Johnson, Mickelson headline St. Jude field

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What better way to play yourself into U.S Open form than with a strong showing at the St. Jude Classic.

The St. Jude Classic is the final PGA Tour tournament before the year's second major gets underway on June 16, and Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson headline a field light on stars.

Unsurprisingly, world number one Jason Day, reigning U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are all absent from Memphis, Tennessee as the trio prepare for next week's showdown in Oakmont.

That presents experienced pair Johnson and Mickelson with a chance to get their hands on some silverware, with Fabian Gomez returning to defend his crown at TPC Southwind, starting Thursday.

 

ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE JOHNSON WINS

Johnson is no stranger to missing out, just look at his record on the PGA Tour. The 31-year-old American has top-five placing at all majors throughout his career. Despite still searching for his first win in 2016, Johnson continues to loom large.

He has two third-place finishes this season after narrowly missing out at last week's Memorial Tournament, while he made it into the top 10 at the Masters, Houston Open, WGC-Cadillac Match Play, Northern Trust Open, Tournament of Champions and WGC-HSBC Champions.

 

PLAYERS AND FANS IN FOR A TREAT AT TPC SOUTHWIND

The course is a quaint 7,244-yard par-70 nestled among the landscape's natural lakes, streams and ponds on a former dairy farm. What the tournament lacks in star power, the course makes up for it in beauty and excitement. The weather is also expected to be favourable for players throughout the tournament, despite the threat of isolate thunderstorms on the final day.

 

ACES ON THE CARDS?

Since 1989, 21 aces have been recorded at TPC Southwind. Hudson Swafford and David Hearn both posted hole-in-ones during last year's second round. Meanwhile, there are 75 Tour winners in the 156-man field, with Ernie Els and Mickelson the two major champions.

 

MICKELSON BUILDING TO CAREER GRAND SLAM

Mickelson is a five-time major winner, but there one notable trophy missing from his cabinet. The Masters, Open and PGA Championship winner is yet to claim the U.S. Open. No player in history has had more disappointment at Oakmont Country Club

in Pennsylvania than Mickelson, who is a six-time runner-up. After tying for 20th position at the Memorial Tournament, having missed the cut at The Players Championship, this week's St. Jude Classic provides an important test for the 45-year-old.

 

GOMEZ HOPING FOR MORE OF THE SAME

Gomez returns to the scene of his life-changing win. The Argentinian broke through for his maiden Tour title at last year's St. Jude Classic, blitzing Greg Owen by four strokes. Gomez was tied atop the leaderboard as the final round teed off 12 months ago but a four-under par 66 saw him to victory. The 37-year-old went on to clinch January's Sony Open in Hawaii.

 

JOHNSON EYEING U.S. OPEN, GOMEZ COMFORTABLE AS CHAMP

"I've got to take from all the positives. This year is going to be a little different," said Johnson, who cruelly finished second at the U.S. Open last year after three-putting from 12 feet.

"The greens here are great. Balls aren't going to be bouncing. It's all where you hit it. If you hit a good putt, they're going to go in."

Gomez added: "I think that I'm in a similar situation like last year, with a little more experience."