Wyndham Championship: Harman can win again, says The Punter

Brian Harmon – fancied to go well again at Sedgefield
Brian Harman – fancied to go well again at Sedgefield

Want to know what it will it take to win the Wyndham? Then read Steve's detailed look at this week's PGA Tour action in North Carolina here...

“I was extremely impressed by the way Brian Harman claimed his first PGA Tour title at Deere Run last month and I was surprised to see him as big as he is given he was third here twelve months ago.”

Tournament History

Originally known as the Greater Greensboro Open, Sam Snead won the first Wyndham Championship in 1938 and he won it for the eighth time in 1965, at the age of 52 years and ten 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 Barclays so players are looking to finish inside the top-125 on the rankings to secure their playing privileges for next season and to gain a place in the field at Ridgewood Country Club next Thursday.


Venue

Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina


Course Details

Par 70, 7127 yards
Stroke index in 2013 - 69.97

After 30 years at Forest Oaks, the Wyndham Championship returned to the Donald Ross designed Sedgefield Country Club in 2008.

In the six years since the event returned to Sedgefield, low scores have been the norm, with two winners, Carl Pettersson and Arjun Atwal, both shooting course record rounds of 61 on the way to victory. The course definitely played slightly tougher last year though and it actually ranked as the toughest of the five par 70 courses used on the PGA Tour. 

Changes were made to the greens (bentgrass to Bermuda) prior to the 2012 renewal but it didn't seem to make the difference to the scores anticipated. And after last year's renewal, maybe we can expect Sedgefield to play slightly tougher going forward. Patrick Reed's winning score was the highest since the event returned to Sedgefield.

The greens are smaller than average, undulating and fairly fast, and they are forecasted to run at around 12 on the stimpmeter.

Sedgefield also hosted the Greensboro Open on the Web.com Tour between 1998 and 2000.


Useful Sites
Event Site

Course Site
Twitter Link
Tee Times
Weather Forecast


TV Coverage

Live on Sky all four days - 20:00 on Thursday and Friday and 18:00 on Saturday and Sunday


Last Five Winners
2013 - Patrick Reed -14 (playoff)
2012 - Sergio Garcia -18
2011 - Webb Simpson -18
2010 - Arjun Atwal - 20
2009 - Ryan Moore -16 (playoff)


What Will it Take to Win The Wyndham Championship?

Up until last year's renewal, the picture was fairly clear. The first five Sedgefield winners had all ranked inside the top-16 for driving accuracy, they'd all ranked inside the top-ten for putting and whoever had topped the par 4 scoring stats had finished first or second but last year's winner, Patrick Reed, clouded the water slightly.

When beating Jordan Spieth in a playoff, he ranked only 46th for fairways found and 14th for putting but he and Spieth did rank two and one on the par 4s and they also ranked the same for birdies made.  Nobody found more greens than Reed 12 months ago and that was the reason for his success. He was only the second Sedgefield winner to rank inside the top-ten for GIR. The previous three had ranked 26th, 15th and 44th but had all finished inside the top-ten for scrambling. 


Is There an Angle In?

There are a couple of angles in this week to consider... 

From a course correlation angle, form at Donald Ross-designed tracks tends to cross over well so a look at form at Oak Hills, which was the venue for last year's USPGA Championship, won by Jason Dufner. Oakland Hills which hosted six US Opens between 1924 and 1996 and was also used for the USPGA Championship in 2008. Aronimink Country Club, which hosted the AT & T National in both 2010 and 2011, East Lake in Atlanta - home of the Tour Championship and if all that isn't enough, you could also check out Irondequoit Country Club, which hosted the Xerox Classic on the Web.Com Tour in the four years between 2005 and 2008.


Although not a Ross-designed course, form at Deere Run, home of the John Deere Classic, could well be worthy of close examination judging on very recent history. Deere run specialist, Zach Johnson, was right in the thick of the action here last year and runner-up, Spieth, broke his duck there last year. And look who finished third here twelve months ago...Brian Harman, this year's John Deere Classic winner. 

This is the last event of the PGA Tour season before the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin with The Barclays next week and so those players bobbing around the 125 mark in the FedEx Cup standings may well raise their game. 


Is There an Identikit Winner?

Given the event is positioned one week after the year's final major and one week before the playoffs, most of the PGA Tour's big stars see this as an ideal opportunity to take a week off and that creates a bit of space for the lesser lights. Four of the last five winners were winning their first event on the PGA Tour. 


In-Play Tactics

Sedgefield doesn't appear to be a venue where you can make up much ground. Last year's playoff protagonists were never outside the first three places all week long. Every winner here has been inside the first three at halfway and five of the six winners here were leading with a round to go. 

Ryan Moore, who had been leading at halfway before a disappointing third round that saw him slip to 9th, is the only winner to come from slightly off the pace. He came from four back to win in 2009 when joint third round leaders, Chris Riley and Sergio Garcia, both failed to break 70.

If you're planning to bet in-running, the first three holes on the back-nine are tough and all averaged over par 12 months ago and after a brief bit of respite at the 13th hole the players then face the toughest hole on the course - the 14th. The 18th often ranks the toughest on the course and last year it ranked the second hardest so if you're on the leading on Sunday, don't assume they'll safely navigate the last to win.


Market Leaders

Brandt Snedeker won this event in 2007, the last time it was played at Forest Hills. He was also 5th in 2009 and 8th a year later but his last three appearances since have been far less inspiring with a tied 28th sandwiched between two missed cuts.

Snedeker won the Canadian Open around this time last year so it's perhaps not surprising that he's found some form recently with a 12th placed finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and a tied 13th at last week's USPGA Championship, where he ranked second for putting.

With Rory McIlroy filling favourite backer's pockets, Brandt could come in for some support but at around 16.015/1 he's short enough for me in what looks a very open heat.

The 2011 winner, Webb Simpson, was third at both the St Jude Classic and the Greenbrier Classic but he's been largely disappointing this season and makes no appeal and neither does the Memorial Tournament winner, Hideki Matsuyama, at just 22.021/1.

Defending champ, Patrick Reed, is usually a decent price most weeks given he's now won three times on Tour since breaking his duck here 12 months ago but at just 24.023/1, I'm happy to leave him out this week.


Selections

I was extremely impressed by the way Brian Harman claimed his first PGA Tour title at the aforementioned Deere Run last month and I was surprised to see him as big as he is given he was third here 12 months ago.

His form has understandably dipped in his three starts since but I'm not too worried about that. The Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and USPGA Championship were all huge events he was appearing in for the first time and all year long he's played well before putting in a little run of poorer efforts. 

He was third at the Northern Trust Open behind Bubba Watson in February then his form tailed off before he was 7th at the Heritage. Six lacklustre efforts followed before he finished 6th at the St Jude Classic and prior to last month's win he finished 42nd at the Travelers Championship before missing his next two cuts. He could very easily bounce back to form here on a course he's already shown a liking to.

I thought Scott Brown looked a big price prior to his excellent 5th at Deere Run and after he finished last week at Valhalla ranked number one for proximity to the pin, he again looks a decent price. His iron play is clearly in good order still but he didn't putt well last week, averaging 1.85 putts. That could all soon change playing on these smaller greens and I'm going to give him another chance at a triple-figure price.

Deere Run winner, Jonathan Byrd, Johnson Wagner and Jhonattan Vegas are all bobbing around the 125 mark and need a good week to ensure they're in the field next week and I felt all three were worth a small interest. 


Selections:
Brian Harman @ 50.049/1
Scott Brown @ 110.0109/1
Jonathan Byrd @ 130.0129/1
Johnson Wagner @ 160.0159/1
Jhonattan Vegas @ 190.0189/1


I'll be back on Friday afternoon/evening with the In-Play Blog.

You can read my Wyndham Championship Betting Preview for the 2015 tournament behind the link.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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