The PGA Tour is in Memphis, Tennessee this week for the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Harrison Frazar defends the title around the TPC Southwind as the top players complete their final preparations for next week’s US Open.
Before heading to San Francisco next week, many of the world’s best players will use this tournament as a final tuner for the year’s second Major. Northern Irish stars Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are amongst those who will tee it up. McIlroy is looking to re-find his form after a mini-slump that has seen him miss the cut in his last three starts.
This tournament began life as the Memphis Invitational in 1945 and since then has witnessed some notable winners including Tommy Bolt, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Tom Kite, Fred Couples, Greg Norman and Nick Price.
The course at Southwind is tight and testing where both fairways and greens are notoriously tricky to find. It consistently ranks as one of the toughest courses visited by the PGA Tour. As such, it should provide the ideal training ground for the year’s second Major. In 2011 the scoring average was 70.99 making it the fourth toughest par 70 course visited by the Tour all year.
Conditions may be slightly more forgiving this year, however, as heavy rain earlier in the week should have softened the course somewhat making fairways and greens easier to hold.
Venue: TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
Date: Jun 7-10
Course stats: par 70, 7,224 yards
Purse: $5,600,000 Winner: $1,008,000
Defending Champion: (-13)
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Sunday 10 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Zach Johnson – The American is on great form at the moment. He won on his last start at Colonial and finished runner-up twice in the three weeks prior to that. He’s an accurate player whose game should be suited to this course.
Robert Karlsson – He’s not shown his best form so far this season but this is a course that has been good to the big Swede in recent years. He lost in a playoff here in both 10 and 11, perhaps this year he could go one better.
Graeme McDowell – He played some excellent golf at the Volvo World Match Play but then missed the cut the following week at Wentworth. He’s one of the best on Tour at finding fairways and that will be key to success at Southwind.
Key hole: 16th. At 530 yards it’s an eminently reachable par five. The approach shot must be played uphill to a small, well-bunkered green. Realistically, anything worse than birdie here will feel like a dropped shot.
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