With the lucrative FedEx Cup Playoffs due to get underway next week in Memphis, we first head to Sedgefield Country Club for the Wyndham Championship.
There – in addition to trying to win a PGA Tour title – players around or below that all-important top 70 in the FedEx Cup rankings will be hoping to have a strong week to either vault themselves into next week’s field, or else maintain their current position within it.
Always played in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Wyndham Championship (formerly the Greensboro Open) is one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour schedule; having first been staged in 1938 and taking place every year since, excluding 1943/44 due to the Second World War. It has held this important position as the precursor to the FedEx Cup Playoffs since their inception in 2007.
The rich history of this event started off with a victory for seven-time major champion, Sam Snead in the inaugural 1938 edition. He then went on to record a further seven wins in the tournament, with his eighth and final win here at Sedgefield in 1965 making him the oldest winner in the history of the PGA Tour, at 52-years-old.
Nobody has gotten remotely close to matching Snead’s record of eight wins, with Davis Love III second on three. There are eight players who have tasted victory here twice, including Byron Nelson, Sandy Lyle and most recently, Brandt Snedeker won the Wyndham Championship for the second time in 2018, eleven years after his first win.
Korea’s Tom Kim was the story of the tournament last year, as he shot an incredible closing 9-under 61 to win by five strokes; an impressive win made all the more remarkable when considering he started his week with a quadruple bogey on the first hole.
Unfortunately, Kim doesn’t return to defend this week because of the ankle injury he sustained at The Open. Though with so much on the line the event isn’t short on intrigue and we should be in for an exciting week in North Carolina.
The Donald Ross designed Sedgefield Country Club dates back to 1926 and has a long history with this tournament, hosting or co-hosting 25 times during the first 38 years.
Following a 30-year absence, where the event was hosted at nearby Forest Oaks Country Club, a revamped Sedgefield CC returned to host the event in 2008 and it has remained here since.
This traditional, densely tree-lined par 70 measures in at a short 7131 yards and typically plays pretty easy. It has averaged a winning score of a little under -19 since returning in 2008 and has seen winning scores of -20 or lower on eight of those occasions, whilst Brandt Snedeker shot a 59 here in 2018.
Though tree lined and appearing tight on numerous holes, the fairways aren’t too challenging to find and overall are about average in width. The rough can be difficult in places and is best avoided, however, getting your ball from tee-to-green is pretty straightforward, with little in the way of sharp doglegs and bunkers pretty sparse around the property.
The large bermudagrass greens are the 3rd-easiest to find on the PGA Tour but it’s these greens and their surrounds that give the course its biggest defence. Very much as you’d expect with a Donald Ross design.
They come in at a speedy 12.5 on the stimpmeter and are predominantly crowned, with run-offs and false fronts punishing unprecise approach play. They’re full of slopes and undulations, whilst bunkers largely protect the front of the often back-to-front sloped greens. All of which sees them rank as the 10th most-challenging to putt on the PGA Tour and 11th most-difficult to scramble around.
Add in the fact elevation changes are plentiful and distance control in approach becomes vital to make the most of the scoring opportunities.
There are just two par 5s on the course (holes 5 and 15) and coming in at under 550 yards apiece they should be scoreable for most. Though the 15th is a risk/reward hole, with the green protected by water – which is in-play on six holes in total – on the right-hand side.
The lack of par 5s doesn’t limit scoring opportunities though, with the twelve par 4s there to be attacked. Seven of them come in at under 430 yards and just two measure above 450, which includes the tough 500+ yard closing hole.
Get your ball in-play off-the-tee and strong iron players can thrive around Sedgefield. Something we’ve seen time and again in the event.
- SG: Approach
- Proximity 150-175 yards
- SG: Putting (Bermuda)
- Good Drive Percentage
- Par 4 Scoring
Leaderboards at the Wyndham Championship are littered with evidence of quality iron-play year after year.
Though last year’s winner, Tom Kim was strongest on the greens, he also enjoyed a good week in approach, ranking 12th; a further six of that top 10 in behind him ranked inside the top 10 with their irons.
Kevin Kisner also ranked 12th in approach when winning in 2021 and the five winners preceding him from 2016-2020 all ranked 4th or better in this area; most notable of these performances was 2019 winner, J.T Poston ranking 1st and 2016 champion, Si Woo Kim ranking 2nd.
We can zone in a little more on this and with approaches from 150-175 yards far more prevalent than any other over the last eight years, those excellent iron-players who excel specifically in this range will be of added interest.
Though quality in approach features heavier amongst challengers at Sedgefield, there can be no denying a hot week on the greens has often proven as important in determining the winner.
Tom Kim destroyed the field last year with a performance that was most-effectively engineered by the putter; gaining over 3 strokes more than the next best putter in the field.
Jim Herman was 3rd on the greens when winning in 2020; Henrik Stenson ranked 4th with the putter when winning in 2017 and Kevin Kisner was 8th in 2021. Of the last eight winners, only Si Woo Kim in 2016 ranked outside the top 25 with the flat stick.
You don’t have to hit every fairway to contend around at Sedgefield CC but equally it’s a place that largely negates power off-the-tee and you will be punished if driving it too waywardly. It’s important to get your ball in-play and with that, we’ll counter in those who show up positively in good drive percentage.
Correlating Events (Courses)
RBC Heritage (Harbour Town Golf Links)
There are a lot of form-lines to follow between the Wyndham Championship and the RBC Heritage. The two courses are short and tree-lined, posing similar driving tests and require a high level of approach play into the greens.
Davis Love III, Brandt Snedeker, Carl Pettersson and Webb Simpson have each won at both courses. Other former Wyndham champions: Si Woo Kim, JT Poston and Kevin Kisner have all finished top 3 at Harbour Town.
C.T Pan has won the RBC Heritage and finished 2nd here, as has Branden Grace; John Huh and Ollie Schniederjans have both finished 2nd at the Wyndham Championship and 3rd in the RBC Heritage.
Sony Open (Waialae Country Club)
Waialae Country Club is another par 70 course which lacks length and often produces low-scoring affairs. It offers up a comparable level of challenge from a ball-striking perspective to this week’s venue, as it does on its large bermudagrass greens.
Si Woo Kim has won at both courses, whilst Carl Pettersson, Davis Love III and Brandt Snedeker have finished 3rd there in Hawaii; Kevin Kisner and Webb Simpson both possessing multiple top 5s.
Kevin Na has won the Sony and finished 2nd in the Wyndham; Russell Henley and Johnson Wagner have each won there and have a strong record here.
John Deere Classic (TPC Deere Run)
TPC Deere Run ranks closely to Sedgefield Country Club in most aspects, from the average percentages of GIR across the two events, to scrambling difficulty.
Ryan Moore and J.T Poston have recorded wins in both tournaments; whilst Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Na and Russell Henley have all finished 2nd at TPC Deere Run.
Johnson Wagner has several top 10s at the event and Denny McCarthy has twice finished 6th in the JDC, matching a solid record here.
Travelers Championship (TPC River Highlands)
Aside from the fairways being a little easier to find at TPC River Highlands, all other aspects of play there and at Sedgefield CC present similarities. Which has led to many solid form-ties.
The duo of Ryan Moore and J.T Poston have finished 2nd in the Travelers Championship; Kevin Kisner, Webb Simpson and Kevin Na have each recorded top 5s.
Russell Henley and C.T Pan both have top 10s; further form-ties are on show from the likes of Kevin Streelman, Brian Harman and Ryan Armour.
THE PLAYERS Championship (TPC Sawgrass)
The greens are a little easier to find at Sedgefield CC, whilst there is also much more water in-play. However, the courses rank very closely statistically and typically require precise iron-play to be able to get yourself into the mix.
Webb Simpson, Si Woo Kim, Davis Love III, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson have all recorded wins at both courses; Kevin Kisner and Kevin Na each have multiple top 6s in THE PLAYERS.
Brandt Snedeker has a top 5, Kevin Streelman has finished 2nd and Brian Harman has recorded finishes of 3rd and 8th at Sawgrass.
Hot, humid weather will bring about thunderstorms this week, with any potential rain likely to take the fire out of these intended speedy greens.
With winds that aren’t too strong, I suspect we’ll once again get a good scoring week.
World #20, Sam Burns is the highest-ranked player in the field and with his place in the playoffs already secure, pressure won’t be as high on him as for some this week.
This applies to nobody more than our next highest-ranked player, #26 Justin Thomas, who after suffering another missed cut in last week’s 3M Open, sits at #79 in the FedEx Cup rankings and needs a strong performance to jump inside that top 70.
Also sat just outside that spot are former major winners Adam Scott and Shane Lowry. They make up part of thirteen players from inside the top 50 in attendance in Greensboro.
There are starts for the Scandi duo of Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard, who will need a win to get into those playoffs, and despite winning for the first time on the PGA Tour two weeks ago in the Barracuda Championship, Akshay Bhatia still sits outside the top 70 threshold and will need another inspired performance to make the St Jude Championship.
The event looks wide open and this is reflected in the betting, where Hideki Matsuyama is our 20/1 favourite. Russell Henley and Sungjae Im follow him at 22s, with Sam Burns and Si Woo Kim next at 25/1. Barring disaster, most of these frontrunners have their place in next week’s field sewn up.
My inclination is to side with those who need to perform well to make it to the St Jude next week, earning everything which getting inside that top 70 brings for the following season and I start this week’s selections by going back in on Cam Davis.
1.5 pts Cam Davis each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 33/1
Davis produced a strong 10th-place finish for us in the 3M Open last week; a result that moved him just inside the FedEx Cup top 70. He now sits in a precarious 69th in the rankings and is in need of another good week to hold his place there.
The Aussie has looked good over recent weeks, returning to form following the lull he suffered after an excellent 4th at Oak Hill in the PGA Championship. His 10th last week came after a 17th in the Rocket Mortgage Classic two starts earlier.
All areas of his game have fired over those starts but it’s in approach he’s looked strongest, ranking 8th in this field over the last month. Whilst over the course of the year, he’s been one of the best players in that 150-175 range, ranking 13th on tour.
Davis has been a little quiet with the putter this year, though he has putted these tricky greens excellently on his two previous visits. He ranked 11th in putting when finishing 22nd at Sedgefield CC on his debut in 2019 and returned to finish 15th the following year, where he again showed an ability on the greens, ranking 10th.
This strong record at the Wyndham is complimented by an attractive book of form at correlating courses. He’s looked particularly good at the RBC Heritage, with finishes of 3rd and 6th. In addition to that he finished 6th in THE PLAYERS Championship this year and has top 10s in both the John Deere Classic and Sony Open.
Davis’ one-and-only PGA Tour win in the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic came at another Donald Ross design, Detroit Golf Club. I’m taking him to double up on that this week and improve his position in those playoff spots in the process.
1.5 pts Adam Scott each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 33/1
Despite enjoying a largely consistent year, Adam Scott is one of the most high profile names currently sat outside of those important top 70 spots at #81 in the FedEx Cup standings. In a year of comeback winners, I’m keen on the chances of the 2013 Masters champion adding his name to that list this week and booking his spot in the St Jude Championship as a result.
Scott has missed just two cuts all year and with his game looking in good shape across the board – as he ranks 8th in this field in strokes-gained total over the last six months – it’s perhaps a surprise that he hasn’t managed to turn that into more true contending performances. He has just the three top 10s to his name, which includes a best of 5th in the Wells Fargo Championship.
If anything has let Scott down, it was struggles with approach play at the start of the year. However he’s rectified that over recent months, ranking 22nd in this field in approach over the last 90 days.
Once his biggest weak spot, it’s with the putter he now arguably excels most, ranking 32nd on tour this season and he generally putts bermuda well. Add in his quality par 4 scoring, for which he ranks 8th this season and his game is looking in fine shape to manage a performance here.
He’s only played here on four occasions but did finish 2nd in 2021, losing out in a mammoth six-man playoff to Kevin Kisner.
Scott is a past winner of THE PLAYERS Championship, as well as possessing multiple other top 10s there, which provides more encouragement to his chances here. He’s one of the classiest players in this week’s field and if everything finally comes together as one this week, he could be a hard man to stop.
1 pt Kevin Streelman each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 80/1
After a largely uninspiring year, Kevin Streelman’s runner-up finish in last week’s 3M Open breathed life into his chances of making the FedEx Cup Playoffs. With some strong past performances here, as well as a good record at a variety of the aforementioned correlating courses, he can build on last week’s effort this week.
His excellent 2nd-place finish last week was just his second top 10 of the year, after finishing 9th in the Charles Schwab Challenge at the end of May and came following a run of form which read: MC-49-MC-51-MC. However there has been plenty to like about his game across those starts, particularly in approach.
Streelman has been one of the strongest iron players in this week’s field over recent months, ranking 9th over the last twenty rounds played and has gained strokes in nine of his latest ten starts. He’d just struggled to put it together with other areas of his game, something he was able to do last week and reaped the rewards in doing so.
His quality in approach has helped him forge a good record here at Sedgefield CC. He finished 6th on his debut in 2008 and has only missed the cut here twice, adding a further top 10 when 7th in 2021.
Streelman’s win in the 2014 Travelers Championship is another indication of his potential here, as is his subsequent 2nd in 2020. Whilst he’s also finished runner-up at THE PLAYERS Championship, 3rd in the RBC Heritage and possesses several top 10s in the John Deere Classic.
This type of course is very much his bag and I’m hoping he has a little left in the tank after last week’s effort that will enable him to go one better this week in North Carolina.
1 pt Kevin Yu each way (1/5 – 7 places) – 90/1
We were on Kevin Yu last week in the 3M Open and though ultimately settling for a 37th-place finish, there was enough to like about his performance to tempt me to give him another shot this week.
After shooting a 66 and 67 in the middle rounds of last week’s tournament, Yu entered the final round in 11th, well within range of the places. Though while everyone else was making birdies on Sunday, he shot +1 to send him plummeting down the leaderboard.
This was largely due to a horrible day on the greens, losing over four strokes but that is easier to forgive when we look at how strong he looked tee-to-green, ranking 2nd in the field, with only runaway winner, Lee Hodges, in front of him.
Yu’s quality ball-striking has been evident throughout his first season on tour, before and after he returned from injury. He particularly excels with the driver, ranking 2nd in good drive percentage and though he initially struggled in approach on his return to action, he finally found some sharpness with the clubs last week, matching much of the form he showed earlier in the season.
He looks especially good in that 150-175 yard range, ranking 11th this season. This no doubt playing a part in him being such a strong par 4 scorer, holes on which he has scored better than virtually everyone on tour this season, ranking 3rd.
Yu is making his debut here this week but his best finish since returning offers encouragement, as he finished 6th in the John Deere Classic on debut; a 21st-place finish in the Sony Open – also on debut – is another plus and points to a player capable of going well at Sedgefield CC on his first visit this week.
1 pt Justin Suh each way (1/5 – 7 places) – 90/1
Justin Suh has been very consistent following a sluggish start to this season and there have been a few seriously bright spots over the course of the year; his 6th in THE PLAYERS Championship the pick of his results. However, such is the talent this former #1 amateur possesses and such was the quality of his performances on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, I had expected him to contend a little more. Something he is capable of and will need to do this week if wanting to make it to TPC Southwind.
The consistency shown by Suh this year has been impressive, with just one missed cut in 21 starts coming at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May. Though to counter that, just two top 10s – with a 5th in the Honda Classic joining his effort at TPC Sawgrass – will leave him feeling short-changed.
The reason for this is that whilst his results have been consistent, the quality of his tee-to-green game hasn’t and he’s largely relied on the putter this season. An area in which he ranks 12th on the PGA Tour, producing positive strokes-gained numbers week after week.
This isn’t to say he’s played poorly in other areas, he opened with a 65 in last week’s 3M Open thanks to a fine day in approach, whilst he also drove it well over the opening couple of days, though struggled to maintain that over the weekend. However, the fact that he’s managing to continually find these strong rounds with his ball-striking intermittently shows that his game isn’t all that far away.
Suh is another making his debut here this week. His 6th in THE PLAYERS shows he’s capable of taking to this place on his first try and if able to find just a little more consistency in his ball-striking, the quality of his putting can enable him to go close on a course where quality putting often proves fruitful.
0.75 pts David Lingmerth each way (1/5 – 7 places) – 200/1
After looking poor for much of 2022, David Lingmerth found a win on the Korn Ferry Tour in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship at the end of the year, that helped him retain his spot on the PGA Tour for this season. Entering this week just outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings, the Swede is in need of a similar performance in Greensboro and with recent evidence of his current form on show from an excellent 3rd in the Scottish Open three weeks ago, I believe he can find that performance this week.
Lingmerth’s result in Scotland came as somewhat of a shock, as he’d recorded six missed cuts and a withdrawal in his seven previous starts. His combination of accurate driving and strong putting finally paid dividends and he arrives at a course this week where similar performances often bring about winning results.
The finish in Scotland was Lingmerth’s third top 10 of the year, following him recording a 6th at TPC Sawgrass in THE PLAYERS Championship and 10th in the Honda Classic back in February/March.
That 6th at Sawgrass however was not his best performance at that event, as he finished 2nd in the 2013 edition. Both results provide a huge boost to the chances of a player here, who has little form to speak of on just a handful of visits to Sedgefield CC.
Lingmerth’s win on the Korn Ferry Tour last year showed someone capable of finding something when desperately needed and with so much on the line this week, he looks worth chancing to achieve a similar feat.