FESJC boasts strong field
Memphis, TN-Next week’s 56th FedEx St. Jude Classic will feature five of the PGA TOUR’s current Top 10 money winners and four of the Top 8 players in all-important FedExCup points.
Among the top names are World Golf Hall of Fame member and gallery favorite Phil Mickelson and Tennessee favorite son Brandt Snedeker of Nashville along with defending champion Dustin Johnson.
The field will include winners of 12 TOUR events this year and 26 winners since the start of the 2012 season.
Snedeker, a former Vanderbilt star who grew up in Nashville, currently ranks second in FedExCup standings, second in TOUR earnings for this year, and fifth in the World Golf Rankings. Snedeker is the reigning FedEx Cup champion.
Mickelson, a four-time winner of major championships including three Masters Tournaments, is ranked 11th in the world and seventh in both FedExCup points and TOUR money for 2013.
Among other players entered in the $5.7 million event Padraig Harrington of Ireland; Ryder Cup standout Ian Poulter of England; recent U. S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III; and two-time major championship winner John Daly.
The 72-hole championship will start Thursday and end on Sunday with the traditional Seersucker Sunday celebration. Tournament Week golf will begin with the Danny Thomas Pro-Am on Monday following the Sunday@Southwind Family Festival, presented by Campbell Clinic After Hours.
The FESJC’s list of FedExCup leaders are No. 2 Snedeker, No. 5 Billy Horschel, No. 7 Mickelson, and No. 8 D. A. Points. Currently ranked among the Top 10 on the money list are No. 2 Snedeker, No. 5 Horschel, No. 6 Boo Weekley; No. 7 Mickelson; and No. 10 Points.
Other entries from the Top 20 in the world rankings are Poulter (16) and Johnson (19).
Winners of 2013 TOUR events in the field are Brian Gay (Humana Challenge), Russell Henley (Sony Open), John Merrick (Northern Trust Open), Derek Ernst (Wells Fargo Championship), Tim Clark (Tavistock Cup), Scott Brown (Puerto Rico Open), Horschel (Zurich Classic), Johnson (Hundai Tournament of Champions), Mickelson (Waste Management), Snedeker (AT&T Pebble Beach), Weekley (Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial), and Points (Shell Houston Open).
Former FESJC champions in the field include Dicky Pride (1994), Bob Estes (2001), Jeff Maggert (2006), David Toms (2003, 2004), Justin Leonard (2005, 2008), Brian Gay (2009), and Johnson (2012).
Tournament officials have selected six of their eight available spots for sponsor’s exemptions. Currently in the field are David Duval, former top-ranked player in the world; Memphian Shaun Micheel, winner of the 2003 PGA Championship; Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur sensation from China; Matt NeSmith, the American Junior Golf Association Rolex Player of the Year; Steven Fox, current U. S. Amateur championship from Hendersonville, TN; and highly-ranked George Coetzee of South Africa.
“We made a concerted effort this year to beef up our field as related to the Top 50 players in the world,” tournament director Phil Cannon said. “We had our eye on three players in that category for some time for sponsor’s exemptions, but only one was available to play next week – George Coetzee (No. 54).
“We were very pleased to be able to invite Shaun Micheel and David Duval, both winners of major championships. Plus, we have a great group of distinguished amateurs with the young phenom from China, and the two standout youngsters from the United States.
“Two spots remain available and we’ll be watching several options in the next few days, including the results of the NCAA Championship in Atlanta.”