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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
The Playoffs are here, and we’re Walking in Memphis from 125 to 70 at a doozy of a track.
UNCROSSING OUR WIRES
As we begin the 2022 FedEx Cup Playoffs on the PGA Tour, TPC Southwind is a new starting point at a familiar track. Typically, this event and course are attached to a WGC formatted event in the summer, but with a new spot on the schedule, it now bats leadoff for the tour’s three tournament postseason, sans the WGC naming. The FedEx St. Jude Championship is here just in time to compliment the tidal wave of drama that the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf feud has brought along – it’s playoff time, baby!
WALKIN’ IN MEMPHIS
TPC Southwind has a rich history as a host course, and it now dons the honor of being the only track to host THREE PGA Tour events. It’s well respected and liked by tour pros, but it’s possibly one of the sneaky most challenging tracks we’ll see all year. The zoysia + Bermuda grass combo is finicky, the water hazards are abundant and ever-present, and putting together an 18-hole score becomes increasingly difficult as the week progresses. This is one of those tracks that humbles overly aggressive players and can kick you from behind on a hot summery day. If it bakes in Memphis like usual summer weeks, don’t be surprised to see a winner at single digits under par. The track concludes with an aqua-filled beats of a par four that shatters hopes and dreams with just a puff of wind.
PLAYING THE FEDEX ST. JUDE
Not only is this a crowded field at an often-brutal course, but it’s 125 guys who have all done enough this season to make the postseason. Everyone has SOME form heading into this week, so I’ll be looking at experience and tenure with TPC Southwind with my picks. This track is too demanding for player #114 to break through, so it’s history, love for a tough scoring week, and maybe a teaspoon of mental stability as the recipe for my picks this week. The usual suspects like Rory, Rahm, and Scotte top the odds this week, while the FedEx Cup points success stories of this season like Sam Burns, Cameron Smith, and Patrick Cantlay are all ready to roll into some postseason golf for a ton of money.
MAKING YOUR PICKS
I prefer my weekly picks based on what I value the most. With every play I make, I’m always taking into account these factors, and for the PGA Tour playoffs debut in Memphis, course experience is paramount. Secondarily, it will take a grinder to win at a track that tests your patience.
1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top 10 streaks, and consistent play are never bad.
2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses, and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.
3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.
4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just suitable for buying.
Last week at the Wyndham Championship, my Russell Henley had a decent heartbeat, but beyond that, it was a disappointment. The picks were a C, not the way to head into the postseason, but we’re blocking the rearview mirror.
THE SIXPACK OF PICKS
(Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)
1: Scottie Scheffler – People forget he’s still no. 1 in the world. It’s also a grinder’s setup that he relishes, and he finished top 15 here last year.
2: Will Zalatoris – Sure, I’ll fall down this trap again. I’m desperate to lay claim to his first Tour victory, the stat models have him continuing his solid play, and maybe a new caddie will be a breath of fresh air for the most overdue golfer in the world—top 10 here last year.
3: Cameron Young- doesn’t have much history here, but he’s proven his worth on challenging courses. They followed the 2nd at the open by flirting with victory in Minnesota; Young is in prime form to gut it out this week.
4: Corey Conners – Another classic player to lean on with challenging courses. His ball doesn’t stray and he’s a rock-solid putter. He made the cut here last year and should get his playoffs off to a hot start
5: Sahith Theegala – The loveable Tour rookie has made a nice splash, and his recent development with the wedges puts him on my radar for challenging tracks like TPC Southwind.
6: Keegan Bradley – A sneaky tough track with Florida-like grass and long par 4’s? I’ll take my chances with Keegan and the eyes to find the leaderboard.
My RYP One-and-Done Pick: Scottie Scheffler
Where to watch: Golf Channel and NBC all weekend – Endless Fedex Cup leaderboards incoming.
Why to watch: The playoffs are here, and this week’s host course is a tough track that will eat most of the field up.
What to eat: Memphis BBQ – better than North Carolina BBQ but still a step down from Texas BBQ.
Purse: $15 million
Winner’s Share: $2.5 million