FEDEX ST. JUDE CLASSIC
Winner's Share: $1.152M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Memphis, Tenn.
Course: TPC Southwind
2016 champion: Daniel Berger
**Before we begin, note that there have been numerous changes since the field was first announced Friday, following U.S. Open qualifying on Monday. Check and recheck your lineup submissions before Thursday.
Memphis does not have much in the way of sporting events, especially professional sports, but it does have a PGA Tour event. This is the 60th anniversary of the Tour stop in this city known as the Birthplace of Rock and Roll, and it has produced quite an array of champions, among them Nicklaus, Trevino, Player, Floyd, Couples, Norman and Price. But all the history generated over the years is now -- no pun intended -- a thing of the past. Situated a week before the U.S. Open, the tournament features one of the weakest fields on the calendar. There's just one top-10 player (No. 9 Rickie Fowler) and 12 in the top-50, including Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and defending champion Daniel Berger. This is actually a boon year, as last year only five of the top-50 were on hand. With a field of 156 and so many weak golfers (even David Duval is making a cameo), expect high ownership among the top dozen or so names. The key to victory may very well be landing a hidden gem or two in the secondary or tertiary levels of golfers.
Since 1989, the tournament has taken place at TPC Southwind, a par-70 track. While accuracy off the tee does factor into things, we'll be focusing mostly on the second shot (and third, fourth, etc.) in the key stats and Champion's Profile below. Last year, Southwind was the 10th toughest track among the 50 on the PGA Tour, and in recent years it's been in the 10-15 range. But with such a weak field -- maybe 40 or 50 guys wouldn't be in a top-flight event -- you wonder whether the course is hard or the golfers collectively just aren't all that good. Probably a combination of both, as Southwind features doglegs on half its holes and causes more water balls than just about any other Tour course.
Weather-wise, things should be dry all week without much wind. The annual battle here is the heat and humidity, and temperatures are again expected to inch toward 90 by Sunday.
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Southwind (in order of importance)
• Greens in regulation (GIR)
• Putting average (PA)
• Proximity to the hole
• Driving accuracy (DA)
2006 - Daniel Berger
2015 - Fabian Gomez
2014 - Ben Crane
2013 - Harris English
2012 - Dustin Johnson
2011 - Harrison Frazar
2010 - Lee Westwood
2009 - Brian Gay
2008 - Justin Leonard
2007 - Woody Austin
A look back at the past 10 champions shows that every one of them has finished top-10 in GIR, except for Ben Crane. Last year's winner, Daniel Berger, tied for first in GIR, while also ranking T5 in proximity, T24 in scrambling and 15th in PA. Every other champion since 2010 had been top-20 in scrambling, and most were top-10. While last year the leaderboard was filled with top-name guys, that's not usually the case here. You don't have to look any further than Gomez-Crane-English to realize there could be an out-of-nowhere champion this week. The top guys here have one eye on Memphis but the other on next week's U.S. Open.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Rickie Fowler - $12,000 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 15-2)
Fowler is the top price on the DraftKings board and he's the only top-10 golfer entered. He's coming off a co-runner-up last week at the Memorial. He's really solid across the board: 19th in DA, 23rd in GIR, 30th in proximity, 21st in scrambling, 76th in PA. In his lone previous visit to Memphis in 2014, Fowler tied for 13th.
Francesco Molinari - $10,500 (15-1)
This course should align nicely with the Italian's game. Molinari is second on Tour in DA, 35th in both GIR and PA, and 46th in scrambling. He's coming off four consecutive top-25s, including a runner-up at the BMW PGA on the European Tour two weeks ago. He tied for 34th in his maiden trip to Memphis a year ago.
Phil Mickelson - $10,200 (15-1)
On one hand, there was question whether Mickelson would withdraw because he says he's skipping the U.S. Open. Why tune up? On the other, this is a great chance to break his four-year winless drought. Mickelson finished runner-up twice over the past four years, with a T3 and a T11 in the other years, so he obviously loves Southwind and plays well there, even putting aside the weak field. We can throw out Mickelson's stats, as he should be able to minimize his waywardness off the tee by largely keeping his driver in the bag. Mickelson is 10th in PA.
Tier 2 Values
Russell Henley - $9,800 (25-1)
This is a high price to pay, for sure, but Henley is enjoying a renaissance season, one that shows him 22nd in GIR and T26 in PA. Henley was T7 a year ago in his third attempt at this event.
Billy Horschel - $9,500 (25-1)
Again, this is a high price. But Horschel has obviously reversed his season-long form with a recent victory. Plus he enjoys Southwind, with three straight top-10s before skipping the tournament last year. Horschel has been a GIR machine all season (ranked 10th), but has also been elevating other parts of his game.
Kyle Stanley - $8,400 (30-1)
Stanley does not have a good course history in Memphis, but his game is at a new level this year. Stanley understandably exhaled after his brilliant PLAYERS last month, missing the cut his next time out. But he immediately regrouped with a T6 last week at the Memorial. Stanley is second on Tour in GIR, third in proximity and 16th in DA.
Brian Gay - $8,300 (80-1)
One of the great putters on Tour, Gay has current form and course history on his side this week. He won Memphis in 2009 and was T6 a year ago. Gay is 18th in PA, 40th in scrambling, 41st in DA and 48th in proximity.
Tier 3 Values
Chad Campbell - $7,600 (100-1)
Campbell has made the cut eight straight years at Memphis. At this price, though, we need more from him than simply advancing to the weekend -- like, the two top-10s he delivered over his eight-year run. Campbell seems to have weathered a mini slump of three straight missed cuts by cashing his last two starts, including a T13 at the Byron Nelson. He's ranked seventh in scrambling, 24th in DA and 42nd in GIR.
Russell Knox - $7,400 (60-1)
Last year, this would've been a slam-dunk pick. Yes, we know Knox wasn't entered last year, but in 2016 Knox was playing great and his game was well-suited for Southwind. Something is clearly off for Knox this year, despite numbers that indicate he could be close: 10th in DA, 43rd in GIR, 47th in PA, and 55th in proximity. Two years ago -- when Knox was actually in Memphis -- he tied for eighth.
Kevin Tway - $7,400 (50-1)
Tway missed the cut in his lone prior trip to Memphis, but that was three years ago. He also missed the cut last week at the Memorial, breaking a string of four straight top-20 cashes. But the St. Jude Classic isn’t the Memorial, and we expect Tway to rebound.
William McGirt - $7,300 (50-1)
McGirt has a mixed history at Memphis, with a T13 in 2012 but also three missed cuts in five overall trips. He's playing well this year, and this is a very favorable price. McGirt is eighth in DA, 33rd in GIR and 73rd in proximity.
John Peterson - $7,300 (Field, 5-2)
Peterson is a guy we've leaned on a bit lately, without much success. However, we continue to see a golfer who is close to putting his injuries behind him. He ranks 41st in GIR and 13th in scrambling. Putting is the big issue, but that didn't prevent a T19 in Peterson's last foray to Southwind three years ago.
Peter Uihlein - $7,200 (50-1)
The American toiling on the European Tour the past few years is making a big push for his PGA Tour card. He's cashed top-25 in all three of his U.S. starts this year, including a T25 last week at the Memorial -- and that was a week after a T30 at the BMW PGA. He hasn't missed a cut worldwide all year.
J.T. Poston - $6,700 (100-1)
Poston just reached the U.S. Open via sectional qualifying, so there could be a bit of a letdown this week. But the rookie still is in search of his first win, and he knows he won't be in many fields of this caliber. After missing his first cut in four months at the Byron Nelson a few weeks back, Poston returned to weekend play at Colonial. He's T26 in PA.
Camilo Villegas - $6,700 (Field, 5-2)
It’s hard to argue with four straight Memphis cashes and 10-of-11 overall. Before last year's T58, Villegas rang up three straight top-10s here. Despite all his recent troubles on Tour, Villegas remains a quality putter – he’s T28 in PA.
Boo Weekley - $6,500 (Field, 5-2)
Here's another hard-to-argue guy: seven straight Memphis cashes and 8-of-9 overall. Weekley clearly loves Southwind, tying for 12th last year and eighth the year before. Let's throw in that he's sixth on Tour in DA and 58th in GIR.