Sandwiched between the US PGA Championship and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the Wyndham Championship has been a great event for outsiders lately so read Steve's in-depth preview here...
“At number 149 in the FedEx Cup standings, Aaron Wise is in need of another good week but judging by his performance in the Barracuda Championship last time out, where he finished eighth, ranking 11th for DA, first for GIR and sixth for Putting Average, he may well have one.”
Sam Snead won the first Wyndham Championship in 1938 when it was known as the Greater Greensboro Open and he won it for the eighth time in 1965, at the age of 52 years and 10 months! That still stands as the most wins of a single PGA Tour event and he's still the oldest winner on Tour.
The Wyndham is the last counting event before the FedEx Cup Playoff series begins next week with the Northern Trust Open (formerly The Barclays) so players are looking to finish inside the top-125 on the rankings to secure a place in the field at TPC Boston next Thursday.
Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina.
Par 70 7,127 yards
Stroke index in 2019 - 68.18
Founded in 1926, the Donald Ross designed Sedgefield Country Club was the event's original venue but between 1977 and 2007 the tournament's permanent home was Forrest Oaks Country Club. The Wyndham Championship returned to Sedgefield Country Club in 2008 - a year after Kris Spence had restored and lengthened the course so it could stand up to the modern game.
In typical Ross fashion, the greens are smaller than average, undulating and fairly fast, and they're usually set to run at around 12 on the stimpmeter. Since the event returned to Sedgefield, low scores have been the norm. We've seen two winners, Carl Pettersson and Arjun Atwal, both shooting 61 on the way to victory and the 2018 winner, Brandt Snedeker, went two better, firing a 59 on day one.
Changes were made to the greens prior to the 2012 renewal and they're now the same strain of Bermuda (previously bent grass) used at another North Carolina Tour stop, Quail Hollow, but it hasn't made the difference to the scores anticipated.
Patrick Reed's winning score of -14 in 2013 was the highest since the event returned to Sedgefield but the 2015 and 2016 winners, Camilo Villegas and Davis Love III, both reached 17-under-par and the last four winners have gone even deeper. Si Woo Kim tied the tournament record with a 21-under-par total in 2016, firing in a ten-under-par 60 in round two, but that record only lasted 12 months though as Henrik Stenson amassed a 22-under-par total three years. Snedeker won in 21-under-par 12 two ago and J.T Poston equalled Stenson's record 12 months ago. It's not a tough track.
Sedgefield also hosted the Greensboro Open on the Web.com Tour between 1998 and 2000.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, beginning with Featured Group coverage at 14:00 UK time and full coverage at 19:00.
Last Five Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2019 - J.T Poston -22 [270.0]
2018 - Brandt Snedeker -21 [32.0]
2017 - Henrik Stenson -22 [15.0]
2016 - Si Woo Kin -21 [180.0]
2015 - Davis Love III -17 [1000.0]
What Will it Take to Win the Wyndham Championship?
It's a bit of a misconception, largely brought about by the TV coverage and the obsession with big hitting, that driving distance is of more importance than driving accuracy. Length is definitely important and there are certain courses where the short hitters just don't stand a chance but the average Driving Accuracy ranking of the PGA Tour winners this season is lower than their average Driving Distance rankings and only last week we witnessed the US PGA Championship being won by the player that found the most fairways off the tee.
The last five winners here, starting with Davis Love III in 2015, have ranked 32nd, 51st, 71st. 25th and 51st for Driving Distance. This is NOT a bombers track, this is a course for the accurate types.
Brand Snedeker won here two years ago with some bizarre stats and there were none more bizarre than his 51st for Driving Accuracy as finding the fairways at Sedgefield, in order to best attack the small greens, is very often the key to victory. Last year's first and second, J.T Poston and course-specialist, Webb Simpson, ranked second and first for DA and other than Snedeker, in the 12 renewals since the event returned to Sedgefield, 16th (Patrick Reed) is the worst any winner has ranked for Driving Accuracy.
Poston's performance last year was incredible. He was the first player to win a PGA Tour event without recording a single bogey since Lee Trevino at the 1974 Greater New Orleans. And he didn't even put himself under a huge amount of strain to achieve the feat, the longest par save made all week was from only eight feet. He ranked number one for both Greens In Regulation and Scrambling (both important metrics) but he only had a Putting Average ranking of 20th. This is essentially a birdie-fest and the three winners before him ranked second but he played the par fours well and that's nearly always key.
For the first seven renewals back at Sedgefield, the number one ranked player on the par fours finished either first or second and that trend was back on the agenda after the 2017 renewal, with Henrik Stenson ranking second for Par 4 Scoring, behind Ollie Schniederjans, who finished second. Stenson played the par fours in a combined total of -10, Schniederjans played them in an incredible -15.
Snedeker won in 2018 despite only ranking 12th for Par 4 Scoring but we returned to the norm last year with Poston ranking first. He played them in 14-under-par with Byeong Hun An and Viktor Hovland, who finished third and fourth, ranking tied second having played them in -12.
Is There an Angle In?
This is the last event of the PGA Tour season before the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin with the Northern Trust Open next week and that looks like it might offer up a couple of good angles in.
Firstly, those players bobbing around the 125 mark in the FedEx Cup standings often raise their game in order to ensure they qualify and secondly, the two of the last three winners of the Wyndham have both won the FedEx Cup. Were Snedeker and Stenson inspired by former FedEx Cup glory on the eve on a new series?
It wasn't a huge factor last year but looking back through past Wyndham Championships we find plenty of players that have raised their game in an attempt to get into the playoffs...
The two players tied for fourth in 2018 - Jim Furyk and D.A. Points - begun the week in 171st and 214th place respectively, eighth placed, Nick Taylor, was 129th going in, and Harris English, who was 132nd in the standings, was in contention for a long way before eventually finishing tied 11th. Back in 2017, two of the top-seven, Rory Sabbatini and Martin Flores, both played their way into the Playoffs, three of the top-five and ties in 2017 (Luke Donald, Brett Stegmaier and Johnson Wagner) all guaranteed their spot at The Barclays (as it was named three years ago), having been ranked 99th, 119th and 109th at the start of the week. And looking even further back, the Bubble Boys have fared even better...
The 2015 and 2014 winners, Davis Love III and Camilo Villegas, both began the week outside the top-125 on the FedEx Cup Standings, as did the 2015 runner-up, Jason Gore. Charl Schwartzel, who finished tied for third five years ago, had begun the week ranked at 125th and although he collapsed quite badly right at the end, Jonas Blixt moved up from 135th to 121st to get himself into the field at The Barclays after he'd finished 10th here in 2015.
From a course correlation angle, form at Donald Ross designed tracks tends to cross over well so a look at form at Oak Hill Country Club, which was the venue for the 2013 USPGA Championship, won by Jason Dufner and for more recent form, check out the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, Aronimink Country Club, which hosted the AT & T National in both 2010 and 2011 and the BMW Championship in 2018, and East Lake in Atlanta, home of the Tour Championship, but if you want a really strong course link you need to head to Florida and to the Pete Dye designed home of the Players Championship, Sawgrass. Incredibly, five of the last nine Wyndham winners have also won the Players.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Snedeker was winning the event for a second time two years ago and the 2015 winner, David Love III, has won the title three times but this has been a decent tournament for first timer winners of late. Poston got off the mark here 12 months ago and six of the last 11 victors were breaking their duck on the PGA Tour.
Snedeker was a solid [32.0] chance two years ago and Stenson was a well-fancied [15.0] favourite in 2017 but outsiders have fared really well of late. Having been matched at a high of [290.0] before the event, Poston was relatively unfancied last year and the four winners before Henrik were also all matched at a triple-figure price before the off.
Patrick Reed won his first PGA Tour title here in 2013, having been matched at [100.0], Camilo Villegas was a [150.0] shot in 2014, and the first three home in 2015 all went off at huge prices. The winner, Davis Love, Jason Gore in second, and Scott Brown, who finished tied for third, went off at odds of [1000.0], [440.0] and [320.0] respectively and the 2016 winner, Si Woo Kim, was matched at [220.0] before the off.
With length off the tee an irrelevance, this is somewhere the oldies can really shine. As already mentioned, Snead is the oldest ever PGA Tour winner and when Love won here in 2015, he became the third oldest to win on PGA Tour.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2019 - J.T Poston - trailing by three [40.0]
2018 - Brandt Snedeker led by one stroke [2.1]
2017 - Henrik Stenson led by one stroke [2.86]
2016 - Si Woo Kim led by two strokes [7.2]
2015 - Davis Love III trailing by four [130.0]
From an in-running perspective, we've seen a mixed bag of results here since the tournament returned to Sedgefield and it's slightly misleading. As many as eight of the 12 winners have been leading or tied for the lead after three rounds but Jason Bohn was beaten in a playoff in 2009, having trailed by seven strokes with a round to go, Poston was three back last when he won last year and three of the 12 have won from four back after 54 holes.
Kim trailed by five after an opening 68 in 2016 but he was never headed after his 60 in round two, Stenson was never outside the front three places or more than a stroke adrift all week long three years ago, Snedeker won wire-to-wire in 2018 and Poston was never more than three adrift all week long so a fast start clearly helps.
Kim was tied for 42nd after round one four years ago but the other 11 course winners were inside the top-20 after round one. Since we returned to Sedgefield in 2008, six of the 12 winners have been in front at halfway and ten of the 12 were inside the front three places after 36 holes. The three men to win from four adrift after three rounds - Love, Villegas and Ryan Moore (in 2009) - all bounced back after disappointing third rounds and only two of the 12 winners since 2008 have been trailing by more than two strokes after 36 holes. Poston was tied for ninth and three back last year and Simpson was also only three adrift but he was tied for second.
If you're trading in-running, the finish to the course is worth getting accustomed to. The back-nine starts with three fairly hard holes which all averaged over-par last year - rankling fourth, first and third hardest. The 14th is a tricky par four measuring just over 500 yards and it was the fifth toughest on the course last year, averaging 4.04, and the par four 18th hole was the second toughest on the course last year, averaging 4.14 but four of the last six holes are gettable. Holes 13, 15, 16 and 17 last year ranked 14th, 17th, 10th and 11h hardest so the final third is a real mixed bag.
With course form figures reading MC-8-1-22-11-5-6-72-3-2-2, North Carolina native, Webb Simpson, is the very obvious favourite. He loves the tournament so much he even named his daughter Wyndham!
He's already won twice this year and he's highly likely to contend so it's hard to argue a case against taking the 9/1 with the Sportsbook with eight places on offer but he's not for me. He only lost by a stroke last year but that doesn't really tell the full story and his Sunday effort, was a fairly typical one by Webb. Despite sitting just one off the lead through 54 holes, he was never in with any sort of serious chance on Sunday after starting his fourth and final round by bogeying two of his first three holes and I always feel that thinks need to fall right for him to win.
I'm a little surprised to see Brooks Koepka in attendance after a gruelling fortnight. He finished second to Justin Thomas at the WGC FedEx St Jude two weeks ago after trading at odds-on and he fell away tamely when attempting to win his third US PGA Championship in-a-row last week.
In two previous visits here, he's finished 38th in 2014 and sixth in 2015 so he has some course form in the bag but he's one to swerve for me.
Patrick Reed hasn't cracked the top-20 here in three visits since his he won here in 2013 but he's the one I like best towards the head of the market. His 13th place finish last week was eye-catching given he didn't putt very well. If he can find a few more fairways than usual and return to putting nicely he's an interesting runner.
I liked Kevin Kisner and Ryan Moore towards the head of the market but I've missed the prices on both. And there's a few more that were on the radar too so if I add any others before the off I'll update Twitter but for starters I'm going with just six!
I couldn't leave out Brendon Todd, who gave me such a great run for my money at a big price in the WGC-FedEx St Jude two weeks ago. He couldn't buy a putt on Sunday and he eventually finished 15th but he followed that with a 17th in the US PGA Championship last week. He's playing too well to ignore given he's such a good fit - currently ranks third for Driving Accuracy and 14th for Par 4 Scoring. His form figures here are poor but he's been largely out of form until this season and a low-scoring birdie-fest where accuracy off the tee is required is just perfect for him.
Tom Lewis is another that likes a low-scoring event and he looks worth chancing for a few pounds. Some of the golf he played over the weekend at TPC Southwind two weeks ago was simply incredible and although he missed the cut last week, he opened up with a three-under-par 67.
That little spell of red-hot form may well be a flash in the pan but if it isn't, he's too big at [90.0]. A price not much smaller than he traded at in last week's major!
Doc Redman fared nicely last week, finishing tied for 29th in his first US PGA Championship but he was still way behind fellow 2017 Walker Cuppers, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ. Maybe they'll inspire him to another good week here?
The North Carolina resident has missed the cut here in his first two appearances but there's plenty to suggest the place should suit him. He ranks alongside Todd at 14th for Par 4 Scoring, ranks 18th for Driving Accuracy and he has form at the Detroit Golf Club. He was second in the inaugural edition of the Rocket Mortgage Classic and although he could only finish 21st there last month, he was tied for the lead after round one.
With improving course form reading MC-MC-MC-51-14-MC-13, Kyle Stanley looks a little over-priced at 125/1 with eight places on offer with the Sportsbook. He currently ranks fourth for DA, 29th for Par 4 Scoring and at 130 in the FedEx Cup Standings, he fits the Bubble Boys profile too. He's not great with the putter but his stats aren't awful at present.
At number 149 in the FedEx Cup standings, Aaron Wise is in need of another good week but judging by his performance in the Barracuda Championship last time out, where he finished eighth, ranking 11th for DA, first for GIR and sixth for Putting Average, he may well have one. He was only 48th here on debut last year but opening and closing 71s sandwiched a 64 on Friday and 65 on Saturday so he can go low here.
And last but not least, I've thrown a few pounds in the direction of Fabian Gomez at a huge price. The Argentine missed his first three cuts here before finishing 13th last year and he caught the eye last time out when finishing third in the Barracuda where he ranked second for both DA and PA. Again, he ranks nicely for DA and Par 4 Scoring and at 122, he too is a FedEx Bubble Boy.
Brendon Todd @ [44.0]
Tom Lewis @ [95.0]
Doc Redman @ [120.0]
Kyle Stanley @ 125/1 (each-way - Sportsbook)
Aaron Wise @ [160.0]
Fabian Gomez @ [270.0]
I'll be back on Thursday or Friday with the In-Play Blog.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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