Power Rankings: FedEx St. Jude Classictext sizeJune 03, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
The FedEx St. Jude Classic traces its roots to 1958 when Billy Maxwell clipped Cary Middlecoff by one stroke at Colonial Country Club in Memphis. Colonial's run ended in 1988. Once Ron Prichard put his signature on TPC Southwind, it assumed host duties, so this week's edition marks its Silver Anniversary on the PGA TOUR.
TPC Southwind has served as the last stop before the U.S. Open since the FedExCup was introduced in 2007. Because of the migratory nature of the major, this week's host course doesn't pretend to mimic the challenges of next week's tournament, but that angle can't be ruled out every year. Such is the case this week.
Measuring 7,239 yards, TPC Southwind played as the most difficult par 70 of 13 in non-majors last year. Its scoring average of 71.240 was its highest since 2008. Contributing to that figure was the fact that the field hit the fairways just 51.71 percent of the time. That set a tournament-record low and plays into one of the annual prerequisites for the season's second major.
Finding putting surfaces that average 5,420 square feet was no bargain yet again in 2012 as TPC Southwind maintained a stodgy defense, surrendering a greens-in-regulation percentage of just 57.49, sixth lowest all year. As a result, the par-breakers split of 16.64 percent ranked ninth-lowest. Par-3 and par-4 scoring placed inside the top 15-hightest compared to respective sets, but the pair of par 5s averaged 4.62, which was comfortably within the top half lowest splits. It is perhaps no surprise then that long hitters like Lee Westwood, Harrison Frazar and Dustin Johnson have won the last three editions. Recent runners-up Robert Karlsson (twice) and Robert Garrigus are also known for their distance off the tee.
Aside from the par 5s, another area where the field of 156 can find solace is getting up and down for par. Thanks in part to the smaller greens, TPC Southwind's scrambling percentage has been relatively high. Last year's clip landed at 57.09 percent, good for 23rd on TOUR.
If there's one hole where par is truly coveted, it's the par-3 14th. Capable of measuring 239 yards, the green is protected by water along the right side, but the pin could be positioned behind the pond as well. Not only was this the most difficult hole on the course in 2012 (averaging 3.318), but it ranked as the fifth-hardest par 3 in a non-major all year. A season-high 38 double bogeys or worse (on a par 3) were penciled in here.
Rain is nearly certain to fall at some point during the tournament, and Memphis is nothing if not a popular location for humidity. In addition to juicy air, temperatures could rise into the upper 80s throughout the event. Winds are not forecast to be an issue, at least early on.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among recent winners, please look for Stats Suggest in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
Power Rankings: FedEx St. Jude Classic Rank Player Comment Brandt SNEDEKER Missed cut at Muirfield Village, which has always had his number. Six top 10s this year. The Nashville native is 10th in fairways hit, 11th in GIR, 18th in strokes gained-putting, 11th in adjusted scoring and first in par-4 scoring. Charles HOWELL III Tied for 21st at the Memorial for his ninth top 25, five of which are top 10s. Twelfth in strokes gained-putting, fifth in scrambling, 14th in adjusted scoring and T4 in par-4 scoring. Two top 10s at TPC Southwind (2004, 2011). Boo WEEKLEY Converted on terrific form with a victory at Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, bypassing Matt Kuchar in the final round to boot. Weekley is 5-for-7 at TPC Southwind with a T4 in his heyday of 2008. Ranks 17th in fairways hit and fourth in greens in regulation. Ryan PALMER Rested after a T14 at Colonial (where he opened with a 62), his third top 15 in six starts. Both of his cuts made in five starts at TPC Southwind are top 10s; tied for third last year. Ranks 28th in GIR and eighth in adjusted scoring. Scott STALLINGS Arrives on the heels of consecutive T4s; now has three on the season and sits 57th in FedExCup points. Consistent throughout his bag and ranks 37th in the all-around. The Tennessee Tech product tied for 25th in his debut in 2011. Tim CLARK Took a week off following a T7 at Colonial, one of three top 25s in his last four starts. Ranks third in fairways hit, 49th in strokes gained-putting, 18th in scrambling and 32nd in adjusted scoring. Survived last four cuts at TPC Southwind. Robert KARLSSON Twice a playoff loser at TPC Southwind (2010, 2011) and still a non-winner on the PGA TOUR, the Swede has opened strong of late, but put four rounds together only at Quail Hollow (T4) near his home. Ranks 28th in scrambling. Phil MICKELSON Third appearance (2001, 2009). Rested since missing cut at THE PLAYERS. Took third the week before at Quail Hollow, his third top-three finish of the season. Currently eighth in strokes gained-putting and 27th in adjusted scoring. John ROLLINS Capped a six-week road trip with a T21 at the Byron Nelson and a T4 at Colonial. Nine top 25s among 11 cuts made in 2013. Two top 25s in his last three visits to TPC Southwind. Tenth on TOUR in greens hit; 33rd in adjusted scoring. Freddie JACOBSON Ten consecutive cuts made -- three top 10s, another five top 25s. He's 9-for-10 at TPC Southwind with five top 20s. Sits 21st on TOUR in strokes gained-putting, 13th in scrambling fourth in adjusted scoring and T4 in par-4 scoring. John MERRICK Horse for a course. Progressively improving results since he missed the cut in his first appearance in 2007. Shared last year's 54-hole lead en route to a solo second. Currently T30 in greens hit and T28 in proximity to the hole. D.A. POINTS Finally cooled at the Memorial, missing the cut by four. Had strung seven consecutive cuts made with four top 15s, including a win and a solo second. During the run, he rose 92 spots to a season-best T81 in strokes gained-putting. Russell HENLEY First appearance. Fresh off a T6 at the Memorial in what was also his debut. Ranks 12th in FedExCup points. Also 34th in fairways hit, 10th in strokes gained-putting, 31st in adjusted scoring and T12 in par-4 scoring average. Dustin JOHNSON Defending champ won in his debut in what was also just his second start following nearly three months off with a back injury. Recently dogged by another back issue, he hasn't completed a tournament since a T13 at the Masters. Camilo VILLEGAS Missed the cut on the number last year, but survived his first six at TPC Southwind. That record features four top 20s, including a T8 in 2010 and a T3 in 2011. He's 7-for-13 this season with one top 10 and another two top 25s.