PGA Tour Picks: Wyndham Championship

The PGA Tour wraps up its 2020-21 regular season, which basically has been a super season because of the Coronavirus pandemic, this week with the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Players are jockeying for position in the FedEx Cup standings, especially those who are on the bubble, with only the top 125 making it into The Northern Trust next week that is the first of three playoff events that culminate with the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Bo Hoag is the bubble boy at No. 125 in the standings, with such notables as Rickie Fowler (No. 130), Justin Rose (No. 138), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 136), Scott Piercy (No. 126), Francesco Molinari (No. 140) and Olympic Silver Medalist Rory Sabbatini (No. 141) on the outside looking in.

“We are ecstatic to welcome Rickie back to the Wyndham Championship and Sedgefield Country Club,” Wyndham tournament director Mark Brazil said of the popular Fowler. “Rickie is a top-three draw in all of golf, and I know the avid golf fans and kids will be happy he’s playing here. This is big news for the Wyndham Championship that enhances our already strong field.”

Last season, only tournament winner Jim Herman, Zach Johnson and Shane Lowry moved into the top 125 with their play in the Wyndham Champion, which was about par for the course, as a total of 18 players have done that in the last six years.

The largest number of players to go from the outside to into the playoffs in the final tournament of the regular season has been five, which was done in 2008, 2009 and 2015.

The Wyndham Championship, which started out as the Greater Greensboro Open, was first played in 1938, when the great Sam Snead claimed the first of his record eight titles in the tournament—the last coming in 1965.

Other former winners of the tournament include such greats as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Lloyd Mangrum, Doug Ford, Bob Goalby, Dow Finsterwald, Mike Souchak, Billy Casper, Doug Sanders, Julius Boros, George Archer, Gene Littler, Gary Player, Bob Charles, Tom Weiskopf, Seve Ballesteros, Chi Rodriguez, Craig Stadler, Larry Nelson, Lanny Wadkins, Scott Simpson, Sandy Lyle, Davis Love III, Mark O’Meara and Hal Sutton.

More recently, Wyndham champions include Rocco Mediate, K.J. Choi, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Moore, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Camilo Villegas, and Si Woo Kim.

Simpson is among the favorites this year along with Hideki Matsuyama (pictured), Louis Oosthuizen, Sungjae Im, Will Zalatoris, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Kokrak.

Patrick Reed, who won the 2013 Wyndham in a playoff over Jordan Spieth, withdrew on Tuesday without giving an explanation.

BEST BETS

1. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan – The Masters champion is coming off a tie for a tie for third in the Olympic Games and a tie for second in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, closing with a 63. That was his second runner-up finish this season, giving him 10 results in the top-25. Matsuyama has three top-15 finishes in six Wyndham starts, including a tie for third in 2016.                                                

2. Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa – The seventh-ranked Oosthuizen has never won in the U.S., but has four runner-up finishes and two thirds among eight results in the top-25 on the PGA Tour this season. He was in the hunt last week in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude before closing with a 74 to slide into a tie for 17th. The 2010 Open champion makes his debut in Wyndham Championship.

3. Webb Simpson, United States – A North Carolina native, Simpson claimed the first of his seven PGA titles in the 2011 Wyndham, and has finished second twice and third twice in the last four seasons among eight results in the top-25. He tied for 19th in the Open Championship and tied for 15th in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, and has five top-10 finishes this season.

4. Brian Harman, United States – The left-hander tied for 19th in the 149th Open Championship last month and has 12 finishes in the top-25 this season, including a tie for third in the Players Championship and a tie for fifth in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Harman has played in the Wyndham eight times, tying for third in 2013 and tying for sixth two years ago.

5. Sungjae Im, South Korea – After a slow start, Im rallied with 63-68 to tie for 22nd in the Olympic Games two weeks ago and might be ready to regain his form from earlier this season, when he tied for second in 2020 Masters among his 12 results in the top-25 on the PGA Tour. He has played in the Wyndham only twice, but tied for sixth in 2019 and tied for ninth last season.

6. Jason Kokrak, United States – With victories in the CJ Cup and the Charles Schwab Challenge this season, Kokrak is 11th in the FedEx Cup standings, and has 10 top-25 finishes. Kokrak is making his ninth appearance in the Wyndham Championship, with his best result a tie for sixth in 2019, when he played the middle rounds in 64-64, and he tied for 15th last year.

7. Brandt Snedeker, United States – Sneds has claimed two of his nine PGA Tour victories in the Wyndham, including his first in 2007 and his last in 2018 among six top-10 finishes in the event. He tied for 11th in the 3M Open and tied for 19th in the Open Championship last month, and his best this year were a tie for fourth in New Orleans and a tie for sixth in the Texas Open.

8. Tommy Fleetwood, England – After starting the year with a tie for seventh and a tie for 17th on the European Tour, Fleetwood has only two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour and needs a big finish this week to make the FedEx Cup playoffs. He was in the chase in his only appearance in the Wyndham last year with three rounds in the 60s, but closed with a 74 and slid to tie for 59th.

9. Will Zalatoris, United States – Despite a terrific season, Zalatoris can’t make the playoffs unless he wins the Wyndham Championship because he doesn’t yet have full PGA Tour status. He won the 2020 TPC Colorado Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour and has recorded eight top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season, including solo second in the 2021 Masters.  

10. Rickie Fowler, United States – Must climb five spots in the FedEx Cup standings this week to get into the top 125 and make the playoffs. Fowler’s best result this season was a tie for sixth in the PGA Championship and he tied for 11th his next time out in the Memorial Tournament. In his only appearance in the Wyndham, he posted four rounds in the 60s to tie for 22nd in 2016.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Seamus Power, Ireland; Russell Henley, United States; Kevin Kisner, United States; Si Woo Kim, South Korea; Adam Scott, Australia; Matthew Wolff, United States; Justin Rose, England; Kevin Na, United States; Gary Woodland, United States.

SLEEPERS

1. Robert MacIntyre, Scotland – Two-time pro winner finished T-8 in Open Championship, T-9 in WGC-Match Play, T-12 in Masters, T-15 in WGC-Fed Ex St. Jude Championship this year.

2. Henrik Norlander, Sweden – Won twice on Korn Ferry Tour and this season on the PGA Tour, Norlander has T-2 in the Farmers, T-5 in the Barbasol and T-4 in the Sanderson Farms.

3. Tom Hoge, United States – Twice a winner as a pro, Hoge tied for third at Mayakoba and tied for 22nd in the Players among six top-25s this year. T-20 in 2018 Wyndham, T-27 last year.

4. Mito Pereira, Chile – Claimed seven pro victories on lower tours and recently he has finished T-4 in the Olympic Games, T-5 in the Barbasol Championship and T-6 in the 3M Open.

5. Lanto Griffin, United States – Two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner has seven finishes top-25 on the PGA Tour this season. Had four rounds in the 60s, but was T-57 in 2018 Wyndham.

For first round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

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