10 Players to Watch: Wyndham Championship

  1. Jimmy Walker, United States — Playing for the first time since claiming his initial major title by holding off top-ranked Jason Day of Australia in the PGA Championship, Walker is looking for more after winning in bunches the last three seasons. After claiming his first PGA Tour victory in the Frys.com Open, he won twice more in the 2013-14 season, and last year he won twice in the first three months. A five-time winner since breaking through for his first victory at the age of 35, Walker is playing in the Wyndham for the sixth time, and even though he has missed the cut three times, he came close to winning in 2012. He opened with 66-62, and a 71 in round three proved to be costly, as he closed with a 67 to tie for fourth – four strokes behind champion Sergio Garcia.
  1. Webb Simpson, United States — The North Carolina native claimed the first of his four PGA Tour victories in the 2011 Wyndham, posting four scores of 67 or better to win by three strokes over George McNeil. Simpson, who played at Wake Forest on an Arnold Palmer Scholarship, missed the cut the first time he played at Sedgefield in 2009, but has finished outside the top 10 only twice in his last six appearances, also tying for eighth in 2010, tying for fifth in 2014 and tying for sixth last year. Not that the 2012 U.S. Open champion played badly in those other two years, tying 11th in 2013 after tying for 22nd the year before. Simpson has only two top-10 finishes this season, but tied for 13th in the PGA Championship, and Sedgefield always brings out his best.
  1. Jim Furyk, United States — Coming off his PGA Tour-record 58 and a tie for fifth in the Travelers Championship two weeks ago, Furyk is making his 10th start in what was the Greater Greensboro Open when he first played it in 1997. He recorded only his third top-10 finish in the event the last time he played it in 2011 in his only start at Sedgefield. He had a chance to win in 1999, when he shot 63 in the second round before eventually finishing second, two strokes behind Jesper Parnevik on Sweden. Furyk, who has 27 PGA Tour victories, got off to a late start this season following left wrist surgery, but his game started to come around when he tied for second behind Dustin Johnson in the U.S. Open at Baltusrol in June.
  1. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan — One of the players who skipped the Men’s Olympic tournament in Rio de Janeiro over fears of the Zika virus, Matsuyama will tee it up for the first time since he tied for fourth in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol. He’s had a big season, claiming his second PGA Tour victory in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, beating Rickie Fowler in a playoff. That was one of Matsuyama’s six finishes in the top 10, including ties for seventh in the Masters and the Players Championship. He will be making his fourth start in the Wyndham, having missed the cut in the last two years after finishing solo 15th in 2013, when he shot 65 in the second round and 66 in the last.
  1. Patrick Reed, United States — Coming back from a tie for 11th with a final-round 64 in the Olympics, Reed is making his third appearance in the Wyndham Championship, and he claimed the first of his four PGA Tour victories at Sedgefield in 2013. He beat Jordan Spieth on the second hole of a playoff after nearly hitting his drive into the Woods, following with a brilliant shot from a poor lie to within seven feet and sinking the birdie putt. He tied for 24th in his title defense, following a 71 with three scores of 67 or better, but skipped the tournament last year. Reed hasn’t won this year, but has been close with nine finishes in the top 10, including seconds in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the Valero Texas Open.
  1. Jon Rahm, Spain — The rookie from Arizona State, the only two-time winner of the Haskins Award as NCAA player of the year, has proven that finishing as low amateur in a tie for 23rd at Baltusrol was no fluke. He has earned enough unofficial FedEx Cup points to lock up his PGA Tour card for next season, making the cut in all six tournaments he has played, including a tie for second in the RBC Canadian Open and a tie for third in the Quicken Loans National. Rahm, coming off a tie for 14th last week in the John Deere Classic, has finished outside the top 25 only twice and his adjusted scoring average of 69.070 would lead the PGA Tour if had enough rounds to qualify for the official ranking.
  1. Ryan Moore, United States — Taking no time off after claiming his fifth PGA Tour victory in the John Deere Classic, Moore will be back at Sedgefield, where he claimed his first title in his 112th start on the circuit in 2009. He closed with a 65 and then beat Kevin Stadler and Jason Bohn with a birdie on the third playoff hole. Moore will be making his ninth start in what was once the Greater Greensboro Open, and he also tied for sixth in 2006 and tied for 10th last year. He moved up to 23rd in the FedEx Cup standings with his victory last week and has finished in the top 10 on six occasions this year, including solo third in the Valspar Championship and a tie for fifth in the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship.
  1. Rickie Fowler, United States — Trying to bounce back from a disappointing tie for 37th in the Men’s Olympic tournament, when he played well only in a third-round 64, Fowler will tee it up in the Wyndham Championship for the first time. He has run hot-and-cold this season, starting strong by finishing fifth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions before losing in a playoff to Matsuyama in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Then he tied for sixth in the Honda Classic, tied for eighth in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and tied for 10th in the Shell Houston Open. However, he has finished in the top 10 only twice in his last 10 tournaments and missed the cut four times, including three in a row at one point. The eighth-ranked player in the world figures to turn it around soon.
  1. Bill Haas, United States — Another North Carolina native who was an All-American at Wake Forest, Haas missed the cut the first four times he played in what is now the Wyndham Championship. However, he has turned that around with four top-10 finishes in his last seven appearances, including a tie for second two years ago. Haas chased Camilo Villegas all the way to the finish that year at Sedgefield, closing with a 64, but came up one stroke short. He also tied for 10th in 2009, tied for seventh in 2012 and tied for sixth last year. Haas is having a solid season with six results in the top 10, including a playoff loss to Charl Schwartzel in the Valspar Championship, in which he closed with a 72 and the South African caught him with a 67.
  1. Brandt Snedeker, United States — Sneds captured the first of his eight PGA Tour victories in what was then the Greater Greensboro Open in 2007 and is making his 10th start in what has become the Wyndham Championship. He shot 63 in the final round at Forest Oaks Country Club nine years ago to turn back Billy Mayfair, Jeff Overton and Tim Petrovic by two strokes. Snedeker also tied for fifth in 2009, tied for eighth the following year and tied for fifth in 2014. He got off to a great start this year, tying for third in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, losing in a playoff to Fabian Gomez of Argentina in the Sony Open in Hawaii and winning the Farmers Insurance Open. But he has only three top-10 finishes since, the latest a tie for fifth RBC Canadian Open last month.

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

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