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PGA TOUR: Mike Glasscott's Wyndham Championship preview

The regular season finale on the PGA TOUR provides the final chance to compete for the FedExCup Playoffs championship. Since 2007, the Wyndham Championship has been the last-chance saloon to punch a golden ticket for the riches of the post-season.

Moving to Sedgefield Country Club, a Donald Ross design from 1926 renovated for the 2008 edition, Greensboro, North Carolina, continues its rich tradition on the PGA TOUR. The 82nd event in town will now determine the final SEVENTY players eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs. The previous 15 editions sorted out the top 125 who were eligible. For the 2023 edition, only the top 70 will qualify for the FedExCup bonus pool.

Top of the Board

Hideki Matsuyama (18/1) is the co-favourite this week though he hasn’t produced a top-10 payday since THE PLAYERS Championship in May. Currently No. 56 in the FedExCup standings, he’s signed for three top-15 paydays from seven tries in Greensboro. The highlights include T3 in 2016 and T11 in 2018. 

The 2016 winner, Si Woo Kim (18/1), joins Matsuyama at the top of the board. The Korean held a two-shot lead after 54 holes in 2021 before he was left behind for T3 by Jim Herman on Sunday. The 28-year-old Korean, who has posted rounds of 60 and 62 in his four top-five finishes here, has already won a shoot-out this season at the Sony Open in Hawaii and posted 22-under to share second at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May. 

Sungjae Im (20/1) resides in this column weekly outside of the major championships. Sadly, for bettors, his recent run of form should scare off any takers again this week. 

BUT. 

After missing the cut in four of his last eight appearances on TOUR, the return to Bermudagrass is my angle this week. Last spring, he rattled off T6 at THE PLAYERS, T7 at RBC Heritage, solo sixth at TPC Louisiana, and T8 at Wells Fargo, all on Bermudagrass. His previous four visits to Sedgefield have included three top-10 paydays, including T2 last year. Putting him in play this week makes sense.

Russell Henley (20/1) should have won this event in 2021. He led by three entering the final round, but a closing 71 saw him miss the six-man playoff by a shot. Missing a putt for par on the final hole saw him miss out on the six-man playoff. With three consecutive trips inside the top 10 at Sedgefield, the Georgia native has proven his worth in Greensboro. The last time he played in this part of the world, he cashed T4 at Augusta National and followed it up with T19 at RBC Heritage. His only missed cuts in the last three months are the PGA Championship and The Open Championship. I’m not sure he makes enough birdies to contend, but his recent results at this event tell a different story. 

Sam Burns (25/1) has produced just one top-10 paycheck since winning in March at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The Louisiana native has won on Bermudagrass in four of his five wins on TOUR. Changing grass may sound mundane, but players who grew up on Bermudagrass simply prefer Bermudagrass. In his only appearance in 2020, he closed 65-65 for T13 and posted all four rounds in the 60s. His return this season tells me all I need to know. Sitting No. 19th in the FEC standings, it’s obvious he doesn’t need the points. Heavy lean.

Denny McCarthy (25/1) is a better putter, statistically, than Burns, but doesn’t have the four wins, or any wins, to match. Knocking on the door with T11 or better payoffs in five of his last nine on TOUR, he posted 60 at the Travelers, and posted 18-under. Before missing the cut at The Open, he signed for more birdies posting 16-under at the John Deere Classic. Bouncing back to Bermuda won’t bother him! Nice 25/1 exacta with these last two.

Course Angles

It’s back to Bermudagrass tee-to-green for the first time since Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte in early May. Making money this week will be a direct result of finding and putting on the Champion Bermuda greens. The winning formula here includes plenty of rounds, if not all, in the 60s. It’s hard to go low two-putting every green. 

Playing 7,131 yards to a Par-70, the classic Sedgefield Country Club has crowned winners young, old, and everything in between. Defending champion Tom Kim, the second youngest winner at 20 years old on TOUR since World War II, will not defend his title this week after injuring his ankle at The Open Championship two weeks ago. The return to wall-to-wall Bermudagrass has produced winning scores on average of 20-under over the last seven years.

The field of 156, if not already in the top 70 in the FedExCup standings, will need to throw caution to the win, make a pile of birdies, and hope that’s good enough. The previous 43 events provided plenty of chances. The 44th and final event is just that.

The bubble entering this final week:

65. Matt NeSmith

66. Vincent Norrman

67. JJ Spaun

68. Ben Griffin

69. Cam Davis

70. Austin Eckroat

71. Ben Taylor

72. Garrick Higgo

73. KH Lee

74. David Lingmerth

75. Davis Thompson

Everyone on the list above is playing this week, plus Shane Lowry (No. 76), Justin Thomas (No. 79), and Adam Scott (No.81). 

Davis Love III won this tournament in his 50s in 2015. 

Tom Kim won this event as a 20-year-old last year. 

Jim Herman picked up his third win on TOUR in 2020. 

Kevin Kisner won a six-man playoff in 2021. 

JT Poston tied the course record in 2019 and didn’t make a bogey. 

Brandt Snedeker opened with 59 here on his way to victory in 2018. 

Arjun Atwal was victorious in 2010 as a sponsor’s exemption.

If it can happen, it will happen on this course.

The winner takes home $1.368 million of the $7.6 million purse, plus 500 extremely important FedExCup points.

Others to Consider:

JT Poston (28/1), the 2019 winner, will look to become the only two-time winner at Sedgefield since 2008. He was inches away from making the 3M Open more interesting than expected last Sunday before finishing T2. His response after the tournament was great. He’s playing to win and doesn’t care about anything else standing in the middle of the fairway late on Sunday. 

Alex Smalley (35/1) is no stranger to this part of the world. The Duke alum has not missed in his two previous starts the last two seasons and has cashed twice in the top 30. 

Eric Cole (66/1) or Ben Griffin (70/1) could fit in this spot. Both are excellent putters, but Griffin was solo fourth last year closing 64-64. Nobody has more rounds in the 60s than Cole this season as he can really roll the rock as well. 

Stats Matter

SG: Putting

RankPlayer
3Denny McCarthy
5Sam Ryder
T8Sam Burns
T8Harry Hall
10Andrew Putnam
12Justin Suh
13Justin Lower
16Eric Cole
17Harris English
20Brendon Todd

Averaging 6,000 square feet, the Champion Bermuda putting surfaces are nothing short of elite. Running 12 feet or better, those who can match line and speed will separate themselves from the field. The contours of the design mixed with the grain of Bermuda always provide a challenge. Since 2017 every winner has registered T19 or better in this category, including eighth or better in the last three editions. This is not the week to have a cold putter!

Rounds in the 60s

RankPlayer
1Eric Cole
3Stephan Jaeger
5Ben Griffin
T7Will Gordon
T7Garrick Higgo
T7Andrew Putnam
T7Aaron Rai
T7Patrick Rodgers, Adam Schenk
T14Dylan Wu, Brendon Todd, KH Lee
T14Beau Hossler, Ben Martin

Over the last seven years, the average winning score is just over 20-under par. The highest winning total since the move to Sedgefield in 2008 has been higher than 16-under exactly twice in 15 editions. Brandt Snedeker posted 59 here in 2018. The last seven editions have produced a winning score of 21-under or 22-under five times. The shootout to end the season requires double digits under par. Going low is not an option this week, especially with two easy Par-5 holes.

Sleepers

If Webb Simpson (80/1) is going to factor, this is the week. I’m not headlining my card with him, but his record here (2011 win; 9 top 10s) from 12 weekends in 14 starts is ridiculous. Sprinkles on the top 10, top 20 and top 40 markets, just in case.

Brandt Snedeker (175/1) flashed just enough signs of life last week at TPC Twin Cities for me to take a nibble this week. Playing himself back into tournament shape after sternum surgery, finishing his season on a familiar track should have his full attention.

Chesson Hadley (100/1) is from Raleigh and has produced his best two paychecks (T8, T15) in his last two visits. Picking up his first top-10 payday of the season two weeks ago at Barracuda, I’m not worried about his current form. Cashing T27 last week at the 3M Open will not hurt his confidence.

Good luck!

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