The 2022 FedExCup Playoffs opens with a home game for the first time.
After 15 years of launching into the season-ending series in the Northeast, the first stop of three is not far from the headquarters of its title sponsor, which also happens to be the title sponsor for the newly christened FedEx St. Jude Championship.
The course is familiar, however. TPC Southwind gets things going on Thursday. Read below the expanded ranking of projected contenders for analysis of the stock par 70, what’s at stake and more.
POWER RANKINGS: FEDEX ST. JUDE CHAMPIONSHIP
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Cameron Young 19 Max Homa 18 Collin Morikawa 17 Tyrrell Hatton 16 Russell Henley 15 Sam Burns 14 Billy Horschel 13 Jon Rahm 12 Tom Kim 11 Will Zalatoris 10 Jordan Spieth 9 Sungjae Im 8 Justin Thomas 7 Scottie Scheffler 6 Matt Fitzpatrick 5 Xander Schauffele 4 Rory McIlroy 3 Tony Finau 2 Patrick Cantlay 1 Cameron Smith
Viktor Hovland, Joaquin Niemann, Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama and Scott Stallings will be among the notables reviewed in Draws and Fades.
Just as the hosts of the last three events of the regular season were batting-practice fastballs, TPC Southwind presents as a fair and gettable test. Of course, in this case, instead of pursuing the top 125 in Eligibility Points to qualify for the FedEx St. Jude Championship, this week’s target is the top 70. That’s the cutoff to advance to next week’s BMW Championship.
Of the 125 qualifiers, Tommy Fleetwood (seeded 47th; personal), Lanto Griffin (69th; back surgery), Daniel Berger (78th; back) and Nate Lashley (98th; toe) will not play. Griffin, Berger and Lashley will not advance, but Fleetwood should be safe even though FedExCup points are quadrupled in each of the first two Playoffs events. (Whether the Englishman opts to compete next week is unknown.)
TPC Southwind hosts the last tournament of the 2021-22 season with a cut, which is the customary low 65 and ties. A cut was part of the show when it hosted the FedEx St. Jude Classic for three decades through 2018, but it itself was cut from the experience when it staged a World Golf Championship from 2019-2021.
The course tips at 7,243 yards. That reflects an increase of 10 yards since the last WGC, all at the 205-yard, par-3 14th hole that has been the site of some elasticity over the years. Primary rough is trimmed to 2½ inches, while the bermuda greens could touch 12½ feet on the Stimpmeter. Both measurements are in line with recent history.
Whether overall scoring will align with how TPC Southwind played for the limited-field WGC is to be determined. All three editions yielded averages within a stroke under par, but when it hosted the larger open, scoring typically exceeded par, also within a stroke. So, to crudely split the difference, par itself is a reasonable expectation this week.
Greens average just 4,300 square feet, so distance off the tee plays up. A dry summer further favors the long ball as the most penal of rough can’t help but be more forgiving than usual. Then again, one last front will be passing through as the opening round is underway, so it’ll have a final chance to thicken. After it does, dry and calm conditions will take hold for the remainder. Daytime highs will flirt with 90 degrees and wind will not be a factor outside of threatening energy.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Draws & Fades
WEDNESDAY: Pick ’Em Preview
SUNDAY: Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Rookie Ranking
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.