The FedEx St. Jude Classic provides some players in the field with a tuneup for the U.S. Open, and headlining is defending champion Dustin Johnson, who has won seven times on the PGA Tour and is still just 28 years old.
Johnson held steady amidst a plethora of golfers collapsing down the stretch in last year's event, winning by one stroke at nine under par overall.
Several other stars are in the field this week, but if you're looking for the eventual winner to ride that momentum and capture the year's second major next week, don't count on it. ESPN's Justin Ray points out how unprecedented that would be:
Hometown favorite and world No. 6 Brandt Snedeker is looking to recapture his magnificent early-season form before a rib injury set him back, though he did seriously contend at the Masters. Multiple-major champions Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington are also looking to get back on track.
Back in action too is 14-year-old Chinese prodigy Tianlang Guan, who looks to bounce back after missing his previous two cuts.
Below is a closer look at the action that will take place in Memphis beginning on Thursday, including the marquee groupings to keep an eye on throughout the first two rounds.
Note: All statistics, video and other information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of PGATour.com.
When: Thursday, June 6, to Sunday, June 9
Where: TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tenn.
Tee Times: First group is off at 7 a.m. ET. For a complete list of tee times for the first two rounds, visit PGATour.com.
Purse: $5.7 million
FedEx Cup Points: 500
TV Schedule (via PGA.com)
Thursday: Golf Channel 3-6 p.m. ET
Friday: Golf Channel 3-6 p.m. ET
Saturday: Golf Channel 1-2:30 p.m. ET, CBS 3-6 p.m. ET
Sunday: Golf Channel 1-2:30 p.m. ET, CBS 3-6 p.m. ET
Groups to Watch
No. 17: D.A. Points, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington
Throwing two players with the star power of Mickelson and Harrington in the same group promises to raise the profile of this event—and command the attention of the gallery's vast majority.
Points is no slouch himself, though, as he won his first PGA Tour event at the Shell Houston Open earlier this season and also finished runner-up in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
It's been wildly inconsistent play from Points otherwise, but he has the ability to contend when he's on. He'll look to recover from a missed cut at the Memorial last week.
Coincidentally, Harrington's last top 10 on the PGA Tour was the site of Points' big breakthrough. Although he followed it up with a tie for sixth in the Maybank Malaysian Open across the pond, the Irishman has struggled mightily ever since.
Consecutive missed cuts at The Masters and Wells Fargo Championship preceded a tie for 75th for Harrington at The Players Championship then a joint 48th finish in the HP Byron Nelson tournament.
As he discussed on Wednesday, getting into the heat of competition the week before a major is commonplace for Mickelson.
After not playing the week before the U.S. Open in 2012 and winding up tied for 68th, a change in strategy is clearly in the cards for Phil the Thrill.
Winning apparently nixes one's chances of a U.S. Open title, but if Lefty can show signs of life after missing the cut at The Players, his stock will be soaring at Merion.
Mickelson ranks first in birdie average this season and eighth in strokes gained-putting. Should that form surface again, he has a good chance to contend against this modest bunch of competitors this week.
No. 18: Boo Weekley, Ian Poulter and David Toms
At the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Weekley picked up his third PGA Tour win and first in nearly five years. This is his first start since, and one of the game's premier ball-strikers figures to do well again at a venue where pars are premium and fairways and greens are especially coveted.
Other than a strong showing at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship earlier in 2013, it's been a rather forgettable campaign for Poulter. His Ryder Cup prowess hasn't resulted in greatness in individual stroke-play events.
Poulter's only other relatively strong showing was at the Volvo World Match Play event on the European Tour, where he was eliminated by eventual runner-up Thongchai Jaidee.
There are only four multiple winners of this tournament, and Toms happens to be one of them. His missed cut at Colonial did include a second-round 66, so there's at least some reason to believe his combination of experience and that recent round in the bag could lead to a strong finish here.
The more reserved Toms is still a joy to watch because of his buttery-smooth putting stroke. Combine that with the outrageous antics of Weekley and the fiery competitiveness of Poulter, and this has all the makings of a highly entertaining trio.
No. 30: Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson and Davis Love III
There's no doubting the caliber of talent featured in this American trio, but unfortunately each player has been hit with various injuries.
As captured below, Snedeker is perpetually dealing with a rib condition and taking medication in an effort to increase his bone density in that part of his body to a more normal level.
Meanwhile, another back problem caused Johnson to withdraw from The Players Championship after an opening-round 74. That sandwiched two other occasions where Johnson was forced to bow out of tournament commitments.
Davis Love III has been a longtime staple on tour but has barely played in 2013 because of back surgery. He returned for The Players and made it to the weekend before missing the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
However, Love did manage a tie for 29th at the Memorial on an extremely difficult layout, which gives him some positivity to draw on in Memphis.
If these gritty competitors are relatively close to 100 percent, any of them could wind up with the trophy by the conclusion of the weekend.
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