Wyndham Championship: Have a Wi bet on Charlie to go well

Will Charlie Wi do the job for The Punter this week?

Even from his Barbados holiday retreat Steve 'The Punter' Rawlings has found time to study this week's Wyndham Championship field, and there's some big price contenders amongst his selections...

"Charlie Wi is based at Aronimink, where he contended at each of the two AT & T’s, so he brings strong Donald Ross form to the party and after finishing third at the recent Greenbrier Classic, he has current form to boot."


Tournament History
Known for many years, as the Greensboro Open, the Wyndham Championship was first staged back in 1938. The event used to be staged in the spring but it was given an autumn slot in 2003 and then in 2007 it moved to August. The PGA TOUR named the Wyndham Championship its most-improved tournament in 2008 and as the last FedEx Cup event before the playoff series; it's now an important tournament with everyone jostling to get themselves into the top-125 in the rankings. Year-on-year the event seems to be growing in strength, despite the fact that it follows the Bridgestone Invitational and the USPGA Championship. This will be the 73rd staging of the event.

Venue
Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina

Course Details
Par 70, 7117 yards
Stroke index in 2011 - 68.97

After 30 years at Forest Oaks, the tournament returned to Sedgefield Country Club, one of its earliest venues, in 2008. The Donald Ross designed Sedgefield is very popular with players and spectators alike and the event goes from strength-to-strength.

In the last four years, 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, but talk of rounds of 59 will be muted this time around following a change to the greens from bent-grass to Champion Bermuda.

Defending champion, Webb Simpson said of the changes, "Even in the heat of August, the greens will be hard and fast, and that means the course will play much tougher. I think it's safe to say that the days of 20-under par are over."

Donald Ross also designed Aronimink, which hosted the AT & T National in 2010 and 2011 and there's definitely a correlation between the two tracks with the same accurate types playing well at both tracks. Ryan Moore, Justin Rose, Carl Pettersson, and Webb Simpson, to name but a few, have all fared well at both.

Useful Sites
Course Site
Course Details
Course Tour
Tee Times

TV Coverage
Live on Sky all four days, 8.00pm on Thursday and Friday and 6.00pm on Saturday and Sunday

Last Five Winners
2011 - Webb Simpson -18
2010 - Arjun Atwal - 20
2009 - Ryan Moore -16 (playoff)
2008 - Carl Pettersson -21
2007 - Brandt Snedeker -22

What will it take to win the Wyndham Championship?
The last three winners were all winning for the first time on the PGA Tour and with many of the more established players coming here straight from a taxing week at the USPGA Championship the door could be ajar for yet another first time winner.

Accuracy's the key to success at Sedgefield and in particular accuracy off the tee. Bombing it doesn't get it done but precise placement does - 26th is the worst any winner has ranked for driving accuracy.

Par 3 performance could also be a good stat to study. The first three Sedgefield winners all played the par 3 holes in five or six under-par and Simpson played them in three under-par twelve months ago.

Possible In-Play Tactics
Sedgefield doesn't appear to be a catch-up course, as three of four halfway leaders have gone on to win, and the only other winner, Webb Simpson last year, was second after 36 holes. Sergio Garcia is the only player not to convert a 54-hole. On past results, making up ground on the early pace-setters looks tough.

Be wary of the finishing hole as it's the hardest on the course and it could well create some late drama.

Market Leaders
Jason Dufner and defending champion Webb Simpson are vying for favouritism, with 2008 winner, Carl Pettersson, trading as third best. Of the three, if I had to side with one it would be Pettersson but I'm not keen on any of them.

Dufner's played Sedgefield in each of the last four years but tied 26th is the best he's mustered and he's missed the cut twice. Simpson's still coming to terms with being a major champion and a brand new parent again and if he gets into contention again he'll need to banish the memories of the Greenbrier Classic last month, where he was quite frankly awful.

Whereas the only negative I can see with big Carl is the possibility of fatigue, after a draining week in the mix at Kiawah. The North Carolina native clearly loves the course and is in fine form but at just 20.019/1 I'm more than happy to pass him over this week.

Selections
There were a number of players towards the fore in the market that I could give a big chance to this week but none of them looked big enough to take a chance on. Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas, Tim Clark and Nick Watney were all carefully considered but ultimately rejected and the only player trading in double-figures to make the portfolio is Jason Bohn.

Bohn finished runner-up at the recent True South Classic and his Sedgefield form's not bad either. In his only two starts, he finished 12th last year and was beaten in the playoff in 2009. With the classic combination of both current and course form, I thought he was fairly priced at 85.084/1.

Although making his event debut this week, John Huh looked worth chancing. He's ranked inside the top-ten for driving accuracy and he's a player I'm keen to keep the right side of, particularly when he's trading at triple-figure prices. Already a winner this year, having won the Mayakoba Classic, he looked slightly over-priced to me.

I've been waiting for Charlie Wi to make an appearance at Sedgefield and at last he's turned up. Although a long-standing PGA Tour maiden, and clearly hard to get across the line, Wi should be very well suited by Sedgefield. He's based at Aronimink, where he contended at each of the two AT & T's, so he brings strong Donald Ross form to the party and after finishing third at the recent Greenbrier Classic, he has current form to boot.

Last year's runner-up, George McNeill, like Huh, has also already found success in 2012, having won the Puerto Rico Open and he too is a pick based purely on price.

My last two picks are both 'bubble boys'. Heath Slocum, currently ranked third for DA, is ranked 126th on the FedEx Cup list so he needs a good week to get into next week's Barclays. Slocum always takes a while to get going and none of his four wins have come before August, with his best effort this year being his recent 13th placed finish at the True South Classic and talking of slow starts, look at last year's performance here. A first round 70 left him far too much to do but he did show an aptitude to the venue the following day when he shot 64.

Justin Leonard finally showed a bit of form at the Reno-Tahoe Open last time out when he finished in the top-five. He finished third here two years ago and tied 17th last year and again, he's another at a huge price that won't do too much damage to the wallet should he flop.

Selections:
Jason Bohn @ 85.084/1
John Huh @ 130.0129/1
Charlie Wi @ 150.0149/1
George McNeill @ 180.0179/1
Justin Leonard @ 170.0169/1
Heath Slocum @ 180.0179/1


As I'm away on holiday and there's just the one event, I'm not going to do an In-Play Blog or a De-Brief this week but Mike Norman will post a midway update of the current state of play and latest odds on Saturday morning. I'll be back again next week with a preview for the Johnnie Walker Championship and The Barclays.


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