FedEx St. Jude Classic experts' picks

June, 5, 2012

Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: Camilo Villegas
You hear guys say all the time, "The course just fits my eye." Camilo should be saying that about this track. With two top 10s the past two years and no missed cuts, I'd say there's no better place to get your year on track than a place you could play with your eyes closed.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: David Toms
The 45-year-old, 13-time PGA Tour winner is the all-time money leader of the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He had back-to-back wins here in 2003 and 2004 and four other top 10s, including three top 5s.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: David Toms
He won the tournament in 2003 and 2004 and has four other top-five finishes at the venue.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Robert Allenby
Other than a WD in 2010, the Aussie hasn't finished worse than tied for 13th since 2007. In his career, he's had six rounds of 66 or better at TPC Southwind.

Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Rory McIlroy
It has to turn around at some point, right? One big thing you better realize going in to this week ... Rory did NOT have to play the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier Monday before going to the hotbox that Memphis always is this time of year. After two missed cuts in a row, you know how hard he's going to be working to get his game right to defend his U.S. Open title. NO WAY he misses three in a row.

Farrell Evans: Zach Johnson
The 2007 Masters champion has had a win, two seconds and a tie for 69th in his last four starts on the PGA Tour.

Bob Harig: Zach Johnson
He's been on a roll lately, highlighted by his victory two weeks ago at Colonial. That followed a couple of runner-up finishes in three previous tournaments. He took last week off following his eighth career PGA Tour win.

Kevin Maguire: Brian Gay
You don't need to be a bomber to play well at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and Gay -- a former winner at this event -- fits that mold. He hasn't played particularily well this year, but this venue might just cure what's ailing him.

Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Dicky Pride
Yeah, remember him? He almost pulled of the miracle at Byron Nelson earlier this year. He is having the best year of his life on tour when it comes to making cuts and cashing checks. He's made six out of eight cuts this year and has three top 10s to his name. Add to that the fact that he hasn't missed the cut in Memphis since 2007, and he's a pretty safe bet to play well.

Farrell Evans: Dicky Pride
The 43-year-old journeyman got his only PGA Tour win here in 1994. With three top 10s on the season, including a second at the Byron Nelson, the former Alabama star is having one of the best seasons of his career.

Bob Harig: Dustin Johnson
He's playing the TPC Southwind for the first time, but coming off a surprisingly strong performance at the Memorial, where he tied for 19th in his first tournament in three months due to injury.

Kevin Maguire: Tim Herron
The affectionately known "Lumpy" will be riding high after earning his way through a sectional qualifier outside Chicago to play in next week's U.S. Open. And it doesn't hurt that he's got 10 top-20 finishes in this event over the years.


Michael Collins: Padraig Harrington
His scoring average is ranked 17th before the cut, and he's had two tournaments where he came out like gangbusters in the first round only to fade horribly on the weekend, BUT Memphis is infamous for stopping and starting because of weather this time of year so Paddy should feel like EVERY round is the first round. Right up until they hand him the trophy.

Farrell Evans: Spencer Levin
The scrappy 27-year-old Sacramento native couldn't close the deal at the Memorial, but this could be the week for him to finally get his first PGA Tour win. Last year he finished in a tie for 15th at Memphis, where he shot an 8-under par 64 in the final round.

Bob Harig: Spencer Levin
The 54-hole leader at the Memorial, Levin dropped back to a tie for fourth, then failed to make it through the 36-hole sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open on Monday. But he led the field in strokes gained putting and can still get to the Olympic Club if he manages to move from No. 61 in the world into the top 60 by Sunday night. His first PGA Tour victory would take care of that.

Kevin Maguire: Robert Karlsson
His form of late has been less than stellar, so why pick him to win? Because that's exactly how he played coming into this week's event the last couple of years, and he lost in playoffs in 2010 and 2011. I'm thinking 2012 is his time to shine.



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