• My Scores
  • MLB
  • NBA
  • NHL
  • Golf
  • NCAA BB

Preview: FedEx St. Jude Classic

 

Westwood back to defend title, prep for U.S. Open

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Lee Westwood enjoys defending titles. So with the St. Jude Classic scheduled just before the U.S. Open, returning to the TPC Southwind course was a pretty easy decision.

``This was one of the first ones that went in,'' Westwood said Wednesday. ``It's a priority for me to try to come and defend whenever I can, and I like to play the week before a major championship. I was fairly sure I was going to use this as one of my three invites.''

Westwood is limited each year on the number of PGA events he can play since the Englishman gave up his U.S. membership in 2008. But he said he's only missed one chance to defend a title in about 35 opportunities, and that happened only because two tournaments were scheduled the same week.

``So I've always tried to get back,'' Westwood said.

He also likes the 7,239-yard, par-70 course as a tuneup for the U.S. Open. Count Westwood among those who like the mental tuneup of having to sink 3-foot putts. While the TPC Southwind course is different from Congressional, Westwood calls it a demanding test.

``It certainly demands that you hit the fairways and hit the greens, which is pretty much the blueprint for playing good U.S. Open golf as well,'' Westwood said.

Nobody has successfully defended a PGA Tour title yet this year, Westwood will face a field featuring five of the world's top 32 in Robert Karlsson, David Toms, Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy and Zach Johnson.

Toms could be a big threat, having won here in 2003 and 2004. He also won Colonial late last month and was second at The Players and ranks second in greens in regulation and third in driving accuracy.

``I look forward to the challenge,'' Toms said. ``It'll be tough to win this golf tournament with all the good players, and I've just got to go out there and play well and see how that stacks up.''

The field also includes Sergio Garcia, past champion Brian Gay, Padraig Harrington and Brandt Snedeker, who won The Heritage in April. Local favorite John Daly is here again too.

Considering the luck he had here a year ago, no wonder Westwood was determined to return.

Westwood had signed his card and was ready to leave a year ago when advised to stick around. Robert Garrigus blew a three-stroke lead on the 72nd hole, and Westwood won his second PGA Tour title in a three-way playoff in what he called an amazing finish.

``Sometimes you don't win tournaments you think you should have won, and sometimes you win tournaments that some other guy should have won,'' Westwood said. ``If you put yourself in the position often enough, that's going to happen.''

Westwood went on to take the No. 1 ranking away from Tiger Woods, though he now ranks second to Luke Donald after losing a playoff in the European Tour's PGA Championship. Westwood finished tied for 11th at the Masters and also has won the Indonesian Masters in April and in South Korea this year.

Garrigus responded well after melting down on the par-4 No. 18. He drove into the water and hit his third shot into the trees left that forced him to pitch out. He walked off the green with a triple-bogey 7 back to the 18th tee for a playoff with Westwood and Karlsson. He bogeyed the first hole to finish the collapse.

He credited Chris DiMarco among others with reminding him how hard he worked to get the lead. Then he went against all advice to avoid watching TV.

``Everybody was telling me not to watch The Golf Channel and not to watch PTI and all that stuff, but I watched it giggling because I knew I was going to win again and it was just a matter of time,'' Garrigus said.

He finished 2010 by winning the tour's final event at Disney, and he opened this year losing a playoff to Jonathan Byrd in the Tournament of Champions. Now he's back at a course where he feels very comfortable, especially in targeting holes on the greens with his ability to spin the ball with his middle irons.

Garrigus has been grouped with Westwood and Karlsson for the first two rounds starting Thursday, which he expected. He's busy dealing with what he called mixed emotions feeling like he's the defending champ and not Westwood.

But he knows how he'll feel when he reaches the 18th tee.

``I'm not going to screw it up this time. I know what to do and where to hit it and in what situation, and last year helped my career leaps and bounds even though I lost in the playoff and made 7 on the last hole,'' Garrigus said.

Golfers will have to deal with sizzling heat too with temperatures expected to hit the mid-90s. Mix in the humidity, and Garrigus predicted he'll need to drink 15 bottles of water a day alone to stay hydrated.

Both Westwood and Karlsson compared playing in Memphis to the conditions in Indonesia and Malaysia.

``That's part of playing this event,'' Karlsson said. ``You just have to take it and prepare as well as you can and make sure you stay hydrated and not get too caught up in outside conditions.''

Divots: Denver quarterback Tim Tebow played in Wednesday's pro-am with former coach Urban Meyer, and he drew a bigger crowd warming up on the practice range than Westwood did as he headed to the putting green. ... Vijay Singh's withdrawal allowed Michael Letzig into the field. D.A. Points, Ricky Barnes and Jose Marie Olazabal also withdrew.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
St. Jude Classic field
Blake AdamsRobert AllenbyStephen Ames
Stuart ApplebyAlex AragonWoody Austin
Briny BairdCraig BarlowChris Baryla
Cameron BeckmanRich BeemShane Bertsch
Matt BettencourtKris BlanksJason Bohn
Craig BowdenSteven BowditchKeegan Bradley
Michael BradleyD.J. BrigmanJonathan Byrd
Chad CampbellAlex CejkaGreg Chalmers
Chad CollinsMichael ConnellChris Couch
Ben CraneBen CurtisJohn Daly
Robert DamronBrian DavisMarco Dawson
Graham DelaetChris DiMarcoJames Driscoll
Joe DurantBob EstesSteve Flesch
Harrison FrazarSergio GarciaRobert Garrigus
Bobby GatesBrian GayTom Gillis
Fabian GomezAndres GonzalesRetief Goosen
Scott GordonJason GoreScott Gutschewski
Todd HamiltonPadraig HarringtonJ.P. Hayes
David HearnKip HenleyMark Hensby
Jim HermanTim HerronJustin Hicks
Billy HorschelCharles Howell IIIBobby Hudson
Ryuji ImadaFredrik JacobsonLee Janzen
Richard S. JohnsonZach JohnsonKent Jones
Sunghoon KangRobert KarlssonJerry Kelly
Anthony KimBio KimKevin Kisner
Jeff KlaukColt KnostSteve Lee
Michael LetzigSpencer LevinFrank Lickliter II
Jarrod LyleWill MacKenzieJohn Mallinger
Steve MarinoBen MartinDavid Mathis
Troy MattesonLen MattiaceBilly Mayfair
Scott McCarronWilliam McGirtAndrew McLardy
George McNeillMatt McQuillanJohn Merrick
Shaun MicheelZack MillerBryce Molder
Nick O'HernJoe OgilvieGeoff Ogilvy
Rod PamplingCarl PaulsonCameron Percy
Tom Pernice, Jr.Carl PetterssonScott Piercy
Martin PillerAron PriceDicky Pride
Michael PutnamBrett QuigleyFran Quinn
Jeff QuinneyChez ReaviePatrick Reed
Jim RennerClark RichardsonTag Ridings
Alexandre RochaJohn RollinsSam Saunders
John SendenHeath SlocumMike Small
Nate SmithBrandt SnedekerKevin Stadler
Scott StallingsPaul StankowskiBrendan Steele
Chris StroudDaniel SummerhaysMichael Thompson
Chris TidlandDavid TomsD.J. Trahan
Cameron TringaleKirk TriplettMarc Turnesa
Vance VeazeyJhonattan VegasScott Verplank
Camilo VillegasJohnson WagnerJimmy Walker
Boo WeekleyMatt WeibringLee Westwood
Garrett WillisY.E. YangBrendon de Jonge
Strength of field
World RankPlayersNo. in Field
TOP 10Lee Westwood (2)1
TOP 25Sergio Garcia (18),Robert Karlsson (24)2
TOP 50David Toms (26),Keegan Bradley (31),Geoff Ogilvy (36),Zach Johnson (37),Brandt Snedeker (38),Fredrik Jacobson (40),John Senden (43),Y.E. Yang (45)8
TOP 100Retief Goosen (53),Ben Crane (54),Jonathan Byrd (56),Robert Allenby (59),Greg Chalmers (61),Chez Reavie (67),Anthony Kim (76),Charles Howell III (77),Padraig Harrington (85),Camilo Villegas (87),Scott Verplank (91),Spencer Levin (94),Steve Marino (95)13
Course: TPC Southwind, Par 70 | Yardage: 6991
HoleParYardageHoleParYardage
10446514434
11315724401
12440635554
13447243196
14323954485
15439564445
16553074482
17449083178
18445394457