FedEx St. Jude Championship predictions: Im can come good

Ian Wilkerson
Spotlight
Rory McIlroy may be leading the market but there will be plenty offering a stern challenge to his title chances
Rory McIlroy may be leading the market but there will be plenty offering a stern challenge to his title chances

It is a big golfing week in the USA with the start of the lucrative FedEx Cup play-offs, the first leg of which is the FedEx St Jude Championship, which takes place at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee and starts on Thursday.

The top 125 in the FedEx standings have qualified for this week's tournament with the top 70 then going through to the BMW Championship. 

Following that, the top 30 will then contest the Tour Championship aiming to win the $18m first prize. 

Rory McIlroy, who has finished in the top 10 in six of his last eight tournaments, is set to go off as favourite.

However, American Tony Finau, who won the play-offs' first leg last year when it was played at Liberty National in New Jersey, will be confident of challenging, having won his last two competitions - the 3M Open and the Rocket Mortgage Classic. 

Im primed for a strong challenge

This week's field contains 19 of the world’s top 20 players, and it could be the golfer at the bottom of that group who triumphs at Southwind. 

Sungjae Im should be suited by the challenge at this week’s track, which has hosted WGC and PGA Tour events previously, although this is the first time it has featured in the play-offs. 

A solid tee-to-green game and the ability to find greens in regulation are key to success here, which is good news for the South Korean, who ranks in the top 10 on the PGA Tour on both counts. 

Im has finished runner-up in his last two events, the 3M Open and the Wyndham Championship, and gaining second and eighth-place finishes in the Masters previously demonstrates that he is capable of rising to the occasion. 

Fitzpatrick can confirm place among the elite

Matthew Fitzpatrick's tee-to-green stats make him a danger
Matthew Fitzpatrick's tee-to-green stats make him a danger

Victory at June’s US Open lifted a weight from Matt Fitzpatrick’s shoulders and the Sheffield swinger looks set for a big week at a course where he has finished fourth and sixth in WGC events over the last few years. 

He has been officially the best tee-to-green player on the PGA Tour this year - gaining an average of 1.87 shots on the field in that sphere - and should be heartened that five of the last seven Southwind winners were ranked top in strokes-gained: tee-to-green during their victory. 

He was sixth at the Scottish Open after his Brookline breakthrough and his 21st place at the Open, which included a second-round 66, was no disgrace so he could put in a good performance this week. 

Henley beginning to show his best

If you are looking for a player a little further down the market who is capable of putting up a bold show, then three-time PGA Tour winner Russell Henley could fit the bill. 

He is ranked 11th in the strokes-gained: tee-to-green category and seventh in greens in regulation, so this course suits his style. 

The 33-year-old has been performing well of late, having finished 10th at the Rocket Mortgage and then fifth at the Wyndham Championship last week.

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