78th Wyndham Championship Preview

08-15-17

It’s one of the longest running events on Tour and Sam Snead has won it a whopping eight times.

With Si Woo Kim not in the field, we’ll have another year since the move in 2008 where there won’t be a defending champion.

There’s plenty to play for this week so I’m not sure how much players Nos. 130 through 120 will relax but there will be birdies!

78th Wyndham Championship

Sedgefield Country Club

Greensboro, N.C.

 

Yards: 7,127 per the official scorecard;

Par: 70 (35-35);

Course Architect(s): Donald Ross (1926); Kris Spence (2007);

Greens: Champion Bermuda running 11-11.5′; 6,500 square feet on average.

Rough: Bermudagrass at three-plus inches.

Bunkers: 48

Water Hazards: 12 creeks, one pond.

Purse: $5.8 million; $1.044 million (winner) plus 500 FEC points.

Defending Champion:  Si Woo Kim set the “new” course record as he fired 21-under-par 259 to win by five shots. He’s not in the field this week.

Notes: 156 players; 72-holes, stroke-play; top 70 and ties play the weekend.

Notes II: This event moved to Sedgefield in 2008 so any course history before that is worthless.

Notes III: The greens were Bentgrass before the 2012 edition so those results should be taken with a grain of salt as well.

Notes IV: This is the FINAL EVENT of the regular PGA Tour season. The top 125 players in the FedExCup Points standings after Sunday will advance to the FedExCup Playoffs. NO EXCEPTIONS.

2016-17 PGA Tour Winners

Frys.com: Brendan Steele,

CIMB: Justin Thomas

WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama

Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**

Shriners: Rod Pampling

OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez

RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**

SBS TOC: Justin Thomas

Sony Open: Justin Thomas

CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*

Farmers: Jon Rahm*

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama

AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth

Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson

Honda: Rickie Fowler

WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson

Valspar: Adam Hadwin*

Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman

WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson

Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley

Masters: Sergio Garcia

RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**

Valero Texas Open: Kevin Chappell*

Zurich Classic: Cameron Smith* & Jonas Blixt

Wells Fargo Championship: Brian Harman

THE PLAYERS: Si Woo Kim

AT&T Byron Nelson: Billy Horschel

Colonial: Kevin Kisner

Memorial: Jason Dufner

FESJC: Daniel Berger

U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka

Travelers: Jordan Spieth

QLN: Kyle Stanley

Greenbrier: Xander Schauffele**

John Deere Classic: Bryson DeChambeau**

The Open Championship: Jordan Spieth

Barbasol: Grayson Murray

RBC Canadian: Jhonattan Vegas

WGC-BI: Hideki Matsuyama

Barracuda: Chris Stroud*

PGA Championship: Justin Thomas

*-First-time winner

**-First-time winner AND rookie winner

Recent Winners at Sedgefield

2016: Si Woo Kim, -21

2015: Davis Love, -17

2014: Camilo Villegas, -17

2013: Patrick Reed, -14*

2012: Sergio Garcia, -18

2011: Webb Simpson, -18

2010: Arjun Atwal, -20

2009: Ryan Moore, -16*

2008: Carl Pettersson, -21

* – playoff

 

The Particulars:

And down the stretch they come!

The only Donald Ross design that appears annually on the schedule will again determine the fate of many but that fate will be squarely in the hands of the combatants. The Kris Spence redesign played as the easiest par 70 course on Tour in 2015 and the second easiest in 2016 so if you’re going to go down, go down firing!

The worst winning score since the 2008 return to Sedgefield was 14-under-par 266 in 2013 by some young go-getter named Patrick Reed. He beat up-and-comer Jordan Spieth in a playoff for his first Tour win and he did so in the first edition on, at the time, new Champion Bermuda greens. The last three years the winning score has been -17, -17 and the new course record, -21 last year. So let’s call this par 70 with only two par fives what it is: Easy. There were only SIX rounds above par from the top 37 players last year. SIX. The top 31 players were double digits under par with only two par fives on the card.

The list of winners above has included young, old, veterans and the youth so gamers should expand their minds and their range for winners this week. Si Woo Kim set the course record (60) and tournament scoring record (259) last year and it’s not like he’s had 200 starts on Tour. Heck, Monday Qualifier Arjun Atwal won here in 2010 so it’s not the most difficult test of golf around.

Webb Simpson stated the reason that this event is wide open is that the course doesn’t take much getting used to; it sits right in front of the players. The classic design has stood the test of time but the power players can still out-muscle it for the most part. Hitting fairways is completely overrated on 90% of the stops on Tour and this week qualifies as well. You better find guys who aren’t afraid to roll it on Bermuda, make birdies, avoid bogeys and go low. This isn’t the week for the grinders or the timid regardless of position on the FedExCup standings.

Remember, they have had 40-something events to get in position to get into position. New gamers will suggest that guys hovering around the bubble are “due” to play well this week. I say WHAT WERE THEY WAITING FOR ALL YEAR AND WHY ARE THEY WAITING UNTIL THE MOST PRESSURE TO PERFORM?? Sorry about yelling but it’s an annual pet peeve of mine. If you’re not performing while the pressure is off how do you make the leap that they will finally put it together this week?

Here’s the proof:

Players making the leap into the top 125 at this event:

2016: 2

2015: 5

2014: 1

2013: 0

2012: 1

Bubble Boys:

No. 130: J.T. Poston: The rookie from Western Carolina has made 19 of 27 cuts and made his last four. The Hickory, N.C., native was born just down I-40 to the west from Greensboro and should have a crowd cheering him on this week.

No. 129: Billy Hurley, III: Not a care in the world as his win at Congressional at the QLN National last season makes him exempt for next year.

No. 128: Ryan Palmer: Former Tour winner finished No. 34 last season and just missed out on The Tour Championship. His wife has been dealing with breast cancer issues so it’s no surprise he’s been distracted. He picked up his first top 10 since April in his last time out at Barracuda (T-9) so he’s more than worth a look this week.

No. 127: Sam Saunders: Talking about emotional years, everywhere Arnold Palmer’s grandson has gone this year the outpouring of emotion had to be off the charts. He’s responded this summer with a run of T-25, T-55, T-19 and solo eighth in his last four starts to give himself an excellent chance to keep his card if he makes one final cut. He’s played twice here and played the weekend both times with six of eight rounds in red figures.

No. 126: Cameron Tringale: He was on the right track with T-6 at Barbasol but backed that up with MC in Canada and T-45 at Barracuda. He may have left it too late is he’s only made one weekend from four here (T-47) and has nothing lower than 67 to show for it. He’ll be under the gun from the word go. Yikes.

No. 125: Geoff Ogilvy: Pro gamers will remind you that this isn’t a new position for the Aussie over the last couple of years. He finished No. 154 in ’15 and No. 161 last year causing him to burn his one-time top 50 money list extension for this season. The good news is he is in. The bad news is he’s played four of the last six weeks and has had nothing better than T-54.

No. 124: Daniel Summerhays: What a difference a year makes and most gamers know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Last year we were all waiting for him to make “the leap” after hitting the top 10 at both Oakmont and Baltusrol. This year he has one top 10 total. The good news is that he’s rattled off 20 of 28 weekends including his last eight in a row. The bad news is he’s 140th in birdie average and has made the weekend in just half of his four starts here.

No. 123: Seamus Power: The rookie has appeared in some recent preview columns because he’s earned the right to do so. He should be on your radar again this week as he’s cashed in his last six in a row including the last four 26th or better that includes a T-10. He’s 54th in SG: Total and 50th in birdies in a very light field.

No. 122 Richy Werenski: It’s great to see these rookies giving themselves a chance on the final week and they might be the guys to look to. Why? We’ll they all had to make 104980928 birdies last year on the Web.com just to get to this point so you’re not asking them to do anything out of the ordinary. Werenski lost in a playoff to Chris Stroud his last time at Barracuda so his confidence will not be of issue. He also has top 25’s in three of his last four, all on easy courses.

No. 121: David Hearn: His uneven form has led to his worst season in his last six but he’s currently. He probably wishes he was a bit closer to No. 115 as he’s 160th in birdies and is 0-fer in four tries here with only one round in red figures. Gulp.

No. 120: Zac Blair: His last top 25 was in the state of North Carolina but on Bentgrass at a difficult Eagle Point. This is the opposite of difficult and he sits 155th in birdie average. Making the weekend will be a good start but he didn’t accomplish that in his only visit in 2015.

Weather:

Woof.

Thunderstorms, as of Tuesday, are in the forecast for 80% or better the first two days and then 50-50 for the weekend. The last thing this course needs is target practice but if it’s wet, scoring should be low AF. Remember what Kip Henley said about wet conditions. He suggested that length doesn’t matter but receptive greens will. #BetterHitWetGreens.

Facts and Figures:
• Only seven players from the OWGR top 50 playing this week.
• Of the nine winners at Sedgefield, five have been first timers.
• Of the nine winners, five have been international players.
• None of those nine winners won on their maiden voyage.
• Course record: Si Woo Kim, 60 on Friday last year.
• Tournament record: Si Woo Kim, 259 last year.

The Field

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and tournament only. Rankings vary week-to-week based on event, course, life, etc.

Kevin Kisner: Oh, so close last week at the PGA but he’ll be spurned on by his closing 63 here last year.

Bill Haas: With three top 10’s in his last five and nothing outside of T-22, the Charlotte native is more than comfortable around these parts.  

Henrik Stenson: He’s collected on four T-17 or better in his last five and added this event to keep up his momentum. After opening with 74 last week he closed out Quail Hollow with three rounds of 70 for T-13.

Ryan Moore: The 2009 champ has posted 18 of his last 20 rounds here at par or better. Playing from the sprinkler line didn’t hurt last week at Quail Hollow (T-13) and that should give him plenty of chances for birdie as well this week.

James Hahn: We know he loves Quail Hollow as the 2016 WFC finished T-13 last week at the PGA but his form has been excellent as well. It’s hard to lay off a guy with four T-20 or better finishes in his last six including that T-13 on Bermuda last week.

Chris Stroud: Yep, I’m in. His fantastic interview after round three shows he “gets it” and is embracing the moment. Playing in the final group on Sunday at a major can’t hurt the confidence.

Billy Horschel: A perfect landing spot as he tunes up his game for the FEC Playoffs. He’s starting to put it together and his T-5 last year should be encouraging. He’ll hit plenty of greens again this year.

Kyle Stanley: No stranger to this part of the world as he played collegiately at Clemson. No way I’m leaving out the guy who hits the most GIR on Tour regardless of his current form. He’s improved three straight years here.

Webb Simpson: He named his daughter Wyndham. The 2011 champion missed T-22 or better for the first time in SEVEN years last year but has five T-11 or better in that stretch.

Lucas Glover: Another who’s familiar with the lay of the land in the Carolinas, Glover threw up 64 at the JDC just three events ago so he’s getting close. He pounds it off the tee and hits too many greens.

Supporting Cast

Just missed and should make excellent support staff for deeper games/tickets.

Chez Reavie: With seven consecutive paychecks hitting direct deposit, I think he’ll keep the ball rolling on a course where distance won’t bother him. T-16 at Erin Hills and T-22 at Quail Hollow suggests it shouldn’t.

Grayson Murray: I’m interested to see what he learned from his Sunday round last week at Quail Hollow. He’ll have plenty of support again this week and there was PLENTY more good than bad last week.

Keegan Bradley: I’ll lean on a guy who’s made 19 of 25 cuts including his last six in a row. He’s 44th in the FEC standings?!?!?!

Bud Cauley: Nothing to play for now except a spot in The Tour Championship so I’d expect a tidy free-wheel this week. Oh, and he has two top 10’s in his last four here.

Emiliano Grillo: Three of his best results are on Bermuda so I’m hoping he’ll continue to pound fairways and greens. I’ll take my chances with his putter.

Brandon Hagy: He gave it a run at the RBC but fell just short and backed that up with T-18 at Barracuda. He’ll have no problem roasting 7,127 yards.

Luke Donald: OK, I’ll bite. Donald is the master of playing to the level that he had previously on his favorite tracks. He’s 26-under with a solo second over the last two editions.

Kevin Na: He’s 27-under in his last two efforts here so he’s a very safe play in the support staff.

Scott Brown: It’s Bermuda and he’s 24-under here the last two years. If he eliminates the one “hiccup round” he’ll make 100 birdies and contend.

D.A. Points: His best two recent finishes have been in North Carolina at WFC and the PGA. He’ll enjoy the lack of length this week and has two top 25’s here in his last three tries. Hey! It’s SOMETHING!

Range Jockeys

Long shots, no-names with names, trending, event jockeys and everyone else with a few warts.

Jason Kokrak: T-33 last week after playing his last three rounds one-under-par shows me just enough for this week.

Blayne Barber: His last three on Tour have been T-42, then T-30 and then T-15. I’m no Inspector Cluseau but…

Roberto Castro: With a pair of top 20’s in his last three here, that’s plenty this week.

Peter Malnati: He’s made NOYNE cuts in a row. NOYNE!

Vaughn Taylor: Four paychecks from his last five starts at Sedgefield tells me this is a guy if you need a cut made.

Martin Laird: The last time he played a non-major he was T-3 at QLN. If it makes you feel better, he’s 51st in scoring on Tour.

Folks Listed Above: There are some diamonds in the rough in the Nos. 130 to 120 range that I’ve analyzed. Scroll up!

Fades:

Not this week

Jason Dufner: There. Now he’ll win as every week I have someone in the top 10 that goes close.

Next:

Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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