The FedEx St. Jude Classic is the final opportunity to shake out the kinks before the US Open, and the entire field will be taking full advantage in Memphis, Tenn., this weekend.
Despite the fact that many of the PGA Tour's front-runners are preparing for the second major of the season by themselves, there are still plenty of stars to watch before the US Open kicks off next week. For one, there's Harrison Frazar, who's looking to defend his title at TPC Southwind, and there's Rory McIlroy, who can't seem to stop the most problematic skid of his career.
It won't be easy at a course that always ranks as one of the hardest stops to conquer on the PGA Tour, but if these guys can overcome the tough greens and fairways in Memphis, they can do it anywhere. One boon for players like McIlroy: rain this week may have made a tough course just a little bit easier to contend with.
Where: TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tenn.
When: Thursday, June 7 through Sunday, June 10
Golfers to Watch
There's arguably been no one more consistent than him over the last couple of months. Johnson won the Colonial at the end of May, and finished as the runner-up in two of his four starts before that in the Players Championship and in the RBC Heritage. That's three finishes of second or better in four outings since April 15.
Johnson sees no value in skipping the St. Jude Classic, despite the fact that it comes right before the US Open. He told Reuters, "I don't know why [others] skip it. I think this is one of the most underrated tournaments on the PGA Tour. Once you experience it, I think it's pretty obvious."
As well as Johnson has been playing, there have been very few elites who have been as bad as McIlroy of late. He's missed his last three cuts and wasn't originally supposed to play at TPC Southwind, but he felt like he needed to make one last attempt to get his game together before embarking on the event that helped him turn the tides last year.
Before his recent run of futility, though, McIlroy was playing well from late-February to mid-March, registering a win, and second- and third-place finishes in the Honda Classic, the Accenture Match Play Championship and the Cadillac Championship respectively.
Last year's runner-up at TPC Southwind can't be counted out this year. Like McIlroy, he certainly hasn't been on point lately—he missed the cut in two of his last four outings, and in the other two, he finished no better than a tie for 48th—but the Swede has proven successful on what has been one of the toughest courses on the Tour.
Notable Groupings for Opening Two Rounds (All Times ET)
|7:27 a.m.||12:27 p.m.||Rory McIlroy||Graeme McDowell||Padraig Harrington|
|7:36 a.m.||12:36 p.m.||Dustin Johnson||Harrison Frazar||Justin Leonard|
|12:36 p.m.||7:36 a.m.||Zach Johnson||Kyle Stanley||Robert Garrigus|
|12 p.m.||7 a.m.||Boo Weekley||Daniel Chopra||David Duval|
|12:09 p.m.||7:09 a.m.||Joe Ogilvie||Mathew Goggin||Kris Blanks |
A full list of tee times is available at PGATour.com.
|Round 1||June 7||3 - 6 p.m.||GOLF|
|Round 2||June 8||3 - 6 p.m.||GOLF|
|Round 3||June 9||3 - 6 p.m.||CBS|
|Round 4||June 10||3 - 6 p.m.||CBS|
Prediction: Zach Johnson Wins
He's been playing so well recently that he's due for a win, and in the absence of some of the heavy hitters, there's no better time for him to finally escape from his runner-up rut.