St. Jude Classic, TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
The PGA Tour moves on to Memphis, Tennesse for the FedEx St.Jude Classic. The tournament will be hosted at the TPC Southwind, a course which always provides one of the tougher tests for the golfers on tour. Players will be faced with a 7200+ yard Par 70.
TPC Southwind was designed by Ron Prichard primarily, although Tour players Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller served as consultants. Playing a bogey-free round at this course is a real achievement and that is often what the players look to do here.
The fairways are relatively narrow but the rough around them is not too penal. As a result, players can often try to get some distance off the tee and put themselves in a good position to attack the greens. The green complexes are considered quite tough.
Not only are the greens smaller than the tour average but they also have a lot of undulation to them. It is critical for the players to approach the greens from the right direction and that makes the landing spot even smaller.
Around half of the holes are doglegs and water is in play for 10 of the holes. Players with a ball flight from right to left have a natural advantage.
Daniel Berger is the defending champion this year, as he was last year. He won the tournament in 2017 and 2016, Fabian Gomez won it in 2015, Ben Crane won it in 2014, and Harris English won it in 2013.
Having a good tournament history is something that the Wolf weighs heavily because of the nature of the course. A relatively strong field is slated to play this tournament with Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson, and Phil Mickelson the standouts.
Winning this tournament is all about avoiding bogeys and having the imagination to recover from difficult positions. Most players inevitably find themselves struggling to reach the greens in regulation and so scrambling is also an important aspect to be considered. There are some Par 4’s where players can take advantage and move up the leaderboard but choosing the right time to attack is crucial.
Players that are on top of their iron game and can sink their putts under pressure will be the ones that find themselves fighting for the championship come Sunday.
Stats That Matter
The Wolf is going to be looking at the following stats for this weekend:
- Strokes Gained: Approach the Green
- Bogey Avoidance
- Par 4 Scoring
Daniel Berger won with a score of -10 in 2017 and -13 in 2016, Fabian Gomez won with -13 in 2015, Ben Crane won with -10 in 2014, and Harris English won with -12 in 2014.
The weather conditions are expected to moderate this weekend and the Wolf thinks that we could see a winning score close to -13.
Daniel Berger was 14th for Driving distance, 10th for Green in Regulation, and 2nd in Putter per Greens in Regulation when he won in 2017.
The Wolf agrees with the bookmakers this weekend and is backing Dustin Johnson as the favorite at $6.50. Johnson is in good form and seems to be peaking towards a win very soon. He finished 8th in the Memorial Tournament last week, was T10 at the Masters, and has been in top-20 over his last four starts.
Dustin Johnson has the ability to get tremendous distance off the tee but his accuracy is often underplayed. His iron game has been very good as well and the Wolf is only concerned about his putting this weekend. He is also a previous winner at this tournament.
Dustin Johnson is 1st for Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, 3rd for Par 4 Scoring, and 3rd for Bogey Avoidance.
The Wolf’s value pick this week is Henrik Stenson at $13.00. Getting Stenson at this price is an excellent bet in the Wolf’s opinion. Stenson has been in excellent form and recorded three straight top-5 finishes not too long back.
This course should suit Henrik Stenson very well. He is very accurate off the tee, does not make too many errors, and can spot scoring opportunities to pounce upon. He finished 13th here in 2012 and that has been his best finish at the tournament so far.
A moderately strong field will test Stenson but also allow him to dominate if he gets on a roll.
The Wolf’s recommendation for the long shot this weekend is Luke List at $29.00. List has been going through a funny patch of form of late. He has missed two cuts in his last four but also has two top-10 finishes in his last five starts.
Which Luke List will turn up this weekend is anyone’s guess but the Wolf thinks he is worth a punt at the price being offered. The stats say that Luke List has what it takes to win this tournament. He is 3rd for Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, 31st for Par 4 Scoring, and 30th for Bogey Avoidance.
The biggest challenge for Luke List would be to avoid the horror holes this weekend. If he can get off to a good start then the Wolf can see him contending for the title for sure.
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