Starts: 5th August 2021
Course: TPC Southwind
Par: 70 (35-35)
Length: 7,277 yards
Grass Type: Bermuda
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas
Opened in 1988, TPC Southwind was designed by Ron Prichard with assistance from Fuzzy Zoeller and Hubert Green. The course underwent an upgrade in 2004, with Loren Roberts overseeing a host of changes including new trees, additional bunkers, narrowing of the fairways and a change to Bermuda grass on the greens.
The course hosted regular a regular PGA Tour event (formerly the Memphis Open and latterly the St Jude Classic) for 30 years until last year when the event became a WGC tournament. We have plenty of course form to go on.
There are two very reachable par 5s and four 3s. Greens are smaller than average and run fast. Fairways too are smaller than average. Water is in play on over half the holes and players will do well not to be in the water at some point. Over 5,000 balls have met such a fate at TPC Southwind since 2004 - and to put that in context, TPC Sawgrass comes next with 3,500 in the same time frame. Particular danger holes for players are 12 and 18.
Continue to exercise an abundance of caution (credit: Chase Koepka and the PGA Tour) in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
With this switching to a WGC event previous trends hold less weight.
There's little to be gained from assessing the importance of having played here before. Daniel Berger and Dustin Johnson both won on their first starts here in recent years. Past champions have also found success here with Berger, Johnson and Justin Leonard having twice triumphed in the past 12 years.
American golfers have dominated with only Lee Westwood and Fabian Gomez having won from other countries since 2000.
Six of the last eight winners have led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green so an emphasis is placed on players who are striking the ball well. With smaller than average greens, and water a persistent threat, it's no surprise a sound long game is required.
Winners have tended to be within striking distance going into the final day but not necessarily leading. Koepka was a stroke back last year and overcame Rory McIlroy to win. Both DJ and Daniel Berger won in 2018 and 2016 respectively when leading after the third round. Berger's second win in 2017 came from three shots off the pace with a round to go.
In summary, it's a course where it is difficult to force a good score with so much water in play. Players who are within three strokes of the lead are preferred going into the final round.
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