By Brandon Raper @Brandon__Raper on June 5, 2014
The FedEx St. Jude Classic is upon us, and while many golf observers are already looking forward to next week's US Open, there's still plenty of business to settle at TPC Southwind.
Although the winning scores haven't always reflected it, the Memphis, Tenn. track is the perfect combination of tough and fair. Who has what it will take to go low in the first event of what's sure to be a big summer? Read on to find out.
When putting this together, I just couldn't decide what to do with Phil Mickelson, so he's getting a special "dark horse" mention. Everything that can be said about his rough season has been said, but he has to know that a strong performance here can only be good for his hopes at Pinehurst.
Mickelson has shown occasional flashes of getting his game back on track at times in 2014, so you'll have to keep your eye on him at Southwind.
Welcome back to the column, Mr. Horschel.
The last three months have been rough for one of the breakout stars of 2013, but Horschel started to turn things around with a T-15 at the Memorial despite a Sunday 74. He's hitting fairways and greens like a machine (ranked 10th and sixth, respectively), so if his putter cooperates, this could be a big week for the former Gator.
Twice a runner-up and with five total top-tens, Palmer keeps finding ways to contend, but hasn't finished the job yet. He's been in the top five each of the last two seasons in Memphis, so don't be surprised to see that positive trend carry over yet again in 2014.
Seemingly back in form after three down seasons, Casey is suddenly a trendy pick on Tour, with six top-20 finishes in seven cuts made for 2014. This is his first trip to the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but his solid mid-range putting (19th on Tour from 10 to 15 feet) should give him plenty of scoring chances on smallish greens.
It's hard to think it was all the way back in November when English won at Mayakoba, especially as he's coming off three missed cuts in his last five tournaments. Still, the defending champion could easily use the positive energy of the week to get himself back on track.
English went the entire final round at Colonial without a bogey, ranks third in greens in regulation and leads the Tour in actual scoring average.
Is this a "trendy" pick? Sure, but DJ is still in the middle of a career year, and people are already penciling him in to challenge for his first major championship at Pinehurst.
The only real flaw in Johnson's game, as always, is his accuracy off the tee, but he's overcoming it by hitting greens, sticking the ball tight, and converting on almost 34% of his birdie chances. He's won at Southwind before, and could easily do it again.
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