Pundit Arena previews the FedEx St. Jude Classic – the final event on the PGA Tour before Chambers Bay takes centre stage next week for the U.S Open.
*Our results and analysis of our first ten weeks of tipping is well worth looking at.
TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee has hosted the St. Jude Classic since since 1989, and measures 7,239 yards, which is long for a par 70.
Stars such as Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel tee it up this week, as anticipation builds for next week’s US Open at Chambers Bay.
The results of the event in recent years have thrown up some unexpected winners – Harrison Frazar was available at 250/1 in 2011, while current Champion Ben Crane came in at a substantial 175/1.
Previous winners and closest competitors:
2010 – Lee Westwood from Robert Garrigus and Robert Karlsson
2011 – Harrison Frazar from Robert Karlsson
2012 – Dustin Johnson from John Merrick
2013 – Harris English from Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings
2014 – Ben Crane from Troy Merritt, Matt Every, Carl Pettersson and Webb Simpson
- Recent Byron Nelson winner Steven Bowditch has missed three cuts in five here, with a highest finish of 68th.
- David Toms has won the St. Jude Classic twice along with five other top tens. The last of these was in 2009, though.
- Just four winners of this event have come from outside the United States: Nick Price (1993, ’98), Gary Player (1974), Greg Norman (1997) and Lee Westwood. Fifteen of the last sixteen wins came courtesy of players from the U.S.
- In 2014, none of the top seven in the field for driving distance finished higher than T19th. Ben Crane was 62nd out of 71 players in the statistic and won the tournament.
- Crane led the field in strokes gained-putting on his way to victory.
- Zac Blair leads this week’s field in strokes gained-putting.
- In last year’s event, Carl Pettersson finished first in greens in regulation, while Matt Every led in scrambling. Both players finished in a tie for third overall.
Webb Simpson (25/1)
The former U.S Open winner tied for second at the recent Wells Fargo Championship. Along with three top tens this season, Simpson hasn’t missed a cut since February. Webb finished third here last year, thanks to ending up 7th in greens in regulation for the week.
Notable PGA Tour stats:
- Strokes gained: tee-to-green – 3rd
- Scoring average – 13th
- Sand save percentage and scrambling – 14th
- Total driving – 10th
- Greens in regulation – 20th
- Round 1 scoring average – 1st (making him a decent candidate for first round leader)
- Par 3 scoring average – 8th
With statistics like these permeating every part of his game (perhaps bar the putting), Simpson is bound to catch fire at either next week’s U.S Open or even right here in Memphis. We’ll also back him for first round leader.
Brooks Koepka (25/1)
The much hyped youngster finally announced his arrival among the big boys by winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February. Koepka recently finished top 20 in both the AT&T Byron Nelson and the WGC Cadillac Match Play and has two other top tens to his name this season.
- Ninth in driving distance
- 7th in scoring average
- 22nd in strokes gained putting
If he can keep the ball on the fairway, Brooks has the scoring power and putting form to contend.
Harris English (33/1)
English has been living up to his potential this year, with a runner-up in the Farmers Insurance Open along with two other top three places. A former winner of the St. Jude Classic, the Georgian won the event in his very first appearance.
When his total driving rank of 16th and greens in regulation rank of 33rd are combined, English’s ball-striking on Tour ranks at a mighty 15th. His form on and around the green isn’t bad either – he’s 24th in scrambling and 13th in total putting.
Finishing in the top twenty of last week’s Memorial Tournament should provide confidence heading into an important stretch of tournaments.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (300/1), Billy Horschel (16/1), Scott Moran (1000/1)