Fantasy Forecast: FedEx St. Jude Classic, preview

Phil Mickelson

Fantasy Forecast: FedEx St. Jude Classic, preview

PGA Tour

Fantasy Forecast: FedEx St. Jude Classic, preview

By

First look

FedEx St. Jude Classic

TPC Southwind, Memphis

· Course specs: 7,244 yards, Par 70 (35-35), 5,420 square feet of putting surface, on average

· Grass: Greens – Champion Bermudagrass; Rough – Bermudagrass at 2.5 inches

· Course architect(s): Ron Prichard (1987);

· Purse: $6.2 million ($1.116 million, 500 FedExCup points)

· Defending champion: Fabian Gomez blitzed the field by four shots to easily win for the first time on Tour.

· Notes: 156-player, stroke-play event. … Top 70 and ties play the weekend. … Last chance to finish inside the OWGR top 60 to play the U.S. Open.

Past champions

2015: Fabian Gomez 267

2014: Ben Crane 270

2013: Harris English 268

2012: Dustin Johnson 271

2011: x- Harrison Frazar 267*

2010: x- Lee Westwood 270*

2009: Brian Gay 261

2008: Justin Leonard 276*

2007: x- Woody Austin 267

2006: x- Jeff Maggert 271

2005: Justin Leonard 266

x-not playing this week; * -playoff

Fact and figures

· 59th edition of the FESJC and TPC Southwind has hosted since 1989.

· Justin Leonard is the only player with multiple wins since Bermuda was introduce after the 2004 edition.

· No player has defended.

· Only five internationals have won in 58 prior events and two have come in the last six events.

· Gomez, English and Frazar are the only three in the last 20 years to collect their first Tour win on this track.

· Only seven players have won on their maiden voyage but three of those winners (Westwood, Johnson, English) have also come in the last six events.

· Since 2000, only three players in their 20’s have won.

· Brian Gay (261) set the tournament record in 2009 as he steamrolled the field by five.

· The course record (post-2004 redesign) is 62, set in 2007 by 43-year old Woody Austin en route to a five-shot win.

· Austin is the oldest winner and English, 23, is the youngest.

· Gomez was the only player in double-digits under par last year and won by four.

· There were 14, bogey-free rounds last year but only two on the weekend.

· The last two times a Tour winner has failed to make a birdie in the final round has happened twice. Both times at TPC Southwind (Leonard, 2005; Crane, 2014).

Course Ratings

2005: 9th-most difficult in relation to par

2006: 2nd

2007: 6th

2008: 4th

2009: 20th

2010: 11th

2011: 9th

2012: 10th

2013: 14th

2014: 12th overall, HARDEST non-major par 70.

2015: 9th

Inside the ropes

After a week of mellow Midwest temperatures the Tour will get hot and sweaty this week at TPC Southwind just outside Memphis. With forecast highs in the 90’s for all four days, hot and muggy will be said just as much as birdie and bogey. With the last chance for those fringe players to qualify for a U.S. Open spot, plenty is on the line this week. Gamers, please remember plenty was on the line last week as well. And the week before that. And the week before that. The pros don’t have a magic switch they flip just because it’s the week before a major.

TPC Southwind is a private course so this is one of the few times when we here “TPC” it doesn’t mean “resort” and/or “easy”. The course was designed in 1987 by Ron Prichard but was redone to meet the new standards of the modern game by the Tour in 2004. The addition of Champions Bermuda on the greens allows the greens to thrive in hot, humid conditions while keeping their slickness (11.5′ – 12.5′ on the Stimpmeter). This will be the first tournament since TPC Sawgrass where Bermuda is back on the putting surfaces as both Texas stops and the Memorial were Bentgrass.

The fairways at TPC Southwind aren’t easy to hit but only two players of the top 15 were in the top 10 in fairways hit last year. The key will be finding the proper level on the tilted, undulating putting surfaces. Errant approaches will need to be cleaned up and it’s not an easy up-and-down track from around the green.

Throw in the wind, heat and humidity plus only two par five holes and there’s no wonder why it rates annually among the hardest on Tour and on the list of favorites who play it. This is the 10th year in a row that the FESJC will be the tune up for the U.S. Open. The pros will have to work the golf ball both ways off the tee and into the greens to tight landing areas. Throw in 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards to deal with when they misfire and those who know where to miss will have the advantage (read: experience). Par four scoring will be paramount as will avoiding bogeys. The 16th hole played the easiest last year and that’s one of the two par five holes. The birdies won’t flow like last week as there was no wind and perfect scoring conditions. Expect a grinders paradise this week.

The last three winners here paint the perfect, yet difficult picture. One bomber, Harris English. One putter, Ben Crane. One ball-striker Fabian Gomez. One young. One crusty Tour veteran. One newish-Tour member. But, over 58 editions, it looks like 30-something veteran Tour pros are the rule, not the exception. Gomez also bucked the trend of internationals winning as he was just the fifth in history.

Speaking of winning, please be aware that only 11 players have won the week before a major and then have gone on to win the following week. The last two to do it were Phil Mickelson in 2013 at the Scottish Open and then Muirfield whereas Rory McIlroy won the WGC-BI and followed it up with the PGA Championship at Valhalla in 2014. This week is prep for some, desperation for others and everything in between. I’m going to lean on class players in a light field and surround them with guys in form and who play tougher courses well.

The field

FAVORITES

In order of preference for this week and this tournament

Dustin Johnson: 2012 champ leads the Tour in consecutive cuts made; top 10 in par four scoring and SG: approach-the green; one round over par here in 12; top five finishes in four of his last six on Tour and easily the class of this field.

Gary Woodland: Steamrolling downhill and wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he won this week. Opened 67-68 at THE PLAYERS before finishing T-28; fired 64-64 Friday-Saturday for T-12 at AT&T; co-led after 54 holes at Memorial and only made one bogey in that stretch before closing with 73. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. Oh, and his last round here he shot 64. Oh, and if he hits the top 10 he’s probably in the U.S. Open (currently No. 64 and top 60 get in).

Harris English: After winning on his first try at TPC Southwind in 2013 he’s stuck four of six rounds in the 60’s but the other two weren’t (MC, T-45); prefers courses where he can work the golf ball and his closing 64-66 at Colonial last time out to finish second suggests that to be true.

Phil Mickelson: I sound like a broken record but the only time I invest in Mickelson is for exactly events like this. He’s committed. He’s a believer it gives him the best preparation for the U.S. Open so it’s guns blazing this week. Didn’t hurt to rack up a T-20 last week at Memorial, an event he rarely plays well to boost the confidence. Only reason he hasn’t finished on the podium three years in a row was a closing 72 in 2014 (T-2, T-11, T-3).

Ryan Palmer: Tough miss at U.S. Open qualifier on Monday but his 64 in his second round suggests he’s not packing it in or sulking; three top 10’s in eight tries including two of his last four here (T-3, 4th, T-32 and T-22); not surprising since he’s a member at Colonial, a course that’s similar and was T-3 there last time out.

Brooks Koepka: Busted out of a slump with a playoff loss to Sergio Garcia at AT&T Byron Nelson; Like those above him, fits the profile of guys who hit it a ton doing well here; T-19 in his maiden in ’14 and T-3 last year on the back of 64-67 to open; top 10 in par four scoring.

Colt Knost: Big week for Knost for gamers as we see if the candle has burned out or the week off again recharges him. Let down at Colonial wasn’t expected and won’t be this week where he has a pair of top 15’s in his last three.

Kyle Reifers: I thought last week would be the “tough” week for him as the Columbus native went home on a hot streak. Unlike Jason Day, he held it together for all four rounds in front of friends and family to finish T-20. That’s five in a row on Tour and the last three are T-10, fifth and T-20 with 11 of 12 rounds UNDER par. He’s 0-3 at TPC Southwind but he’s I’m riding the scalding form.

Daniel Berger: BOOG (it’s the name on the back of his hat, which I love) had a bit of fun at Oakmont on Monday; enters the week making nine weekends in a row on Tour (T-6); fits the Johnson/English mold of a young’un’ who mash it plus has the chops to win the first time at the event.

David Hearn: Absolute fantasy gold over the last two months; T-28 or better in five of his last six; opened with 66 and closed with 68 at Memorial last week; made five of six here and has played the last five years.

Charles Howell III: Broke a streak of five on the trot here last year that included three top 38s and a T-3; leads the Tour in rounds in the 60’s; top 15 in par four scoring; automated teller machine.

Jon Curran: Make it six cuts in a row that include bookend T-9 and P-2 finishes; 19 of last 23 rounds are UNDER par; shot 68 in round four here last year in his first voyage.

Ben Crane: Played six of the last seven year here and found the weekend all six times; four of those six have gone for T-18 or better including his stroll to victory in 2014; only six of those 24 rounds are above par; back-to-back top 30’s in the Texas swing that included 65-63 36-hole lead at AT&T.

David Toms: Enters on streak of six of seven weekends playing with T-39 or better in five of them; loves the routing here evidenced by peeling off seven top 10’s here from 18 weekends; won the last two events here before the redesign and went second, T-10, third, T-37 and T-2 to open the “new” track.

NEXT TIER

Just missed; no particular order of preference

Matt Jones: Combine his best finish in sometime on Tour last week at Memorial (T-20) with T-3 last year and it’s the perfect storm in a limited field.

Michael Thompson: Combine his best finish in sometime on Tour last time at AT&T (T-18) with T-3 last year and it’s the perfect storm in a limited field.

Camilo Villegas: Nothing better than T-28 in his last four can’t even push me away; course horse this week not named “Toms” as he’s cashed nine times in the last 10 years with four top 11’s in the last six years.

Retief Goosen: Probably should be higher up the list as he’s made 10 cuts on the bounce on Tour; T-3 here in 2011 and opened 66-66 here in 2014 before MC last year.

Will Wilcox: Last time on Bermuda gained almost 1.1 strokes on the greens; he’s T-19 and T-12 in his only two tries here.

Scott Brown: Just one off the lead here last year going into Sunday (T-12); getting more comfortable each year and has no problem in heat and humidity; jumped back on to the radar after 69-67-69 first three rounds last week at Memorial (T-27).

Chad Campbell: Six in a row here with top 10’s last year and in 2012; lovely backdoor T-10 at Colonial with a closing 63 backed up a solid T-12 the week before at AT&T.

Scott Stallings: Tennessee native has cashed three times in five tries including T-2 in 2013 and T-25 in his maiden in 2011; made four in a row before MC at Colonial.

Graeme McDowell: Rookies will think he’s coming off T-9 at THE PLAYERS and shoot him right into the lineup but remember since then he was 65th at the Irish Open and T-27 at Wentworth.

Tim Wilkinson: Lefty closed with 65 last time out at Colonial to complete his sixth consecutive weekend on Tour; prior two events he was T-11 and T-4.

Bud Cauley: Backed up his T-4 at AT&T with T-38 at Memorial that included 66 in the third round; third time in Memphis should add positive vibes as he enjoys limited starts on a MME (nine left).

Hudson Swafford: He’s opened with 66 in three of his last four events so there’s something brewing; sadly nothing better than T-34 in any of them but all made cuts. #SomethingGreaterThanNothing

Harold Varner III: Gave away a pile of money on Sunday last week with closing 79 but that was his sixth event in a row playing the weekend. Hits it a mile but you’ll have to take the occasional big one with the others…

Boo Weekley: Couldn’t back up 62 and 65 from AT&T at Colonial (MC) but he’s played six weekends in a row here including T-8 last year.

Zac Blair: Speaking of those spending mad cash last Sunday, began the day T-8 at 12-under before 75 dropped him to T-27; three really good rounds > one bad round.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH

Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings, general mish-mash

Seung-Yul Noh: With two top 10’s in just three tries, including 66-65 to close T-3 last year; easily shoehorns into the fray this week.

Justin Leonard: Twice champ here and only signing up for events that gets him off Aspen Mountain.

Martin Piller: Hit the top 10 in two of his last six, both in Texas, so he’s not worried about a bit of heat or wind.

Lee McCoy: Ran solo fourth at Valspar in his only other start this season; no longer an amateur, he turns pro this week after concluding his highly-decorated career at Georgia; first of seven sponsor’s exemptions that he can take.

Fabian Gomez: Defending champ showed flashes at Wells Fargo but little else; four-shot romp last year deserves a look.

Tim Herron: Played the weekend in 13 of 17 tries here and made both weekends on the Texas two step.

George McNeill: Four rounds under par last week at Memorial and a pair of T-30 or better in his last two here.

Justin Hicks: Last time he was in decent form he was T-8 here. He enters this week off his first top 10 since back-to-backs in summer of 2014. #BottlesOfLightning

Mark Wilson: A pair of T-25’s or better in his last four shows the desperation but I’ll take his experience.

Greg Owen: His solo second last year and T-11 in 2012 look great compared to most but don’t check his recent results…

Cameron Percy: T-38, T-25, MC, T-18 in four tries.

Luke List: First time he MC three in a row this season he followed with T-6. Second time he MC three in a row he followed with T-20. MC for the third event in a row at AT&T but shot 67 in the final round. Fits the bomber profile as well.

Wes Bryan: Leading money winner on the Web.com Tour with two wins and four top 10’s since the end of January. Hot golf is hot golf.

Hiroshi Iwata: Seven of his last 12 rounds on Tour are under par and he’s made three cuts in a row. Played his last three rounds at Memorial nine-under.

Tyler Aldridge: T-14 at Harbour Town and T-25 at Colonial suggests he can handle smaller, tough greens.

Dawie van der Walt: Opened with 67 at Quail Hollow two times ago; closed with 65 at AT&T last time; two of his three lowest rounds of 2016. HEY, IT’S SOMETHING.

Peter Malnati: Was two back going into Sunday as a rookie two years ago but shot 73; has since won but has MC in five straight. #Longshot

FADES

Players to avoid and there’s plenty of them

Brendon Todd: I feel bad leaving him on the list but new gamers shouldn’t be falling for the course form angle automatically.

Steve Stricker: I’m not sure what his plan is and hasn’t played here since 2006.

Jamie Donaldson: Up-and-down form offsets world ranking; shot 73-77 here last year. Be careful.

Up next

Wednesday, I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @GolfweekMag, @GolfweekFantasy and @MikeGlasscott for more information.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

First look

FedEx St. Jude Classic
TPC Southwind, Memphis

  • Course specs: 7,244 yards, Par 70 (35-35), 5,420 square feet of putting surface, on average
  • Grass: Greens – Champion Bermudagrass; Rough – Bermudagrass at 2.5 inches
  • Course architect: Ron Prichard (1987)
  • Purse: $6.2 million ($1.116 million, 500 FedExCup points)
  • Defending champion: Fabian Gomez blitzed the field by four shots to easily win for the first time on Tour.
  • Notes: 156-player, stroke-play event. … Top 70 and ties play the weekend. … Last chance to finish inside the OWGR top 60 to play the U.S. Open.

Past champions
2015: Fabian Gomez 267
2014: Ben Crane 270
2013: Harris English 268
2012: Dustin Johnson 271
2011: x-Harrison Frazar 267*
2010: x-Lee Westwood 270*
2009: Brian Gay 261
2008: Justin Leonard 276*
2007: x-Woody Austin 267
2006: x-Jeff Maggert 271
2005: Justin Leonard 266

x–not playing this week; *–playoff

Fact and figures

  • 59th edition of the FESJC and TPC Southwind has hosted since 1989.
  • Justin Leonard is the only player with multiple wins since Bermuda was introduced after the 2004 edition.
  • No player has defended.
  • Only five internationals have won in 58 prior events and two have come in the last six events.
  • Gomez, English and Frazar are the only three in the last 20 years to collect their first Tour win on this track.
  • Only seven players have won on their maiden voyage but three of those winners (Westwood, Johnson, English) have also come in the last six events.
  • Since 2000, only three players in their 20’s have won.
  • Brian Gay (261) set the tournament record in 2009 as he steamrolled the field by five.
  • The course record (post-2004 redesign) is 62, set in 2007 by 43-year old Woody Austin en route to a five-shot win.
  • Austin is the oldest winner and English, 23, is the youngest.
  • Gomez was the only player in double-digits under par last year and won by four.
  • There were 14 bogey-free rounds last year but only two on the weekend.
  • The last two times a Tour winner has failed to make a birdie in the final round has happened twice. Both times at TPC Southwind (Leonard, 2005; Crane, 2014).

Course Ratings
2005: 9th-most difficult in relation to par
2006: 2nd
2007: 6th
2008: 4th
2009: 20th
2010: 11th
2011: 9th
2012: 10th
2013: 14th
2014: 12th overall, HARDEST non-major par 70.
2015: 9th

Inside the ropes

After a week of mellow Midwest temperatures, the Tour will get hot and sweaty this week at TPC Southwind just outside Memphis. With forecast highs in the 90’s for all four days, hot and muggy will be said just as much as birdie and bogey. With the last chance for those fringe players to qualify for a U.S. Open spot, plenty is on the line this week. Gamers, please remember plenty was on the line last week as well. And the week before that. And the week before that. The pros don’t have a magic switch they flip just because it’s the week before a major.

TPC Southwind is a private course, so this is one of the few times when we here “TPC” it doesn’t mean “resort” and/or “easy.” The course was designed in 1987 by Ron Prichard but was redone to meet the new standards of the modern game by the Tour in 2004. The addition of Champions Bermuda on the greens allows the greens to thrive in hot, humid conditions while keeping their slickness (11.5- 12.5 on the Stimpmeter). This will be the first tournament since TPC Sawgrass where Bermuda is back on the putting surfaces, as both Texas stops and the Memorial were Bentgrass.

The fairways at TPC Southwind aren’t easy to hit but only two players of the top 15 were in the top 10 in fairways hit last year. The key will be finding the proper level on the tilted, undulating putting surfaces. Errant approaches will need to be cleaned up and it’s not an easy up-and-down track from around the green.

The field

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament

Dustin Johnson: 2012 champ leads the Tour in consecutive cuts made; top 10 in par four scoring and SG: approach-the green; one round over par here in 12; top five finishes in four of his last six on Tour and easily the class of this field.

Gary Woodland: Steamrolling downhill and wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he won this week. Opened 67-68 at THE PLAYERS before finishing T-28; fired 64-64 Friday-Saturday for T-12 at AT&T; co-led after 54 holes at Memorial and only made one bogey in that stretch before closing with 73. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. Oh, and his last round here he shot 64. Oh, and if he hits the top 10 he’s probably in the U.S. Open (currently No. 64 and top 60 get in).

Harris English: After winning on his first try at TPC Southwind in 2013 he’s stuck four of six rounds in the 60’s but the other two weren’t (MC, T-45); prefers courses where he can work the golf ball and his closing 64-66 at Colonial last time out to finish second suggests that to be true.

Phil Mickelson: I sound like a broken record but the only time I invest in Mickelson is for exactly events like this. He’s committed. He’s a believer it gives him the best preparation for the U.S. Open so it’s guns blazing this week. Didn’t hurt to rack up a T-20 last week at Memorial, an event he rarely plays well to boost the confidence. Only reason he hasn’t finished on the podium three years in a row was a closing 72 in 2014 (T-2, T-11, T-3).

Ryan Palmer: Tough miss at U.S. Open qualifier on Monday but his 64 in his second round suggests he’s not packing it in or sulking; three top 10’s in eight tries including two of his last four here (T-3, 4th, T-32 and T-22); not surprising since he’s a member at Colonial, a course that’s similar and was T-3 there last time out.

Brooks Koepka: Busted out of a slump with a playoff loss to Sergio Garcia at AT&T Byron Nelson; Like those above him, fits the profile of guys who hit it a ton doing well here; T-19 in his maiden in ’14 and T-3 last year on the back of 64-67 to open; top 10 in par four scoring.

Colt Knost: Big week for Knost for gamers as we see if the candle has burned out or the week off again recharges him. Let down at Colonial wasn’t expected and won’t be this week where he has a pair of top 15’s in his last three.

Kyle Reifers: I thought last week would be the “tough” week for him as the Columbus native went home on a hot streak. Unlike Jason Day, he held it together for all four rounds in front of friends and family to finish T-20. That’s five in a row on Tour and the last three are T-10, fifth and T-20 with 11 of 12 rounds UNDER par. He’s 0-3 at TPC Southwind but he’s I’m riding the scalding form.

Daniel Berger: BOOG (it’s the name on the back of his hat, which I love) had a bit of fun at Oakmont on Monday; enters the week making nine weekends in a row on Tour (T-6); fits the Johnson/English mold of a young’un’ who mash it plus has the chops to win the first time at the event.

David Hearn: Absolute fantasy gold over the last two months; T-28 or better in five of his last six; opened with 66 and closed with 68 at Memorial last week; made five of six here and has played the last five years.

Charles Howell III: Broke a streak of five on the trot here last year that included three top 38s and a T-3; leads the Tour in rounds in the 60’s; top 15 in par four scoring; automated teller machine.

Jon Curran: Make it six cuts in a row that include bookend T-9 and P-2 finishes; 19 of last 23 rounds are UNDER par; shot 68 in round four here last year in his first voyage.

Ben Crane: Played six of the last seven year here and found the weekend all six times; four of those six have gone for T-18 or better including his stroll to victory in 2014; only six of those 24 rounds are above par; back-to-back top 30’s in the Texas swing that included 65-63 36-hole lead at AT&T.

David Toms: Enters on streak of six of seven weekends playing with T-39 or better in five of them; loves the routing here evidenced by peeling off seven top 10’s here from 18 weekends; won the last two events here before the redesign and went second, T-10, third, T-37 and T-2 to open the “new” track.

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament

Dustin Johnson: 2012 champ leads the Tour in consecutive cuts made; top 10 in par-4 scoring and SG: approach-the green; one round over par here in 12; top-5 finishes in four of his last six on Tour and easily the class of this field.

Gary Woodland: Steamrolling downhill and wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he won this week. Opened 67-68 at the Players before finishing T-28; fired 64-64 Friday-Saturday for T-12 at AT&T; co-led after 54 holes at Memorial and only made one bogey in that stretch before closing with 73. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. Oh, and his last round here, he shot 64. Oh, and if he hits the top 10 he’s probably in the U.S. Open (currently No. 64 and top 60 get in).

Harris English: After winning on his first try at TPC Southwind in 2013 he’s stuck four of six rounds in the 60’s but the other two weren’t (MC, T-45); prefers courses where he can work the golf ball and his closing 64-66 at Colonial last time out to finish second suggests that to be true.

Phil Mickelson: I sound like a broken record but the only time I invest in Mickelson is for exactly events like this. He’s committed. He’s a believer it gives him the best preparation for the U.S. Open, so it’s guns blazing this week. Didn’t hurt to rack up a T-20 last week at Memorial, an event he rarely plays well, to boost the confidence. Only reason he hasn’t finished on the podium three years in a row was a closing 72 in 2014 (T-2, T-11, T-3).

Ryan Palmer: Tough miss at U.S. Open qualifier on Monday but his 64 in his second round suggests he’s not packing it in or sulking; three top 10’s in eight tries including two of his last four here (T-3, 4th, T-32 and T-22); not surprising since he’s a member at Colonial, a course that’s similar and was T-3 there last time out.

Brooks Koepka: Busted out of a slump with a playoff loss to Sergio Garcia at AT&T Byron Nelson; Like those above him, fits the profile of guys who hit it a ton doing well here; T-19 in his maiden in ’14 and T-3 last year on the back of 64-67 to open; top 10 in par-4 scoring.

Colt Knost: Big week for Knost for gamers as we see if the candle has burned out or the week off again recharges him. Let down at Colonial wasn’t expected and won’t be this week where he has a pair of top 15s in his last three.

Kyle Reifers: I thought last week would be the “tough” week for him as the Columbus native went home on a hot streak. Unlike Jason Day, he held it together for all four rounds in front of friends and family to finish T-20. That’s five in a row on Tour and the last three are T-10, fifth and T-20 with 11 of 12 rounds UNDER par. He’s 0-3 at TPC Southwind, but I’m riding the scalding form.

Daniel Berger: BOOG (it’s the name on the back of his hat, which I love) had a bit of fun at Oakmont on Monday; enters the week making nine weekends in a row on Tour (T-6); fits the Johnson/English mold of a young’un’ who mash it plus has the chops to win the first time at the event.

David Hearn: Absolute fantasy gold over the last two months; T-28 or better in five of his last six; opened with 66 and closed with 68 at Memorial last week; made five of six here and has played the last five years.

Charles Howell III: Broke a streak of five on the trot here last year that included three top 38s and a T-3; leads the Tour in rounds in the 60’s; top 15 in par-4 scoring; automated teller machine.

Jon Curran: Make it six cuts in a row that include bookend T-9 and P-2 finishes; 19 of last 23 rounds are UNDER par; shot 68 in round four here last year in his first voyage.

Ben Crane: Played six of the last seven year here and found the weekend all six times; four of those six have gone for T-18 or better, including his stroll to victory in 2014; only six of those 24 rounds are above par; back-to-back top 30’s in the Texas swing that included 65-63 36-hole lead at AT&T.

David Toms: Enters on streak of six of seven weekends playing with T-39 or better in five of them; loves the routing here evidenced by peeling off seven top 10’s here from 18 weekends; won the last two events here before the redesign and went second, T-10, third, T-37 and T-2 to open the “new” track.

Next tier

Just missed; no particular order of preference

Matt Jones: Combine his best finish in some time on Tour last week at Memorial (T-20) with T-3 last year and it’s the perfect storm in a limited field.

Michael Thompson: Combine his best finish in some time on Tour last time at AT&T (T-18) with T-3 last year and it’s the perfect storm in a limited field.

Camilo Villegas: Nothing better than T-28 in his last four can’t even push me away; course horse this week not named “Toms” as he’s cashed nine times in the last 10 years with four top 11’s in the last six years.

Retief Goosen: Probably should be higher up the list as he’s made 10 cuts on the bounce on Tour; T-3 here in 2011 and opened 66-66 here in 2014 before MC last year.

Will Wilcox: Last time on Bermuda gained almost 1.1 strokes on the greens; he’s T-19 and T-12 in his only two tries here.

Scott Brown: Just one off the lead here last year going into Sunday (T-12); getting more comfortable each year and has no problem in heat and humidity; jumped back on to the radar after 69-67-69 first three rounds last week at Memorial (T-27).

Chad Campbell: Six in a row here with top 10’s last year and in 2012; lovely backdoor T-10 at Colonial with a closing 63 backed up a solid T-12 the week before at AT&T.

Scott Stallings: Tennessee native has cashed three times in five tries including T-2 in 2013 and T-25 in his maiden appearance in 2011; made four in a row before MC at Colonial.

Graeme McDowell: Rookies will think he’s coming off T-9 at the Players and shoot him right into the lineup but remember since then he was 65th at the Irish Open and T-27 at Wentworth.

Tim Wilkinson: The lefty closed with 65 last time out at Colonial to complete his sixth consecutive weekend on Tour; prior two events he was T-11 and T-4.

Bud Cauley: Backed up his T-4 at AT&T with T-38 at Memorial that included 66 in the third round; third time in Memphis should add positive vibes as he enjoys limited starts on a MME (nine left).

Hudson Swafford: He’s opened with 66 in three of his last four events, so there’s something brewing; sadly nothing better than T-34 in any of them but all made cuts. #SomethingGreaterThanNothing

Harold Varner III: Gave away a pile of money on Sunday last week with closing 79 but that was his sixth event in a row playing the weekend. Hits it a mile but you’ll have to take the occasional big one with the others…

Boo Weekley: Couldn’t back up 62 and 65 from AT&T at Colonial (MC), but he’s played six weekends in a row here, including T-8 last year.

Zac Blair: Speaking of those spending mad cash last Sunday, began the day T-8 at 12-under before 75 dropped him to T-27; three really good rounds > one bad round.

Off the beaten path

Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings, general mish-mash

Seung-Yul Noh: With two top 10’s in just three tries, including 66-65 to close T-3 last year; easily shoehorns into the fray this week.

Justin Leonard: Twice champ here and only signing up for events that gets him off Aspen Mountain.

Martin Piller: Hit the top 10 in two of his last six, both in Texas, so he’s not worried about a bit of heat or wind.

Lee McCoy: Ran solo fourth at Valspar in his only other start this season; no longer an amateur, he turns pro this week after concluding his highly-decorated career at Georgia; first of seven sponsor’s exemptions that he can take.

Fabian Gomez: Defending champ showed flashes at Wells Fargo but little else; four-shot romp last year deserves a look.

Tim Herron: Played the weekend in 13 of 17 tries here and made both weekends on the Texas two-step.

George McNeill: Four rounds under par last week at Memorial and a pair of T-30 or better in his last two here.

Justin Hicks: Last time he was in decent form, he was T-8 here. He enters this week off his first top 10 since back-to-backs in summer of 2014. #BottlesOfLightning

Mark Wilson: A pair of T-25’s or better in his last four shows the desperation but I’ll take his experience.

Greg Owen: His solo second last year and T-11 in 2012 look great compared to most but don’t check his recent results…

Cameron Percy: T-38, T-25, MC, T-18 in four tries.

Luke List: First time he MC’d three in a row this season he followed with T-6. Second time he MC’d three in a row he followed with T-20. MC for the third event in a row at AT&T but shot 67 in the final round. Fits the bomber profile as well.

Wes Bryan: Leading money winner on the Web.com Tour with two wins and four top 10’s since the end of January. Hot golf is hot golf.

Hiroshi Iwata: Seven of his last 12 rounds on Tour are under par and he’s made three cuts in a row. Played his last three rounds at Memorial 9 under.

Tyler Aldridge: T-14 at Harbour Town and T-25 at Colonial suggests he can handle smaller, tough greens.

Dawie van der Walt: Opened with 67 at Quail Hollow two times ago; closed with 65 at AT&T last time; two of his three lowest rounds of 2016. HEY, IT’S SOMETHING.

Peter Malnati: Was two back going into Sunday as a rookie two years ago but shot 73; has since won but has MC’d in five straight. #Longshot

Throw in the wind, heat and humidity plus only two par-5 holes and there’s no wonder why it rates annually among the hardest on Tour and on the list of favorites who play it. This is the 10th year in a row that the FESJC will be the tune up for the U.S. Open. The pros will have to work the golf ball both ways off the tee and into the greens to tight landing areas. Throw in 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards to deal with when they misfire and those who know where to miss will have the advantage (read: experience). Par-4 scoring will be paramount, as will avoiding bogeys. The 16th hole played the easiest last year and that’s one of the two par-5 holes. The birdies won’t flow like last week, as there was no wind and perfect scoring conditions. Expect a grinder’s paradise this week.

The last three winners here paint the perfect, yet difficult picture. One bomber, Harris English. One putter, Ben Crane. One ball-striker, Fabian Gomez. One young. One crusty Tour veteran. One newish-Tour member. But, over 58 editions, it looks like 30-something veteran Tour pros are the rule, not the exception. Gomez also bucked the trend of internationals winning as he was just the fifth in history.

Speaking of winning, please be aware that only 11 players have won the week before a major and then have gone on to win the following week. The last two to do it were Phil Mickelson in 2013 at the Scottish Open and then Muirfield and Rory McIlroy, who won the WGC-BI and followed it up with the PGA Championship at Valhalla in 2014. This week is prep for some, desperation for others and everything in between. I’m going to lean on class players in a light field and surround them with guys in form and who play tougher courses well.

The field

Fades

Players to avoid and there’s plenty of them

Brendon Todd: I feel bad leaving him on the list but new gamers shouldn’t be falling for the course form angle automatically.

Steve Stricker: I’m not sure what his plan is and he hasn’t played here since 2006.

Jamie Donaldson: Up-and-down form offsets world ranking; shot 73-77 here last year. Be careful.

Up next

Wednesday, I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @GolfweekMag, @GolfweekFantasy and @MikeGlasscott for more information.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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