PGA Wyndham Championship Preview

Brandt Snedeker - Image courtesy pga.com Brandt Snedeker - Image courtesy pga.com

PGA Tour - Wyndham Championship - 15-18 August 2013
Sedgefield Country Club, Ross Course, Greensboro, North Carolina

INTRO

There has been a Greensboro event on tour since 1938 when the first winner was Sam Snead; he won it for an 8th time in 1965!

Sedgefield has been used intermittently for this tournament, having been the original host course, and it has been the venue since 2008 when it took over from Forest Oaks. The recent winners here have been: Sergio Garcia (2012), Webb Simpson (2011), Arjun Atwal (2010), Ryan Moore (2009) & Carl Pettersson (2008).

COURSE

Sedgefield is a 7100yd par 70 with bermuda fairways and greens and is one of the least challenging courses on tour, ranking 35th in difficulty among 49 courses used by the PGA Tour during 2012.

In view of the undulating greens, drive placement for optimum approach angle, plus bermuda green putting, are the two critical stats for punters to ponder this week.

Note: the greens were changed from bent grass to, faster, Champion Bermuda for the 2012 event so beware of attaching too much significance to earlier player putting performance here.

AN ABBREVIATED 2013 PGA TOUR SEASON

This is the final event before the Fedex Cup playoffs and attention will thus focus heavily on players trying to make the elite list of the top 125. Note, this list is no longer determined by money but by Fedex Cup points.

These top 125 players will not only retain their tour cards (playing privileges) for next season - which under the newly restructured schedule commences on 10 October with the Frys.com Open - but they also earn he right to contine playing this season as the initial list of 125 whittles gradually down to 30 or so for the Tour Championship at East Lake on 19-22 September.

EARLY MARKET

There are five more or less equal favourites here with Brandt Snedeker, Sergio Garcia, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson & Zach Johnson at or below the 21.00 mark.

Then come the only other players currently shorter than 40/1: Martin Kaymer at 29.00 and hugely promising youngsters Hideki Matsuyama & Jordan Spieth at 34.00

It's a modest field with an average OWGR (Official World Golf Ranking) of just 57 points and no Tiger, Rory, Phil, Justin, Scotty, Kuch, Dufner, GMac or Stenson from the world's top10. In fact, only Snedeker (7th) among those in this field ranks in the world's top15.

In addition, all the favourites except Spieth, who missed the cut, are backing up after the rigours of four rounds in a Major last week where none of them, Zach Johnson aside, performed especially well.

SELECTIONS

I'm ignoring the favourites here as they have their places in the Fedex Cup top125 secured and played a Major last week. Instead, I'm focusing on each way longer shots who are bermuda green putters who drive it straight.

My top selection is Roberto Castro at 51.00 with the bookies and 65.00 on Betfair as I type. He ranks 14th on tour in driving accuracy and his recent starts have included a 2nd at the AT&T, 6th in the Canadian open and12th last week in the PGA.

Roberto is only now adjusting to tour life and his 2nd at AT&T in late June was his first top10 of the year. Though he's never won on either the PGA or WebCom tours, he has perhaps his best ever prospects of breaking the duck here.

In addition, he's a comfortable 38th in the Fedex Cup standings so is not under the survival pressure that many will be feeling this week!

My 2nd selection is Richard H Lee at 126.00. He's 28th in driving accuracy, 77th in the Fedex Cup standings and was 14th here last year in his first visit.

After a meritorious 4th at QSchool he's unobtrusively put together a satisfying PGA season with only one missed cut since March and seven top25's (from 21 starts) including two top10's. He's only been playing regularly since 2011 and is still learning and I expect his gradual rise to continue in the months and years ahead.

My third selection is Justin Hicks at 201.00 with the bookies (and thus a juicy 51.00 the place) and 17.00 for top10. Justin hits 70% of fairways and ranks 6th in driving accuracy among all players.

He is a WebCom graduate who is in his second stint on the PGA Tour, having lost his card at the end of a horrendous 2011 where he finished the season with 12 consecutive missed cut from June onwards!

To his credit he came out swinging on the WebCom in 2012, had three top10's in his first five starts and comfortably won his way back to the big stage. He's 100th in the Fedex Cup standings and would like a decent finish here to build confidence for his first extended PGA Tour season.

ON THE BUBBLE

Every player from 83rd to 125th in the Fedex Cup standings is playing this week and that helps explain why so few have played their way into the 125 at past Wyndhams - just one in 2012 and three in 2011.

I'm not a great believer in the predictability of players pulling out a big performance to make playoffs, but some punters may be interested in some quality guys who are within a good performance of the 125.

129th - Padraig Harrington
132nd - Chad Campbell
135th - Woody Austin
145th - David Toms
151st - Ryo Ishikawa

Cheers and good luck with your golf punting!

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