This is it, the last regular season event on the PGA Tour this year, the Wyndham Championship. Like it has done in recent years, the Wyndham Championship offers up the last chance for players to get a win, before the field size is cut to 125. What I mean by this is that if a player is not inside the 125 of the FedEx Cup rankings by the end of this week your season is over. It sounds very dramatic and it is, this year is the first year that they have introduced the rule, that if you are not in the top 1forum the FedEx Rankings and the PGA Tour money list, you will not have a PGA Tour card guaranteed next year, unless otherwise exempt. What will happen this year is 75 players between 126-201 on the money list will go into a three tournament series with the top 75 from the Web.com Tour, in a battle to gain PGA Tour playing privileges for the 2014 season, which begins this October. From these finals a total of 50 Tour cards will be issued out to the best of the bunch, and it will no doubt be an exciting twist to the end of season proceedings.
This week though we still have the Wyndham Championship to focus on, an event that has been on Tour since 1938, but has only recently (2003) been changed from a mid season event in April/May to the last regular event on the Tour calendar. Another change that is important to us, is that it’s only been permanently based at it’s current home, Sedgefield CC, since 2008, something to bear in mind when looking back at course/tournament form. With five years to look back upon, it’s worth nothing that three times out of the five occasions, the winner was picking up there first PGA Tour win. They also won in very different circumstances, Ryan Moore won back in 2009, as a player that very much had something to prove, after emerging from college year previous as a huge talent. Getting his win here would of lifted huge pressure from the players shoulders. Roll on a year and your champion was India’s Arjun Atwal who received a two year exemption on Tour thanks to that win, a player who may not of been involved in 2011 if he didn’t grab a win. The last of the new winners was Webb Simpson who won in 2011 on his way to finishing runner up in the PGA Money List. Apart from the players mentioned both Sergio Garcia (2012) and Carl Petterson (2008) have also won it either side of these three winners, so on a whole the quality of winner is fairly high.
The Course: Sedgefield CC, Par 70, 7130 yards. Sedgefield Country Club is a Donald Ross design course, situated in Greensboro, North Carolina. If you read my US PGA preview last week you would of noticed this course come up, and players that I went with last week were similar in strengths as to those that ill be going with again, accurate hitters. It’s been noted this course is fairly easy when playing from the fairway hence the emphasis ill be putting on Driving Accuracy this week. With it being a par 70, par 4 performance is another that will be interesting to look at this week. The winning scores range between -16 and -21 since 2008, so a players will need to make plenty of birdies to do well this week.
This is the last event of the regular season, so value is going to slowly decrease over the coming weeks, so it would be nice to take advantage of the prices this week and hopefully add an outside winner to the collection this year. Here are my four picks for the Wyndham Championship.
Zach Johnson 14/1 (General) 3pts win: Zach Johnson has only played here once at the Wyndham Championship, and that was back in 2008, so it’s current form we’re looking at here this week. Back in 2008 he did finish in a tie for 26th, which considering his run of form going into that week, was really impressive. He had missed the cut at the US PGA Championship the week before that year and apart from his T16 the week before at the WGC-Bridgestone, he came 51st at the Open Championship and T69 at the John Deere Classic, an event he usually loves. Compare that to his form going into this week, and you have to fancy his chances this time around, his current form of, T2 (John Deere), T6, T4 and T8, starting at the Open Championship up until his 8th last week at the US PGA, so you would think he can carry that on here at a Donald Ross design course. He has performed well at courses he loves, 3rd at Colonial for the Crowne Plaza and T2 at the John Deere Classic, so he’s capitalizing on his best opportunities and I think it’s a matter of time before he wins again. Love him or hate him, Zach Johnson is a prolific winner, winning nine times on Tour, his first win dating back to 2004 and there’s no reason why he can’t add to that here. He’s in fine form, and he’ll be keen to win this week, as it is the last opportunity to win before entering the FedEx Cup play off events and subsequently probably his best chance of a win in 2013. He is third favourite in the betting, but for good reason and let’s hope his form carries over to Sedgefield this week!
Paul Casey 50/1 (General) 1.5pts e/w: We are finally starting to see signs of the Paul Casey of old, the Paul Casey that won four times on the European Tour between 2007-2011, so it’s nice to see that he is starting to find form again. Most recently he has won this year, his first in two years at the Irish Open back in June and it certainly looks as though it’s given Casey some of the confidence he had back when he was winning regularly. He has one PGA Tour victory to his name, back in 2009 when he won the Shell Houston Open so he’s proved he can win the U.S and with his game looking in better shape in recent weeks, he was too tempting at 50/1. He has finished T45 at the U.S Open, T27 at the WGC-Bridgestone and T33 at the US PGA in his last three outings and although none of those results particularly stand out, he has played well, with the odd mistake costing him his chance to challenge. His game is certainly on the up and if it continues his price will go in the other direction, considering he is a proven winner at his best. He has played the Wyndham Championship in the past, coming 75th last year, T47 in 2011 and T26 in 2008, so again none of the results jump off the page, but he may just improve on those this week. He is arguably in better form this week than he was in previous attempts, 2008 being the exception, so hopefully he can improve on that T26 finish in 08′ and try a win for second time on the PGA Tour.
Mark Wilson 80/1 (General) 1pt e/w: There’s a lot to like about Mark Wilson at the Wyndham Championship this week, in terms of stats, course form and current form, therefore ticking all the boxes.He ranks 4th for Driving Accuracy & 10th for Par 4 Performance, two things I think will be key here this week. He finished T9 in this event on his first try back in 2008, followed by a T44 in 2009 and a T41 in 2010, so although his best attempt came five years ago, he can certainly rekindle that sort of form this week. In his last event on the PGA Tour, the Reno-Tahoe Open, he finished T23, one week after finishing T6 at the RBC Canadian Open, so he is in good shape coming into the event this time around and he’ll want that to continue. He was in similar form back in 2008, and out of form on his visits thereafter, so a lot can be said about how a player approaches a tournament, and hopefully with the good finishes in recent weeks under his belt, he can go well again. Wilson is no stranger to winning, with three wins to his name since early 2011 and he will be ready to win again ahead of, what he hopes to be a successful FedEx Cup run. He’s a fair price for a player who’s in form, and proved he can get over the line, and returning to somewhere he’s played well before all signs look good for another good performance from Mark Wilson this week. One more point that’s worth noting is that Wilson graduated from the University of North Carolina, where we are this week and something like that can always help a players mindset, which hopefully once again adds to his confidence when trying to get the win here.
Chez Reavie 100/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Reavie is a player that I’ve been looking to bet on in recent times, and this week is the time I’ve finally decided to pull the trigger, at a price that I think is more than fair for the one-time PGA Tour winner. As I’ve just mentioned he has won just the once and that may be a concern for some people, when you consider the win came 5 years ago, and he turned professional in 2004 but Reavie has shown some positive signs recently and I think he’s got a good chance of picking up his second win here this week. He has had two stand out performances this year, firstly at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, where he came T11 and more recently his T15 at the John Deere Classic. These two tournaments are where Zach Johnson has played well, and with him being a pick this week Reavie was highlighted once again. Both players have a similar game, with accuracy being both their main strengths, and hopefully they can both go well here at Sedgefield. Reavie currently sits 8th in Driving Accuracy and 24th in Greens in Regulation, couple those with his 9th position in par-4 performance and he looks good to hit it around this par 70 course. He is proved he is suited to this track, with his three previous showings in the event. In 2012 he came T58, his worst performance of the three attempts by a long distance and this is what is encouraging. On his other two tries, Reavie has come T9 in 2011 and T10 in 2009 which shows he can go well here and I’m really hoping he can build on those two efforts and get himself at least in the top-5 this week.
Profit/Loss for 2013: +66.65
After getting so close to a major win last week, when Jim Furyk came 2nd to eventual US PGA winner Jason Dufner, I’m really looking forward to the finishing leg of the 2013 season. We now have this last regular season event, before we get to enjoy the five FedEx Cup play off events, as well as the more prestigious part of the European Tour calender, including the Alfred Dunhill Links, the BMW Championship in China, the Turkish Airlines Open and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, all big events to look forward to. That winner is still proving elusive and although we are regualarly finding ourselves in contention we are ultimately falling short, and although that is disappointing, I feel it will come and it’s nice to at least be in contention come Sundays. Follow me on Twitter @TomJacobs8