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Sunday, June 2, 2013

FedEx St. Jude Championship - Preview

The final stop on the PGA TOUR schedule before the U.S. Open is the FedEx St. Jude Classic. It takes place on the par 70, 7,239 yard TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee and features Dustin Johnson as the defending champion.

Despite Johnson's win, this isn't exactly known as a bombers paradise given the 12 par 4s to just two par 5s, but that didn't stop DJ from winning in his second tournament back from a brief stint on the disabled list in 2012. While it may not be a built only for bombers, it's tough to figure out who it favors.

Looking back at the stats, DJ got it done with the irons. He was T4 in GIR and led the tournament in Approach Shot Proximity to the Hole. Of note, when Harrison Frazar won it in 2011 he also led in Proximity and was T8 in GIR.

Let's pause for a minute to look at the past winners and second-place finishers since 2000.

  • 2000 - Notah Begay III (271), Chris DiMarco & Bob May (272)
  • 2001 - Bob Estes (267), Bernhard Langer (268)
  • 2002 - Len Mattiace (266), Tim Petrovic (267)
  • 2003 - David Toms (264), Nick Price (267)
  • 2004 - David Toms (268), Bob Estes (274)
  • 2005 - Justin Leonard (266), David Toms (267)
  • 2006 - Jeff Maggert (271), Tom Pernice Jr (274)
  • 2007 - Woody Austin (267), Brian Davis (272)
  • 2008 - Justin Leonard P (276) over Robert Allenby and Trevor Immelman
  • 2009 - Brian Gay (262), David Toms and Bryce Molder (267)
  • 2010 - Lee Westwood P (270) over Robert Garrigus and Robert Karlsson
  • 2011 - Harrison Frazar P (267) over Robert Karlsson
  • 2012 - Dustin Johnson (271) over John Merrick (272)
If we erased the last three years of history, we may have a pattern to go on. Justin Leonard, David Toms, Bob Estes, Jeff Maggert and Brian Gay are players with some similarities. They are generally accurate players and know how to handle the putter. It's not until 2010 when we see Lee Westwood, Robert Garrigus and Dustin Johnson dot the headlines that the status quo changes. 

In the case of Westy and DJ, those are both elite players. When they are at their best they are going to be better than anyone in the field most of the time.

When I'm looking at stats this week, I'm going to pay particular interest to par 4 scoring, proximity and some combination of putting/scrambling. More than anything, I may lean the heaviest on current form.

After I lay all the puzzle pieces out and put something together, I'll be back with a power ranking that will hopefully provide some insight.

Happy research!

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