Despite the attention garnered by the big three, it was Team Srixon that came away the winner at last week’s Memorial. William McGirt took care of Jon Curran in a playoff and J.B. Holmes finished just two shots back. Whatever it was that helped them succeed, they must have forgot to tell other Srixon’er Hideki Matsuyama because he looked like a mess despite winning and finishing top 5 in his first two appearance at Muirfield Village. He was spotted using some new irons last week, perhaps he should reconsider that decision.
This week we head to Memphis for the St. Jude Classic. It’s hosted by TPC Southwind, a par 70 track whose scorecard reads 7,244 yards. It features a few shorter par 3s, including the par-3 11th which is a “mini TPC Sawgrass 17th clone”. Despite the mediocre yardage on the scorecard, it features seven par 4s over 450 yards, so mid-to-long iron play will prove more relevant than wedge play. The fairways are some of the hardest to hit on TOUR, as are the greens, which means scrambling is another key attribute to consider this week. Keeping it between the pipes is helpful around here, as well, especially if you want a chance to hold these greens which measure just 5,420 square feet on average.
We’ve seen golfers like Greg Owen and Boo Weekley have success around here, so putting is obviously not a prerequisite on these bermuda greens (Bermuda since 2004).
Is experience required? No. Three of the past six winners were making their tournament debut. Is it helpful? Yes. The other seven (of L10) winners averaged eight starts here before hoisting the trophy, and all seven of them had a previous top 15 on their St. Jude Classic resume.
Take a look at the Fantasy Golfanac for more course specifics and golfer quotes.
Players to Watch
Gary Woodland… will not come cheap this week, but it’s well deserved when you consider the field strength and the current form he’s found since reuniting with Butch a few months ago. Has rattled off five straight top 35s, top 15s in his last two. Trending toward that winner’s circle and finished T18 in his last trip to TPC Southwind (2013).
Ryan Palmer… He’s taken a liking to TPC Southwind (top 35s last four years; two inside top 5) and he’s one of the steadiest golfers in the field, despite his affinity for the water ball from time to time. DJ and Brooks may draw all the attention at the top, but Palmer is right there with them this week.
Francesco Molinari… I thought he was a knockout play last week, but he faltered in the second round to miss the cut. Was it jet-lag from playing the week before at Wentworth? We’ll never know but I will go right back to the well since he’s a proven cut-maker and not far removed from solid form. His fairways-and-greens style of play fits the mold of recent winners like Fabian Gomez, Ben Crane, Brian Gay, Justin Leonard, and David Toms.
Dustin Johnson… Destroyed gamers last year after starting bogey-bogey-bogey and calling it quits after nine holes. He’s proven he can lose interest in weeks before a major so he comes with some risk if he gets off to another slow start. You can’t ignore him, though, because he’s the class of the field and can lap the field if he brings his A game.
Phil Mickelson… Lefty loves the setup of TPC Southwind. Said this a few years back, “This is great because it’s a great test. The guy that strikes it well is going to have a big advantage, but when do you miss greens, you’ve got to be pretty sharp with your short game because the lies around the greens are some of the most difficult that we get.” PHil is top 20 in both SG:Approach-the-Green AND Around-the-Green. It’s no wonder he loves the layout.
Brooks Koepka… He’s part of the top-tier here that is a cut above the rest. Check out the rankings for the 7 golfers I think belong in that top tier. I see a big drop-off after that first seven. He’s a great option on pure cachet alone. Top 20s in his first two visits also helps.
Retief Goosen… IF you think the tournament officials try to get this course similar to a U.S. Open test, then Goosen has to be on your radar. He’s the epitome of a US Open golfer. Loves a good challenge off the tee, and grinds out pars with the best of em.
Daniel Berger… He fits the mold of classy players that have won on their tournament debuts (Westwood, DJ, English). Fizzled out last week, but is still in great form.
Charles Howell III… Always seems to be labeled as a West Coast specialist, but arrives at nearly every event with serviceable course history. His game travels well, and with two top 10s in nine tries at TPC Southwind, I think he deserves a look this week.
Scott Stallings… Home Game Alert for Stallings. He played here in Junior Golf events, so he knows the course very well. Owns top 35s in three of five visits here. Torrey Pines might be the only other track where you’ll find that kind of consistency from SS. That beings said, it’s still Scott Stallings, so stick to GPPs only here.
Wesley Bryan… Making his PGA TOUR debut. Previously just known as a trick-shot artist, he’s since won twice on the Web.com Tour this year. He’s gained two or more strokes over the field in 15 of his 34 Web.com Tour rounds. Golfers with a similar ratio on the minor league circuit include Jason Gore, Blayne Barber, Whee Kim, Will Wilcox, and Derek Fathauer. None of them have exactly lit up this PGA TOUR, so this is not a case of MUST OWN due to Web domination. I would sit back and watch how the debut goes and think about investing in future events.
Brendan Steele… Threw his name into the mix last week on a course he’s traditionally sucked on. Now he heads to an event which he’s 0-for-2 but nothing since 2013. Could be something in the category of “course doesn’t fit eye” but it might just be a small sample of two missed cuts. Should be a solid GPP option this week. Withdrew from event.
Will Wilcox… His form still isn’t quite there but with top 20s in two trips, Wilcox looks like a good rebound candidate. Make sure to check his Twitter, but it’s probably a week to “SEND IT!”
St. Jude Classic Cheatsheet… Head over to Daily Fantasy Solutions and grab this week’s DraftKings cheatsheet! This week’s sheet will get posted mid-Tuesday.
My Top 25 for the 2016 St. Jude Classic
1. Ryan Palmer
2. Brooks Koepka
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Gary Woodland
5. Francesco Molinari
6. Harris English
7. Phil Mickelson
8. Daniel Berger
9. Cameron Tringale
10. Charles Howell III
11. Retief Goosen
Luke Donald WD: Insert Zac Blair at end of list.
13. Ben Martin
14. David Toms
15. Will Wilcox
16. David Hearn
Brendan Steele WD: Insert Scott Stallings at end of list.
18. Colt Knost
19. Tom Hoge
20. Luke List
21. Chad Campbell
22. Camilo Villegas
23. Boo Weekley
24. Thomas Aiken
25. Russell Henley