In just 10 starts this year, Fowler has already found the top 20 on seven occasions. His season has been highlighted by a win at the Honda Classic and a tie for third at the Shell Houston Open, but he’s enjoyed plenty of other successes too, including solid weeks at the WGC-Mexico Championship and The Masters. A statistical stalwart, Fowler is seventh on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained: approach-the-green and ninth in strokes gained: putting, a potentially lethal combo. Three years ago, in his first and only start at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, he got a promising result: a tie for 13th.
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2. Brooks Koepka
This native Floridian has blossomed into a perennial contender in Tennessee, boasting a podium finish in two of his three career appearances at TPC Southwind. That kind of track record, along with markedly improved results over the last two months, should give him a big advantage heading into this week. Koepka has survived to the weekend in each of his last six starts, finding the top 20 in four of them. That stretch includes a tie for 11th at The Masters and a solo second at the Valero Texas Open, so he’s been doing his thing against strong and weak fields alike.
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3. Phil Mickelson
This veteran has been in solid form all year long, so his decision to skip the U.S. Open in favor of his daughter’s high school graduation was, while totally understandable, a disappointing one. That means the FedEx St. Jude Classic will be the biggest event on his schedule in the next month, so expect Mickelson to give it his all this week. Using it as his U.S. Open tune-up, Mickelson has owned this event over the past few years, finding the top three in three of his last four appearances.
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4. Francesco Molinari
This Italian has been playing wonderful golf for most of the season, but he took it to a new level at the recent BMW PGA Championship, firing a pair of rounds in the 60s to finish just two strokes off of Alex Noren’s winning pace. That outstanding performance should give him all the momentum he needs as we head into this crucial summer stretch. Fresh off four consecutive top 25 finishes, including that BMW runner-up and a share of sixth place at THE PLAYERS Championship, Molinari has been consistently impressive over the past couple of months.
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5. Steve Stricker
We’ve been seeing quite a bit of this 12-time PGA TOUR winner in recent weeks — like last year, he’s begun to ramp up his schedule in preparation for the busy summer stretch of majors and postseason events. Stricker got a great result at last year’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, so look for him to make it back-to-back successes at TPC Southwind this week.
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6. Billy Horschel
This 30-year-old has made hay at the FedEx St. Jude Classic over the past few years, so he definitely belongs on our radar screens this week. Even taking into consideration his recent inconsistency, Horschel’s track record at TPC Southwind is simply too good to ignore. Horschel picked up three straight top 10 finishes at TPC Southwind between 2013 and 2015, reeling off a tie for 10th, a tie for sixth and a tie for eighth in that order. While he skipped last year’s edition, his knowledge of the course probably hasn’t suffered much since his last start.
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7. Adam Scott
Scott didn’t bring his A-game to last week’s Memorial Tournament, but cut him some slack — it was his first event in a few weeks. Now, with the U.S. Open quickly approaching on the horizon, I’m expecting him to locate that next gear and notch a good result at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Even at the age of 36, the Aussie remains one of the longest players on the circuit, averaging a whopping 302.3 yards off the tee. It’s been more than 10 years since his one and only career start at TPC Southwind, but at least he logged some low rounds that week, holding the 54-hole lead before fading to an ugly 75 on Sunday.
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8. Russell Henley
With his U.S. Open berth secure, all Henley needs to worry about this week is fine-tuning his game for the unfamiliar layout at Erin Hills. That’s easier said than done, but given his past success at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, it looks like this former Georgia Bulldog could be in for some low rounds this week. With a two-for-three career record at TPC Southwind, including a tie for seventh last year and a tie for 27th in 2013, Henley knows his way around this week’s venue. The course should give him a great chance to showcase his accuracy — he ranks 22nd on the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation — and if all else fails, he’s usually dangerous on the greens.
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9. Daniel Berger
This week’s defending champion, Berger is one of those players who’s been playing pretty well this year but hasn’t come particularly close to winning anything. With memories from last year working in his favor and most of the world’s elite players staying home, he should have a good opportunity to flip the script and contend for a trophy this week. Again, while he hasn’t really been in the mix for any titles, Berger can hang his hat upon a couple of solid finishes this year: a solo fifth at the Shell Houston Open and a tie for seventh at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
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10. Jamie Lovemark
Solid but streaky over the past two seasons, Lovemark’s game has taken a noticeable turn for the better in recent weeks, making him stand out among the limited options in this week’s field. With his form and skill set, he should be able to navigate his way to success this week, despite the fact that he’s never seen a weekend at TPC Southwind. Lovemark will enter this week’s event on the heels of back-to-back top 20 finishes: a tie for 18th at the AT&T Byron Nelson and a tie for 10th at the Memorial Tournament just last week.
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