2015 FedEx St. Jude Classic picks + predictions, plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

Some would think that it might be a PGA Tour tournament director’s worst nightmare to be slotted the week before a major championship; however, it actually may be a benefit in some cases as not everyone takes the Tiger Woods approach in consistently taking weeks off before every major.  

In the case of this week’s FedEx St Jude Classic, the field is undoubtedly boosted by the fact that the U.S. Open is next week, never mind that it’ll be played two time zones far NW of Memphis- these guys simply want to enter our national championship with their games sharp as can be.  Just ask Phil Mickelson (who does the anti-Tiger and plays the week before nearly every major).

The host venue is TPC Southwind, which is annually one of the toughest non-major tracks on Tour.  In fact, the par 70 track played +.72 strokes to par last year, making it the hardest non-major for the second time in three years.  Tight fairways and small, undulating greens make the 7,239 yard course a daunting task for everyone in the field to be sure.

My picks last week at the Memorial were fairly pedestrian, as Bill Haas, Patrick Reed and Jason Dufner all finished between 18th and 26th place, and Hideki Matsuyama fared much better in his title defense than I predicted he would.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Haas t-18th, Reed t-26th)

Harris English
Harris English
– You never forget your first…PGA Tour victory that is, as Mr English broke through for his inaugural win here in 2013.  He did miss the cut here last year in his title defense, which I correctly predicted as my BUST pick of the week last year; however, I like the form that Harris is flashing of late, most notably a t-18th last week at Memorial, which I believe he’ll improve upon and will contend this week.

Billy Horschel
Billy Horschel
– Time to hop aboard the Billy Ho train once again, as Mr octopus pants is cranking back up the intensity meter just in time for our national open.  Billy Ho finished t-13th at the PLAYERS and t-11th at the Memorial in his past two starts, which coupled with his t-10th and t-6th finishes here the past two years makes him a chalky, yet no-brainer/must play this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Dufner t-24th)

Nick Watney
Nick Watney
– Was quite surprised to see that it’s Watney’s first trip to TPC Southwind, so I’m simply rolling with potential and sudden rediscovered form here as just two weeks ago at the Byron Nelson, Watney notched a t-10th finish.  It’s truly baffling to me to see a player with so much talent be so volatile and miss so many cuts, but he’s got top 25 PGA Tour talent and any given week can take home the hardware.  Call it a hunch that he makes some noise this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Hideki t-5th)

Paul Casey
Paul Casey
– A solid stretch of play up through the WGC Match Play it undoubtedly was for the Englishman, but following an illness things have yet to bounce fully back on track.  Going to be later rather than sooner in Casey’s case before he rediscovers that hot form, steer clear for now and thank me later.
****Note- Casey WD’d prior to start of tournament

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Woodland MC)

Ryan Palmer
Ryan Palmer
– You know, just because he missed the cut at his home course (Colonial) doesn’t mean that we all need to hate him forever.  Plain and simple, the other Mr Palmer has been playing some mighty fine golf this PGA Tour season.  In fact, sans MCs at Pebble, the PLAYERS and Colonial, his worst stroke play finish is a t-33rd at the Masters, with an average finish of the events where he’s made a cut of 15th.  How’s that for some sudden consistency?!  Basically, if he makes the weekend, he’s either contending for the win or close to it.  Add in that he’s gone t-3rd, 4th and t-32nd here the past three years and damnit, I wish I hadn’t burned him in OAD a few weeks back.  Ryan Palmer is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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