The 26th edition of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind is the first to be contested with the knowledge that tournament director Phil Cannon has stage IV lung cancer that has metastasized into other organs. But he won't allow it to get in the way of a good time in Memphis. "I'm the healthiest sick guy in town," he told the Memphis Daily News for a preview that ran on Friday, May 30. "I still don't believe I've got cancer."
It's that spirit that has helped lift this tournament into a comfort zone immediately preceding the U.S. Open every year since 2007. Tournament organizers don't intentionally set up the track to be challenging for those headed to the major, but they just can't help themselves.
With a scoring average of 70.760 in 2013, the 7,239-yard TPC Southwind ranked as the third-hardest par 70 of the season for a non-major, and that's a four-year low. The fairways and the 5,420-square foot greens are among the hardest to find of all courses. Last year, the Ron Prichard design that was renovated in 2004 placed seventh and second, respectively, in accuracy off the tee and GIR. However, its scrambling clip was 61.21 percent (32nd on the PGA TOUR) and it surrendered a one-putt percentage of 43.93 (41st). The pair par 5s -- Nos. 3 and 16 -- are scorable (4.64; T27). All of those facts support properly timed aggression.
The elements could add to the challenge throughout the tournament. Juicy ingredients will aid in the reasonable risk for rain and boomers every day. Temperatures in the mid- to upper 80s are expected. Moderate winds at worst may provide some physical comfort, but could help inflate scoring.