As the annual primer for the U.S. Open throughout the FedExCup era, TPC Southwind has provided everything those headed to the season's second major desire in a tune-up. And, really, it's just one thing: Predictability.
As host of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, the course hasn't changed much after a renovation in 2004. This will be the 10th consecutive edition that is plays as a par 35-35=70. Since 2007, it's measured 7,239 yards. Next week's test will feature fescue grass throughout the property, so those making that trip will be tightening the screws on ball-striking and shot-shaping as they chase the trophy in Memphis, not necessarily connecting with the nuance of the Champion Bermudagrass on the greens at TPC Southwind.
Averaging +0.718 strokes to par last year, TPC Southwind was the hardest par 70 in a non-major for the second time in three years. With narrow targets off the tee and undulating greens that average 5,420 square feet, it doesn't come as a surprise that it ranked inside the top 15 in both shortest average of distance of all drives and fairways hit. It also ranked sixth in greens in regulation at just 58.06 percent.
Keeping in line with its consistent profile, saving par isn't just important, it's downright expected for the confident. Scrambling splits always hover around 60 percent, thus giving the field of 156 reason to be aggressive on approach.
The likelihood of inclement weather throughout the tournament projects soft greens, so hole locations may ratchet up in difficulty. That would give an edge to the experienced at TPC Southwind. Hot and humid conditions will be diminished ever so slightly with light-to-moderate winds.
POWER RANKINGS: FEDEX ST. JUDE CLASSIC
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 1 Billy Horschel 2 Dustin Johnson 3 Ryan Palmer 4 Webb Simpson 5 Phil Mickelson 6 Shawn Stefani 7 Harris English 8 George McNeill 9 Jason Bohn 10 Chesson Hadley 11 Jamie Donaldson 12 Will Wilcox 13 Brian Harman 14 Cameron Tringale 15 Camilo Villegas