So much for respecting the elders.
One of this season's notable changes was the shift of Firestone Country Club's South Course from the PGA TOUR to the PGA TOUR Champions. It hosted the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship two weeks ago. At 7,400 yards, it was the longest course on the 50-and-older circuit in nine years and the field averaged 72.820 on the par 70. Retief Goosen prevailed at 6-under 274. Only six golfers finished under par in the 72-hole event.
With that challenging track dispatched, the firm, fair and scorable TPC Southwind has taken over as the host of the newly named World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Scroll past the projected contenders for a profile of the stroll in Memphis, the field's experience on it and more.
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Danny Willett 19 Paul Casey 18 Patrick Reed 17 Brandt Snedeker 16 Chez Reavie 15 Tommy Fleetwood 14 Billy Horschel 13 Patrick Cantlay 12 Justin Thomas 11 Henrik Stenson 10 Adam Scott 9 Hideki Matsuyama 8 Matt Kuchar 7 Justin Rose 6 Webb Simpson 5 Dustin Johnson 4 Jon Rahm 3 Rory McIlroy 2 Xander Schauffele 1 Brooks Koepka
Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Phil Mickelson will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
From 1989-2018, TPC Southwind hosted the FedEx St. Jude Classic. It's been a par 70 since 2006 and it will set up for a potential stretch of 7,237 yards this week. That reflects a one-yard decrease at the par-3 eighth hole that now tips at 171 yards.
Traditionally slotted in the week before the U.S. Open and open to the maximum field of 156, the course has been reassigned to serve as the backdrop for a limited field of the sport's elite. There is no cut and there are no alternates.
As of midday Monday, 64 of the 69 qualifiers are committed to competing. (Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger and Tiger Woods declined.) Forty pegged it at TPC Southwind at least once before; 25 made at least two appearances. Overall, this field went a collective 82-for-117 with 28 top 10s in the old iteration of the tournament. Two-time champion Dustin Johnson (2012, 2018) is the only winner of the FedEx St. Jude Classic who qualified for and committed to this week's WGC.
After sharing the 54-hole lead here in 2018, DJ ran away to win by six strokes, the largest margin at TPC Southwind in 14 years (David Toms, 2004). Johnson's 19-under 261 was the second-lowest winning aggregate to John Cook's 258 in 1996.
Indeed, those who attempted to tame Firestone in the past won't miss it. This isn't to say that TPC Southwind is a pushover, however. It averaged 70.520 as a 156-man contest last year, and that hit the bull's-eye for expectations. With a smaller and exponentially stronger field that has course experience, overall scoring should drop.
The fairways are narrow, but TPC Southwind essentially is a second-shot test because the bermudagrass rough is trimmed to two-and-a-half inches. It'll be juicy because it's been a rainy 2019, but there's not enough overall length to intensify the challenge.
The dozen par 4s are sturdy as a group, but finding the small greens in regulation is the priority. TPC Southwind surrendered only 10.67 GIR on average last season, good for the fifth-lowest clip among all courses. However, it's one of the easier layouts on which to salvage par (58.72 percent), so it'll benefit both course management and aggressive types who can get up and down. The Champion bermuda greens will touch 12 feet on the Stimpmeter.
Among other perks, the champion will receive 550 FedExCup points and a three-year PGA TOUR membership exemption.
Warm and pleasant conditions will facilitate scoring. Daytime highs in the mid- to upper 80s will complement the omnipresent sunshine every day. Winds will be light.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (Barracuda), Sleepers (WGC), Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done (WGC), One & Done (Barracuda), Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.