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St. Jude Classic: A Warmup for Pebble Beach

by Jeff Skinner

The PGA Tour’s St. Jude Classic starts today and it’s a tournament that is filled with history.  It started way back in 1958 as the Memphis Open and after entertainer Danny Thomas got involved in 1969 he became the face of the tournament.  It was at this event that Al Geiberger shot the first 59 in a PGA tour event in 1977.  Since 1970 The St. Jude Children’s Hospital has received over $23.3 million dollars.  Marlo Thomas has taken over for her father as the moving force for the St. Jude Charity and there couldn’t be a more deserving beneficiary for the funds raised by the tournament.

However, it seems that with the lack of any big American stars in the field this week The St. Jude Classic is serving as a warm up for the best foreign players before they tee off next week at Pebble Beach.  Americans occupy the top five slots in the World Golf Rankings but none of them are playing.  The highest ranked players in the field are Lee Westwood (3), Ian Poulter (6) and Rory McIlroy (10).  Tournaments played the week before any major always take a hit when it comes to the strength of the field.  It’s a dilemma that The PGA Tour has a problem dealing with but that doesn’t mean the event won’t be interesting and exciting.  We get to see amateur sensation Jordan Spieth and Big John Daly are both in the field.  Paddy Harrington is back playing and Zach Johnson has chosen to play before the U.S. Open.  Johnson flies under the radar as much as any major winner can. All he does is hang around every tournament and pick up a win here and there.  He could win this week and then go for the double next week at the Open, stranger things have happened.

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