Fed Ex St Jude Classic 2017 Preview

Fed Ex St Jude Classic 2017 Preview

Our golf scribe previews this week's PGA Tour event, the Fed Ex St Jude Classic.

So it's final preparation time for those intent on capturing major glory at next week’s US Open. No player has ever won the US Open after being victorious in the previous PGA Tour event, which makes for a slightly chilling omen for those competing this week. As one would rightly expect, there is a slightly more open field this week with only eight of the world’s top 30 competing this week. Rickie Fowler missed out at Muirfield in a rain-affected opening round, but the Honda Classic winner deserves his place at the head of the markets this week. He will be desperate to get some fine tuning ahead of a push for that long-awaited first major.

Perhaps the most pertinent bombshell ahead of Erin Hills is the news that Phil Mickelson may not make the tournament due to his daughter’s graduation. That is fairly astounding considering that it is the major that would complete the career Grand Slam. For that reason, I think that ‘lefty will be extra motivated to put on a good show this week. This has oddly enough been a great course for debutants, with four of the last six winners winning at their first attempt.

This course should provide a stern test and ideal preparation for next week’s US Open. The Ron Prichard designed course was opened in 1988, but in 2004 it saw a major overhaul to the, with the addition of 125 trees and many more bunkers. Water is in play on 10 holes while the greens were changed from bentgrass to Bermuda. The greens are also smaller than usual, which should allow for plenty of that vital scrambling practice ahead of Erin Hills. This should be a fascinating precursor to the US Open, and it will be interesting to see who can do the real walking in Memphis.

Fed Ex St Jude Classic | Thursday 8 June - Sunday 11 June | TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee

Past Winners
2016: Daniel Berger (-13) | 2015: Fabian Gomez (-13) | 2014: Ben Crane (-10) | 2013: Harris English (-12) | 2012: Dustin Johnson (-9)

To Win Outright 
Rickie Fowler 8/1 | Brooks Koepka 12/1 | Adam Scott 14/1 | Francisco Molinari 14/1 | Phil Mickelson 18/1 

Value Bets

Francisco Molinari - To Win 14/1 & To Place 3/1
This course is tailor-made for the dead-eye Italian. Considering the fact that length off the tee is more a relative concept this week, Molinari’s recent great form should give you pause for concern. Approach play will be vital this week, and Molinari ranks third in the field from strokes gained from the tee and second in the field in strokes gained on approach. Throw in the fact that Molinari has two top 10 finishes in his last two stars, and one should expect the gutsy Italian to thrive on this Memphis course.

Kyle Stanley - To Win 33/1 & To Place 7/1
Kyle Stanley has really been playing some solid golf of late and has benefitted greatly from a semblance of reliability with the flat blade. He has two top 10 finishes in his last three events, and I don’t expect him to be lulled into complacency this week. He may not have the greatest record at TPC Southwind, but Stanley should be able to benefit from a weaker field than is customary for this event.  These event's, on the eve of majors, present wonderful opportunities to the likes of Stanley to get that Fed Ex Cup points tally going in the right direction.

Camilo Villegas - To Win 140/1 & To Place 30/1
Here’s the old ‘curveball’ option this week. Coming off the back of three poor outings, Villegas is an appealing price for someone with an excellent record at this very course. The Colombian has been coming here since 2006, and has only missed the weekend on one occasion. In that run, he has amassed an impressive seven top 20 finishes, including a T3 in 2011. The effervescent Colombian has been something of a disappointment in recent seasons. His brand of ostentatious dress sense and undeniable charisma is what golf enthusiasts love. He just failed to qualify for the US Open in Ohio on Monday, missing the required score by two shots. But he played well and should thrive at a course that he has an inexplicable eye for.

The Man to Beat

Phil Mickelson -To Win 18/1 & To Place 39/10
‘Lefty’ says that he has been playing well recently without quite getting the results he wants. A promising start at Memorial petered out with a 72/73 finish. But this event is one that he loves. Since 2013. Mickelson’s finishes here read 2-11-3-2. He clearly has the eye for this course and obviously benefits from his otherworldly short-game. But perhaps of greater motivation this week will be the aforementioned fact that he is likely to miss next week’s US Open. This will give added motivation and I think it’s about time that Mickelson returned to the winner’s arena.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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