The World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational was newly named in 2019, replacing the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. It was a little more complicated than that however. Effectively, this is a promotion of the now defunct FedEx St Jude Classic to a World Gold Championship event.
The WGC is a series of four tournaments held each season, jointly run by the PGA Tour and the European Tour.
The tournament is played at the TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, and is named after the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital located in the same city. Since 1970 the hospital has been the benefactor of the St. Jude Classic’s charitable fundraising efforts, a relationship which has continued with the new tournament.
|TPC Southwind||Memphis, Tennessee||7,244 Yards||$10,250,000|
It can be a little confusing keeping track of the changing names of this tournament. In effect, in 2019, the St. Jude Classic was promoted to become a World Golf Championship event hence the birth of a (sort of) new tournament, the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, with FedEx replacing Bridgestone as the sponsor of the WGC tournament. Got that? Fortunately, the course has remained the same with TPC Southwind staying as the St Jude host venue, replacing Firestone, which was the former home of this leg of the World Golf Championship.
The challenging course has always had a strong reputation amongst PGA Tour players who respect the fact that it is difficult yet fair. Scoring well is a difficult task as setting up birdie chances demands a combination of accuracy off the tee and quality approach shots. A certain amount of power is necessary but the key is having a well thought out strategy as players need to remain patient on the tough holes (most notably the long par fours) before taking their chances on the two par fives and the more scoreable par fours.
The other difficulty for the players to overcome this week is the weather. The shift back to August for this event means the field will have to cope with some hot and sticky conditions. Moreover, there is a threat of thunderstorms and some gusty wind, particularly on the first two days of the tournament.
WGC St. Jude Invitational Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2020||Justin Thomas||-13||3 Strokes|
|2019||Brooks Koepka||-16||3 Strokes|
The list below shows the recent winners of both the FedEx St Jude Classic and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Although the St. Jude Classic is technically a different event, it was played at the same course as the current tournament so the comparisons are stronger than with the Bridgestone Invitational. It is worth noting however that the FedEx St Jude was played the week before the US Open so the strength of the field was nothing like at WGC event.
|Year||St. Jude Classic Winner (Par/Margin)||WGC Bridgestone Invitational Winner (Par/Margin)|
|2018||Dustin Johnson (-19 / 6 Strokes)||Justin Thomas (-15 / 4 Strokes)|
|2017||Daniel Berger (-10 / 1 Stroke)||Hideki Matsuyama (16 / 5 Strokes)|
|2016||Daniel Berger (-13 / 3 Strokes)||Dustin Johnson (-6 / 1 Stroke)|
|2015||Fabian Gomez (-13 / 4 Strokes)||Shane Lowry (-11 / 2 Strokes)|
|2014||Ben Crane (-10 / 1 Stroke)||Rory McIlroy (-15 / 2 Strokes)|
About the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Founded in 1999, the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational has become a big event on the golfing calendar. Since starting out as the WGC-NEC Invitational in 1999, the tournament was held at Firestone in Ohio every year, expect in 2002 when it took place in Washington State. However, the event moved to Southwind in Tennessee in 2019.
The WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational is one of the four annual World Golf Championships events. The others are the Mexico Championship, the Dell Technologies Match Play and the HSBC Champions. The winner of this particular tournament takes home the Gary Player Cup.
Previous Venues & Current Course
The WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational has not been held at many courses during its 20+ years of existence. In fact, Ohio has hosted 19 of the 21 St Jude Invitationals over the years.
From the inaugural event in 1999 to the 20th in 2018, Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio was the event’s host for all bar one St Jude Invitational. The only exception was in 2002, when the Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington played host, with Australian Craig Parry coming out on top in that one.
In 2019, a new venue for the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational was introduced. TPC Southwind – which is located within the gated community of Southwind, in Memphis, Tennessee – took over from Firestone. Brooks Koepka won the first event at Southwind. At the time of writing, the 22nd WGC Invitational was scheduled to take place in July 2020.
Sponsorships of the Tournament
Over the years, there have been just three sponsors of the WGC Invitational. From its first in 1999 to 2005, the tournament was known as the WGC-NEC Invitational. Bridgestone then took over until 2018, extending their partnership in 2013.
FedEx are the current sponsors, with the event immediately moving from Akron to Memphis in 2019. All four of the World Golf Championships events have their own sponsors – HSBC (Champions), Grupo Salinas (Mexico Championship) and Dell Technologies (Match Play).
Tiger’s Eight Victories
Of all the great players to compete in this one, it is perhaps the greatest of them all, Tiger Woods, who has the record number of wins in the St Jude. The American superstar has won the WGC Invitational an amazing eight times, with the last of those victories coming in 2013. Tiger won the first event way back in 1999, beating Phil Mickelson by a single stroke.
Woods dominated the early years of the WGC Invitational, winning each of the first three. Tiger has also, quite astoundingly, won three in a row on two separate occasions. His eighth and final victory (to date) came in the 2013 event, when Woods cruised to an emphatic win in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Tiger beat fellow American Keegan Bradley and Swede Henrik Stenson by a whopping seven strokes.
However, Woods come under some criticism in 2014, after he was caught swearing at a cameraman. The then 38 year old was annoyed after slipping down the leaderboard, leading to Woods snapping at the snapper for allegedly not being given enough space.
Tiger’s St Jude Victories
|Year||Woods’ WGC St Jude Invitational Wins|
|1999||WGC-NEC Invitational (Firestone)|
|2000||WGC-NEC Invitational (Firestone)|
|2001||WGC-NEC Invitational (Firestone)|
|2005||WGC-NEC Invitational (Firestone)|
|2006||WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (Firestone)|
|2007||WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (Firestone)|
|2009||WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (Firestone)|
|2013||WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (Firestone)|
Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend
One of the stranger WGC Invitational moments happened in 2014: it involved Spanish player Sergio Garcia, a woman and her ring. On the third hole of the final round, Garcia hit a wayward shot that landed in the crowd. Unfortunately, Garcia’s shot struck a lady on the hand, knocking the diamond out of her ring as a result.
Thankfully, after some extensive looking, the woman eventually found it. Still, “I was prepared to buy her one”, had she not found the diamond, Garcia later said. The Spaniard went on to finish runner-up to Rory McIlroy by two strokes at Firestone.
Koepka Edges Out Webb
The 2019 WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational, which was the first at Southwind, was a real thriller of a tournament and one of the most memorable for years. Everyone was gearing up for a tight finale between Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy, but a terrific Sunday by Koepka did the business on the way to his first World Golf Championships title.
Leading up to that Sunday, Rory played some terrific golf, as did Webb Simpson, who finished runner-up in the first Tennessee WGC Invitational event. However, Koepka hit three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the front nine to cruise to a three-stroke victory in the end. McIlroy ended in joint fourth with English duo Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood, while Australian Marc Leishman finished in third place.