The Memorial Tournament is behind us and congratulations are in order for Matt Kuchar on his second victory of 2013. However, Tiger Woods’ and Rory McIlroy’s poor showing will be remembered as vividly as Matt Kuchar’s victory. There is however, no rest for the weary as the tour heads to Memphis Tennessee and the TPC Southwind for the FedEx St Jude Classic.
TPC Southwind is a 7,239 yard course that will play to a par of 70 this week. In its 26th year of existence, the TPC Southwind will show off its natural lakes, ponds, and rolling countryside as envisioned by its designer Ron Prichard. 2004 brought additional length and green surface changes that will also be on display this week. The 72 hole record for this event belongs to John Cook in 1996 with a 258. Two players have fired a course record 61 since the tournament moved to TPC Southwind (Jay Delsing 1993 and Bob Estes 2001). Are you having a hard time remembering some of the great moments at the FedEx St Jude Classic. Watch below for a jolt to your memory.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
Not surprisingly the FedEx St Jude Classic will be light on heavy hitters this week as this event is sandwiched between the Memorial Tournament and the US Open. Many of the top players in the world will use this week to rest and prepare for Merion in two weeks. That does not mean the FedEx St Jude Classic is without star power. Five of the world’s top 30 are still in the field headlined by Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and walking wounded defending champion Dustin Johnson.
I am going to highlight four holes that could be a key to success this week at the FedEx St Jude Classic. Three are due to their difficulty and one because it has served as a swing hole in past editions and will most likely do so again. The 162 yard par 3 11th tends to conjure up memories of 17 at TPC Sawgrass due to its island green. The pot bunker guarding the front edge will serve as savior and executioner for balls that just missed the water. Making par here is safe and many players will attempt to do just that and move on.
The 16th is not being mentioned because of its difficulty but rather its position as a stroke gaining hole for the players. As a par 5 that plays 530 yards it is a hole that most of the field can reach in two. It is uphill with a small well-guarded green but will yield a number or birdies and the occasional eagle this week. On Sunday an Eagle here just might decide it all.
17 will provide a challenge all week. As a par 4 playing almost 500 yards, a long tee shot will be required to set up a long approach into a narrow green surrounded by six bunkers. The long approach at 17 will require a carry over a creek which has seen its share of balls over the years. Bogie or worse could be in play on this hole at any time. The 453 yard par 4 18th will add to the drama at the end of the event. A dog leg left with water as a factor and bunkers in the fairway down the right side into an average sized green is the perfect complement to 17 at the end of a round at TPC Southwind. Anything from birdie to double are all in play at the finishing hole.
While the players might struggle the lead charity for this event will only benefit from the tour stop. The primary charity this week goes without saying as St Jude Research Hospital. Since 1970, $20 million has been generated for St Jude through this event. According to the official St Jude Research Hospital website:
“The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.”
I cannot think of a better cause to get behind and what an event to ensure the message of St Jude is constantly in the forefront of everyone’s mind. The players will be thinking about the charity this week as well. But of those players who really has a chance to win? Anyone can win on any given weekend but there are always a few that just appear in a better spot than the rest of the field. Let’s take a look at a few of the professionals that meet this criterion.
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