Woody Austin Woody Austin trying to rekindle winning feeling in the Stanford St. Jude Championship

Woody Austin is looking to recapture some of the good vibes of his successful 2007 season this week when he attempts to defend his title in the Stanford St. Jude Championship.

Last year at TPC Southwind, Austin rallied to win his third career PGA Tour title, closing with an 8-under-par 62 for a five-stroke victory over Brian Davis. It was the best final round of Austin's career and marked the best round in the event's history.

With Austin not playing as well as he'd hoped so far this season, he said he won't hesitate to try to rekindle memories of last year's win in Memphis, Tenn.

"It doesn't happen often enough, so when it does, you certainly want to relish it," Austin told reporters Wednesday. "You want to remember how it felt and try and get that feeling again.

"I'm hoping the golf course remembers me [Thursday] morning and gives me all the good bounces and all the good vibes and everything kind of flows along."

Compared to last year, this year has been a struggle for Austin. While making cuts in 11 of 14 starts in 2008, he has just two top-10 finishes and his best performance of the season was a tie for fourth place in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans March 30.

"I'm not playing really bad, but when I play well, I score terrible," Austin said. "When I play bad, I score worse. It's really just a matter of scoring. I think the best way to describe it is every bad swing is magnified and every good swing is unrewarded."

Last week at the Memorial, Austin opened with a 71 but faded badly on the weekend to finish tied for 73rd. After back-to-back rounds of 76 on Friday and Saturday, he shot 84 on the slippery greens at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

With the U.S. Open a week away, several top players are skipping the St. Jude Championship. The field does include last week's Memorial champion Kenny Perry, as well as Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Retief Goosen and 2003-04 winner David Toms.

Perry is bypassing an opportunity to try to qualify for the U.S. Open to build his resume for a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. He said he likes the fact that the St. Jude Championship is no longer a birdie-fest.

"To me, it's a lot like a U.S. Open," Perry said of playing the redesigned TPC Southwind. "Par's a good number out here. If you can make pars on every hole and slip a birdie in here and there, you've got a chance to win this tournament."

Among the biggest obstacles players face this week is one of the most difficult par-3 holes on the PGA Tour. No. 14 at TPC Southwind is a 239-yarder that ranked No. 5 last year in terms of difficulty with an average score of 3.38.

"It's a diabolical par 3, especially from the back tee with a back-right flag," Austin said. "The green's so skinny in the middle of the green, it's probably only 10 paces deep in the middle of the green, so you don't want to be short — that's water — and you don't want to be over — that's bunker — so there's really not much room to aim at."

Stanford St. Jude Championship

SCHEDULE: Thursday-Sunday
SITE: Memphis, Tenn.
COURSE: TPC Southwind (7,239 yards, par 70)
PURSE: $6 million (winner's share: $1.08 million)
FEDEX CUP POINTS: 25,000 (winner's share: 4,500)
TV: Golf Channel (Thursday, 3:30-6:30 p.m., 10 p.m.-1 a.m. EDT; Friday, 2-5 a.m., 3:30-6:30 p.m., 10 p.m.-1 a.m. EDT; Saturday, 2-5 a.m. EDT) and CBS (Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m. EDT).

June 5, 2008

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