Why Cameron Smith, Will Zalatoris say the FedEx St. Jude Championship leaderboard is so crowded

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The sweltering heat in Memphis broke Saturday as thick dampness all but dissipated, helping crowds at the FedEx St. Jude Championship swell to the biggest crowd of the week.
Likewise the ranking. As the last pairing of Sepp Straka and J.J. Spaun left the course at TPC Southwind, there were 15 golfers within four shots of Spaun and maintained his three round lead at 13 under. The jam-packed leaderboard puts a potential barn burner at stake Sunday with a tournament-record prize of $2.7 million.
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Straka is second with 12 under alone, while Cameron Smith, Will Zalatoris and Trey Mullinax are another shot back in third.
Despite the early departure of world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and FedExCup points leader, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, some prominent names remain in the hunt.
FedEx St. Jude Championship: PGA Tour Live on ESPN+ | leaderboard
But it's mostly obscure players that populate much of the scoreboard. Straka and Spaun each have a Tour win. Also Tyler Duncan, who is tied for sixth with Troy Merritt. Hayden Buckley, who was winless in his PGA Tour career, is part of a large group of players who finished eighth with 9.
So why the mess in Memphis? Players point out the high difficulty of TPC Southwind.
“Yes, it is a tough course. It's one of the tougher ones we play all year and you have to ride it well," Duncan said. "You just have to drive it well, that's the biggest thing."
Only four players -- Sungjae Im (7-under 63), Buckley, Zalatoris and Joaquin Niemann (65 each) -- shot 65 or more on Saturday. The course is also notoriously difficult because of its ponds and streams. Since 2003, TPC Southwind's dangerous fluid has claimed 5,989 balls - 1,180 more than any other course on tour.
Hayden Buckley plays a shot from the bunker during the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn., Saturday August 13, 2022.
According to Smith, keeping it in the fairway is paramount. He said rain earlier this week made things a little easier on Thursday. Since then it's been more difficult.
"As the fairways get a little firmer like this afternoon, they're pretty tricky to hit," Smith said. "So, a lot of good drives in some areas and I think that's what really unifies the field."
As challenging as it may be, Zlatoris is a huge fan and his play this week reflects his affinity with TPC Southwind.
"You can make a mistake very quickly, but you can also have some birdie looks out here," Zalatoris said. “You know, I love playing on this court. I played well here last year and spread good vibes here.”
Spaun cited patience as the main reason he will be the last to tee off at 1:50 p.m. ET Sunday. He fired a 68 on the third round, although he admitted he felt like he was being "lapped." He doesn't think another 68 will be good enough to go into the BMW Championship next week as a winner.
"You look at the names, I mean, these guys, big champions and multiple winners, and you have really hot golfers who just play really well," Spaun said. "Tomorrow won't be easy and I don't think it will be enough if I play like today.
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