By Michael McGill ( @MickSportsNews )
The US Open is only a week away meaning the players only have this week to fine tune their game ready for the second Major of the year. While many of the bigger names have opted to stay at home to practise there is still a good line up of names teeing it up this week at the St Jude Classic.
This week we are in Memphis, Tennessee at TPC Southwind where the St Jude Classic has been played since 1989. TPC Southwind is a Par 70, 7244 yard course that has tight narrow fairways, 94 sand bunkers, 10 water hazards and plenty of trees. The course is continuously ranked inside the Top 20 most challenging in terms of driving accuracy.
To play well at TPC Southwind you need to hit plenty of greens and keep your ball in play. Accuracy is more important than power this week. Scrambling stats will also play a key role here as past winners have all ranked highly. Another key stat to look at is birdie average as the course has ranked inside the Top 10 in five of the last six years for birdie average. Looking at the past winners you will also notice that experience is high on the agenda.
The bookies Top 5 in betting this week are: 14/1 Phil Mickelson, 14/1 Brandt Snedeker, 18/1 Dustin Johnson, 25/1 Billy Horschel and 28/1 Ryan Palmer.
Past winners teeing it up this week include Dustin Johnson (Defending Champion), Brian Gay, Justin Leonard, Jeff Maggert, David Toms, Bob Estes and Dicky Pride.
There are also several players looking for their second win of the season including the likes of Russell Henley, John Merrick, Scott Brown, Derek Ernst, Billy Horschel and Boo Weekley.
Add to this list, the likes of Charles Howell III, Fredrik Jacobson, Robert Karlsson, Scott Stallings, Tim Clark, Ben Crane, Peter Hanson and Jeff Overton and you have yourself a very open field this week.
The two players two follow this week are-
Ryan Palmer 28/1
Ryan Palmer is shouting out to be backed this week. His last three events have resulted in T5th The Players Championship, T33rd Byron Nelson Championship and T14th Crowne Plaza Invitational.
He now comes into a field that is no where near the quality of those three tournaments.
His rankings have him 28th in greens in regulation, 8th in scoring average, 6th in birdie average, 16th in Par 4 birdie or better average and 25th in ball striking.
In last years tournament he finished T3rd. With his current form and stats you can expect to see Palmer challenging over the weekend.
At 28/1 he is ready to produce his best finish of the year and looks excellent each way value.
John Rollins 50/1
When it comes to a consistent golfer you can not go past John Rollins. He has put together nine Top 25’s from fifteen starts.
At his last start he was T4th in the Crowne Plaza Invitational where he hit 72% Greens in Regulation, 66% driving accuracy, was ranked 12th in ball striking and was -11 on the Par 4’s. If can do that this week he will be right in the thick of it again!
Rollins missed the cut here last year however he was T25th in 2011 and T15th in 2010 so he knows the course well.
This season he is ranked 10th in greens in regulation, 29th in birdie average and 12th in ball striking.
At 50/1 he represents great value on an each way basis.
Matt Kuchar gave us another winner for the year at 22/1. That was the second time this year we have tipped Kuchar to win. Earlier this year he saluted for us in the WGC Accenture Match Play at 45/1.
Good Luck and good punting.