PGA Tour Preview: Heat, Humidity, and Beale Street

Last Week

The Memorial is one of the most prestigious tournaments of the PGA Tour season, made even more so by the presence of host Jack Nicklaus. Outside of the major championships and the Players, it's perhaps the most coveted title since Arnold Palmer has passed away.

As a two-time U.S. Amateur champion, Nicklaus has always had a particular fondness for amateurs, so it's only fitting that 2015 amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau came away with the title last week, outlasting Kyle Stanley and Byeong-hun An in a sudden death playoff.

It was DeChambeau's second PGA Tour title and establishes him as one of the top young guns in golf. His quirkiness, from playing with a set of clubs with the same shaft length to the Ben Hogan hat, fits him in a way we haven't seen since Payne Stewart's knickers and a similar style hat. It's such a tough game at which to make a living, so DeChambeau's unconventional approach is refreshing and hopefully he'll be around the game for years to come.

This Week

FedEx St. Jude Classic
Memphis, Tennessee
TPC Southwind - Par 70
Defending Champion: Daniel Berger - 10 under par 270

2018 Field

* Twenty-three of the top 30 finishers from last year's tournament

* Two of the top 10, four of the top 20, and 12 of the top 50 in FedEx Cup points

* Two of the top 10, four of the top 20, nine of the top 50, and 18 of the top 100 in the World Golf rankings

* Twenty countries represented

* Twenty colleges have three or more former players represented: Alabama (4), Arizona (3), Arizona State (4), Arkansas (4), Auburn (3), Cal-Berkeley (3), Clemson (4), Florida (5), Florida State (3), Georgia (3). Georgia Tech (4), Oklahoma (3), Oklahoma State (7), South Carolina (3), South Carolina-Aiken (3), Texas (4), Texas A&M (5), UCLA (3), Vanderbilt (3), Washington (3)

* Oldest player: Bob Estes (52)

* Youngest Player: Joaquin Niemann (19)

* Major Champions (9): Phil Mickelson (5), Padraig Harrington (3), Retief Goosen (2), John Daly (2). Charl Schwartzel, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Stewart Cink

* Total Tour Victories: 252 (Phil Mickelson, 43)

* Total Major Victories: 17 (Phil Mickelson, 5)

What to Look For

As usual, the FedEx St. Jude's Classic precedes the season's second major, the U.S. Open Championship. Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson highlight the field, as they prefer to play their way into a major as opposed to taking the week off. Others to watch are Tony Finau, Luke List, Billy Horschel, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, and one of last week's runners-up, Byeong-Hun An.

In preparation for the Open, the TPC Southwinds course is set up with narrow fairways and more rough than the players are used to dealing with on a weekly basis. Daniel Berger won the title last year, but has struggled for most of the last year, without a top-10 finish in the current season.

As usual, the toughest foe for the players this week won't be the course or their fellow competitors, but the weather. Temperatures are forecast for the mid-90s with humidity in the 50% range, making it difficult keep grips dry and tempers calm.

John Daly, now on the PGA Tour Champions, makes his usual entry in this event and he and his guitar will likely make an appearance somewhere on famed Beale Street sometime during the week. The two-time major champion won't contend for the title, but he'll attract huge galleries. I followed him inside the ropes at the PGA Tour Champions Insperity Invitational and he still garners rock star status with the fans.

On the other end of the age spectrum, 19-year-old Chilean Joaquin Niemann is poised to breakthrough. I haven't seen a talent like him since Tiger Woods broke onto the scene in 1996. This might just be the week for him to break into the winner's circle.

Kevin Krest is the author of the entertaining PK Frazier series of sports suspense novels and the co-host of the weekly "The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports" broadcast. His books can be found on

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