“I’m just happy. Really, really happy,” said Memorial Tournament winner Hideki Matsuyama, channelling his inner Pharrell Williams after Bubba Watson and Adam Scott stumbled through the closing holes like drunk centipedes with their shoelaces undone.
Attention turns to TPC Southwind this week for the FedEx St. Jude Classic, the warm-up tournament for the year’s second major, the US Open at Pinehurst No.2 next week. Anyone hoping for an easy week before the tough test on offer at Pinehurst will be disappointed – the 7,239-yard par-70 layout ranked as the third-toughest non-Major par-70 course last year, with notoriously hard to hit fairways and greens. As they say in the World Egg Cooking Championships, if you want to win here, you’d better be ready to scramble.
With a lot of the big names taking the week off to prepare for Pinehurst, it’s time to look beyond the usual favourites and really show your knowledge. Here’s our team of crackers this week:
Paul Casey, £1.4m
Injure-free for the first time in years, Casey is reminding the world that he can play a bit. He has six top 20s in just ten starts this season, and led the Memorial Tournament after 36 holes, finishing tied for 13th. This is his debut here, but it could be one to remember…
Ryan Palmer, £1.2m
He finished fourth here last year, and tied third in 2012. With a tied fifth finish in his last tournament, the signs are looking good for the Texan.
Dustin Johnson, £3.5m
Won here in 2012 and followed it with a tied tenth finish last year. He’s already clocked up six top 15s this season, and we’d bank on him being in the points here. He’s second in the all-around rankings, behind Adam Scott, who doesn’t play this week.
David Toms, £1.2m
Two wins and two second place finishes make him the all-time earnings leader at this tournament. He shared fifth place in his last start, so brings good form into an event he traditionally fares well in.
Lee Westwood, £3m
Westy won on his debut here in 2010 and followed it with a T11 in 2011. He’s finished in the top 10 in three of his last five starts, including an impressive T6 showing at The Players Championship.
Billy Horschel, £1.6m
He tied for 10th here last year and showed good form with a T15 at Muirfield Village, where he led the field in greens hit. With just 5,420 square feet of short grass here, the ability to hit greens could come in pretty handy. As Elton John would say, hit it on the tiny dancefloors, don’t go dancing in the sand.