The golf season is in full swing as spring begins to turn into summer. Golfers who want to prepare for the competition of the U.S. Open have the opportunity to ready themselves at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn. in June. Since 1958, the St. Jude Classic has been played every year in Memphis, the home of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which directly benefits from the tournament. TPC Southwind has been the home of the tournament since 1989. Daniel Berger has won the event the last two times he’s played, in 2016 and 2017.
The Three Top Favorites
Although Berger has been the champion of the St. Jude Classic for the last two years, he is not favored to win this year. The three top favorites are:
- Tiger Woods (+150) is the favorite to beat, which is interesting because he has not won a tournament since 2013. There is no doubt that Woods was once the best player golf has ever seen, but recurring issues with the law and his back have led to a long string of not playing and having to withdraw from tournaments. However, this year he has been stronger and has come close to winning several tournaments. Except something keeps getting in the way: problems with the driver, inability to putt, a tight back, and poor sand wedging have kept him out of the championship circle. But, there is no doubt he is playing better, and, therefore, can never be ruled out, if his back allows him to play.
- Phil Mickelson (+250) has had as many health problems as Tiger Woods of late. The last practice round they played together was 20 years ago. Phil Mickelson’s struggle with energy and stamina because of his arthritis has been an issue, and he has not won a tournament in the last four years. However, much like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson has had a resurgence, coming in second at the Masters, which is one of his favorite places to play. As with Woods, because Mickelson is a driver, you can’t count him out.
- Steve Stricker (+300), at 51, appears to be golf’s grand old man at the moment and has somehow managed to stay in contention at several tournaments this year, playing at the Fort Worth Invitational with a sore back and a good score. Although his back appears to be a larger issue at present, he is still hitting the ball well.
Other Possible Contenders
Other players are expected to contend for the title:
- Jeff Overton and Ernie Els (both at +700) Jeff Overton has had a rocky year on the tournament, having survived a severe spine infection that grounded him in 2017. However, he appears to have recovered nicely. He has come on strong this year but has not had any tournament victory experience in a long time. His last second-place finish was in 2010. So, while he has had some good play this year, it remains to be seen whether or not he can deliver.
Ernie Els’ primary interest may no longer be playing golf, but opening golf courses and making wine. The four-time major winner appears to be on the downslope of a career change. However, when he plays tournaments, he always manages to be in contention because of his rock-solid play. Where he has gotten in trouble is with his putting game, which has plagued him since 2014. If Els can find his putting form, the other consistencies in his game may push him to the top of the leaderboard.
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