Expert Picks for FedEx St. Jude Classic
As is the case with most TPC courses, the PGA has relied on the vision of a renowned course architect working in conjunction with a pair of Tour professional. For TPC Southwind, Ron Prichard was the architect of choice while golfing greats Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller lent their expertise and contributions to the cause. The result is a magnificent 240 acres of golf course that will challenge the best in the game at the St. Jude Classic.
The primary theme at Southwind may be water, noted for a rugged stream of hazard runs throughout the course. Nearly every hole will introduce water obstacles that could force oncoming combatants into decisions that will ultimately decide this championship. Large oak trees also spot the landscape as native features of the land while bunkers, for the most part, are somewhat sparse and rarely too punishing to overcome. It's the water that wreaks the most havoc at this venue and you can bet it will be taking part in the festivities again this week.
In terms of age, the TPC Southwind is one of the younger courses the Tour will hit this season. Opened in March of 1988, the desire was to create a PGA-worthy track that would draw the Tour to the Midwest. The TPC found a wonderful site in the plains of southeast Memphis and set forth with constructing yet another stellar TPC offering. While the course is relatively new, the tourney is not. Formerly known as the Memphis Invitational, the Memphis Open, and the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, the city has hosted PGA events since the 1940's and as such has served as witness to many of the game's elite. Former champions include Jack Nicklaus (1965), Lee Trevino (a three-time winner here), Gary Player, Raymond Floyd, Curtis Strange, Tom Kite, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Nick Price, David Toms (a two-time winner), Justin Leonard (also a two-time winner), and defending champ Lee Westwood.
Lee Westwood [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #45
Not only is he serving as the defending champ for the St. Jude, but Westwood happens to be the top-ranked golfer in this week's field. By almost all accounts he seems to be the premium answer for the fantasy faithful seeking optimal performance from their commodities in Memphis, and as such he is clearly the top choice.
Toms may not carry the overall respect you'll find attached to Westwood, but everything about his resume coming into the St. Jude screams for attention. He's got momentum (pulling a win at Colonial), he's got history (a two-time winner on this track), and he's got confidence. This is a track he adores and he's surging as it hits the schedule.
Allenby has been a target for this particular golf voice since he started playing several years ago. He has a history as long as any golfer on this track since he hits it each and every single year, and he has often posted scores any golfer would admire. He is proven at this track and we would fully support his employment at the Southwind. The only thing he lacks is a bit of momentum the guys above boast.
Crane keeps knocking on that door of the game's elite, and he has the sack and that swing to make good on that level. His work over recent years at the St. Jude has been a big part of that process and he comes in with hopes of resurrecting that history to get momentum working into the major. We like his chances based on the evidence at hand and feel he could be a solid pick for someone looking to throw a curve.
Ogilvy hasn't been as lucky as the men above in previous visits to the St. Jude, but he hasn't been a regular visitor and, much more importantly, he hasn't been playing as well as he is today. Ogilvy has had a few slips, but there is undeniable focus and a new-found sense of ability in rebounding and staying competitive. His game is on a different level, the major is right around the corner, and it feels like he's ready for a big step forward.
Zach Johnson [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #33
The most dangerous pick in the field, ZJ has been downright awful at times this season. However, there have been flashes of returned brilliance over recent starts, he carries a ton of history at the TPC Southwind, and it feels like the kind of week he might surprise as bigger names steal the spotlight. There are better options on the board, but ZJ has enough on the positive side to draw attention.
Sergio Garcia [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #14
He was one round away from having us as the drivers of the Sergio Garcia bandwagon, and that one round (the final at Colonial) forces us to push him down the ranks. We watched Sergio building momentum over early starts with thoughts he would work toward the majors. Now those majors are arriving and we still think Garcia has all of the traits needed to serve fantasy owners well.
It's not often we treat Trahan with the respect needed to garner a top-ten vote, but this week's field is unabashedly weak and his history on this track suggests he could take advantage. DJ has played well at the Southwind for most of his career, and while he tends to be a bit manic, we are putting faith in Trahan this week with hopes he can show and prove.
John Senden [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #126
It may seem early to reach for a career grinder, but Senden is playing with a hot hand and this venue -- based on his history of performance in Memphis -- could be his premium spot for the season. Senden comes off a top performance at the Memorial with plans of pushing that momentum into the St. Jude as he goes in pursuit of the major. We've seen him rule these links before and expectations should be high.
Retief Goosen [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #178
Goosen may be worthy of rank over Zach Johnson as the most dangerous pick of the top ten, but we're sneaking him into consideration based on history. Goosen has struggled to make good on the historic view over most of the season and we warn buyers should approach with trepidation, but there is reason to believe he can reverse fortunes this week in Memphis.
Yang is quietly working as one of the more reliable options on the board for fantasy owners in need of stability, and this week we are thinking he can surprise more than a few again by challenging for top position just one week before the major. Yang has the skills needed to play this TPC track with low numbers and the field is challenged for star power, making Y.E. one of the best in the group.
Micheel comes hot off the top of the final leaderboard at the Memorial with plans of pushing momentum into Memphis and beyond. He's played outstanding golf of late and his history at this particular track suggests he can continue to do so. He shouldn't be as expensive as the other names listed thus far, yet his value on these links is undeniable.