Temperatures hit 90 degrees Wednesday and it felt like 98 degrees for those preparing for the St. Jude Classic at the TPC at Southwind.
It's about time for David Toms, who was wearing a long-sleeved pullover on the first day of summer last weekend at the Buick Classic in Westchester, N.Y.
'I'm glad to be back in warm weather. It's summertime. It's supposed to be hot,' the Louisiana native said.
A lot of golfers have been complaining about slopping through the mud seemingly every day the past few weeks. A dry golf course is what Toms noticed most in his pro-am round Wednesday.
'It's a lot better than having to pick up your ball every hole and clean it off. That's going to be a tough thing this week not picking your ball up because we've been so used to doing that lately,' he said, referring to the lift, clean and place rule used because of soggy fairways.
Jay Haas, along with Toms the only players in the tournament in the top 10 of the money list, said he has been waiting both for the sun and Memphis.
'I love the 90s,' Haas said.
Warm, sunny weather isn't why defending champion Len Mattiace is so happy to be back at the tournament sponsored by FedEx. This is where he posted the largest comeback on the PGA Tour last year, making up a seven-stroke deficit on the final day to overtake third-round leader Glen Hnatiuk.
He said memories started flooding back when he arrived in town Tuesday night.
'They were very good feelings,' he said.
Mattiace said he has drawn on his memories of shooting 65-64 on the weekend here last year to win, especially at the Masters in April. He shot a final-round 64 that forced a playoff with eventual champion Mike Weir.
'There was no question that I planned that day at the Masters. I kind of visualized what I would like to do, and I was doing it,' he said. 'That's a very nice thing to have a game plan and actually execute it all but probably the 18th hole.
'I did have some confidence. I knew I didn't have a low round at the Masters up until that point, and I knew I could do it. It was just a question of making one or two shots I hadn't made and obviously making no mistakes.'
That final Sunday at Augusta has been the highlight of this year for Mattiace. He hasn't won since the St. Jude Classic, which helped him finish in the top 30 on the money list for 2002. His only other top 10 finish was a tie for eighth at the Nissan Open in February.
Mattiace has missed four cuts this year and has struggled to become more consistent. He ranks 160th on tour in total driving and 145th in greens in regulation. He has been good getting out of bunkers, ranking 19th in sand saves.
His biggest problem has been a hole or two per week, hurting himself with a double- or triple-bogey. But Mattiace said he has worked through that problem since March, and is 38th on the money list through 25 tournaments.
'I feel good about my game, and I feel confident that the rest of the year will be more consistent with better finishes,' he said.
Scoring low will be a must at the par-71, 7,030-yard course. The greens are soft and a chance of thunderstorms Thursday would keep them from drying out, so golfers will be able to shoot at the pins.
'This has always seemed to be a birdie-fest here,' said Haas, who won here in 1992 at 21-under. 'I didn't understand it the first few years I came here.'
Notah Begay won with 13-under in 2000 when the greens were firmer, the highest winning score since John Mahaffey took the title at 12-under in 1989.
Notes: Woody Austin and Paul Stankowski both withdrew Wednesday and were replaced by Stan Utley and Kelley Gibson. Troy Matteson, the 2002 NCAA champion, will be playing his second PGA event on a sponsor's exemption. He received the call to play last weekend during a rehearsal for his wedding, and he has postponed his honeymoon to play in Memphis.
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