St Jude Classic preview: The 22/1 shot who can give Paddy the Blues in Memphis

Gary Woodland is trending in the right direction for the St Jude Classic this weekend



It’s not really surprising that a tournament headed by Dustin Johnson should be named after the patron saint of lost causes as the St Jude Classic tees off in Memphis.

Matt Kuchar scrambled well into the final round last Sunday to nab us some place money, but as the big beasts of the US Tour hit the practice range a week out from the US Open there’s a chance for one of the less frequent winners  – and that’s putting it mildly – to snaffle some Ryder Cup & Fed Ex points not to mention about a million bucks in Tennessee.

Here are the 7 players you’re backing with Paddy at the home of the blues as of 1pm on Wednesday.

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1. Phil Mickleson

Not an overly familiar visitor to the great state of Tennessee but the Mick has finished 2-11-3 in his last three consecutive visits to TPC Southwind after spitting the dummy since finishing 59th in 2009.

Made no secret of using the Shell Houston Open as a prep for the US Masters before he missed the cut in Augusta, so may just try and produce his ‘A’ game a week out from trying to finally slay his US Open hoodoo that has seen him finish runner-up six times and prevent Leftie recording a Major slam.

He has the game and the motivation to put in a run here.

2. Dustin Johnson

DJ recorded his sixth top 5 finish this year when missing out on the play-offs by a shot last weekend as the non-household names William McGirt and Jon Curran went to it down the stretch.

It was another consistent performance by DJ who was a debut winner here in 2012. But there’s little juice in the price of a man who can play like an angel – until the demons take over on Sunday.

3. Harris English

A perennial ‘winner-in-waiting’ who got off the mark on the PGA Tour with a 2013 victory in this comp before following up five months later at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

Hasn’t seen an over-sized cheque since then, but the 26-year-old’s second-place finish to Jordan Spieth at the Dean & Deluca Invitational after four rounds in the 60s on his last start, could mean he’s getting geared up to visit the winner’s enclosure again shortly.

4. Colt Knost

Two top 5 finishes in his last three starts for the magnificently-named 30-year-old who backed-up his T3 to Jason Day at the Players Championship with a T4 at the Byron Nelson Classic.

Four staggered trips to Memphis has returned a MC-15-MC-12 but the Ohioan wasn’t anywhere near the sort of form he’s in now with just one MC cut to his name this season.

Still to pop his cherry on Tour, his accuracy rather than length off the tee, could be his secret weapon as he chases a first US Tour win.

5. Gary Woodland

An adrenaline rush on the final day at Memorial last weekend may have cost the tee-box boomer his third PGA Tour win as he eventually finished T4 to William McGirt.

A +1 closing-day 73 marred three rounds in the 60s for the Kansas native but did deliver his first Top 10 of the season after finishing T12 at the Byron Nelson a week before.

The World Number 64 has been consistent this season,  but that confidence boost may help him turn frequent Top 30’s into Top 10’s as he trends in the right direction to build on his Top 20 finish here on his last run at this track.

At the prices he could be worth following to deliver some big shows this weekend and in the second half of the season.

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6. Brooks Koepka

Will have to swallow hard to get over his Byron Nelson play-off loss to Sergio Garcia (yes, that Sergio Garcia) when he was three clear with nine to play in Texas last month.

But the Florida boomer has a decent record in two starts at the St Jude Classic, opening with a debut 20th before finishing T3 last year to 300/1 outsider Fabian Gomez.

Battled well to finish T5 to run-away USPGA winner Jason Day on Major duty last season before a T21 at the Masters in behind Danny Willett. Will want to post another big show here ahead of the US Open next week.

7. Ryan Palmer

His two Top 10 finishes have come in his last four starts including a T3 at the Dean & Deluca behind  Sergio Garcia on his last start.

Palmer has posted 3-4-32-22 at this track over the last four years and was T3 at Colonial a fortnight ago to Jordan Spieth.

His last Tour win came in 2010 at the Sony Open in Hawaii but has shown enough recently that he might just be starting to hit peak form again at the birthplace of rock and roll.

What do you think?