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The third round of the St. Jude Classic presented by Smith & Nephew is set to begin Saturday. Here's a preview:
EXPERT PREVIEW: PGA TOUR NETWORK on-site correspondent Doug Bell previews Saturday's action:
It will be survival of the fittest in the third round. The warm, sultry temperatures and high humidity are expected to add up to a heat index of somewhere in the vicinity of 108 degrees, which will make Saturday's third round the warmest of the year on the PGA TOUR.
Co-leader Garrett Willis, is a Tennessee guy who lives in Knoxville and graduated from East Tennessee State. It was great to see him mingle with family and friends after his scintillating 65 late on Friday afternoon. I didn't hear anybody from his entourage complain about the weather. Willis, who is 9 years removed from his only win on TOUR in Tucson, has played lots of golf at TPC Southwind. He's not a long hitter, but you don't have to be here. He has hit 74 percent of his fairways and 83 percent of his greens so far -- that's a winning formula.
Lee Westwood told me last night that despite the tough conditions, he was determined to remain focused on the course and it paid off when he birdied 17 and 18 late yesterday afternoon. He was hoping for a competitive week before he travels west to Pebble Beach and he very well might be the favorite heading in to the third round, even though he hasn't won on TOUR in 12 long years. His near misses in recent majors have been well-chronicled, but the Englishman is a cool customer and if he's the least bit bothered by any of that, you wouldn't know it. His late tee time means that he'll be playing at the same time the World Cup match between England and the U.S. will be taking place. He agreed that maybe that's a good thing, becuase he'll focus totally on golf and worry about the outcome of the match later on.
Charley Hoffman appeared to have ice water in his veins as he managed to post his best 36-hole start of the season. I noticed as I followed him in Round 2 that he was taking extra time between shots. He says that's his game plan in this heat. He grew up in San Diego and lives in Las Vegas, which can get toasty, but he told me the humidity is what really gets you in the south.
Robert Garrigus has always been known as one of the longest hitters on TOUR and going into the third round on Saturday he has discovered a formula that is working in Memphis. Garrigus is rarely, if ever, taking the head cover off his driver. He told me his strategy of laying up and placing his ball in certain spots on the fairways with a 3-wood and hybrid is working wonders. The 13-year pro who is still looking for his first victory seems especially confident.
Two-time U.S. Open champ Lee Janzen knows all about the heat and pressure of a big round and is ready for a late tee time on Saturday after a 68-66 start. Janzen loves bermuda greens having grown up playing on them as a kid in Florida, and he feels his ability to read the grain is a big advantage. Janzen, who is disappointed he isn't playing in next week's U.S. Open, will try and take the sting out of that with a solid weekend in Memphis.
A par-70 course keeps the field bunched up with 24 players within five shots of the lead heading into play on Saturday. With the conditions expected to be the toughest of the week, it wouldn't be a surprise to see someone shoot a really low number early in the day when the greens are really nice, and then sit back in the air conditioning and watch the rest of the field wilt in the afternoon.
INSTRUCTOR'S CORNER: Michael Rohrkempe, a staff nstructor at the TOUR Academy's TPC Scottsdale, offers these tips based on the type of play needed to successed at the St. Jude Classic.
Round 2 of the St. Jude Classic is in the books and following the windy conditions Friday, there will be several high ball hitters "stuck inside of Memphis with the missed cut blues again," Lee Westwood said after the round, "The wind got up and it was gusty. It was a day of patience."
To play consistently in the wind patience is exactly what you need. I want you to be patient and not rush your swing in the wind. It is very easy when taking a shorter backswing to rush your downswing in an effort to make up for lost speed; however in the wind, clubhead speed is your enemy because it makes the ball spin more causing it to fly higher in the air.
To promote a lower ball flight get your hands higher at address feeling as though your thumbs are pointed down towards the ground. As you swing, keep your thumbs pointed down to the ground especially on the follow through. This will keep spin off your ball.
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So remember this phrase the next time you are playing in windy conditions or simply need to hit the ball low, "Thumbs towards the ground, keeps the ball down."