Dan Box
By Dan Box

This week should have been the week that Justin Rose defended his gold medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Golfers from all over the planet should have been competing not only for themselves, but also for their nation, at the biggest sporting event in the world.

WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational 2020 Preview

Image Credit: FedEx Twitter

Of course, the ongoing dangers posed by the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in the Olympics being postponed until 2021, meaning that Rose will get another 12 months of being the incumbent gold medal winner.

WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational 2020 Preview

Image Credit - FedEx Twitter

In its place this week instead is the first 'big' event since golf's return, and the second World Golf Championship event of 2020, the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee.

Last Year

Brooks Koepka was the winner in 2019, as he picked up his first WGC title and a rare non-major victory at TPC Southwind!

WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational 2020 Preview

Despite starting the final round one stroke behind Rory McIlroy, a strong final round of 65 was enough to leapfrog the Northern Irishman, who was only able to produce a 71.

Koepka's total score of -16 gave him a three stroke victory over Webb Simpson, with Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and McIlroy rounding out the top six.

The Course

Although on the surface the course may not seem too different to last year, there have been plenty of smaller changes under the surface, including the full renovation of the course's bunkers, which have taken as long as nine months to complete.

The result is a course which measures just a shade under 7,300 yards and so should provide plenty of birdie opportunities, although there is a threat of storms in the early part of the week which could produce some high winds and make life a little more difficult.

Water also comes in to play on around half of the holes on the golf course, meaning that longer drivers will still have to be accurate if they want to score well as this is really more of a second shot golf course.

WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational 2020 Preview

Image Credit - TPC Southwind

In terms of featured holes the par-3 11th, measuring 165 yards, is Memphis' version of the Island Green at TPC Sawgrass, whilst the 230 yard 14th will require an accurate long iron to a narrow green.

The Field

Whilst this is a World Golf Championship event, current restrictions in travel and quarantine periods mean that this may feel a little more like a regular PGA Tour event as some overseas players have declined to make the trip, including Lee Westwood, Francesco Molinari, Thomas Pieters and Adam Scott.

WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational 2020 Preview

Image Credit: Global Golf Post

Tiger Woods will also miss out as he looks to approach next week's PGA Championship with a clean bill of health, after struggling at times with his back during his return at the Memorial.

Headlining this week in Memphis are the newly-crowned World Number One Jon Rahm, making his first appearance since he reached the top of the rankings, along with defending champion Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy, both of whom will be looking to gain some momentum as we approach the year's first major and the business end of the golf season.

The strength of field is reinforced by the fact that the top nine in the World Rankings are all in the field this week, and 45 of the top 50, making it the strongest of any event so far this season.

Sophie's Tips

We've asked ex-LET professional and Golfalot equipment reviewer Sophie Walker to share her thoughts about this week's event, and who she's tipping to do well...

Tyrrell Hatton @ 28/1 - Leads the PGA Tour in putting and is ranked fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. Finished first, T3 and T4 in his last three starts and made the cut last year at this event. Perhaps a win here will finally help people to realise that he is world class?

Billy Horschel @ 45/1 - A real horse for course with 6 consecutive made cuts and five top 10s in his last six appearances at TPC Southwind. He's in good form too, with top 15s in his last two starts.

Matt Wolff @ 80/1 - The young star had made a quiet start to the year but seems to have found his form in recent weeks, including finishing runner up at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and T12 in his defence of the 3M Open.

WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational 2020 Preview

Image Credit: Matt Wolff

Finished in the top 25 at this event last year and has the type of game to overpower any course.

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