After a semi controversial week in Minnesota, the PGA Tour heads southeast to Memphis, Tennessee for the 22nd edition of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
While it officially claims the history of the former WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the event’s true legacy is the FedEx St. Jude Classic as it’s contested in the same locale at the same venue with the same title sponsor and color branding.
This week’s field of 78 at TPC Southwind will include all the top stars, including nearly the entire top section of the Official World Golf Rankings, headlined by defending champion Brooks Koepka and new world No. 1 Jon Rahm.
Next week is the season’s first major championship, where Koepka will defend, and for a lot of players, this week represents a final tune-up against elite competition – not to mention the prestige (along with cash and world ranking points) that always comes with winning a WGC event .
Tournament: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Dates: July 30 – Aug 2, 2020
Where: Memphis, Tenn.
Course: TPC Southwind
Distance: Par 70, 7,237 yards
Architect: Ron Prichard
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,785,000
OWGR SOF/1st Pts: 782/76
Defending Champion: Brooks Koepka
Other Marquee Names: Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Hideki Matsuyama
TV & Online
Rd 1: Thu 4-7:00 pm (GOLF)
Rd 2: Fri 4-7:00 pm (GOLF)
Rd 3: Sat 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6:00 pm (CBS)
Rd 4: Sun 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6:00 pm (CBS)
The history of this event combines two former tournaments – the WGC-Bridgestone and the FedEx St Jude Classic. And while the PGA Tour seems to be going with the history of the Bridgestone event, officially, in reality it’s got a lot more of a connection to the FedEx St Jude Classic, including the title sponsor, charity, locale, and golf course. And so we’re going with Memphis.
“St. Jude” has been part of the event title since 1985, as it has a close association with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital of Memphis. The man who the hospital originally has to thank for that association is famous entertainer Danny Thomas, who lent his name to the event in 1969, with St. Jude’s being made the event’s official charity in return. Thomas had founded the hospital years earlier.
The event itself began 11 years earlier in 1958 as the Memphis Open, and has stayed in Memphis for its entire history. A few local courses spent time as host venue, with the current course, TPC Southwind having the honors continuously since 1989.
The inaugural event was won by Billy Maxwell, who got the better of Hall of Famer Cary Middlecoff by one stroke. Middlecoff would win his only title three years later.
Other notable winners include Tommy Bolt, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Gene Littler, Larry Mize, Curtis Strange, Tom Kite, Fred Couples, and Greg Norman.
Relative to WGC-Bridgestone bloodlines: Former winners include Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas.
History: Event Titles
2019-2020: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
1986-2019: FedEx St. Jude Classic
1985-1985: St. Jude Memphis Classic
1970-1984: Danny Thomas Memphis Classic
1960-1969: Memphis Open Invitational
1958-1959: Memphis Open
Brooks Koepka Wins 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Admirably, given the physical and emotional turmoil of contending at a major, albeit one on another continent, just a week ago, Brooks Koepka had himself in good position going into the weekend in Memphis with a 68-67 start. He then used seven birdies on Saturday to shoot a 64, which put him just a stroke behind Rory McIlroy heading into the final round. That one stroke was nowhere near the cushion Rory needed.
While Rory parred the entire front nine, Koepka tallied birdies on Nos. 3, 5, and 6 to take a one-stroke lead of his own at the turn. A fourth birdie on the 10th followed by a McIlroy bogey on No. 12, essentially ended any chance of late drama. Webb Simpson was the only player with a prayer, but Koepka – as he typically does, showed nothing resembling nerves, and added another birdie on No. 17 to claim a three-stoke victory.
Koepka’s 21 birdies of the week was third in the field, while his four holes of bogey or worse (3 bogeys, one double) was also the best. His putting had been hit-or-miss in 2019, but it was among the biggest strength of his game this week: he led the field in strokes gained: putting.
The world No. 1 also led the field in scrambling, while finishing fifth in strokes gained: off-the-tee, and eighth in greens in regulation, although the latter was largely aided by a spectacular 17/18 effort on Saturday.
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Brooks Koepka -16 (-5)
2. Webb Simpson -13 (-6)
3. Marc Leishman -12 (-3)
4. Tommy Fleetwood -11 (-4)
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick -11 (-1)
4. Rory McIlroy -11 (+1)
7. Jon Rahm -10 (-1)
8. Ian Poulter -9 (-1)
9. Bubba Watson -8 (-1)
9. Billy Horschel -8 (E)
Host Course: TPC Southwind
Part of the PGA Tour’s Tournament Players Clubs network, TPC Southwind is a private golf club located within the gated community of Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee.
Just east-southeast of central Memphis, near the world headquarters of FedEx, the 18-hole championship golf course was designed by Ron Prichard, in consultation with former PGA Tour pros Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller. TPC Southwind opened in 1988. It is
Opened in 1988, TPC Southwind has been the venue for the Tour’s annual FedEx St. Jude Classic since 1989. The event was previously played at Colonial Country Club in Cordova.
The course length for the first PGA Tour event was 7,006 yards in 1989, and has played at 7,244 yards since 2005. With 94 bunkers and ten water hazards, TPC Southwind regularly ranks in the top 10-15 (out of 51 courses) in terms of difficulty.
Hole No. 14, at 239 yards, consistently ranks as one of the toughest par 3’s on the PGA Tour.
The par-70 course grass is Bermuda for the greens and rough, with Zoysia on the tees and fairways.
The power rankings offer no huge surprises as the world’s best players will all converge on Memphis this week for a big payday and a final tune-up for next week’s PGA – the season’s first major championship.
The world’s top-3 ranked players headline our list as the trio of Jon Rahm (10-1), Rory McIlroy (11-1), and Justin Thomas (12-1) – along with world No. 7 Bryson DeChambeau, are the clear favorites of bookmakers.
Patrick Cantlay, at 16-1, is the only other player on the board with better than 20-1 odds.
Top 10: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Inv
Rank-Name (OWGR, Odds)
1. Justin Thomas (3, 12-1)
2. Jon Rahm (1, 10-1)
3. Rory McIlroy (2, 11-1)
4. Bryson DeChambeau (7, 12-1)
5. Dustin Johnson (5, 28-1)
6. Patrick Cantlay (10, 16-1)
7. Brooks Koepka (6, 28-1)
8. Webb Simpson (4, 20-1)
9. Xander Schauffele (11, 20-1)
10. Daniel Berger (28, 28-1)
Stat of the Week
3 – The number of players in the field this week who have won at TPC Southwind.
Despite this being an elite-field event, and TPC Southwind having continuously hosted the FedEx St. Jude Classic since 1989, only defending champion Brooks Koepka, and two-time champs Dustin Johnson (2012, 2018) and Daniel Berger (2016, 2017) are former winners among the current field.
Full Field & Odds
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Inv | TPC Southwind | Memphis, TN | July 30 – Aug. 2, 2020