This week marks the 30th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to Memphis for the FedEx St. Jude Classic. A field of 156 players will tee it up this week at TPC Southwind, where many players will look to pick up some momentum with the U.S. Open now just one week away.
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Harris English returns to defend the title he won here a year ago by two shots over Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Tennessee:
1. Dustin Johnson: A winner here in 2012, Johnson tied for 10th a year ago and already has a win and a pair of runner-up finishes to his credit this season. The bomber is second on Tour in driving distance but also inside the top 10 in several categories, including GIR percentage, birdie average and the all-around ranking.
2. Ryan Palmer: Palmer has contended each of the last two years in Memphis, finishing fourth last year after a tie for third in 2012. He also has a pair of runner-up finishes this season, including a playoff loss at PGA National, and tied for fifth in his last start at Colonial. Palmer is fourth in the all-around this season.
3. Paul Casey: Held the 36-hole lead at Memorial last week and still tied for 13th despite some struggles over the weekend. The Englishman then bounced back and played his way into the U.S. Open Monday in Columbus. After years of injury and struggle, he appears to have turned a corner. Four top-20 finishes in his last five starts.
4. Lee Westwood: Westwood won here in 2010, then tied for 11th in 2011 in his most recent appearance. The Englishman tied for sixth at TPC Sawgrass in his last PGA Tour start and has a tendency to play some of his best golf around the majors.
5. J.B. Holmes: A surprise winner last month at Quail Hollow, Holmes started strong at Memorial before fading but then turned around and finished second at the U.S. Open sectional in Memphis on Monday. He has the length off the tee to overpower nearly any venue, and he tied for 19th at TPC Southwind in 2012 in his most recent appearance.
6. Robert Allenby: The Aussie has four top-40 finishes in his last six starts, and his track record in Memphis is even better. Outside of a W/D in 2010, Allenby has finished no worse than T-13 since 2007 at TPC Southwind, including a runner-up showing in 2008.
7. Harris English: The defending champ was one of the best players in the early part of the season, but has cooled somewhat in recent weeks. English tied for 30th at Colonial in his most recent start, though, and he is still inside the top 10 on Tour in GIR percentage, scoring average and birdie average this season.
8. Billy Horschel: Horschel has been one of the best ball-strikers on Tour all season long, but his putter is finally starting to cooperate. He followed a T-26 finish at TPC Sawgrass with a tie for 15th at Memorial, and may be on the cusp of a run similar to the one he had last spring. Tied for 10th here last year and is sixth on Tour in GIR percentage.
9. Justin Leonard: The veteran is having a bit of a renaissance this season, with 13/16 made cuts highlighted by a T-3 finish at Humana. He has won twice before in Memphis and was medalist Monday at the U.S. Open qualifier in Columbus, so he still has a few low scores left in the bag.
10. Phil Mickelson: The ultimate wild card in this week's field. Mickelson is the highest-ranked player teeing it up in Memphis and tied for second last year, but his on-course performance this year has been poor and he now faces the burden of off-course distractions as well. If Mickelson hopes to carry any momentum at all into Pinehurst next week, he needs a solid finish here - but it feels like that sentence has been repeated without results for more than a month.