It's now officially US Open week -- so if you're reading this, it means you're a fan and are likely looking forward to seeing the best players in the world get hit over the head for four days by Old Man Par. It also means you need to play our Majors Championship game -- $10, pick a team of any six golfers, and if they play well enough you'll win $1,000. It's a lot of fun and anyone can play, so spread the word.
The cream always rises to the top, and that's what we got in Memphis on Sunday… for the most part. Dustin Johnson, in only his second start back after almost three months recuperating from a back injury, prevailed in what turned out to be a wild Sunday at TPC Southwind. Eight different players had a piece of the lead at some point during the day, which finished three hours earlier than usual because of the threat of inclement weather.
He wasn't the Johnson most of us pundits thought would be there at the end of the day. That would be Zach Johnson, who was able to catch a flight to San Francisco Friday evening after rounds of 73-71, much to his fantasy owners' dismay. Let's get to what else we learned from the FedEx St. Jude Classic. David Toms, another popular pick, was even worse: +9 after 36 holes.
DJ's win was impressive in that TPC Southwind is traditionally one of the harder courses on Tour and there's a premium on fairways and greens, which clearly will be the case next week at Olympic Club for the US Open. He was t18 in fairways and t4 in GIR% in Memphis and in the middle of the pack in putting. As I mentioned last week, that's a formula that can win an Open. That being said, no one has ever won the Open after winning the week before, so history isn't on his side. He's become a regular contender in majors and plays well in Northern California, however, so he has to at least be on the consideration list this week.
Here's what else we learned this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic:
- Rory McIlroy made some progress this week. He splashed his tee shot on No. 18 when needing a birdie to tie DJ, which was certainly a disappointing end to a week in which he had at least a share of the lead during all four rounds, including Sunday. But coming off three straight missed cuts, being in the hunt was probably pretty good for him. He stated throughout the week that he was pleased with his iron play, although the stats don't show anything too impressive -- his best days were Friday and Sunday, when he hit 12 of 18 greens. I see that as a little more troubling, as he lead the field in driving distance (320.1 yards) and had a lot of short irons into the greens. Still, in 2010 he went MC (Wells Fargo) then fifth (Memorial) before winning the Open, so his t7 finish in Memphis could be the justification needed to pick him this week in San Francisco.
- Ryan Palmer keeps it going. Although he's never done anything a major, it's too bad he's not in the field for the Open this week as he is one of the hotter players on Tour right with four top-10's in his last five tourneys. He was t3 in Memphis -- his opening-round 74 was too much for him to overcome the last 54 holes, which he covered in -11. He'll be one to watch the rest of the month.
- Chad Campbell had a nice week, but don't get carried away for the Open. He made it through the sectional on Monday, then finished t3 at the St. Jude. A great week that doubled his earnings on the year. He's a great GIR% guy, which is why he will probably show up on some 'darkhorse' lists this week, but his best finish in a US Open the last decade was a t18 in 2008 and he has a lot of MC's.
- Lee Westwood ran away with the Nordea Masters in Sweden. It was a stronger field compared to the FedEx St. Jude, too, although my scouts haven't told me too much about how it compares to the layout at Olympic. He's always on the short list of US Open favorites and it's good to see he's on form.
Trending Up: Seung-Yul Noh (t7 in Memphis, three top-15's his last seven events; he bombs it and is a solid GIR% guy); Ken Duke (t7; collected his fifth top-10 of the year); Greg Owen (t11 in Memphis, t9 the week before at Memorial; he's creeping up on the $1 million level already this year).
Trending Down: Toms has had two really poor performances in a row on the heels of a couple of top-15's.
- John Daly fired at 64 on Sunday to climb back into the top 20 after a disappointing Saturday. No one was more ticked off about the Saturday round than CBS, who sounded like they were caught mid-nap during most of the telecast.
- JB Holmes has four top-20's in seven events.
- With a t11 in Memphis, Kevin Stadler now has nine top-25's in 2012.
- 45 players have made more than $1 million on Tour this year.