Quick look at the FedEx St. Jude Classic
June 06, 2018
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic Preview
Some players prefer to rest the week before a major championship. Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, prefers to play.
“Some people feel like if they win, they’ve expended too much energy and don’t carry it over,” Mickelson said. “For me, I’ve actually won two of my five majors winning the week before and I think it would be momentum that I would carry over to the U.S. Open. That’s why I would love to play well and hopefully come out on top.”
No one has played better than Mickelson in Memphis over the last five years since he added the FedEx St. Jude Classic to his schedule before the U.S. Open. Since 2013, he’s never finished worse than T11 with 15 sub-70 rounds and two runner-ups.
No one will confuse TPC Southwind with Oakmont or Shinnecock, but the course setup has given Mickelson the opportunity to work on sharpening his mental game and accuracy — two things that are absolutely imperative at the U.S. Open, long considered the toughest test in professional golf.
“I feel the best way for me to prepare for the U.S. Open is to get in contention and get sharp mentally and with my game,” Mickelson said. “That’s what playing here in Memphis does. Precision is a key factor at this course.
“[TPC Southwind] doesn’t beat you up with length, you don’t have to go out and bomb it. You’ve got to be precise with every shot off the tee.”
Mickelson will not only need to be precise off the tee this week, but at Shinnecock as well. Given his strong history in Memphis, Mickelson spent the early part of the week logging practice rounds at the Long Island course, even getting in a practice round with Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright.
“I feel like all areas of your game are going to be tested and skill is going to be a huge factor, especially chipping and putting around the greens,” Mickelson said. “Very challenging but very fair. It’s not hack-it-out rough, it’s fairway height, but the greens are so difficult that it’s hard to get the ball close and I love the challenge.”
While Mickelson has his sights set on Shinnecock, he isn’t looking beyond this week. Given his respect for TPC Southwind and the tournament, Mickelson admitted he’d love to somehow find a way to fill two holes in his Hall-of-Fame resume over the next two weeks.
“I very much would like to win [the FedEx St. Jude Classic],” Mickelson said. “Winning earlier this year meant a lot to me, and I’d love to add a couple more this year and this is an ideal spot. I know I’ll be in it on Sunday, I just hope I shoot low enough to pull through.”
Phil Mickelson ready for one of his favorites before FedEx St. Jude
THREE PLAYERS TO PONDER
Very few players have a better track record at TPC Southwind than Mickelson. His last five starts include two T2s and a T3. With the U.S. Open on tap, this has turned into a perfect week to sharpen his game.
Already has Special Temporary Membership on TOUR with three top 10s in his first five starts as a pro. His ability and fearless nature were on display during the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, where he finished T6.
Played the FedEx St. Jude Classic last year before going on to win the following week at the U.S. Open. Last four starts at TPC Southwind feature a T2, T3 and a scoring average of 68.56. Much of his recent success this season — he finished runner-up at the Fort Worth Invitational — can be attributed to a healthy wrist.
A closer look at TPC Southwind’s finishing hole, the 453-yard par-4 18th. Last year, it played to a stroke average of 4.140, making it the sixth most difficult hole on the course, and ranked as the 15th most difficult closing hole on TOUR last season. Just like its shorter but slightly more severe cousin, the par-4 12th, the 18th’s primary defense is water. A total of 839 shots have ended up in the water since 2003, fifth most of any hole on TOUR during that span.
TPC Southwind - Hole No. 18
THE LANDING ZONE
The 485-yard fifth ranked as the toughest hole on the course during last season’s tournament, with a scoring average of 4.240. Finding the fairway is the biggest challenge, as the hole ranked as the second toughest to hit, with just 28 percent of the field finding the short grass off the tee during the final round. A large tree on the right side of the fairway comes into play, while the left side is lined with spectator mounds.
From PGA TOUR meteorologist Stewart Williams: “High pressure will influence the weather on Thursday and Friday with mostly sunny skies and hot afternoon temperatures. Humidity levels will increase each day and by Friday the heat index will approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A weak front is forecast to drop down into Tennessee by Sunday and could produce a few scattered thunderstorms.”
For the latest weather news from Memphis, Tennessee check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub.
SOUND CHECKI think a lot of it reminds me of the golf course that I grew up on. Bermuda green, a lot of familiar tee shots, and overall, it just feels like I'm back home. I know it's Memphis, but it reminds me a lot Florida.
BY THE NUMBERS
4 – Daniel Berger became the fourth back-to-back winner at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, joining David Toms, Lee Trevino and Dave Hill.
4,964 – Since 2003, TPC Southwind has surrendered 4,964 balls in the water. The total number of balls in the water is 1,562 more than TPC Sawgrass with 3,707.
6 – Since 2007, six of the 11 FedEx St. Jude Classic champions have qualified for the TOUR Championship.
There’s something about TPC Southwind that prepares a player to win the U.S. Open. The last two champions (Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson) played the week prior in Memphis before going on to win their first major title.
In the ShotLink era (Since 2003), six FedEx St. Jude Classic champions did not find the water at TPC Southwind en route to their respective victories and three of the last four champions at this event since 2014.
Phil Mickelson is a combined 41-under par, recording 18 of 20 rounds of par or better and 90 birdies or better. Mickelson has record four top 10s in five starts at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, tied with Billy Horschel for the most top-10 finishes at this event in this stretch.