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Local Knowledge: 2013 FedEx St. Jude Classic

PGA.com

The PGA Tour is in Memphis this week for the FedEx St. Jude Classic -- the final tune up for the year's second major, the U.S. Open, which takes place next week at Merion.

Dustin Johnson is back at TPC Southwind to defend his title, as is Phil Mickelson.

Before the tournament teed off, we caught up with TPC Southwind PGA General Manager Jon Goin for a little Q&A.

Goin talked about how the course went from one of the easiest on Tour not long ago to one that players enjoy taking on the week before a major.

PGA.com: Thanks for joining us as always, Jon. As usual, you have another stellar field assembled for the FedEx St. Jude Classic. What does it say about the tournament and the course -- TPC Southwind -- when players like Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson decide to tee it up a week before a major?

Goin:The golf course has gone from one of the easiest prior to 2004 to a really good tune up prior to the U.S. Open. I think at par 70 and almost 7,300 yards, small greens and narrow fairways, it allows you to really map out a strategy for the U.S. Open.

PGA.com: On the flip side of that, is it ever frustrating from a player commitment standpoint when your tournament is the week before the U.S. Open?

Goin:You can't allow yourself to get caught up in who is and who is not playing in your event. Since moving to this date we have consistently seen our field get better and better. We have to feel that with FedEx as the sponsor and St. Jude as the benefactor we have a great sponsor and a great story in St. Jude and if that can't get players to come then they are missing out on a very special experience.

PGA.com: Dustin Johnson, your defending champ, won last year after a three-month layoff due to injury. Many people regard Johnson as the most pure athlete on the PGA Tour. What impresses you most about his game aside from the booming drives we all love?

Goin:His athleticism is incredible. The cover picture he did on Golf Digest last year or the year before on that Swiss ball was amazing. He works very hard to separate himself as the best overall athlete on Tour.

PGA.com: At one time TPC Southwind was a birdie-fest. Since massive renovations were made to the course, however, that's no longer the case. Now it's a thinker's course. Can you tell us a little about how much the course is changed and why it's so much more difficult now?

Goin:Switching from Bent Grass to Bermuda has been the biggest change with our small greens. We also narrowed some of the fairways and took the fifth hole from a 530-yard par 5 and made it a 484-yard par 4. We also added length to the seventh hole, 10th, 12th, 13th and 17th, so you now have four holes that are over 470-yard par 4s and that just isn't easy.

PGA.com: Final question, Jon. What do you enjoy the most about tournament week?

Goin:I am very fortunate to be at a PGA Tour golf course, and to see it on TV for one week out of the year is a pretty incredible feeling. Seeing all the spectators out on your golf course talking about conditions and watching the world's best play a sport they love is amazing. It is truly a special week during the year. The most difficult part is to try and keep the same experience for my members and guest during the rest of the golf season, but I have an incredible staff that does an amazing job and I feel we pull it off.

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