10 Players to Watch: Wyndham Championship

1. Brandt Snedeker, United States — After battling injuries that led to inconsistency over the last few years, Snedeker (pictured) has been back on his game this season, with a victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am among his eight finishes in the top 10 and 12 in the top 25. Finishing solo eighth in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and a tie for 12th in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits helped put him 13th in the FedEx Cup point standings heading to the playoffs next week. Snedeker claimed the first of his six PGA Tour victories in the 2007 Wyndham Championship, and he has three other finishes in the top 10 at Sedgefield Country Club, including ties for fifth in 2009 and last year.

2. Bill Haas, United States — Playing in his home state of North Carolina in a tournament in which he has had success, Haas will be looking to improve on his 23rd-place standing in the FedEx Cup rankings. He captured the Humana Challenge early in the year and has added three more finishes in the top 10 and nine in the top 25, most recently a tie for fourth in the Quicken Loans National earlier this month. Haas is making his 11th start in the Wyndham and last year posted his best finish, a tie for second, one stroke behind Camilo Villegas of Colombia, when he closed with a 64, and he has shot in the 60s in 12 of his last 13 rounds at Sedgefield Country Club.

3. Adam Scott, Australia — Scott seemed to have turned around a disappointing season with a tie for fourth in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and a tie for 10th in the Open Championship at St. Andrews. But then he shot 76-75 — 151 to miss the cut by five strokes in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He will be trying to put himself in better shape for the FedEx Cup playoffs that begin next week with the Barclays in his first appearance in the Wyndham since 2009, as he is only 91st in the point standings. However, Scott has not played well at Sedgefield Country Club, tying for 64th in 2005 and shooting 66-76 — 142 to miss the cut by three strokes in six years ago.

4. Brooks Koepka, United States — After making his mark in Europe with four victories on the Challenge Tour and another in the 2014 Turkish Airlines Open on the Euro Tour, the 25-year-old from Florida has arrived this year on the PGA Tour. He won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February and has six other finishes in the top 10, including a tie for fifth in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. That’s one of his six consecutive top-20 results, including a tie for sixth in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Koepka stands a very solid 16th in the FedEx Cup rankings and can climb into the top 10 with a strong performance in his second appearance in the Wyndham. He tied for 38th last year, closing with a 64.

5. Branden Grace, South Africa — Coming off a solo third-place finish in the PGA Championship, in which he was in the hunt virtually to the very end, Grace will tee it up this week in the Wyndham Championship for the first time. The South African is playing on special temporary membership on the PGA Tour and is a cinch to wrap up his playing privileges on the U.S. circuit for next season. Grace must win the Wyndham to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs that start next week, but he is no stranger to the winner’s circle, having won six times on the European Tour. He also tied for fourth in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and tied for 20th in the Open Championship at St. Andrews this year.

6. Webb Simpson, United States — It’s been a so-so season for Simpson as he transitions from his belly putter to a conventional model ahead of the ban on anchoring at the start of next year. He’s had his moments, with four finishes in the top 10, including a tie for second in the Wells Fargo Championship, and is in decent shape in the FedEx Cup standings at 49th heading to the playoffs next week. If there’s a tournament that might really get Simpson going it’s the Wyndham Championship, where he claimed the first of his four PGA Tour victories by three strokes over George McNeil in 2011. He has finished in the top 25 in his last five appearances at Sedgefield, including a tie for fifth last year, when he opened with a 64.

7. Billy Horschel, United States — The reigning FedEx Cup champion seemed to be warming up just in time for the PGA Tour playoffs when he put himself in the chase in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits before stumbling to a closing 75 to tie for 25th. He’s 46th in the FedEx Cup standings, but that’s much better than his position last year before he tied for second in the Deutsche Bank Championship, then won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship to take all the marbles. Horschel, who hasn’t been that far off with nine finishes in the top 25 this season, is making his fourth start in the Wyndham, but his best result at Sedgefield was a tie for 30th in 2011.

8. Martin Kaymer, Germany — The big German put up a solid “defense” of his title in the PGA Championship when he tied for 12th at Whistling Straits. He beat Bubba Watson in a playoff when the tournament was played there in 2010. He also tied for 12th in the Open Championship at St. Andrews in what has been a disappointing season after he won the Players Championship, the U.S. Open and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf last year. Kaymer can salvage his season in the FedEx Cup playoffs, if he gets there. He is 149th in the standings and must play well enough in the Wyndham to reach the top 125 and qualify for the opener, the Barclays, next week. Kaymer tied for 20th in his only start at Sedgefield in 2013, closing with a 63.

9. Tiger Woods, United States – Apparently finally getting  the idea that he must play more to bring improvements in his new swing from the range to the course, Woods will play in the Wyndham for the first time. This probably will be his last tournament this season on the PGA Tour because he must finish at least second to earn enough points to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which start next week. Woods has missed the cut four times in 10 PGA Tour events this season, including the last three majors, after he tied for 17th in the Masters. If Woods fails to make the playoffs, he could go overseas to play. The next time he could play on the PGA Tour would be the Frys.com Open, opener of the 2105-16 season, in October.

10. Patrick Rodgers, United States — Playing on special temporary membership, the rookie from Stanford who started the year with no status on any tour has virtually wrapped up his PGA Tour card for next season. However, this probably will be Rodgers’ last tournament of the 2014-15 season because he must win the Wyndham Championship to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which start next week at the Barclays. He captured the Colombia Championship on the Web.com Tour in February and will be playing in his 17th event on the big tour this season, including a tie for second in the Wells Fargo Championship and solo third in the Barracuda Championship a few weeks ago. Rodgers played in the Wyndham last year, withdrawing in round two because of illness after starting with a 73.

–Courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre

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