Extreme heat plays major factor in the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship
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111-degree heat index recorded Friday at TPC Southwind.
Written by Jimmy Reinman
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Golf is a game of numbers, especially in the FedExCup Playoffs as players try to simultaneously calculate their standing not only in the tournament but also in the TOUR’s season-long points race.
There was one number that defined the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship, and it was not one that the players could control. It was the heat index, which reached 111 degrees Friday.
An extreme heat advisory sign at TPC Southwind. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
Heavy rain delayed the first round at TPC Southwind, but the temperatures soared as the sun emerged a day later. It was like playing golf in a sauna.
The players and their caddies began feeling the effects almost immediately, adding another variable as they pursue spots in the top 50 of the FedExCup, which will not only qualify them for next week’s BMW Championship but the eight Signature Events in 2024, as well. Some players walked the fairways with an umbrella overhead, while others draped wet towels around their necks.
Matthew NeSmith takes shelter from the sun under an umbrella Friday. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
“I didn't get this wet in the shower this morning,” said leader Lucas Glover, who shot 64 and sits at 10-under 130. He holds a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth at the tournament’s halfway point.
“It felt like it was just coming off the ground,” said Spieth. “You could just feel the water coming off the ground. I'll bring two shirts from now on and change at the turn because I was struggling a bit early in the round. I had some goosebumps.
“I was telling Michael (Greller, Spieth’s caddie), this is nothing, this is nothing this week, and then today I'm like, man, I was wrong. I'm humbled. It's just a different kind of heat.”
The caddies for the FedExCup’s leading trio -- Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, and Rory McIlroy – removed their bibs around the fourth hole in order to provide even the slightest reprieve. While there is no official PGA TOUR rule regarding bib removal for heat, the option is traditionally given to caddies when the heat index breaks into the triple digits.
Any amateur golfer would have donned their favorite pair of shorts for a day like today. The professionals don’t have such luxury, but Spieth added that it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
“I don't think (wearing shorts) would have made a difference at all. My shirt made me weigh five more pounds today. I don't think the pants added much to it. You'd have just seen the sweat dripping down my legs instead of having dark pants on.”
Wardrobe was certainly a topic of conversation amongst the contingent of players Friday. Tommy Fleetwood, tied for third after a 64, spotted one of his peers who was notably afflicted.
“I've never seen trousers like Denny McCarthy's today,” said Fleetwood. “He was sweating so much. He looked like he had just jumped in a pool.”
Denny McCarthy focuses on his hydration at TPC Southwind on Friday. (Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR)
Dark colors will likely be kept in the closet for the weekend, especially for Tom Kim, who posted 16 pars and two birdies despite a regrettable fashion decision.
“It was so freaking hot. I had black pants on today, so I didn't really have an excuse. I'm trying to think what pant colors I have tomorrow.”
Kim caught attention for rolling up his pants to avoid the mud yesterday. Whether we might see that move again is still to be determined.
“If it's wet tomorrow, maybe it's coming back. I played well with it yesterday, so we'll see.”
There is chance of scattered thunderstorms to hit TPC Southwind again Saturday morning, putting the heat index forecast for the afternoon right back at that 111-degree number that was recorded today.
Whoever brings home the win this week at the FedEx St. Jude will likely be the man who is able to deal with these elements the best, and possibly one who packed white pants.
Jimmy Reinman is a member of the PGA TOUR's digital content team. A native of Florida’s Space Coast, he is passionate about golf’s most emboldened characters and bizarre lore. He dreams of one day making center-face contact with a long iron.