Last week was a bit of a break for much of the TOUR as the Olympics took center stage, and the Summer Games certainly did not disappoint as Xander Schauffele survived for the win and the coveted gold medal. He will head back stateside with a stable of players that will go from Tokyo to Memphis for this week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude.
Many of the Top 50 players in the world will tee it up this week for the last WGC of the season, which is a no cut event held at TPC Southwind. One notable absentee is World No. 1, Jon Rahm, who had withdrawn from the event prior to his positive COVID-19 test that caused him to withdraw from the Olympics. All of the other big names are set to go, including Bryson DeChambeau, who also had to back out of Tokyo due to a positive COVID test the weekend prior to that event.
This week for DFS, we won’t have the usual cut sweat, as barring a withdrawal, all players will play four rounds. It will make the bonuses, birdies and final positions all the more important as we identify our player pool. I’ll start the week the way we normally do, by breaking down the course, and the players that have seen top-end results at this course.
TPC South Wind – Memphis, Tenn.
7,233 yards, par 70
- Two par 5s (530/579)
- Four par 3s (162/171/195/196)
- Twelve par 4s (395/401/406/434/445/453/457/465/472/482/485/505)
- Some of the smallest greens on TOUR at 4,300 square fteet on average
- Bermudagrass greens and rough up to 2.5 inches, with zoysia tees and fairways
- Eleven water hazards in play on 11 holes
TPC Southwind has been a host to events on the PGA TOUR dating back to 1989. Over the years, it has hosted tournaments from the Memphis Open to the FedEx St. Jude Classic, and it is now in its third year holding the FedEx St. Jude Invitational as part of the WGC.
The course is a 7,233-yard par 70 with two par 5s, 12 par 4s and four par 3s. The par 5s, Nos. 3 and 16, have historically been the two easiest holes on the course. They have each played under par on average, with the easiest being at 16 where it plays to an average of 4.51. The 16th has seen a 47.8% birdie rate and 2.8% eagle rate, having players lose strokes to the field with anything par or worse. No. 3 isn’t quite as easy, but it still yields birdie or better more than 34% of the time. Scoring on both of these holes will be imperative to the success of players throughout the week.
All other holes on the back nine have averaged over par, and only three other holes on the course played under par. Even with those seemingly tough scoring numbers, we have seen both winners of this event in the mid-teens under par each year. Brooks Koepka won by three shots in 2019 over Webb Simpson by getting to 16-under on the week. Justin Thomas also won by three in 2020, but he was at 13-under.
Looking back through the years prior to the WGC version of this event, winners ranged from 9- to 19-under-par, so the course seemed to play fairly similarly to last year. The main protection of the course is wind and water, as the rough is not much of a factor. It will be important for players to hit fairways and try to find the putting surface this week, but possibly the biggest key will be avoiding the big number.
Most years, TPC Southwind sets the pace on tour for the most water balls, with Nos. 12 and 18 accounting for the majority of that damage. Players will need to dodge the water holes throughout this track, while also taking advantage of a handful of scoring holes in each round in order to contend for the championship.
Brooks Koepka (T2-1)
It’s a difficult week to separate the top of the course horse leaderboard since there are a bunch of big names who have found success at TPC Southwind. Koepka makes it pretty easy to start with him with his win and runner-up in the first two versions of this event. He clearly has an affinity for this track, and there is no doubting the form he brings into the week.
Justin Thomas (1-T12)
The man who beat Brooks last year was Justin Thomas, and his T12 in 2019 shows that it wasn’t just a one-hit wonder. Thomas has seemingly traveled the world over the last month, but it’s hard to ignore a player with a track record like this in a no-cut event.
Daniel Berger (T2-DNP)
I said at the beginning how difficult it was to separate the course horses this week, and Berger is a great example. He finished in that log jam for T2 last year, and prior to that he had won back-to-back Fedex St. Jude events in 2016 and ’17. No one will be overlooking him this week since he’s the lowest priced of this initial group of three.
Phil Mickelson (T2-57)
Mickelson added a runner-up finish to a track record dating back to 2013 at this course that included five other top-12 finishes. Most of those came in weaker fields at the standard TOUR stop that was made to TPC Southwind, but he put that theory out with his T2 last year. He hadn’t had as much as a top-20 finish for nearly six months when he put that runner-up showing together, making him an interesting play with four guaranteed rounds at a cheap price.
Pictured above: Brooks Koepka
Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images