After a windy week on the West Coast, the TOUR heads back East to finish up the regular season.
The final week of the regular season takes place this week in Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s the Wyndham Championship, played at Sedgefield Country Club. The Top 125 in the season-long FedExCup standings will make the Playoffs at week’s end.
As the PGA TOUR takes back over, the cutline will return to top 65 and ties like we see most weeks. That mean a relatively low percentage will play all four rounds this week as the field is full at 156 golfers.
Sedgefield Country Club took over hosting duties in 2008 and it’s barely changed at all since then.
The most obvious change over the years was switching from bentgrass to bermudagrass greens back in 2012. As for the length, they’ve added less than 15 yarrds over the years as it plays at 7,131 yards at a par of 70. A new tee box was added on No. 14 this year which can add up to 25 yards to that hole.
This Donald Ross design features its fair share of blind tee shots. The layout of the holes make it so driver is not really required all that much. Henrik Stenson was the ultimate case study in that regard as he won the 2017 edition without hitting a single driver.
Without the need for power, it becomes all about iron and wedge play this week while catching fire with the short game. Accuracy is a great tool to have on your belt this week but approach play is king.
Despite this course being a par 70, the scores get real low here. The winners have reached -21 or better in each of the last four editions played. With a stronger-than-usual field assembled this week, we should expect that 20+ mark yet again.
Going back to the topic of bermudagrass and accuracy, the bermuda rough is quite tough to gauge here. It becomes a lot of guesswork when it comes to dealing with flyers. The field averages right around 83 percent GIR from the fairways but just 53.5% when missing the short grass off the tee. This is why the course can stand the test of time and maintain it’s yardage along the way. There is no need to add extra yardage if golfers are getting punished for errant tee shots.
Sifting through some past quotes, let’s try to break down the course to see how it will play.
Ryan Moore: “It’s a position golf course. It’s not one you can just send driver down there all day. So guys that maybe have a 30, 40 yard advantage, you know, on me off the tee, you don’t have that advantage around this golf course except around maybe a couple holes. I can reach both par 5s, so both of those are scorable for me. And if you’re in the fairway, you can hit wedges at a lot of these pins.”
Jordan Spieth: “it doesn’t favor any player. I think you have to play to your spots, you have to hit quality golf shots, you’ve got to work it both ways on approach shots into greens just to hold it on the correct surfaces where they stick the pins. And then my favorite part about it is how fast and slopey these bermuda greens are.”
Ryan Armour: “This golf course is always about hitting fairways. I think if you hit fairways, you can get to some of the hole locations. But out of the rough, especially ball’s starting to knuckle a little bit, so you’re catching some flyers. “
Keith Mitchell: “I’ve hit a lot of 2-irons off these tees to just try to get it in the fairway. The rough’s so gnarly out here that the fairway’s a priority. So we’ve been hitting a lot of little stinger 2-irons just trying to just get the ball in front of us. If you have a little extra club into the greens, it’s fine because you can definitely attack from the fairway but not from the rough.”
Brandt Snedeker: “You definitely have to have a short iron game around here is really, really important. You got to think your way around here extremely well. You got to roll some putts in.”
Overview: The players all talk about POSITION off the tee and comfort on BERMUDA.
Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:
Harbour Town (RBC Heritage)
Quail Hollow (Wells Fargo)
Colonial (Charles Schwab)
TPC Scottsdale (Phoenix)
TPC Summerlin (Shriners)
The theme this week is mostly less-than-driver courses and bermuda greens. That doesn’t apply to all these courses but it’s the most reoccuring elements.
Thursday: Patches of rain with a high of 85 degrees. Calm winds around 4-to-9 MPH.
Friday: Rain possible. High of 86 degrees. Calm winds around 4-to-9 MPH.
Golfers will get a big relief from the wind compared to last week at TPC Harding Park but they will still need to dodge the rain.
Golfers to Watch
He went to Wake Forest. His brother lives in the area. This event was the site of his first PGA TOUR win. It means a lot to him. So much so that he named his daughter after the tournament (Wyndham Rose Simpson). He’s continued to feast on Sedgefield CC as the career money leader here ($3.2 million in tournament earnings). Overall, he is 10-for-11 at the Wyndham with four podium finishes and three other top-10 finishes. He may or may not be without his bagman, Paul Tesori, still. Tesori is dealing with back issues.
I’m surprised he’s still playing this event after moving up to 92nd in the FedExCup race. Of course, he’ll need to keep his foot on the gas if he wants to make it to East Lake. He’s finished T38 and T6 in two tries at this event (2014 and 2015).
This course fits the mold of the courses that he won on earlier this season. However, he is just 1-for-5 at the Wyndham with a T26 in 2013 so perhaps the course doesn’t suit his eye as much as he’d like.
Sneds is the opposite as Todd as he basically has nothing but good vibes at Sedgefield. Snedeker is 10-for-12 at the Wyndham with two wins a four other top 10s. One of those wins came at Forest Oaks CC in 2007.
He couldn’t tame his driver last week as he hit it all over the ball park at TPC Harding Park but also gained 4.1 strokes on approach and 7.1 strokes putting. Could be a nice confidence-booster to rejuveate his game down the home stretch.
We haven’t seen him for a few weeks but he’s 5-for-6 since the restart with four straight finishes of T31 or better. He finished T16 at the 2013 edition of the Wyndham and also has a lot of good results over at Sea Island, another venue that doesn’t require distance and features bermudagrass greens.
He was linked with Jason Day for a couple of years as they both hit their peak around the same time. They were winning every other event it seemed. Both fell into major slumps over the last few seasons but J Day has climbed out of his in the last month. It’s really stretching but could that provide a spark for Spieth? Okay, yeah, that’s really a stretch, but Spieth does like the layout at Sedgefield. He finished runner-up in his 2013 debut and returned last year to open with 64-67 before swallowing a third-round 77. The results remain inconsistent but he actually has just two missed cuts in his last 19 stroke-play events. Okay, five of those were no-cut events but still the weekly results are a little more consistent than the round-to-round fluctuations would have you believe. Long story short, we may see a Spieth surge soon.
He skipped last week due to a scheduling conflict but he’s back in action this week which suggests it actually was just a scheduling conflict. Moore just saw his old caddie winning by the side of Morikawa so maybe, just maybe, he’ll be out to prove that he still has some gas left in the tank himself. Moore is 9-for-11 at the Wyndham with a 2009 victory as the obvious highlight to go along with three other top 10s.
Ranking the Field
1. Webb Simpson
2. Patrick Reed
3. Harris English
4. Billy Horschel
5. Tommy Fleetwood
6. Paul Casey
7. Brooks Koepka
8. Sungjae Im
9. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
10. Kevin Kisner
11. Corey Conners
12. Justin Rose
13. Jordan Spieth
14. Tom Lewis
15. Ryan Moore
16. Matthias Schwab
17. Brendon Todd
18. Alex Noren
19. Shane Lowry
20. Brandt Snedeker