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St. Jude's Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 06/07/2011
The final tuneup before the U.S. Open takes place this week as the PGA Tour heads to Memphis and the TPC at Southwind for the St. Jude Classic. This stop has been a mainstay on the PGA Tour schedule for years and after two years of limbo, the event once again has a title sponsor. This recent trouble wasn't the first time however as back in 1977, there was no television contract and it was almost certain that the stop in Memphis was dead.
However during the pro-am that year, former President Gerald Ford aced the par three fifth hole and then on Friday of the tournament, Al Geiberger shot a 59, the first ever on tour, and the rest is history as CBS came back calling and has televised the tournament ever since. FedEx was the sponsor from 1986 to 2006 and then Stanford Financial stepped in and signed a deal through 2016 but the fraud scandal with the company ended that deal and FedEx came back after a four-year absence.
TPC at Southwind was opened in March 1988 and has played host to the St. Jude Classic since 1989. The course has 10 water hazards making accuracy in the fairway and greens in regulation extremely important. Three years ago, Southwind played the toughest of all non-majors on the schedule but it was a lot easier in 2009 as it ranked 20th out of 51 courses in difficulty. Last year, it returned to difficult status as it ranked third out of the 14 par 70's on tour.
Because of the U.S. Open being played next week, a lot of players are taking the week off and it is a watered-down field this week. The field includes only two players ranked in the top ten of the FedEx Cup Standings and none in the top seven. The only top ten player in the OWGR is defending champion Lee Westwood. The field includes 12 winners of major championships including three-time winner Padraig Harrington and two-time winner Retief Goosen.
Trying to defend his championship is Lee Westwood (+700) who is by far the favorite this week. Last year was his first time in this event so experience obviously did not come into play. He has not been playing well on this side of the pond as in five U.S. events, his best finish was a T-11 at the Masters. However, he is coming off a win and a playoff loss in his last two events in Europe but there is no value with these odds.
David Toms (+1200) has once again found his game. He won at Colonial three weeks ago which came the week after losing a playoff at THE PLAYERS. The time off was perfect for rest and now he comes to a place that has been his favorite stop. He has won in Memphis twice (2003 and 2004) and he is the all-time money leader at the St. Jude. He hasn’t won here in seven years but he had a T2 in 2009 and a T29 last year.
Prior to Westwood, Brain Gay (+2500) won here in 2009 by five strokes over Bryce Molder and David Toms. He posted sensational rounds of 64, 66, 66 and 66 and was one of only eight players to shoot all four rounds in the 60’s. He had done well in Memphis prior to that as he posted top five finishes in 2004 and 2007 and finished T15 last year. He has missed only one cut all season.
Ben Crane (+4000) has not had the best season as he has only two top ten finishes and none since April. Still, is one of the top American players in the field this week, behind Toms, Zach Johnson and Jonathan Byrd, and he has had recent success here. He finished T14 in 2009 and T12 last year so he can bring in some confidence based on those results. The weak field could get him over the top.
Robert Allenby (+4000) is coming off two straight missed cuts and he has not had a top ten since the Shell Houston Open at the start of April. That doesn't mean he cannot have a breakout this week. He has had a great history in Memphis without winning as he finished T2 and T4 in 2008 and 2009. He withdrew last year because of an illness and overall he has five top 20’s in eight starts at the St. Jude.
For the longshot this week we will take a shot with Robert Garrigus (+8000). He had this tournament locked up last year but a triple-bogey 7 on the 72nd hole put him into a playoff which he eventually lost. He overcame that to win his first event in the fall and he will use last year's meltdown as motivation. He has three top 20's this year including a runner-up at the Hyundai and he has made seven straight cuts.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the FedEx St. Jude Classic
David Toms (+1200)
Brain Gay (+2500)
Ben Crane (+4000)
Robert Allenby (+4000)
Robert Garrigus (+8000)