Good field for US Open lead up
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2007 Stanford St. Jude Classic | Preview | 06 Jun 2007
With just a week to go before the US Open it is normal for many of the leading players to ensure they can plan their preparation and arrival at Oakmont to perfection by taking the week off. The tournament organisers at this week’s Stanford St Jude Championship in Memphis, therefore, can be very pleased with the field they have managed to attract with the US Open looming in seven days time.
Six of the world’s top twelve are in the field making it one of the strongest fields in this event in recent times.
With FedEx taking their involvement with the PGA Tour to a much higher level in 2007 and beyond, after a 21 year association with this event, a new sponsor is on board this year in the form of Financial Services company, Stanford. They have joined forces with the Childhood Disease Research organisation St Jude to continue the tradition of this event, which had its origins back in the 1950’s when known as the Memphis Invitational Open.
The tournament purse has grown significantly in recent years increasing another US$800,000 to US$6 million from that on offer last year when Jeff Maggert won for the first time in more than seven years on the PGA Tour.
The tournament moved to the TPC Southwind in 1989 and has remained at the Ron Prichard designed layout since. Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller provided player consultancy on the project also.
Vijay Singh will play the event for the first time since 1992 when he tees it up on Thursday and although he has provided himself with a rather demanding schedule in his lead up to the US Open, he stands a chance of doing well. His 15th place finish last week was highlighted by a last round of 67 suggesting he is peaking at the right time.
Adam Scott is in great form at present but is playing the event for the first time. At this level, that should be of little consequence. His 6th place at the recent Players Championship and his 5th place last week at the Memorial, both on tough and demanding golf courses, indicate just where he is at with his game at present and it would not surprise to see him win his sixth USPGA Tour event. Whether that is a good or bad thing in a lead up to a major is debatable but he is well poised to contend.
Geoff Ogilvy is another whose game seems right on track to peak next week when he defends his US Open title. As was the case last year, Ogilvy has chosen to play the week before the big event and his recent form, including when 9th last week at the Memorial, suggests that we can expect a better finish than in his lead up to Winged Foot last year when 18th at the Barclays Classic. He will need to improve on his previous record in this event however having missed the cut on his three previous visits and not having played the event since 2004.
David Toms and TPC Southwind go hand in hand. Tom’s record in the event is stunning having won twice, been runner up and then 10th in his last four appearances. Toms has hardly set the world on fire in recent weeks but he has played very consistently making his last nineteen cuts and occasionally contending. A return to what must be one of his favourite layouts should see him at least challenging.
It has been 17 starts since Padraig Harrington missed a cut and amongst those have been some very impressive weeks. A 7th place finish at Augusta National and a win in Ireland has him leading into the US Open with his game in good shape. He is playing this event for the first time but he has now proven that winning in the US is certainly not beyond him.
Sergio Garcia’s recent runner up placing at the Players Championship continued some rather improved form in recent weeks and although he too is playing the event for the first time, he is due for a breakthrough in what would be his first win in 20 months.
One player who might be worth keeping an eye on this week is the Swede, Frederik Jacobson, who, although his form has been mixed of late, has played well on occasions at the TPC Southwind. His fifth place finish last week in Ohio gives an indication that his game is coming around after a period in the doldrums.
Other than Scott and Ogilvy the Australians, as is the case every week at present, have plenty of chances. Nathan Green will be buoyed by qualifying for the US Open on Monday and by his recent good form including when 5th at the Colonial two weeks ago. He is playing this event for the first time.
Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Mathew Goggin, Steve Elkington and Andrew Buckle are other Australians who will use this event as their lead in to Oakmont while John Senden, Stephen Leaney, Gavin Coles, Jarrod Lyle, Michael Sim, Steve Allan, Paul Gow, Steve Bowditch and New Zealander Craig Perks provide further hopes for those from downunder.