Tournament: FedEx St. Jude Championship, August 10-13, 2023
Course: TPC Southwind, par 70, 7,243 yards
Purse: $20 million in total, $3.6 million to the winner. 70th (last) place is good for $40,000. Hit one shot, withdraw, and go buy yourself a new bass boat with a sweet 4 stroke on the back.
Defending Champ: Will Zalatoris. While the guy is good (before he got injured), and certainly was deserving of a PGA Tour win, he was the recipient of the golf gods smiling upon him. In a playoff with UGA’s own Sepp Straka, Zalatoris barely cleared the water on the third playoff hole, bounced off the rocks but somehow stayed on dry land. Straka dunked his, flew his 3rd shot long, and Zalatoris won with bogey.
Fun Fact: Back when this was the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, newly private citizen and former US President Gerald Ford hit a hole-in-one during the pro-am portion. Being a Michigan man, he of course did not win.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel).; Saturday, 1-3 p.m (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, noon-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (CBS)
‘Dawgs in the Field: 7. Brian Harman, Sepp Straka, Harris English, Chris Kirk, Brendon Todd, Keith Mitchell, Russell Henley.
Last week’s Wyndham Championship helped a few ‘Dawgs position themselves. Remember that the season-long FedEx Cup points race finished Sunday and only the top 70 in points advance to the post-season.
Russell Henley again flirted with a win in Greensboro, but late bogeys and some bad breaks resulted in a tie for 2nd. That still moved him up from #34 to #20 in FedEx Cup points and playoff rankings.
Brendon Todd had a top 10 last week, and jumped from #42 to #39. Chris Kirk missed the cut, but only dropped 2 spots to #28. Harris English finished T33 and stayed steady at #43 in points. Greyson Sigg made the cut, but his T38 actually dropped him a spot to #106 (he was going to need a win or solo 2nd to advance anyway).
Davis Thompson probably had the most pressure, as he started last week in 75th place, on the outside looking in. He played solid with rounds of 68-66-69-69, yet was probably 3 strokes shy of what he needed to bust into the top 70. Keith Mitchell was #58, did not play, and only fell 1 spot. Sepp Straka and Brian Harman were guaranteed a playoff berth, also did not play, and will start the playoffs in the #15 and #6 positions respectively.
A field of 70, and 7 of them were forged from the fires of UGA Golf Coach Chris Haack. To advance to next week’s BMW Championship, players must be in the top 50. Points are quadrupled this week, so there will be a lot more volatility. Mitchell obviously needs to beat 10 or so guys in front of him this week, Todd and English likely need top 40 finishes to stay inside that magic 50 number. Kirk and Henley probably just need top 50 finishes to advance. Harman is safe at least for next week, and Straka might be as well. But a good week this week also puts everyone in a much stronger position to move on to the Tour Championship in Atlanta, so no days off for our boys.
The Memphis area has been receiving heavy rain due to the recent storms. And the forecast is for what most of has have been enduring of late: hot, and thunderstorms. TPC Southwind isn’t the hardest course, but you really need to hit fairways in order to score. With soft conditions, tee balls won’t run out of the fairway and the greens will be soft and receptive. And there could be “lift, clean, & place” declarations depending on if more rain arrives. So we might have another birdie-fest on our hands.
As mentioned, Straka was runner-up last year in Memphis, and Harris English had his own 2nd place finish here in 2020. With Straka winning in early July at the John Deere, Harman’s runaway victory at the British Open, Henley’s near miss last week, there are some Bulldogs in good form, so that bodes well for a good result. Enjoy the golf and some drama, and as always...