The First Look: FedEx St. Jude Classic
June 01, 2018
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- June 01, 2018
Daniel Berger goes back-to-back at FedEx St. Jude
Daniel Berger takes a run at becoming the first man since 2011 to three-peat a PGA TOUR event, joining reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and predecessor Dustin Johnson in the final stop before Shinnecock Hills.
This year will be the final pre-Open setting for the longtime Memphis stop, which gets an upgrade to World Golf Championships status in 2019 and will move into the late summer slot following the Open Championship.
FIELD NOTES: Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson also will take a running start into Open week, giving the lineup four of the top 20 players in the world rankings. Stenson visits Memphis for the first time since 2012. … In all, 13 St. Jude entrants will use Memphis as a tuneup for Shinnecock Hills. That number could rise after Monday’s final Open qualifying. … Ole Miss junior Braden Thornberry, fourth last year after capturing the NCAA individual title, returns on another sponsor exemption. … Two other former college standouts join the lineup: Grant Hirschman (Oklahoma) and Dawson Armstrong (Lipscomb). … John Daly, now primarily on the PGA TOUR Champions, joins the Memphis lineup for the first time since 2014. … Memphis native Casey Wittenberg tees it up on the PGA TOUR for the first time since 2016 at Torrey Pines.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
STORYLINES: Berger, whose only two professional wins have come at TPC Southwind, sets out to become just the sixth man in the past four decades to win three straight at the same venue. Steve Stricker was the last to pull it off, winning three John Deere Classics from 2009-11. … Mickelson, never lower than 11th in any of the past five editions, returns to sharpen his game ahead of the only major he hasn’t won. The Hall of Famer has six top-6 finishes this season, including a win at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. … Koepka arrives off a runner-up finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, just his third start since a 16-week layoff to let a wrist injury heal. …Just five St. Jude champions have come from outside the United States, with Nick Price winning twice in 1993 and ’98. The others: Gary Player (1974), Greg Norman (1997), Lee Westwood (2010) and Fabian Gomez (2015). … A U.S. Open berth remains available for anyone who moves into the top 60 of the world rankings after the St. Jude’s conclusion. Seeking a last-gasp rise: No.63 Patton Kizzire and No.65 Adam Scott.
COURSE: TPC Southwind, 7,244 yards, par 70. Hosting its 30th edition of the St. Jude Classic, the former dairy farm takes a step up next year as a World Golf Championships venue. Architect Ron Prichard teamed with former U.S. Open champions Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller on a layout that winds through natural lakes, streams and ponds southeast of Memphis. Loren Roberts was brought in for a 2004 upgrade that removed dozens of trees on the property and replaced Southwind’s bentgrass greens with more heat-tolerant Bermuda strain. Southwind’s par-3 11th hole draws comparisons with the famed 17th at TPC Sawgrass, requiring a short iron over water to a small island green.
72-HOLE RECORD: 258, John Cook (1996).
18-HOLE RECORD: 59, Al Geiberger (2nd round, 1977 at Colonial CC). TPC Southwind record: 61, Jay Delsing (4th round, 1993), Bob Estes (1st round, 2001).
LAST YEAR: Berger picked up his second PGA TOUR title at the same place he claimed his first, emerging from a logjam at the top with a bogey-free 66 on the final day. A 17-foot birdie at No.15 pushed Berger to the front for good, finishing at 10-under-par 270 and one stroke clear of Charl Schwartzel and Whee Kim. Thornberry was among five players who finished two shots off the pace, becoming the first amateur to record a top-10 finish at Memphis since 1965. At one point, nine players shared the final-round lead at 8-under before Berger finally rose above the crowd. The Florida native became the St. Jude Classic’s fourth back-to-back winner and first since David Toms in 2003-04.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (Featured Groups), 4-7 p.m. (Featured Holes).
RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.COM).