MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We knew going in the Memphis stop on the PGA Tour was getting a major upgrade with its designation now as a World Golf Championships event. A sign of that new reality was seeing the top 4 golfers on the planet work the course for a final practice round out at the TPC at Southwind.
Even though the number 1 golfer in the world Brooks Koepka is no stranger to the Bluff City, his appearance at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational gives credence to the fact this is now one of the top 10 tournaments in the sport.
“I really love this place," Koepka said. "This place has always been really good to me. I feel like I play really well. I’ve enjoyed the golf course and enjoy Memphis. It’s a fun place to come back to year after year, so, I’ve enjoyed it.”
Koepka will tee off at the number one tee with Rory McIlroy and Jason Day at 12:59 p.m. Thursday.
Returning to Memphis as the final champion of the old FedEx St. Jude Classic, number 2 ranked golfer Dustin Johnson is more than happy to come back to the course where he scored an eagle on the final hole to close out that tournament in historic fashion.
“It’s always nice to come back here,” Johnson said. “I’ve got good vibes here. I like the golf course. I feel like I know the golf course very well. I feel like I know what you have to do to succeed here. So, it’s a place I enjoy coming back to and I look forward to this week. Obviously, having a World Golf Championship here, it’s big for the town, it’s big for FedEx. It’s big for this community.”
Johnson will tee off at 12:04 p.m. with Paul Casey and Justin Thomas off the number 10 tee.
The world’s #3 ranked golfer is Rory McIlroy. He hasn’t played in Memphis in 7 years. McIlroy claims titles in the 2011 US Open, the 2012 PGA Championship, the 2014 British Open, and the 2014 PGA Championship. He’s one of only 4 players to win at least 3 majors by the age of 25. McIlroy looks forward to competing here again.
“It’s nice to be back," he said. "It’s nice to play this golf course that rewards good ball striking. It’s a little soft out there with all the rain that Memphis has had, but it’s good to be here. Looking forward to the week.”
The 30-year-old Irishman has won more than $130 million on the PGA Tour.
Justin Rose is the reigning FedEx Cup Champion. He’s currently 4th in the world golf rankings. Rose makes his Official Memphis PGA Debut on Thursday. The British golfer enters this week’s WGC St. Jude Invitational hoping to position himself well for next month’s PGA playoffs, where he attempts to become the first back-to-back champion.
“To have the opportunity to be here in Memphis is something I’ve been looking forawrd to,” Rose said. “Obviously I’ve made some good friends at FedEx along the way and obviously being the defending FedExCup Champion, it’s a big honor for me to be here, the first inaugural WGC St. Jude FedEx World Golf Championship”
Rose tees off at 12:48 p.m. off the number 1 tee Thursday with Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth. The WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational runs through Sunday at the TPC at Southwind.