WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational
As the TOUR heads towards the pointy end of the season, it becomes all about points and positions. The magical number on the FedEx Cup ranking list is 125. Make the play-offs or lose your job – unless of course you have exemptions carrying over. Patton Kizzire sits on the bubble but has a season up his sleeve after winning twice in season 2017/18.
This week 2 events merge to form a new tournament on the TOUR roster. The WGC Bridgestone Invitational is no more and the FedEx St. Jude Classic has been elevated to a WGC event, now known as the FedEx St. Jude Invitational. As a result, there a 2 defending champions; Justin Thomas won the WGC at Firestone last year and Dustin Johnson has the trophy from last’s years final Classic here in Memphis.
TPC Southwind has hosted the St. Jude Classic since 1989. Southwind was designed by Ron Pritchard, in consultation with Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller. Opened for play in 1988, the layout consistently ranks inside the top-10 hardest courses on TOUR. TPC Southwind can be stretched to 7,244-yards, plays to a par 70 and has a slope rating of 144.
As at Monday night this week, 64 of the 68 qualifiers including 46 of the top-50 in the OWGR had committed to playing the St. Jude. WGC events are worth 550 points and award a 3-year TOUR exemption to the winner. World No.1 Brooks Koepka is joined by 2, 3 and 4 - Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose to headline a star field.
Koepka didn’t have his A-game last week at Portrush but was still good enough to finish T4. The result saw him assume the No1. position in the FEC from Matt Kuchar. Brooks Koepka looks set to finish this season the way he started it, a winner. Johnson didn’t figure last week in Ireland (T51) and has been scratchy since he ran off a pair of 2nd’s at the PGA and Masters. Dustin Johnson is a 2-time winner here at Southwind and has won a total of 6 WGC’s, 2nd only to Tiger Woods. Granted the wins were against weaker field’s but Johnson loves it here and he needs a shot of confidence.
McIlroy missed the cut at the Open by a shot after fighting back from a horror start. 11 top-10’s from 15 starts makes him this season’s most consistent performer. Rose sits 11th in the FedEx Cup on the back of a win amongst 6 top10’s this season. He was in the mix last week but closed with a disappointing 79 to fall into a tie for 20th. The reigning FedEx champ needs a big finish to the season if he wants to defend.
Australia’s 4 best peg it up this week; Jason Day, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith. Day missed the cut last week and has only posted 1 top-10 in his last 8 starts. Currently ranked 37 in the FEC, Jason Day needs results if he’s to make the season ending TOUR Championship. Scott missed out last week too, but recorded 3 consecutive top-10’s immediately prior. Adam Scott is a lock for the TOUR Championship but fell to 19th after the Open.
Leishman joined Day and Scott on the early flight home from Northern Ireland last week, but the world No.26 is our highest ranked player in the FEC at 15. He’s connected with 6 top-10’s including a win in 17 starts this season. Smith was the only Aussie to make the cut at the Open and moved into contention after a Friday 66. Unfortunately, on moving day Cameron Smith didn’t. An even par 71 had him treading water whilst the leaders pulled away. Promising signs though.
Notable qualified absentees this week include Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari and Rickie Fowler. Woods looked decidedly uncomfortable at Portrush with popular opinion being back issues. It hurt to see the great man struggle.
A limited field and no cut makes for an exciting week of attacking golf. Check out our Facebook and Twitter feeds and don’t miss a thing.
Bernd Weisberger has won his first Roles Series event and taken out his second tournament for the season with a 3rd hole playoff win at the Scottish Open. He won the Made In Denmark event just 7 weeks ago and now has moved to the top of the Race To Dubai rankings after his big win here.
He lead by 2 strokes heading into the final round, but he and his playing partner Erik Van Rooyan did not have the dream start they would've wished for. Weisberger had to scramble for par down the first and made bogey down the second, while Van Rooyan had an 8 down the second after getting stuck next to a bunker and failing to move his ball with 2 swings before chipping it sideways.
All of this brought everyone else back into the picture as they were charging from behind. None more than Andrew "Beef" Johnston, who wrote an article about his mental health issues just a few weeks ago. Beef was on 59 watch earlier as he made 10 birdies in his first 16 holes, but made a bogey down the last. He broke down in an interview afterwards and it was clear to see that his emotions are still very close to the surface. His tied 4th finish earned him a place in The Open field next week along with Nino Bertasio and Benjamin Hebert who like Beef, shot a final round 62.
It was Hebert and Weisberger both tied at -22 after 72 holes that fought out the playoff and both made par the first time back down 18 and bogey the next, but Hebert missed a straight 4 footer for par the next time down and the tournament went to the Austrian. Andrew Putnam shot a final round 7 under 64 to tie with beef in 4th along with Stenson who shot a 66. Justin Thomas had a 65, Rafa Cabrera Bello a 67 to both finish inside the top 10. Lucas Herbert was the only Aussie to make the cut and he finished tied 62nd at -9.
Poulter, Hatton, Fitzpatrick and Wallace all tied for 14th at -17. Thomas Pieters & Matt Kuchar on -16 and Rory McIlroy was tied 34th after finishing with 4 rounds in the 60's and a -13 total. Rory was solid without being anything special. He struggled a little with his putting and chipping, but should be at home still next week at Royal Portrush. Still my tip for the win.
MODULE | 2 columnInstructions: Please add text or images inside table. You can also add a module inside another module but only up to 1 layer deep. Images will be full width of frame. On smaller screens 2 columns will become 1 with the right cell on each row stacking below the left. Add as many rows as necessary.