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St. Jude Classic Preview: Now he's Mr. Consistent

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

They don't show pictures on the scorecard. It's muttered just about every time a golfer hacks his way to an acceptable score. It doesn't necessarily matter how that par or birdie came about, all that matters is the number entered on the score card. Unfortunately for the professional golfers that partook in the Memorial on Sunday, that adage isn't entirely true. You see, even though Hideki Matsuyama was victorious in the end, it will be difficult for anyone to forget just how awful everyone around him played down the stretch. Even Kevin Na, who seemed to use up all the good shots on Sunday while posting a final-round 64 could not avoid the contagious effect of the poor play down the stretch from the leaders as he immediately lost his way when the playoff with Matsuyama began.

Now for the positive side of this story. The public has a short memory when it comes to things like this, so a year from now when Matsuyama is defending his Memorial championship, we simply won't remember, or even care why he is defending, all we'll care about is that he is defending. And a couple days from now, when Matsuyama checks his bank account, he really won't care how it came about because just like golf scorecards, they don't put pictures on bank account balances either.

This week:
St. Jude Classic - TPC at Southwind, Germantown, Tenn.

Last Year:
Harris English shot a final-round 69 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Scott Stallings and Phil Mickelson.

Players to Consider:

Dustin Johnson

Johnson hasn't been the most reliable player this year, but if the last two years at this event are any indication of how he'll play this year, you can bank on a pretty solid outing. Johnson won here two years ago and finished in the top 10 last year.

Jonathan Byrd

Byrd has been hit or miss here, with three top-10s and three missed-cuts in six starts, but his best two finishes have come in the last two years here. He finished solo fourth here last year and T3 the year prior.

Camilo Villegas

Remember this guy? It's been a long while since Villegas has been a factor on the PGA Tour, but even though he's failed to accomplish much the last few years, he always manages to play well here. Villegas has three top-10s in his last four starts at this event.

Harris English

Defending champ is a tough spot for most guys, especially those who aren't used to all that entails, but English appears to be getting better and could make quite a splash this week if he were to successfully defend this title.

Robert Allenby

He's nowhere near the player he was 10 years ago and his drop-off over the last five years has been quite drastic, but no matter the state of his game over the last three seasons, he's somehow managed to play well here. Allenby enters this year's St. Jude Classic on a streak of three consecutive top-15s.

Players to Avoid:

Rickie Fowler

Fowler didn't shoot 15-over last week, but he still failed to make the cut. There's obviously something wrong with his game, and it comes at a bad time as the U.S. Open is right around the corner. He's playing this event for the first time, so it's unlikely that he'll get all the kinks worked out this week.

Harrison Frazar

Frazar won this event just three years ago, but it might as well been a lifetime ago because his game has fallen off the grid the last couple seasons. He looks like an enticing sleeper, but I doubt he makes it to the weekend.

Roberto Castro

Castro has a nice track record here, with two top-30s in two starts, but his game has been off for the better part of the year, and he doesn't quite resemble the golfer he was last year. Best to wait until later in the year on Castro.

Phil Mickelson

A couple factors in play here. First, the distraction of the federal investigation cannot be overlooked. Second, the distraction of the upcoming U.S. Open cannot be overlooked, either. There's no way to tell which distraction will be more prevalent this week, but whatever the case, it will be hard for Mick to concentrate on the task at hand.

Zach Johnson

It's tough to recall now, but there was a time last season that Johnson was really struggling. He made us all forget about that with a fantastic end to last season and a great start to this season, but Johnson, like everyone else is human and can't play out of his mind forever. He might be in the midst of a mini-slump, and as such, it's probably wise to pass on him.


Last week:
Justin Rose (MC) - $0; Season - $2,835,957

This week:
Jonathan Byrd - A lot of big names burnt in the past few weeks so I'm going to pluck someone from the lower tiers this week. Byrd fits the bill as he's not someone I'll save for later, yet he has the upside to win any given week.


Rank: 24,969

This Week:

Group A:
Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar

Group B:
Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Fredrik Jacobson, Matt Every

Group C:
Jonathan Byrd, Harris English


Last week:
K.J. Choi; Streak - 4

This week:
Harris English - I saved my streak by not doubling-up with Rose last week and while I'm confident in Byrd this week, he's not typically a reliable guy from week to week, so I'll go with English for my survivor pick this week.