Sandwiched between the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the Wyndham Championship has been a great event for outsiders lately so read Steve's in-depth preview here...
"This is most definitely an event for outsiders. Jim Herman was the third 1000.0 chance to win in the last 11 years following Arjun Atwal in 2010 and Davis Love III in 2015."
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, 10 months and eight days! 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 the Liberty National in New York next Thursday.
Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina
Par 70 7,127 yards
Stroke index in 2020 - 68.78
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 three winners, Carl Pettersson, Arjun Atwal, and last year's champ, Jim Herman, all 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 five winners have reached either -21 or -22. 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 12:00 UK time and full coverage at 19:00.
Last Six Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2020 - Jim Herman -21 1000.0
2019 - J.T Poston -22 270.0269/1
2018 - Brandt Snedeker -21 32.031/1
2017 - Henrik Stenson -22 15.014/1
2016 - Si Woo Kin -21 180.0179/1
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 this is a track at which Driving Accuracy is most definitely a more important stat than Driving Distance.
The last six winners here, starting with Davis Love III in 2015, have ranked 32nd, 51st, 71st. 25th, 51st 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 is very often the key to victory.
The rough is awkward to play from and getting within birdie range is nigh on impossible if you stray from the cut and prepared. The first six players home last year ranked fourth, fifth, first, eighth, 13th and 17th for driving Accuracy.
In 2019, the first and second, J.T Poston and course-specialist, Webb Simpson, ranked second and first for DA and other than Snedeker, in the 13 renewals since the event returned to Sedgefield, 16th (Patrick Reed) is the worst any winner has ranked for Driving Accuracy.
The last two winners have ranked number one for Greens In Regulation but they've only had Putting Average rankings of 23rd and 20th and that's unusual given this is essentially a birdie-fest. The second and tied-third last year, Billy Horschel and Si-Woo Kim, ranked third and first for PA and the three winners before Poston all ranked second.
In addition to topping the GIR stats, Poston and Herman both topped the Par 4 Scoring stats and that's very often the key metric...
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 the runner-up, Ollie Schniederjans. 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 in 2019 when Poston 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. Herman, along with Horschel, who finished second, played them in 11-under-par last year.
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 at Liberty National 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 (here) often raise their game in order to ensure they qualify and secondly, last year's runner-up, Horschel, and two of the last four winners of the Wyndham, Brandt Snedeker and Henrik Stenson, have both won the FedEx Cup. Were Horschel, Snedeker and Stenson inspired by former FedEx Cup glory on the eve on a new series?
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.
Away from the Ross designed tracks, form at the Champions Course at the Keene Trace club in Kentucky, which has hosted the last three Barbasol Championships, might be of interest. In the last three years, Horschel has finished second in both events, Herman has won both and Poston should have done. The 2019 Wyndham winner was matched at 1.011/100 to win the Barbasol last month before eventually going down to Seamus Power in extra time
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 ten Wyndham winners have also won the Players.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Snedeker was winning the event for a second time three 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 two years ago and six of the last 12 victors were breaking their duck on the PGA Tour.
Snedeker was a solid 32.031/1 chance three years ago and Stenson was a well-fancied 15.014/1 favourite in 2017 but Herman went off at 1000.0 last year and outsiders have fared really well of late. Having been matched at a high of 290.0289/1 before the event, Poston was relatively unfancied in 2019 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 100.099/1, Camilo Villegas was a 150.0149/1 shot in 2014, and the first three home in 2015 all went off at huge prices. The winner, Davis Love III, Jason Gore in second, and Scott Brown, who finished tied for third, went off at odds of 1000.0, 440.0439/1 and 320.0319/1 respectively and the 2016 winner, Si Woo Kim, was matched at 220.0219/1 before the off.
This is most definitely an event for outsiders - and Herman was the third 1000.0 chance to win in the last 11 years following Arjun Atwal in 2010 and the aforementioned Love III in 2015.
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 the PGA Tour. Herman was 42 when he lifted the trophy last year.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2020 - Jim Herman - trailing by four 50.049/1
2019 - J.T Poston - trailing by three 40.039/1
2018 - Brandt Snedeker led by one stroke 2.111/10
2017 - Henrik Stenson led by one stroke 2.8615/8
2016 - Si Woo Kim led by two strokes 7.26/1
2015 - Davis Love III trailing by four 130.0129/1
Since returning to Sedgefield the in-running stats at the 13 renewals are just odd. We've seen eight 54-hole leaders win but Poston won from three back and after Herman's success last year, we've had four winners come from four back with a round to go. In the last 13 years, nobody's won the title having trailed by one or two strokes after 54 holes.
With course form figures reading MC-8-1-22-11-5-6-72-3-2-2-3, North Carolina native, Webb Simpson, is the very obvious favourite. Webb's form hasn't been too spectacular this year but he finished the WGC-FedEx St Jude nicely enough yesterday to climb up into the top-15 and he loves the tournament so much he even named his daughter Wyndham!
The Masters Champ, Hideki Matsuyama, who has mixed Sedgefield form figures reading 15-MC-MC-3-11-MC, has returned to form in fine fashion, missing out on a bronze medal in a playoff at the Olympics two weeks ago before very nearly winning the FedEx St Jude when this putt at the first extra hole lipped out.
Hideki for the win ...? PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 8, 2021
Lip out. pic.twitter.com/pqphgUItZK
Having finished runner-up at both the USPGA Championship and the US Open, as well as third in the Open Championship, Louis Oosthuizen is enjoying a summer of sparkling form but I'm more than happy to swerve him.
Having followed his third at Royal St George's with yet another second placed finish, this time at the 3M Open, he started well again last week in Memphis but a tired 74 on Sunday saw him slip to 17th and sooner rather than later he's bound to run out of steam. This is Louis' first appearance at Sedgefield.
This year's Sony Open winner, Kevin Na, is an interesting runner. In his last two starts, he's finished second at the John Deere Classic and a respectable 23rd in the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational and his Sedgefield form figures read an improving MC-18-10-4.
Na has won four times in the last three years and he's prolific enough to chance here at 55.054/1.
I was very tempted to have small savers on the course specialists, Webb Simpson and Si Woo Kim, and I'll be back tomorrow or on Wednesday with at least one outsider in the Find Me a 100 Winner column but for now my only other selection is Justin Rose, who ticks a number of boxes.
Having won gold in Rio five years ago, Rose may well have been inspired by the staging of the very recent Olympics and he may also be inspired by the up-and-coming FedEx Cup playoffs given he won the FedEx Cup as recently as 2018.
Having not played brilliantly since he contended again for a Green Jacket at Augusta and finished eighth in the USPGA Championship, Rose needs a good week given he's languishing in 139th place in the FedEx Cup standings but fortunately for him, this is a venue where he could well shine.
With a first and a second around Aronimink, Rose plays Ross designs well and although he missed the cut here last year with rounds of 73-67, that was the first time he'd played here since finishing fifth on debut in 2009.
I was more than happy to take 80.079/1 and I may also play him in the First Round Leader market if he gets a favourable draw as he has a habit of starting fast.
Rose hasn't won since January 2019 but he might just be ready to strike again.
Kevin Na @ 55.054/1
Justin Rose @ 80.079/1
I'll be back tomorrow with the Cazoo Classic preview.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter