2023 FedEx St. Jude Championship Friday Field Notes
2023 FEDEX ST. JUDE CHAMPIONSHIP FRIDAY FIELD NOTES – We’re halfway through the first round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Lucas Glover is playing like the greatest golfer in the world. Tommy Fleetwood lurks, ready to pounce. John Rahm is angry. Sungjae Im is sinking 50 footers. The best in the world have gathered in Memphis to flash their skills.
I bought a grounds ticket to the St. Jude Championship on Friday and attended for most of the day. I’m a prodigious notetaker and I keep a small notepad and pen in my pocket at all times. This is helpful for two reasons: (1) I can register my passing thoughts and observations on all that crosses my path and (2) my phone dies every twenty minutes so I can write things down like phone numbers and the time.
I wandered around TPC Southwind all day Friday and took field notes on what I saw. I’ve compiled them below for your enjoyment. Warning: if you are not a total golf nut, the following content might be a bit of snooze.
It crept up to 100 degrees in Memphis yesterday and I do not understand how these guys play a sport in the heat like this. Jason Day uses an umbrella to keep from the shade. Scottie wets a towel and wraps it around his neck.
I didn’t make things easy on myself by wearing cowboy boots and pants, but my point remains: it was hot. This absolutely affected some of the decision making on the course yesterday and a lot of players struggled as they got to 16, 17, and 18. It’s supposed to be much cooler today, so expect more aggressive play.
Rahmbo and Rory Look Ready for the Ryder
The group that attracted the most fanfare yesterday was the big three: Scottie Scheffler, John Rahm and Rory McIlroy. I hustled to the second tee box to get a closer look at these three golf gods and my main takeaway was how loose Rory and Rahm looked.
They didn’t engage much with the crowd, but both men seemed to have a terrific relationship. These guys don’t always talk to each other much when they’re grouped together, but that wasn’t the case with the big three. Expect a major surge from the Europeans in the Ryder Cup.
It was also surreal to see Rory up close. I felt like a kid.
Hideki Matsuyama is a Weirdo
I watched Hideki play for quite a while on Friday, because he’s one of my favorite golfers. The first thing I noticed was that he rolls deep with a huge entourage on the driving range.
On the course, he couldn’t sit still. I don’t know if he kept trying to find shade, but, as soon as he would finish a hole, he’d abandon his caddie and walk as far away from the green as he could. Then he’d stand and stare at his group, arms crossed, waiting for them to finish.
Half the time, his caddie wouldn’t even know where he went off to.
Rahm’s Cutter is Even More Insane in Person
Rahmbo hit the cutter multiple times yesterday. It’s one of the most beautiful ball flights I’ve ever witnessed. It starts low and then cuts sharp with total precision. And the backswing. Wow. He draws back about twenty percent on the backswing and then fires. It’s amazing how he is able to draw so much power from his hips without drawing the club back.
I followed the Hovland/Fowler group for most of their front nine. The short game capabilities of these two is incredible. Take a look at Hovland’s wrist control the in the video below.
The weather has cleared up for the weekend, so the greens have probably dried today. That wasn’t the case on Friday. The greens at TPC Southwind are small and undulating. In short, they’re a nightmare.
The undulation causes quite a bit of shade on the lower parts of each green, which means that some areas were completely dry while others were still wet. Some of the leaders struggled to break even in SG: PUTT yesterday. We can already see that the putting should be much better today.
The Grandstand at the 11th Hole
Memphis has some incredible golf fans and the St. Jude Championship is an important event for those of us who live in the area. TPC SOuthwind and the PGA Tour did an incredible job setting up the grandstand at the 11th.
The green is front with a beautiful water hazard and flanked by the grandstand, which is chock full of spectators who paid extra for the pleasure of the viewing experience. Still, there is enough space on the hill next to the grandstand where you can take your folding chair and post up next to a tree while you watch everyone filter through one of the iconic holes on the course.
Holes 17 and 18
These are two of the hardest holes on the golf course. Seventeen caused Cam Young quite a bit of trouble as he had to take an unplayable and drop in front of the creek. It’s a long hole, but demands a unique strategy because you need to avoid the creek while getting to the green in two.
The eighteenth features a hard dogleg left. Most players either overshot the fairway as they tried to avoid the water or dunked it into the water like Denny McCarthy. Reaching the green from the rough on the far side of eighteen is difficult. It’s going to be fun on Sunday.
- Sepp Straka is gigantic;
- Morikawa hits it a million miles.
- Nobody has more fun out there than Fleetwood’s caddie.
- Speaking of Fleetwood, he was one of the only players who regularly engaged with the crowd.
- Nobody clapped for Aaron Rai except me (sad!).
- Mich Ultras are too expensive.
- Bring a chair.