After a smaller than normal field at the Memorial, this week we are back to a regular sized tour event which features a full field of 156 golfers. Only the top 70 ties and will make the cut meaning getting all 6 of your players through to Saturday will be a tough task; over 50% of the field will not play the weekend. The field this week features a lot of lesser known players but there is still some quality at the top of the field. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson will all be in attendance as they get in one last tune-up event before the US Open at Chambers Bay. With a lot of non-regular tour players in this week’s event it will really pay to do your research as there is the possibility of some hidden fantasy gems at the lower salary levels.
TPC Southwind (Memphis, Tennessee)
Par 70- 7200 yards
TPC Southwind has been the host course for the FedEx St. Jude Classic since 1989. It underwent renovations in 2004 that saw the course lengthened and also saw numerous trees and bunkers added. The renovations seemed to have worked because since then it’s played as one of the tougher courses on tour. The greens at TPC Southwind are also smaller than normal and being accurate with approach shots this week will be key as there is water in play on over half of the holes. While some big hitters have won here in the past the course also has numerous doglegs making it more difficult to cut the course on some holes. This course is a pretty good all-around test of golf that will challenge the players in numerous way. Scrambling games will be put to the test for the less accurate players while long hitters will still carry an advantage by being able to carry some of the hazards with more ease. With only two par 5’s on the course players will also have to score well on par 4’s this week and those who can make birdies there more often than their competitors will hold a distinct advantage.
Last Five Winners
What will it take to succeed at TPC Southwind?
This is a tough course and generally the winners here have already been in good form coming in. With a weak field I’d expect that the people at the top of the leaderboard this week will have already been playing consistent golf. That doesn’t mean lesser known players can’t have success, and given the field I expect you’ll see some unfamiliar names in the top 30 this week. As far as what sort of game is needed for success on the course big hitters have shown to have an advantage here but it’s not as pronounced as one might think. Last year’s winner Ben Crane is one of the shorter hitters on tour and won going away in wet conditions. Good play around the greens and accuracy with approach shots is likely just as if not more important than simple power. Look for players with some length to their game but who have also been solid in other facets of their game. Strong approach games and scrambling will be just as big a key to success this week as power.
Who has had success here?
This event has seen a large spectrum of players have success at TPC Southwind and I don’t think you need to limit yourself to picking one style or type of golfer.
- Dustin Johnson leads the pack of golfers who have proven power is an advantage at this course. Johnson won this event in 2012 and has gone 24th and 10th in his other two appearances.
- Ryan Palmer is another long hitter who lately has shown real promise at this event. He’s played here the past three years and made all three cuts, while landing 3rd and 4th place finishes.
- Robert Allenby isn’t a long hitter but he’s a solid ball striker and has a great record at this event. Since 2007 he’s played here 7 times and only finished outside the top 13 once (last year).
- Camillo Villegas loves this course too. He’s made 8 of 9 cuts since 2006 and has 6 top twenties in that span including a 3rd place finish in 2011.
- Finally, the shorter but straight hitting Boo Weeley is also someone not to forget about. Boo has made 6 of his last 7 cuts at TPC Southwind and has a fourth place finish here too, proving power is not everything this week.
Who has struggled here?
There’s not a ton of players who have long histories of struggling at this course so I’ve made this section shorter than normal this week. I did however suggest a few players below who I think might be worthwhile to fade (stay away from).
- Martin Laird’s best finish at this event is a 24th back in 2012. He’s missed two of four cuts at this event as well and is someone I’m not focusing.
- Matt Jones has played at this course three times and never made the cut. It’s not a huge sample size but there’s obviously something he struggles with here and he’s not someone I’d count on for a huge fantasy week at this event.
- Jason Kokrak has huge distance but can also be wild off the tee. He’s played here twice and struggled both times. Given his recent poor stretch he’s another player I’d likely avoid this week.
- Steven Bowditch has been playing really well lately, however he’s struggled at this event (missed 3 of 4 cuts) and I’m guessing his tendency to be inaccurate off the tee is why. He’s a player I’m avoiding this week because I think the course will punish his style more severely than other players.
What statistics are important?
This is a tough week to pinpoint specific statistics. A variety of styles have had success here so you don’t want to discount a certain group of players through stats. That being said par 4 scoring here will be important and I think it’s a good baseline to start your research with this week. There’s only two par 5’s at TPC Southwind and players who won here in the past have all ranked highly in par 4 scoring in the year that they won. The other two stats I’m looking at this week are Driving Distance and Approach Proximity. My feeling is a lot of players who’ve had past success at this event did so by driving the ball extremely long—and cutting out most of the danger—or by being extremely accurate with their approaches. Many past winners have ranked highly in greens in regulation the week they won and good Approach Proximity is something that should lead to a high percentage of greens hit, especially given the greens at TPC are smaller than normal. While I’m not necessarily ruling out players based on being a poor statistical fit this week Par 4 scoring, Driving Distance and Approach Proximity are all stats I’m using to help identify my best plays.
This is a week where you’ll want to be somewhat cautious with your picks, but at the same time use some gpp lineups to take some chances with lessor known players. Given the weaker field a lot of average players are priced higher than usual this week. It’s imperative that when paying up you find players who have been playing solid of late as the course this week is no joke and will present a tough test. Look for golfers who have strung together some recent success while also being on the lookout for some under the radar and potentially low-owned players to use for your large field gpp lineups.
There’s some converging trends for Webb Simpson this week and also some statistics which suggest he is going to make an excellent play. In addition to taking 3rd pace at this event last season, Simpson is coming into this event hot having placed 2nd in his last start at the Wells Fargo. Simpson ranks top twenty in approach proximity and in greens in regulation. I think Webb is really hungry to get back in the winner’s circle and I’m liking him this week to take down the title and be a huge play on DraftKings.