One final tune-up event remains on the PGA Tour for the year's second major as players set their sights on next week's U.S. Open: the St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind outside of Memphis.
This is the 60th edition of The St. Jude Classic, which for many years was called The Memphis Open. In 1989, the tournament moved courses and has been held ever since at TPC Southwind. For the last 10 years, it has been the final event leading up to The U.S. Open, the season's second major championship. Many of the top names in golf are taking this week off to get ready for next week's championship at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Only 12 of the Top 50 players in the world rankings are in Memphis.
With a field that is not overloaded with star power, the tournament has produced many first-time winners. Four of the last six winners at TPC Southwind had never played the event previously. Statistics will show that both Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy play into one's success at TPC Southwind. Neither being overly dominant in determining a winner but combined with Greens In Regulation, it is Strokes Gained Tee To Green that is a skill-set to be heavily considered this week. Scrambling has also proven to be indicative of success in Memphis as the course has smaller than standard Tour greens ... and as always with a par 70 set up, scoring on the Par 4s will be crucial.
It is a good spot on the schedule for a less than marquee tournament to precede a major, but the fact is The U.S. Open is the current topic of conversation. With that, watch how players perform this week leading up to your handicap of the big boy tournament starting next Thursday at Erin Hills.
Rickie Fowler (+805 Bookmaker): Fowler broke his nemesis last week at The Memorial in finishing 2nd after having missed three straight cuts at the event. He comes in this week leading the Tour in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. He has only played here once before and took 13th in 2014.
Brooks Koepka (+1215 Bookmaker): Koepka has cooled off a bit the last couple of weeks after a great run that went all the way back to The Match Play in March. He loves this place, however, with a 2nd, 3rd and 19th in his only appearances.
Adam Scott (+1416 Bookmaker): Like Fowler, Scott has played here just once. He took 7th 10 years ago after leading going into the final round. His form has been very good for the last two months with two Top 10 finishes.
Phil Mickelson (+1585 Bookmaker): Interesting that Mickelson is here this week. He always plays the week before a major but he has said that he will miss The U.S. Open to attend his daughter's high school graduation. The fact remains that he's a serious contender with three Top 5s and an 11th-place finish in Memphis the last four years.
Billy Horschel (+3000 5Dimes): Horschel has been cut in five of his last seven starts, but in one of those starts he did win The Byron Nelson. In his last three trips to TPC Southwind, he's finished 8-6-10.
Russell Henley (+3000 5Dimes): Henley is having a great season. He hits a lot of greens in regulation and it has resulted in eight Top 25 finishes, including a win in Houston. He was 7th at The St. Jude last year.
The Long Shots
Graeme McDowell (+8000 5Dimes): McDowell has made our long-shot a couple of times this year. He's only missed two cuts all season and has four Top 30 finishes and three Top 20s in the last three months. He's been cut here three times but also owns a 24th and a 7th.
Stewart Cink (+7500 5Dimes): Cink's mindset will be something to consider having just qualified to play in The U.S. Open. Will that motivate him here or having him looking ahead to next week? He's in very solid form and has only missed the cut here once in eight appearances.
Brian Gay (+9000 5Dimes): Gay won this event back in 2009 and took 6th last year. He had back-to-back 6th-place finishes back in April at The RBC Heritage and The Valero Texas Open.
Kyle Stanley (+2527 Bookmaker): The Clemson Tiger has been very good the last two months with an 8th in Houston, a 4th at The Players and a 6th last week at The Memorial. In four visits to Memphis, he has the cut twice, but this season's game looks to be a good fit as he is 5th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 2nd in Greens in Regulation, 55th in Scrambling and 9th in Par-4 Scoring. Against a weaker field, I expect him to be in contention Sunday and is worth a shot at better than 25/1.Talk Golf Betting In Our Forum