The PGA Tour is in Memphis, Tennessee this week for the St. Jude Classic. Justin Leonard defends the title around the TPC Southwind but some big names are in the field as the players complete their final preparations for next week’s US Open.
For the last five years, the TPC at Southwind has ranked in the top-10 most difficult courses on the PGA Tour schedule. Stretching to over 7,200 yards and with a par of just 70, the tournament does not tend to produce low scoring. Last year Justin Leonard tied with Robert Allenby and Trevor Immelman on a 72-hole total of four-under-par, before going on to take the title in a sudden-death playoff.
Phil Mickelson is back in action this week for the first time since his wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Reports suggest doctors caught the cancer early and treatment wont begin until late June. So, Mickelson has elected to play in the US Open and will use this event as a warm-up.
Southwind is a tight and testing layout where both fairways and greens are notoriously tricky to find. As such, it should provide the ideal training ground for the year’s second Major at Bethpage next week.
Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell are also on the start list, both will be looking to find some form in time for next week.
Venue: TPC Southwind, Tennessee
Course stats: par 70, 7,224 yards
Purse: $5,600,000 Winner: $1,008,000
Defending Champion: Justin Leonard (-4)
Thursday 11 – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Friday 12 – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Saturday 13 – Live on Setanta Golf from 6pm
Sunday 14 – Live on Setanta Golf from 6pm
Justin Leonard – Last year’s winner is on solid form again in 2009. He’s had five top-10 finishes in Memphis.
David Toms – Twice a winner here, Toms was runner-up in 2007.
He’s had five top-10 finishes in 2009 and is currently leading the tour in driving accuracy – a key attribute for success at Southwind.
Phil Mickelson – He’ll be looking to get back into the groove before next week’s US Open. Given it’s a course where players tend to miss a high percentage of greens, Mickelson’s scrambling skills could come to the fore here.
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.
Skills required: Power hitting. The course is 7,244 yards but with a par of just 70 it plays long. There are seven par fours measuring over 450 yards.