From a world golf championship to a World Golf Championship.
For many, the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will feel like it’s on the other side of the planet. Because it is.
TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, is 14 hours behind Kasumigaseki County Club, host of last week’s Olympic Men’s Golf Competition where 19 golfers in this week’s field played for gold. Now they’re part of an exclusive field of 66 vying for 550 FedExCup points, a three-year PGA TOUR membership exemption and other perks.
Scroll past the extended ranking of projected contenders for what TPC Southwind has in store in its third edition as host, the preferred strategy to prevail and more.
POWER RANKINGS: WGC-FEDEX ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Sergio Garcia 19 Phil Mickelson 18 Brian Harman 17 Corey Conners 16 Shane Lowry 15 Xander Schauffele 14 Abraham Ancer 13 Billy Horschel 12 Webb Simpson 11 Justin Thomas 10 Rory McIlroy 9 Viktor Hovland 8 Scottie Scheffler 7 Matt Fitzpatrick 6 Collin Morikawa 5 Dustin Johnson 4 Louis Oosthuizen 3 Daniel Berger 2 Jordan Spieth 1 Brooks Koepka
Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Joaquin Niemann and Tony Finau will be among the notable reviewed in the Fantasy Insider.
Just like last week’s Olympics, every golfer at the WGC-St. Jude is guaranteed 72 holes to give it everything he has. Unlike the Games, this week’s tournament is an official competition for PGA TOUR members and non-members alike.
The WGC-St. Jude presents largely as a gathering of winners of tournaments with a strength-of-field rating of at least 115 as determined by the Official World Golf Ranking, as well as champions of designated events on the Japan Golf Tour, Asian Tour, Australasian Tour and Sunshine Tour. The top 50 of the latest two versions of the OWGR have filled the field. Jon Rahm (rest) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (non-member maxed at 12 starts) are the only qualifiers who are not competing.
Last year’s field of 78 was specially constructed because of playing time missed due to the pandemic. It included golfers outside the top 50 in the OWGR to fill the field, a one-time exception.
After surrendering a scoring average of 69.504 in its debut as host in 2019, TPC Southwind stood taller last year, yielding 69.554, but that’s still easier than it played as host of the FedEx St. Jude Classic in the 30 years prior. As long as the strength of the field that generates the lower scoring assembles, futures averages should follow suit on the stock par 70, Mother Nature pending as always.
On cue, textbook summertime conditions are on tap in the backyard of the title sponsor’s headquarters. In fact, it’ll be even more cooperative than how locals might define textbook because rain is not expected all week. Daytime highs will push and exceed a seasonable 90 degrees and wind might ripple a few of the international flags on the property by the weekend, but trousers should be spared.
TPC Southwind tips at 7,233 yards. That’s 44 yards shorter than last year, entirely due to par-3 13th not playing longer than 195 yards this time. Champion bermudagrass greens could stretch to 12-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter, but putting isn’t the priority to consider contending.
Putting surfaces average only 4,300 square feet. While the course is not unfamiliar to most – indicating that putting should matter more than when greens are foreign – the premium is on hitting greens in regulation, landing on them with precision and scrambling.
Consider that en route to a three-stroke title last year, Justin Thomas finished T7 in greens hit, second in proximity, first in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and sixth in scrambling, but he ranked 55th in Strokes Gained: Putting, giving away almost two strokes on the greens during the tournament. Of the 11 who recorded a top 10 in the event, four recorded negative SG: Putting totals, two of whom were worse than JT.
Primary rough, also bermuda, is trimmed to two-and-a-half inches. This elevates the possibility for a shorter hitter to surprise, but the greater benefit will be to longer hitters for whom the pressure is relieved to take shorter irons from tighter lies. That’s always the case, but the smaller greens serve as a more formidable of a defense against the wayward off the tee.
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.
MONDAY: Power Rankings (WGC-St. Jude)
TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (Barracuda), Sleepers (WGC-St. Jude), Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.