Featured Groups: Irish (and Northern Irish) eyes smiling

June 06, 2012
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

Here's a look at this week's Featured Groups at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. For a complete list of all groups and tee times, click here. Which groups are you most interested in following this week? Let us know.

Tee times
Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington Rd. 1: 8:27 a.m. ET (10th tee) Rd. 2: 1:27 p.m. ET (1st tee)

There's an obvious connection between Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington in that they're all from the same part of the world (McIlroy and McDowell from Northern Ireland and Harrington from Ireland).


There's another common bond the three share: they're all major winners.

For McIlroy, this year marks a departure from his routine of taking off the week before a major championship. But fresh off three straight missed cuts for the first time in four years, McIlroy is hoping to find his form in Memphis.

Two years ago, McIlroy played at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and tied for 29th.

Similarly, this is also the first time McDowell is playing in the tournament in a few years. He last played there in 2009, tying for seventh after a final-round 63.

McIlroy's fellow Northern Irishman has endured his own share of struggles. He hasn't won on the PGA TOUR since capturing the 2010 U.S. Open and is coming off a missed cut at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Harrington, meanwhile, has been a regular at the FedEx St. jude Classic. He's played there every year since 2007 and in 2008 tied for fourth, his best finish in the event.

The 2008 season also happens to be the last time Harrington won on the TOUR, but he's shown signs of working his way back this year.

Harrington tied for seventh at Pebble Beach and tied for eighth in the Masters, where he was in contention in the final round.

Tee times
David Toms, Davis Love III, Brian Gay Rd. 1: 1:27 p.m. ET (1st tee) Rd. 2: 8:27 a.m. ET (10th tee)

He also played well in his last start, tying for 15th at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

David Toms and Brian Gay are both former winners of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where Toms won in 2003 and 2004 and Gay won in 2009.

Toms was also twice a runner-up in Memphis, in 2005 and in 2009. Despite a final-round 65 by Toms in the latter of those two years, he still finished five shots back of Gay, who went wire-to-wire after opening with a 64.

Toms also finished third in 2007.

Of Love's 20 career victories on TOUR, none have actually come in this tournament.

The U.S. Ryder Cup captain does arrive at TPC Southwind in good form, however -- albeit not exactly well-rested.

Other Featured Groups
Dustin Johnson, Harrison Frazar, Justin Leonard Rd. 1: 8:36 a.m. ET (10th tee) Rd. 2: 1:36 p.m. ET (1st tee)
Dustin Johnson is making his second straight start after missing two months because of a back injury. He's coming off a tie for 19th at Muirfield Village, though this will be his first time playing at TPC Southwind. Frazar, meanwhile, is the defending champ, while Leonard, a former teammate at the University of Texas, has won twice in Memphis.
John Daly, Rich Beem, John Merrick Rd. 1: 1:54 p.m. ET (1st tee) Rd. 2: 8:54 a.m. ET (10th tee)
This is just the fifth start on TOUR this year for Daly, who hasn't had much success in Memphis -- though he did tie for fifth in 2001. Likewise, this is Beem's seventh start of the season. His best finish this year was a tie for 12th in Mexico.

Love tied for 16th last week at the Memorial tournament, then turned around a day later and survived a 36-hole qualifier to earn a spot in the field for next week's U.S. Open.