PGA Tour Picks: 83rd Wyndham Championship

By TOM LaMARRE

The 83rd edition of what is now the Wyndham Championship is the final event of the 2021-22 regular season on the PGA Tour and players are scrambling to improve their position in the FedEx point standings while others are hoping to climb into the 125 to make the playoffs.

Tournament organizers can only hope for an event with drama close to what happened last year at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., in what started out as the Greater Greensboro Open when the great Sam Snead won the first one in 1938.

Kevin Kisner (pictured) shot 66-66 on the weekend and made a four-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to defeat 2016 champion Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Adam Scott of Australia, Brandon Grace of South Africa, Kevin Na and Roger Sloan of Canada in a six-man playoff.

It tied the PGA Tour record for the largest  number of golfers in a playoff.

“I was pretty calm all day,” Kisner said after claiming his fourth PGA Tour victory. “I was actually a little more amped up early on than coming down the stretch. That’s what’s crazy about humans and pressure, you never know when you’re going to be feeling it or how you’re going to react. When I got off to a pretty good start, I was feeling great. Feeling some heat, which is what we love. Then I didn’t really think I had a chance to win with four, five holes to go, so I wasn’t feeling that pressure.

“Then getting into the playoff and all that was going on, you didn’t really have time to think about the pressure, you’re watching golf, trying to figure out what was going on, all these guys had putts to make birdie there on 18. I knew that I had a pretty good shot at making my (winning) putt. It was one of those putts you dream about having, three and a half, four feet, right edge, just get it going, so I wasn’t too consumed with the pressure on my putt. It’s a crazy way to break the no-wins-in-playoff streak, but it was a fun week, awesome week.”

Also in the field this week are Scott, two-time winner Brandt Snedeker, 2019 Wyndham champion J.T. Poston, Shane Lowry of Ireland, Sungjae Im of South Korea, Jason Day of Australia, Russell Henley, Will Zalatoris, Webb Simpson, Corey Conners of Canada, Billy Horschel, Joohyung Kim of South Korea, Brian Harman, Kevin Streelman, Taylor Pendrith of Canada, Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Tyrrell Hatton of England, Denny McCarthy, Scott Stallings, Justin Rose of England, Harold Varner III, Martin Laird of Scotland, Harris English, Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa and Sebastian Munoz of Colombia.

All of them are jockeying for position heading into the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs next week, the FedEx St. Jude Championship week at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn.

Following are the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club in Wilmington, Del., and the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, where this year’s champion will be crowned.

Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship last year to claim the title and hopes to repeat.

Other former Wyndham champions in addition to Snead include Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Gary Player of South Africa, Seve Ballesteros of Spain, Billy Casper, Raymond Floyd, Gene Littler, Sandy Lyle of Scotland, Tom Weiskopf, Julius Boros, Chi Rodriguez, Doug Sanders, Lloyd Mangrum, Bob Charles of New Zealand, Al Geiberger, Doug Ford, Bob Goalby, Dow Finsterwald, Mark O’Meara, George Archer, Craig Stadler, Lanny Wadkins, Larry Nelson, Davis Love III, Hal Sutton, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Webb Simpson, K.J. Choi of South Korea, Steve Elkington of Australia, Mike Souchak, Ralph Guldahl, Shigeki Maruyama of Japan and Brandt Snedeker.

Snead won the tournament an astounding eight times, a PGA Tour record Tiger Woods equaled with eight victories in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  

BEST BETS

1. Shane Lowry, Ireland – The 2019 Open Champion has been knocking on the door with three top-three finishes this season on the PGA Tour, including second in the RBC Heritage and a tie for third in the Masters. Lowry, a five-time winner as a pro, is making his appearance start in the Wyndham Championship and he tied for seventh in 2017 in addition to a tie for 23rd in 2020.

2. Will Zalatoris, United States – The 2020-21 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, who won on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020, still is winless on the big tour but he has eight top-10 finishes this season, including second in the PGA Championship and a tie for second in the U.S. Open. Zalatoris tied for 29th in the Wyndham Championship last season with four scores in the 60s.

3. Kevin Kisner, United States – Kiz claimed his fourth PGA Tour victory last year in the Wyndham when he won a six-man playoff with a birdie on the second extra hole, and has four top-10 results in the tournament, including a tie for third in 2020. This season, he has five top-10 results, including second in the WGC-Dell Match Play and fourth in the Players Championship.

4. Webb Simpson, United States – The 2012 U.S. Open champion claimed one of his seven PGA Tour victories in the 2011 Wyndham, and has finished in the top 10 nine times in 13 starts in the tournament, including the last five in a row—with two seconds and two thirds. Among his best results this year were a tie for eighth in the RSM Classic and a tie for 20th in the PGA.

5. Sungjae Im, South Korea – In addition to claiming his second PGA Tour victory in the Shriners Children’s Open earlier this season, Im has six other results in the top 10, including a tie for second two weeks ago in the 3M Open and a tie for eighth in the Masters. In three starts in the Wyndham, he tied sixth in 2019, tied for ninth in 2020 and tied for 24th last season.

6. Corey Conners, Canada – Among Conners’ 10 finishes in the top 10 this season were a tie for sixth in the Masters, third in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and sixth at home in the RBC Canadian Open. Winner of the 2019 Valero Texas Open, he is making his fourth start in the Wyndham Championship and his best was a tie for 22nd in 2019 with four rounds in the 60s.

7. Billy Horschel, United States – His seventh PGA Tour victory came earlier this season in the Memorial Tournament and he also has two-runner-up finishes among 10 results in the top 10. Horschel is one of five players who lost to Kevin Kisner in a playoff last year in the Wyndham, in which he also tied for fifth in 2016, tied for tied for sixth in 2019 and tied for 11th in 2018.

8. Russell Henley, United States – A three-time winner on both the PGA Tour and what is now the Korn Ferry Tour, Henley is coming off a tie for 10th last week in the Rocket Mortgage after he finished second in the Sony Open in Hawaii and tied for 13th in the Players Championship earlier this season. He tied for ninth in Wyndham on 2020 and tied for seventh last season.

9. Tyrrell Hatton, England – An eight-time winner as a pro, including the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last season, Hatton tied for 11th in the 150th Open Championship and tied for 13th in the PGA this year, in addition to tying for second in the Arnold Palmer. Shot 68-71, but missed the cut in his only Wyndham appearance in 2016.

10. Scott Stallings, United States – Finished in a tie for 10th in the Rocket Mortgage last week, his sixth top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season and third in a row, following a tie for eighth in the Travelers Championship and a tie for fourth in the John Deere Classic. Stallings’ best result in eight starts in the Wyndham Championship was a tie for 14th in his first one in 2012.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Adam Scott, Australia; J.T. Poston, United States; Si Woo Kim, South Korea; Harold Varner III, United States; Brian Harman, United States; Justin Rose, England; Jason Day, Australia; Martin Laird, Scotland; Harris English, United States; Sebastian Munoz, Colombia; Brandt Snedeker, United States; Danny Willett, England; Stewart Cink, United States; Rickie Fowler, United States.

SLEEPERS

1. Joohyung Kim, South Korea – Six-time winner as a pro closed with 63 last Sunday to finish seventh in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Also was third in Scottish Open, 23rd in 150th Open.

2. Taylor Pendrith, Canada – T-2 in the Rocket Mortgage last week after T-11 in Barracuda, T-13 in Barbasol the two previous weeks. Also T-13 in Players Championship earlier this season.

3. Davis Riley, United States – Twice a winner on Korn Ferry Tour last year, Riley has six top-10s on PGA Tour in 2022, including second in Valspar, T-4 in Charles Schwab, fifth in Mexico.

4. Christiaan Bezuidenhout, South Africa – Has seven pro titles and this year on PGA Tour was T-2 in John Deere among nine finishes in the top-25. Was T-37 in the 2020 Wyndham.

5. Chris Gotterup, United States – Rookie out of Oklahoma finished T-7 in Puerto Rico Open in first start on the PGA Tour and also was T-4 in John Deere Classic with four rounds in the 60s.

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

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