Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship taking place at the Sedgefield Country Club.
2021/2022 US PGA Tour
Sedgefield Country Club (Ross Course), Greensboro, North Carolina
I guess we can’t call Mr Finau ‘Top Ten Tony’ anymore. Perhaps a better nickname would be ‘Tony Four-now’ after he won his fourth US PGA title at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.
He was simply impeccable from tee-to-green, putting more of an emphasis on accuracy than pure bombing. Everything about his demeanour just seems more relaxed and he must be a real contender for this year’s FedEx Cup title.
Speaking of which, current FedEx Cup champ Patrick Cantlay- my pick to win last week- never did too much wrong. I just couldn’t have envisaged that Finau would have the character to make it back-to-back titles after so many Sunday disappointments.
This week represents the last chance for all the ‘bubble-boys’ to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The likes of Webb Simpson and Rickie Fowler will be desperate for a solid week to secure participation at TPC Southwind next week.
This is an event that has lost a little bit of lustre over the years. It used to attract a far greater field in its old April-May slot. Now many of the top dogs take a well-earned rest ahead of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Still, it is arguably one of the most captivating events due to how much is at stake. Sam Snead won the inaugural staging of this event in 1938 and would incredibly go on to claim a further seven titles (the last of which coming at the grand old age of 52).
In fact, Snead’s eight victories in this event still see him in co-ownership of the PGA record for most victories in a single event (Tiger has won the Arnold Palmer and WGC Bridgestone Invitational eight times each).
Last year’s event was a real doozie, with Kevin Kisner winning a record-tying six-man playoff with a sensational approach on the 18th.
Sedgefield Country Club
Founded in 1926, the Donald Ross-designed Sedgefield Country Club was one of two courses that alternated hosting duties of the original Greater Greensboro Open (the other being Starmount Forest Country Club).
The two courses shared the duties for some time until Forest Oaks Country Club took over hosting duties from 1977 to 2007. Kris Spence helped to oversee a renovation of this course in anticipation of its return to hosting duties in 2008.
If their aim was to make this a stern test for contemporary professionals: it didn’t work. With the exception of last year’s 15-under-par winning total, the previous five winners of this event shot 20-under or better.
This will be the 2nd successive Donald Ross-design following last week’s test at Detroit Golf Club. And while the two courses share Ross’ characteristic Bermuda greens, they couldn’t be further apart in terms of profile.
Power off the tee is largely irreverent here. This course rewards accuracy and surgical iron-play. Recent winners include the likes of Kisner, Herman and Simson (none of whom are blasting it miles from the tee).
Will Zalatoris is the highest-ranked player in the field at 14. He is obviously keen to get a few extra FedEx points while the big boys are away. But it is surprisingly Shane Lowry who leads the markets this week.
I find that slightly curious. Sure, he has picked up some decent form of late. But I can’t really imagine any universe where I would be putting Lowry ahead of Zalatoris at present.
And Sungjae Im is also fresh off a T2 at the recent 3M Open. Webb Simpson has probably been the most disappointing player on the PGA Tour this year. He languishes in 126th spot coming into this week and it will be interesting to see his approach.
A past master of this event, will Simpson play containing golf or will he look to take the initiative? Those are the type of questions that a plethora of players will need to ask themselves this week (Rickie Fowler and Matt Wallace included).
2021: Kevin Kisner (-15) *playoff
2020: Jim Herman (-21)
2019: J.T Poston (-22)
2018: Brandt Snedeker (-21)
2017: Henrik Stenson (-22)
To Win Outright
Shane Lowry 16/1 | Will Zalatoris 18/1 | Sungjae Im 18/1 | Billy Horschel 22/1 | Webb Simpson 22/1
Corey Conners- To Win 28/1 | To Place 6/1
Conners just fits the bill perfectly. Sure, he doesn’t have particularly great form at Sedgefield (his best result was a T22 during the 2019 edition). But he has evolved significantly as a player over the past 12-18 months. He has been the definition of solid this year, with three top 10’s from ten top 25 finishes. He finished T28 in his last outing at the Open Championship (which means he should be feeling rejuvenated this week). He currently sits 7th on tour for GIR (which is always a pivotal stat around Sedgefield).
Callum Tarren- To Win 90/1 | To Place 19/1
I’m going slightly contrary to my own advice with this selection. Tarren is more of a bomber than a surgeon. But I just couldn’t ignore him at this price given his current form. He has made here straight cuts and finished inside the top 25 in all three of those events. He tied for seventh when I selected him as a sleeper at the 3M Open. He also finished T20 in Detroit last week and sixth at the John Deere a month ago. He is currently 118th in the FedEx Cup rankings and should be hugely motivated to perform this week. 19/1 to place looks a no-brainer.
The Man to Beat- Webb Simpson- To Win 22/1 | To Place 48/10
I know, I know. This isn’t the most original call in the world. And Simpson has been extremely sub-par this entire year. Having said that, there have been glimmers of his quality throughout the season. He finished T20 at the US PGA Championship and T13 at the Travellers. He is simply too solid a player for this rough patch to last. And you simply cannot overlook his record around Sedgefield. He won this event in 2011 and has come ridiculously close on numerous other occasions. Since 2017, his results in this event read: 3rd, T2, 2nd, T3, T7 (he missed out on a playoff by one shot last year). Course form- plus the motivation to surge into the FedEx Cup Playoffs- make him an excellent option at 22/1.