Tough field at St. Jude Classic

The Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–It’s a tournament Phil Mickelson has come so close to winning so many times, only to agonizingly fall short.
Not the U.S. Open–that’s next week–but the St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
Mickelson definitely won’t claim that first U.S. Open victory this year because he’s already said he’s skipping it to attend his daughter’s high school graduation .
But he hopes to finally break through at TPC Southwind, where Mickelson has three top-three finishes in the last four years with no titles.
“I don’t want to think about the results because when you start thinking results, you never perform your best,” Mickelson said yesterday.
“But I do know that if I play well, it’s a golf course I’ve played well on in the past,” he noted.
“I like it very much and I’ve been playing well this year,” Mickelson added. “I just haven’t quite shot as low as I’d like to [but] I feel like it’s close.
“I can’t think of a better place to put it all together than right here.”
The final tune-up before the U.S. Open next week in Wisconsin brought out a tough field, with Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Brooks Koepka here.
Adam Scott is playing here for the first time in a decade while Daniel Berger is defending his first and only PGA Tour title.
But the winner in Memphis might find trouble next week at Erin Hills. No player has gone on to win the U.S. Open after winning the previous week on tour.
Only 11 times has a player won a major championship the week after winning on the tour.
The last to do it was Rory McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship in 2014 after his victory at the Bridgestone Invitational.
“I definitely like playing the week before majors,” Fowler said. “I feel like it allows me to kind of see where the game’s at, what needs to be worked on, what needs to be tightened up. . . .
“Part of that is making sure the game’s in a good spot, and if we’re able to put ourselves in contention after last week, then we’ll be in a good spot going into the U.S. Open,” he reasoned.
Meanwhile, could another first-time winner emerge this week?
Four of the last six champions in Memphis had not won on the tour previously, including the last two: Berger last year and Fabian Gomez in 2015.
Players still can make it into the U.S. Open if they can crack the top 60 in the world golf rankings by the end of this tournament.
But only one player can get into the top 60–and he would have to win.
That short list of possibilities includes Ian Poulter and Hudson Swafford, neither of whom played in the qualifier.