The Wyndham Championship has almost become an afterthought for the top PGA Tour players in recent years, coming on the heels of the PGA Championship and wrapping up the regular season before the start of the FedExCup playoffs.
However, what started out as the Greater Greensboro Open in 1938 once was one of the premier stops on the circuit, with Sam Snead winning that first year at Sedgefield Country Club and adding a record seven more titles in the event that will be played for the 78th time this week.
Snead (pictured) won the last of his PGA Tour record 82 titles at Sedgefield in 1965, becoming the oldest winner in the history of the circuit at the age of 52 years, 10 months and 8 days.
“Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open for the eighth time today and every senior golfer smiled,” Lincoln A. Werden wrote in the New York Times.
Snead won by five strokes over a field that included the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Billy Casper, Tony Lema, Julius Boros, Charlie Sifford, Dow Finsterwald, Dave Marr and Doug Ford.
It was “Sam Snead Week,” in honor of the fact that he was playing in the tournament for the 25th time, and at a banquet before the event, “Slammin’ Sammy” said: “I don’t expect to win, but the boys had better watch out.”
When it was over and he again was holding the trophy, the question was if he thought anybody could ever equal his eight titles, and Snead quipped: “You know, I don’t think these youngsters are ready yet.”
The champions’ list in Greensboro, N.C., is an impressive one, including Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Player, Casper, Boros, Ford, Gene Littler, George Archer, Ralph Guldahl, Lloyd Mangrum, Bob Goalby, Seve Ballesteros of Spain, Bob Charles of New Zealand, Tom Weiskopf, Raymond Floyd, Al Geiberger, Craig Stadler, Larry Nelson, Lanny Wadkins, Scott Simpson, Sandy Lyle of Scotland, Steve Elkington of Australia, Hal Sutton, Mark O’Meara and Sergio Garcia of Spain.
However, nobody has come close to Snead’s record of eight titles.
Davis Love III, a Carolina boy, came the closest by taking the title three times, most recently in 2015 at age 51 — for the last of his 21 PGA Tour titles while barely falling short of Snead’s age record.
“It means a lot here at Greensboro,” Love said after beat Jason Gore by one stroke. “They’ve always been good to me for a long, long time. It’s thrilling to do it here where I played at (the University of) North Carolina.
“To have your name thrown out there with Sam Snead at any point is incredible. I did think about that a couple times out there today, that for some reason this tournament has been good to guys in my age group. You know, multiple winners.
“When you get to a tournament where you feel good and comfortable and having fun and got a lot of fans, it certainly makes it a little bit easier and more fun to play.
“It’s just nice to be mentioned with Sam Snead and to get another win here because this tournament, this state, this town has been so good to me.
“I can’t catch him. … I don’t think I’ll chase that record.”
Si Woo Kim of South Korea became the latest winner of the Wyndham last year, beating Luke Donald of England by five strokes for his first PGA Tour victory at the age of 21.
Kim, who is unable to defend his title because of a back injury, became the second-youngest winner in tournament history behind Ballesteros, who was 20 when he claimed the title at Sedgefield in 1978.
Kim showed it was no fluke by becoming the youngest player to win the Players Championship earlier this year by three shots over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Ian Poulter of England.
“I’m very happy being the youngest winner this (season),” said Kim, who shot a Sedgefield course record of 60 in the second round and sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie the tournament record of 21-under 259 set by Carl Pettersson of Sweden in 2008.
“I never expected a course record.”
It seems Greensboro is a place to make history, no matter how old you are.
–Courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre