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Fedex St Jude Classic Preview
by Matt Fargo - 06/05/2012
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 is again strong with a big 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. Four 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. In 2010, it returned to difficult status as it ranked third out of the 14 par 70's on tour. Last year, it ranked as fourth hardest.
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, Zach Johnson and Rory McIlroy. The only top ten player in the OWGR is McIlroy. The field includes 13 winners of major championships including three-time winner Padraig Harrington as well as the two previous U.S. Open winners, McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
David Toms (+2,000) is a two-time champion here as he won this event in 2003 and 2004. The success did not end there however as he has four top tens since then including three top threes where he was the runner-up twice. He was starting to play better before his MC at THE PLAYERS as he had two straight top 15's but a return to Southwind could ignite another deep run on the weekend.
Graeme McDowell (+2,500) is back in action on the PGA Tour after a missed cut at Sawgrass, his first MC in seven stroke play events. He has played fairly well as he has two top tens including a solo second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He should be hungry as his last worldwide event was at the BMW PGA Championship where he missed the cut and his accuracy will be a big asset here.
Fredrik Jacobson (+3,000) has not made a lot of noise on the PGA Tour this year but he has been steady. He missed the cut at THE PLAYERS but prior to that had four top 20's in seven medal play events. He has made the cut the past five years at the St. Jude Classic and last year was in contention before a Sunday 75 put him in a tie for 32nd. He is a solid ball striker that fits this course very well.
Camilo Villegas (+4,000) has been playing very poorly but Memphis seems to turn him around. He has made the cut in all six of his starts here including two top eights the last two years. He entered those riding the same momentum as this year as there was none. He tied for third last year which came after two MC's and a T30 while the year before, his best finish in his three previous starts was a T28.
For a longshot we look to Kevin Stadler (+6,000). He played very well at the Memorial last week with a T16 which followed a rough four-event stretch. Prior to that though he had three top tens in four starts so he can be streaky and with a light field this week, this could be his 2012 breakthrough. His last two starts at Southwind resulted in a T56 and MC but his T12 in 2009 shows he can go low here.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at FedEx St. Jude Classic (all for One Unit)
David Toms (+2,000)
Graeme McDowell (+2,500)
Fredrik Jacobson (+3,000)
Camilo Villegas (+4,000)
Kevin Stadler (+6,000)
Record to date after 21 events: +49.1 Units
Sony Open -5 Units
Humana Challenge -6 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Transitions Championship +6 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units
Shell Houston Open +16 Units
The Masters -6 Units
RBC Heritage -5 Units
Valero Texas Open -4 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units
Wells Fargo Championship +36 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial +11 Units
The Memorial -5 Units