Tournament favourite Rickie Fowler believes competing in the FedEx St Jude Classic is the best way to prepare for next week’s US Open.
With the second major championship of the year around the corner, Fowler is the only member of the world’s top 10 competing at TPC Southwind in Memphis.
But the 28-year-old has evidence to back up his belief that battling for a second win of the season will do him more good than practising as he looks to claim a maiden major title at Erin Hills.
“For me, I feel I’ve had my best finishes in majors after playing the week before,” said Fowler, who finished in the top five in all four majors in 2014 having played in the preceding tournament each time.
“It’s a golf tournament and you want to be in contention and play well here this week, but there’s no better warm-up or practice for another tournament or a major than actually putting yourself in position to play and be in contention.”
One player who does not have to worry about that is world No 23 Phil Mickelson, who announced last week that, barring unforeseen circumstances, he would miss the US Open in order to attend his daughter’s high school graduation.
Mickelson has finished runner-up in the US Open a record six times, most recently when he shared the 54-hole lead at Merion in 2013 but went on to finish second behind Justin Rose.
A month later, the left-hander won his first Open title at Muirfield to leave himself needing to win his national open to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having won all four majors.
“I love the Open but this is a special moment for us,” said Mickelson, whose form figures at TPC Southwind read 2-11-3-2. “My daughter’s speaking, giving the speech at graduation. It was one of those things where you just need to be there.
“It feels different not playing next week but I’ve come to enjoy this event a lot. The golf course is one of the most underrated we have on tour, it’s so fun to play it has such great subtlety and nuances.
“It’s not the most visually spectacular course but it’s one of the best playing courses we have on tour, I really love it. I’ve been playing well this year, I just haven’t quite shot as low as I like to and I feel like it’s close. I can’t think of a better place to put it all together than here.”