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Culp's Corner

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Preview at TPC Southwind

by Josh Culp
Updated On: August 4, 2021, 10:53 am ET

The FedExCup Playoffs are just over the horizon but there is still work to be done. Points to be earned. 

With two events scheduled this week, golfers will have plenty of chances to pick up some much-needed FedExCup Points. 

Let's talk about the main event, the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind. 

Similar to last week in Toyko, this will be a no-cut event with fewer than 70 golfers teeing it up. 

The Course

TPC Southwind is the host venue this week. It's hosted a PGA TOUR event since 1989 but only hosted this WGC for two years. If you are looking at tournament history then you just want to isolate the 2019 and 2020 editions. 

This Ron Prichard design is a par 70 that lines up at 7,233 yards on the card. 

Similar to TPC Twin Cities a few weeks ago, water is a big storyline when trying to plot your way around this course. It comes into play on 11 holes and it's the reason why golfers have averaged 1.88 double bogeys or worse per 72 holes here, since 2014. Of the regular courses used on TOUR, that sits behind only PGA National, TPC Sawgrass and Muirfield Village GC. 

With doglegs and water in play, many of the par 4s become less-than-driver holes. It puts an emphasis on second (and third) shots. You are not going to easily overpower this course.It's very clear from all of the player commentary that the recipe for success at TPC Southwind is finding fairways. 

The zoysia fairways make it easy to attack from while the bermuda rough adds some doubt into the players mind when trying to control their distance. That wouldn't be such a big deal if there weren't water in play on more than half of the holes. It doesn't help that the average green sizes here are much smaller than TOUR average. 

Lasty, when players reach the putting surfaces they will be faced with grainy, bermudagrass greens that have a fair amount of slope on them. Golfers that grew up in the South are going to be a bit more comfortable on these surfaces. 


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Course Quotes

Sifting through some past quotes, let's try to break down the course to see how it will play.

Webb Simpson: "I think it’s a golf course where if you drive it well, you drive it in the fairway, you’re going to have a lot less chances to hit balls in the water. I think these water balls often come from guys who drive it in the rough on holes like 9 or 15, even 18, even 12. There are a lot of holes where in the rough you have a decision to make: Are you going to bring on the water and go for the green or are you going to lay up?" 

Tony Finau: "If you’re not hitting fairways, you’re going to shoot over par, no question. And if you’re hitting fairways, you can attack this golf course."

Brooks Koepka: "You’ve just got to hit fairways on this golf course. You put it in the rough and you’re going to have a difficult time. It’s all about positioning yourself off the tee. These greens are so good, anything inside 10 feet you’re expecting to make. You have so many wedges, too, so if you can just drive it in the fairway, you’re going to have a lot of good looks. "

Billy Horschel: "It’s very similar to East Lake as well. Put the ball in the fairway, hit really good iron shots, putt really well inside 10 feet. You don’t have to go stupid low here, you’ve just got to manage your game very well"

Justin Thomas: "It’s just in front of you. If you hit the fairways, like I felt I did a decent amount today, you can score. I think it’s a lot like East Lake, it’s a great golf course."

Recap: There is a clear theme here with golfer after golfer basically hounding on the importance of finding the fairways at TPC Southwind. Other than that, people talk about the bermuda and Horschel and JT both comped it to East Lake. 


Correlated Courses

Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week: 

Golf Club of Houston
TPC Sawgrass
Sea Island Resort
Pebble Beach Pro-Am Rota
Sedgefield CC
East Lake GC

The courses that show up this week are generally ones that don't require power and greatly penalize errant tee shots. Houston and Sawgrass are also courses with a lot of water in play, similar to what they'll see this week in Memphis. 


The Weather

Thursday: Sunny with a high of 88 degrees. Winds at 5 to 8 MPH. 

Friday: Sunny with a high of 91 degrees. Winds at 6 to 9 MPH. 

Memphis can be brutal for hot and humid conditions but pre-cut weather shows a heat index in the low 90s which isn't too bad. It will warm up a little bit over the weekend but there doesn't look to be any major concerns with precipitation which is always great to see. 

Josh Culp

Josh Culp joined NBC Sports Edge in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.