to close out his career grand slam and finally get that monkey off his back. He will have plenty of the resources to figure it out in Memphis when he’s grouped with Graeme McDowell and Retief Goosen, both Open winners themselves. Phil has been somewhat of a crapshoot this season, with his most recent starts being 2-MC-4-65. Mickelson does seem to play well at TPC Southwind, however, tying for 2nd back in 2013 and then he tied for 11th last year.
It’s been a busy week for SMU junior Bryson DeChambeau. A week after winning the NCAA individual title, DeChambeau tied for third at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier on Monday with a 66-67 to punch his ticket to Chambers Bay. Not only that, but DeChambeau is in the field this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where he will see how he ranks among the TOUR pros.
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There’s still a few spots left at the U.S. Open for any golfers that can sneak within the top 60 of the world rankings this week. One guy looking to do so is Steven Bowditch. Bowditch picked up his second career victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately for Steven, he hasn’t fared well at TPC Southwind. In six career starts, his best finish is T-68, with three missed cuts, a WD and a DQ, but he has been playing solid golf recently and his recent win could give him that extra boost of confidence.
Billy Horschel is another name to keep on your radar. Billy Ho has been nursing his hangover from winning $10 million and the FedEx Cup last season, but he is finally starting to get back into his old form. He’s peaking at the right time for the U.S. Open and I don’t see any reason that will change this week. His last three starts have resulted in T-17, T-13, and T-11. On top of that, Horschel has a great track record at this tournament with recent back-to-back top ten finishes. Be on the lookout for the Gator alum this weekend in Memphis.