FedEx St. Jude Classic 2013: Dustin Johnson looks to defend title in Memphis

Richard Heathcote

Can Dustin Johnson’s balky back and weary wrist hold out long enough for him to cadge back-to-back FedEx St. Jude Classic titles?

Dustin Johnson has had plenty of time this season to rest his aching body, what with three MCs and four WDs, including a lengthy stint on the disabled list after three straight withdrawals from the Wells Fargo, Players and Byron Nelson Championship.

This week, the player many consider one of the top athletes on the PGA Tour hopes to stay healthy long enough to defend his FedEx St. Jude Classic title at TPC Southwind in Memphis. DJ, along with Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker, lead a field that includes five of the top 30 in the world for one final competitive tune-up before next week’s U.S. Open.

In addition to the headliners, John Daly will play the event for the 23rd time and 16th straight year, according to PGATour.com’s Jeff Shain, while teen phenom Guan Tianlang will start his fifth tour event.

As for Johnson, the big-hitting 28-year-old got off to a hot start, winning the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He withdrew from the Sony Open with the flu but posted three consecutive top-15 starts, including a T4 at the Shell Houston Open and a T13 at the Masters.

Ranked 19th in men’s golf, Johnson enters the week as he did last year -- battling back problems. Coming off a missed cut at the Memorial, Paulina Gretzky’s main squeeze has squeezed in just three rounds under pressure since Augusta in April.

A sore wrist cost him a start at the Wells Fargo Championship, he blamed back pain for quitting The Players Championship after carding a first-round 74, and Johnson took himself out of the field at the Byron Nelson Championship.

Here’s what he had to say between the Players and the Nelson:

DJ will take the field in the first two rounds in Memphis with world No. 6 Snedeker and Davis Love III.

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