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2022 St. Jude Championship leaderboard: J.J. Spaun maintains one-stroke lead heading into weekend action

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TPC Southwind is slowly drying out as fierce thunderstorms blew through the Memphis area on Tuesday. While players were able to take advantage of the soft conditions in the first round, Friday was a different story as the typically firm and fast conditions of the course began to bite back.

While the playing conditions may have changed, the man who was up to the task remained the same. Overnight leader J.J. Spaun will sleep on the lead once again, as the Texas Open winner will head into the weekend at 11 under and a one-stroke lead over Sepp Straka and Troy Merritt. Spaun backed up his scorching round of 8-under 62 to kick off the St. Jude Championship with a 3-under 67 Friday afternoon to maintain his edge over the field.

Straka was the man to climb the leaderboard in the morning hours of the second round, as he followed up an opening 6-under 64 with a second-round 66. A winner at the Honda Classic earlier this season, the former Georgia Bulldog has since struggled to find such quality and arrived in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, having missed the cut in his last six tournaments.

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Behind the three men in double-digits under par are some of the hottest players in the world. Tony Finau sits at 8 under and looks to become the first man since Dustin Johnson in 2017 to win in three straight starts. Also sitting at 8 under is the Champion Golfer of the Year Cameron Smith, who will look to avenge his 72nd-hole disappointment at TPC Southwind from a year ago.

The leader

1. J.J. Spaun (-11)

Some may believe the true lead of this tournament resides with those at 8 under, but Spaun should have some staying power on this leaderboard. Collecting his first career victory at TPC San Antonio in the spring, the Los Angeles native displayed serious resolve down the stretch and throughout his tenure on the PGA Tour.

He has gotten around TPC Southwind in a relatively stress-free fashion up to this point as well. Carding 13 birdies against just two bogeys, he has been able to limit the damage and understands when missing a fairway that par is a good score. Sitting fifth in strokes gained tee to green and fourth in strokes gained putting, it is no wonder he finds himself at the top of the leaderboard and in contention for his second trophy of the season.

Other contenders

T2. Sepp Straka, Troy Merritt (-10)

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4. Denny McCarthy (-9)

T5. Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Cameron Smith, Ryan Palmer (-8)

Technically, Finau is the defending champion, as he broke a five-year hiatus from the winner’s circle with a victory at The Northern Trust, but let’s change gears. Another player to have made headlines recently is Smith, who is rumored — to put it lightly — to be heading to the LIV Golf Series following the completion of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

The Australian has been terrific in 2022 as he dueled Jon Rahm at the Tournament of Champions, grabbed the largest purse of the season at the Players Championship and captured the Claret Jug at St. Andrews. Smith will enter the weekend as the betting favorite as he catapulted himself to the first page of the leaderboard courtesy of an eagle on the par-5 16th. Having already collected just shy of $10 million in the regular season, he has now positioned himself to potentially triple that total with a strong postseason run. 

Scheffler, McIlroy lowlight those sent packing early

Beginning the week with more than a 1,000-point edge in the FedEx Cup, Scottie Scheffler is in danger of relinquishing the top spot in the standings. In possession of the lead for more than 20 weeks, the world No. 1 may see a different number next to his name at the BMW Championship after missing the cut at TPC Southwind.

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Last season saw Collin Morikawa enter the postseason as the top man, only for him to fall to 28th by the time the Tour Championship culminated. At the very worst, Scheffler will only drop to No. 2, and he may avoid such movement as his misstep was not the only one.

Fresh off a two-week break from golf, Rory McIlroy showed considerable rust around TPC Southwind. Signing for rounds of 70-69, the man who entered the week sixth in the FedEx Cup standings ultimately missed the cut by a single stroke and will have his work cut out for him next week if he is to enter the Tour Championship within reach of the leader.

The good news for McIlroy is world No. 1 and FedEx Cup regular-season leader Scheffler is not in a position to extend his lead. With potentially a new man atop the standings, the world No. 3 can take solace in his history at East Lake, where he has raised the FedEx Cup twice before.

In total, six players inside the top 20 of the FedEx Cup standings will not be around for the weekend, as Hideki Matsuyama (No. 11), Jordan Spieth (No. 15), Tom Hoge (No. 17) and Billy Horschel (No. 18) will head to Wilmington earlier than expected.

Biggest FedEx Cup movers from Friday

Lucas Glover

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121

60

Yes

Ryan Palmer

110

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57

Yes

Troy Merritt

64

17

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Yes

Tyler Duncan

118

75

No

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Sepp Straka

35

10

Yes

James Hahn

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108

83

No

Adam Scott

77

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53

Yes

Brian Harman

55

32

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Yes

J.J. Spaun

25

2

Yes

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Lee Hodges

99

77

No

2022 St. Jude Championship updated odds and picks

  • Cameron Smith: 23/4
  • Tony Finau: 13/2
  • J.J. Spaun: 17/2
  • Troy Merritt: 10-1
  • Denny McCarthy: 14-1
  • Justin Thomas: 14-1
  • Matt Fitzpatrick: 14-1
  • Sepp Straka: 16-1
  • Will Zalatoris: 18-1
  • Sam Burns: 20-1
  • Brian Harman: 20-1

With 26 players within five strokes of the lead, this remains anyone’s ballgame with 36 holes to be played. We saw last year with Bryson DeChambeau and Harris English that TPC Southwind can be a difficult golf course to close on, as the water hazards tend to get ever so slightly bigger when the pressure is on. Factor in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and this should be ramped up a touch. Because of this, it may be prudent to search among those names at 5 under — or maybe even 4 under. 

Jon Rahm is the obvious name, as he is one of those at 4 under and listed at 40-1. Ranking seventh in strokes gained tee to green, the Spaniard has been unable to get things rolling on the greens and has a trio of three putts to his name already. The putter has been an issue all season, but it could be worth an investment. If not Rahm, Rickie Fowler is still a name which is still intriguing at 300-1. He is a long shot for a reason, but his off-the-tee numbers have been incredible and his approach statistics are negatively skewed by two iron shots that found the water on Friday. Everything else looks good in his game, and he has shown a liking for TPC Southwind in the past.

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Trayce Thompson hits three-run home run in Dodgers' 8-3 victory over Royals

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Trayce Thompson hit a three-run home run in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 8-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.



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Biggest MLB stars suspended for PEDs: Fernando Tatis Jr. joins Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, more on list

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Friday night, a shockwave was sent through the baseball world when Major League Baseball announced San Diego Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing drug. The 80-game suspension begins immediately. Tatis will miss the final 48 games of 2022 and the first 32 games of 2023.

“We were surprised and extremely disappointed to learn today that Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Prevention and Treatment Program and subsequently received an 80-game suspension without pay,” read a statement by the Padres. “We fully support the Program and are hopeful that Fernando will learn from this experience.”

Between the offseason motorcycle accident that broke his wrist and this PED suspension, Tatis will miss the entire season and go roughly 20 months between appearances in an MLB game when he returns next season. The 23-year-old who’s finished in the top four in the NL MVP voting twice already is in the second year of his 14-year, $340 million contract extension.

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Needless to say, this is a shocker, and Tatis is certainly one of the biggest stars to be suspended for PEDs. Here are 10 other big name players who have been suspended for banned substances, listed alphabetically.

Suspended: 65 games in July 2013

In December 2011, Braun was suspended 50 games for PEDs, though he was able to get the suspension overturned through an appeal because the sample’s chain of custody had been broken. Less that two years later, Braun was suspended again, this time for his connections to Biogenesis. Braun was suspended 50 games for PEDs and additional 15 games for his actions during the appeals process of the original suspension. He later admitted to lying and using PEDs during his 2011 NL MVP season.

Suspended: 50 games in August 2012

If nothing else, Cabrera undoubtedly has the most ridiculous PED defense. He created a fake website pushing a fake product that he said led to a positive test inadvertently. It did not fool MLB’s investigators. Cabrera was an All-Star the year he was suspended and would have won the NL batting title, though he withdrew his name from the race. “I have no wish to win an award that would be tainted. I believe it would be far better for someone more deserving to win,” Cabrera said at the time.

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Suspended: 80 games in May 2018 and 162 games in November 2020

Unlike some other players in this post, there is no wild story to Canó’s suspension(s). He was suspended in May 2018, served it, was suspended again in November 2020, and he served that too. There was no nasty appeals process or anything like that. Canó was traded in the offseason immediately following his first suspension, however. Still hard to believe another team wanted a declining 36-year-old player owed big money and coming off a PED suspension.

Suspended: 50 games in August 2012

Colon missed all of 2010 with arm problems, resurfaced with the Yankees in 2011, then joined the Athletics as a free agent in 2012. He took responsibility for the failed test and went on to spend another seven years in the big leagues as a journeyman starter.

Suspended: 50 games in August 2013

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A total of 13 players were suspended in 2013 as part of the Biogenesis scandal, and Cruz — an All-Star that season and a year away from becoming a consistent 40-homer threat — was among them. Cruz did have to settle for a one-year contract as a free agent after the 2013 season, however.

Jenrry Mejia

Suspended: 80 games in April 2015, 162 games in July 2015, and a lifetime ban in February 2016

Mejia was not a big name player, but he deserves a mention here because he was the first — and is still the only — player to be hit with a lifetime ban as a result of a third positive PED test. And the thing is, Mejia was hit with his second suspension while he was serving his first, and he was hit with his third suspension when he was still serving his second. Now, lifetime bans aren’t always lifetime bans. Mejia was quietly granted reinstatement in July 2018, though he has not pitched in an MLB game since 2015. He is still active and is currently pitching in the Mexican League.

Rafael Palmeiro

Suspended: 10 days in August 2005

The first star player to be suspended for PEDs, Palmeiro was hit with his suspension less than five months after sitting in front of a Congressional panel and saying: “I have never used steroids. Period.” The suspension came less than a month after Palmeiro became the fifth player to reach the milestones of 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Palmeiro’s suspension also shows how far the penalties have come. He was suspended only 10 days. Now, first-time offenders get 80 games.

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Manny Ramirez

Suspended: 50 games in May 2009 and 100 games in April 2011

Ramirez was not the first player to be suspended twice for PEDs — Neifi Pérez was suspended 25 games in July 2017 and then 80 games in August 2007 — but he was certainly the first big star to be suspended for PEDs twice. Manny was with the Rays and voluntarily retired following the second suspension and later agreed to a reduced 50-game ban in December 2011, though it is technically still pending. Should Ramirez, now 50, attempt a comeback, he’ll have to serve the suspension before being activated by an MLB team. Manny played in the minors in 2012, in Taiwan in 2013, and in the minors again in 2014.

Alex Rodriguez

Suspended: 162 games in 2014

A-Rod never actually failed a PED test. He did admit to using PEDs during his time with the Texas Rangers, then he was suspended following MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis in August 2013. A-Rod was originally suspended 214 games (the rest of the 2013 season and all of 2014), though he got it reduced to 162 games through appeal. Rodriguez went scorched earth during the appeals process and threatened to sue MLB, the MLBPA, the Yankees, the commissioner, you name it. He never did follow through on the lawsuits, however. At the time the 162-game PED suspension was the longest in MLB history.

Miguel Tejada

Suspended: 105 games in August 2013

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Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP, tested positive for amphetamines, not testosterone or a hardcore anabolic steroid. Amphetamines were not always banned and were once common in big league clubhouses. Under the policy at the time, the first positive test for an amphetamine effectively came with a warning. The second brought a 25-game suspension and the third an 80-game suspension. Tejada had previously tested positive for an amphetamine, and he tested positive for the second and third time with the Royals in 2013. The 25-game and 80-game bans together equal 105 games. Tejada never played in the big leagues again after being suspended.



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