2014 FedEx St Jude Classic Preview, Picks + Predictions Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #USOpenWarmUp

There are definitely both drawbacks and benefits to hosting a PGA Tour event the week prior to a major championship on the PGA Tour.  The drawbacks being that your tournament can easily be overshadowed by all of the look -ahead talk and buzz surrounding the coming week’s major; however, the benefits usually being that there’s a crop of top players who make it a habit to play the week prior to a major to have their games sharp and in “tournament shape” come major week.  Such is the case with this week’s FedEx St Jude Classic.

The host course for this week’s tourney in Memphis is TPC Southwind, which is certainly no pushover.  In fact, at a stroke average of 70.760, the 7,239 yard track played as the third-hardest par 70 of the PGA Tour season in 2013, which was amazingly a four-year low.  Fairways are narrow and the 5,420 square foot greens are mighty tricky to target.  Talk about prepping well for the pars-are-good-scores mindset for next week’s U.S. Open.

Big names like Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Webb Simpson and others are in the field this week prepping their game’s for our national Open.

So yeah, I’m ready to move onward from last week, as my picks were more than a wee bit shabby to say the least.  My Lockzilla Gary Woodland was solidly in contention and only 3 back of Bubba’s lead when CBS came on the air on Saturday, only to completely have the wheels fall off and tumble all the way to a t-57th finish.  My other Lockzilla, Dustin Johnson, also disappointed in finishing t-46th.  My Semi-Flier Russell Knox missed the cut and my DOTD BOLD play of the week Stewart Cink was just so-so, finishing t-49th.

Now, time to start fresh and hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Woodland t-57th, D Johnson t-46th)

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson
– DJ let me down last week at the Memorial in this same Lockzilla spot, as his t-46th place finish was more than just a little lackluster; however, I’m definitely not afraid to double down on him this week with his track record here (2012 champ, t-10th last year) and with the U.S. Open next week (where I like him to contend).  DJ is the biggest top 10 lock in the field this week.

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell
– It’s easy to overlook top players when they haven’t competed recently, such is the case with GMac, as he hasn’t competed anywhere since the PLAYERS three weeks ago.  He notably skipped the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, a marquee event on the Euro Tour to stay home with his pregnant wife (expecting in August), and he really comes in under the radar this week.  GMac did miss the cut here in ’12, but finished t-7th here in ’09.  Frankly, like others, he’s obviously using this as just a warm-up for next week’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst (where he snuck in a couple practice rounds on Monday + Tuesday this week according to his Twitter account)—-however, I don’t really care that it’s just a warm-up.  With his level of talent I love for him to contend this week, then carry that right into next week’s U.S. Open.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Knox MC)

David Toms
David Toms
– The guy who seems like he’s been 47 for about 6 years now has been playing some sneaky solid golf lately.  Toms finished t-5th at Colonial in his last start, which followed up a t-48th at the Byron Nelson and a t-15th at the Zurich Classic in his two prior tourneys.  Throw in that he’s a two-time champ here and also has two runner-ups and boom, hello sneaky solid play this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Rory t-15th)

Harris English
Harris English
– Spot on nailed Harris missing the cut at the Byron Nelson as my Hosel-Rocket BUST pick just a couple weeks ago where he noticeably was battling with his swing and I see continued struggles for the defending champ this week.  Harris has immense talent and will get things turned around sooner than later, but with three missed cuts in his past five events, I’m still staying away until I see some better form.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Cink t-49th)

Billy Horschel
Billy Horschel
– Mr Octopus pants finally appears to have rediscovered his game (mainly his putting), as he finished t-15th at Memorial and t-26th at the PLAYERS Championship in his last two starts.  When Billy gets hot, it’s time to ride the wave, as evidenced by his t-2nd, t-3rd, t-9th and 1st place run in four consecutive events early last PGA Tour season.  Add in that he finished t-10th here last year and Billy Ho is my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

Speak Your Mind

*