FedEx St. Jude Classic Preview – 2016

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FedEx St. Jude Classic Preview

Dates: June 9-12, 2016
Where: TPC Southwind
City, State: Memphis, Tenn.
Par/Yards: 35-35–70/7,244 yards
Field: 156
2015 champion: Fabian Gomez
Purse: $6,200,000 ($1,116,000)
FedExCup: 500 points to the winner
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Website: stjudeclassic.com
Facebook: stjudeclassic
Twitter: @fesjcmemphis

A look at the 2015 FedEx St. Jude Classic

  • En route to the largest margin of victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic since 2009, Fabian Gomez sealed his four-stroke victory over England’s Greg Owen with a 30-foot, five-inch birdie on No. 18 at TPC Southwind, finishing at 13-under 267. It was his first career PGA TOUR title in his 70th start, at the age of 36 years, 6 months, 18 days.
  • More on Fabian Gomez  With his win at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Fabian Gomez became the fifth player from Argentina to win on the PGA TOUR.
  • Gomez went on to make the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in his career, advancing to the third Playoffs event, BMW Championship, before ending the season 59th in the standings.
  • This season, Gomez became the fourth Argentinian to record multiple TOUR victories, winning the Sony Open in Hawaii via playoff.

A look at the field

  • World No. 6 Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka (17) and Phil Mickelson (20).
  • Five PGA TOUR winners in 2015-16: Peter Malnati (Sanderson Farms Championship), Graeme McDowell (OHL Classic at Mayakoba), Fabian Gomez (Sony Open in Hawaii), Vaughn Taylor (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) and Brian Stuard (Zurich Classic of New Orleans).
  • 10 major winners including U.S. Open champions Graeme McDowell (2010), Retief Goosen (2004, 2001) and Ernie Els (1994, 1997).
  • Five players with double-digit PGA TOUR wins: Phil Mickelson (42), Ernie Els (19), David Toms (13), Justin Leonard (12) and Steve Stricker (12).
  • Seven former FedEx St. Jude Classic champions, including Fabian Gomez (2015), Ben Crane (2014), Harris English (2013), Dustin Johnson (2012), Brian Gay (2009), Justin Leonard (2008, 2005) and David Toms (2003-04).
  • The last two amateurs to finish in the top five of a PGA TOUR event will make their professional debuts at the FedEx St. Jude Classic: Lee McCoy and Robby Shelton.

Select player notes

  • Phil Mickelson will return to Memphis for his sixth start, following a T3 performance in 2015. Last year, Mickelson began the final round six shots behind the lead but fired eight birdies, including a 48-foot, 11-inch putt on No. 14 and a 25-foot, three-inch putt on No. 18, to notch his second top-five finish. Mickelson in Memphis: T3/2015, T11/2014, T2/2013, T59/2009, MC/2001. The 42-time PGA TOUR winner has four top-10s this season, equaling his total top-10s in the last two seasons.
  • Dustin Johnson, No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking, won the 2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic and returned in 2013 to finish T10. Following a T24 in 2014, he withdrew in 2015. In 12 starts this season, Johnson has seven top-10s, most recently a third-place finish at last week’s Memorial Tournament
  • Steve Stricker, will make his third start at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and first since 2006. In his previous two starts, Stricker finished T28 in 2006 and T44 in 2005. The Presidents Cup 2017 United States Team Captain ranks second on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting (.905).
  • Two-time 2016 Web.com Tour winner Wesley Bryan will make his debut on the PGA TOUR as a sponsor’s exemption at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. After qualifying for the Web.com Tour for the first time via a T9 finish at the Final Stage of Q-School at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Bryan won in his third career start at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by NACHER. Three starts later, he won the Mexico Championship. Bryan is one half of the trick-shot specialists, “Bryan Bros Golf.”

Careers launched in Memphis

  • Lee McCoy finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship.
    • McCoy completed his senior season at the University of Georgia as one of the most decorated players in program history.
    • He capped his collegiate career with a sixth-place finish in the NCAA Championship, was named First-Team All-American for the second time, was chosen as the SEC Player of the Year, and totaled seven tournament wins, one shy of the school record.
    • He also ended his career as UGA’s record holder for career (70.87) and single-season (70.00) stroke average.
    • McCoy’s PGA TOUR starts: 2016 Valspar Championship (amateur) 4th, 2015 U.S. Open (amateur) MC, 2015 Travelers Championship (amateur) MC and 2015 John Deere Classic (amateur) T69.
  • Robby Shelton finished T3 at the 2015 Barbasol Championship.
    • Shelton completed his junior season at the University of Alabama where he was named a First-Team All-American for the third consecutive year. Shelton also finished the NCAA Championship tied for sixth.
    • In total, he recorded a school-record seven victories, including three this season alone. He also owns Alabama’s career records in stroke average (70.44). Shelton’s PGA TOUR starts: 2015 Barbasol Championship (amateur) T3 and 2014 U.S. Open (amateur) MC.
  • Since 2007, the reigning AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year has received an exemption into the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
    • Amateur Philip Barbaree from Shreveport, La., received this year’s exemption after winning the Rolex Tournament of Champions and U.S. Junior Amateur, among other accomplishments and will make his first PGA TOUR start.
    • When he was named Rolex Junior Player of the Year, he joined a list that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth; Spieth received the FedEx St. Jude Classic exemption in 2010, missing the cut in his second TOUR start.
    • This year also marks the second straight year a junior from Shreveport received the exemption, following 2014 Rolex Junior Player of the Year Sam Burns, a future teammate of Barbaree’s at LSU. Barbaree will look to become the first Rolex Junior Player of the Year to make the cut in his start at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
  • Matthew NeSmith will make his first PGA TOUR start as a professional this week, following his pro debut at last week’s Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada (missed cut)
    • NeSmith recently completed his senior season at the University of South Carolina, where he became Carolina’s all-time leader in top-10 finishes, and ranked second in school history for tournament wins.
    • NeSmith was the 2012 Rolex Junior Player of the Year and competed in the 2013 FedEx St. Jude Classic, his second PGA TOUR start. NeSmith’s PGA TOUR starts: 2015 U.S. Open (amateur) MC, 2013 FedEx St. Jude Classic (amateur) MC and 2012 Wyndham Championship (amateur) MC.

FedEx St. Jude Classic and the U.S. Open

  • This year marks the 10th consecutive playing of the event the week before the U.S. Open. No player has ever won a PGA TOUR event and then gone on to win the U.S. Open the following week.
  • The best U.S. Open finish by the prior week’s champion is a T16 by Lee Westwood in 2010.
  • Since moving to TPC Southwind in 1989, the FedEx St. Jude Classic was also played the week before the U.S. Open in 2001 (Bob Estes/T30 U.S. Open), 1999 (Ted Tryba/T66 U.S. Open) and 1992 (Jay Haas/T23 U.S. Open).
  • The best U.S. Open finish by a winner of the FedEx St. Jude Classic the same year was a T3 by Fred Couples in 1993, when the Memphis event was contested two weeks after the U.S. Open.
  • Despite his 2015 victory, Fabian Gomez did not qualify for the U.S. Open, coming into the week ranked No. 288 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
  • The top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking earn a spot into the field after June 13, 2016, the last avenue for a player to play his way in.
  • Since 1934, just 11 players have won the week before winning a major championship.
    • 2014 Rory McIlroy won WGC-Bridgestone Invitational followed by PGA Championship
    • 2007 Tiger Woods won WGC-Bridgestone Invitational followed by PGA Championship
    • 2006 Phil Mickelson won BellSouth Classic followed by Masters
    • 1988 Sandy Lyle won Greater Greensboro Open followed by the Masters
    • 1971 Lee Trevino won the Canadian Open followed by the British Open
    • 1959 Art Wall won the Azalea Open followed by the Masters
    • 1949 *Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open followed by the Masters
    • 1946 *Ben Hogan won the Winnipeg Open followed by the PGA
    • 1945 *Byron Nelson won the Chicago Victory Open followed by the PGA 1939 Ralph Guldahl won the Greater Greensboro Open followed by the Masters 1939 *Henry Picard won the
    • Scranton Open followed by the PGA
      • *No event scheduled the week after first win. Major was next event contested.

FedEx St. Jude Classic and the FedEx Cup

  • The FedExCup Playoffs are 11 weeks away. It took 458 points to qualify for the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup in 2014-15, 554 to qualify for Deutsche Bank Championship, 692 for BMW Championship and 1,062 for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
  • Since the inception of the FedExCup Playoffs in 2007, four winners of the FedEx St. Jude Classic have advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs finale, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola: Woody Austin (2007), Justin Leonard (2008), Brian Gay (2009) and Dustin Johnson (2012).
  • In 2010, Lee Westwood won as a sponsor exemption and was ineligible for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
  • The last three FedEx St. Jude Classic champions have advanced through the first three Playoffs events.

Open Qualifying Series

  • The FedEx St. Jude Classic will be part of The Open Qualifying Series for the first time in 2016.
  • The leading four players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 12 and ties, will earn positions in the field at the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon.
  • Other PGA TOUR events involved in The Open Qualifying Series in 2016 are the Quicken Loans National (top four players not previously exempt among top 12 and ties) and The Greenbrier Classic (top player not previously exempt among the top five and ties).
  • Additionally, the top five players and ties, not otherwise exempt, from among the top 20 players in the 2015-16 FedExCup standings through the Quicken Loans National will earn invitations to Royal Troon.

Lee Trevino honored with namesake award

  • Three-time FedEx St. Jude Classic champion Lee Trevino received the first-ever St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Lee Trevino Award, named in recognition of the golfer.
  • The award was presented to Trevino during the annual FedEx St. Jude Classic Champion’s Day luncheon Thursday, April 7, at the Great Hall & Conference Center in Memphis, Tenn.
  • The award was created to honor humanitarians, like Trevino, who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

FedEx St. Jude Classic miscellaneous notes

  • In 2015, Fabian Gomez became the ninth player to make the FedEx St. Jude Classic his maiden PGA TOUR victory: Don Whitt (1959), Bob Lunn (1968), Larry Mize (1983), Mike Hulbert (1986), Jodi Mudd (1988), Dicky Pride (1994), Harrison Frazar (2011), Harris English (2013) and Fabian Gomez (2015).
  • Fabian Gomez became just the fifth international player to win the FedEx St. Jude Classic and first since Lee Westwood in 2010. The others: Gary Player (1974), Nick Price (1993, 1998) and Greg Norman (1997).
  • In 2014, Ben Crane became the eighth player in event history to claim his victory after holding at least a share of every round’s lead (Dave Hill/1966, Ray Floyd/1982, John Cook/1996, Bob Estes/2001, Justin Leonard/2005, Brian Gay/2009 and Lee Westwood/2010).
  • Since the event’s inception in 1958, only three players have been able to successfully defend their title, Dave Hill (1969-70), Lee Trevino (1971-72) and David Toms (2003-04).
  • Toms is the only player to successfully defend since the event moved to TPC Southwind in 1989.
  • The FedEx St. Jude Classic has produced five multiple champions: Dave Hill (1967, 1969-1970, 1973), Lee Trevino (1971-1972, 1980), Nick Price (1993, 1998), Justin Leonard (2005, 2008) and David Toms (2003-2004).
  • The last two times on the PGA TOUR a winner failed to record a birdie in the final round occurred at the FedEx St. Jude Classic: Ben Crane (2014) and Justin Leonard (2005).
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