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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
It’s last call for Fedex Cup points and jobs are on the line at this week’s Wyndham Championship.
NOW OR NEVER
All sorts of leaderboard watching and meticulous calculating and re-calculating of Fedex Cup points will be done this week as it’s the final crack at it for the rest of the PGA Tour, AKA t he guys who don’t have a Netjets account or a team of agents. With next week’s event being a limited field WGC event and the playoffs beginning the following week, the Wyndham is truly the last chance for everyone to figure it out, cash a check to move up in the Fedex Cup standings, or just simply keep their playing privileges for another season. This week also presents heartbreak for the tour pros who truly have run out of opportunities this season. Fortunately, due to the LIV Tour golfers suspended from the PGA Tour, that magical top 125 number is more like a top 135, so a few more players have some hope this week in North Carolina.
MARRIED TO SEDGEFIELD
As one of the longer standing hosts of a PGA Tour event, the history with this tournament and Sedgefield Country Club goes back to freakin’ World War II. The Wyndham has always been in the Greensboro area, and this course has consistently hosted the event since 2008 after an extensive restoration. It’s a classic Donald Ross design, which means there’s trickery around the greens that tyou might not necessarily see from the fairway. It’s a shorter 7100-yard par 70 tracks with deceptive angles and tree-lined fairways. There’s always a lot of drama around the downhill-then-uphill par 4 18th hole, where the tournament and some tour cards are on the line. Last year’s drama at the Wyndham yielded a historic six way playoff won by Kevin Kisner.
PLAYING THE WYNDHAM
If you glance at past champions and solid performers at this event, you’re not going to find many bombers or any of the world’s elite. You’re going to find grinders like Kevin Kisner, Brandt Snedeker or Webb Simpson that carve up Sedgefield surgically. You also find players that lean heavily on their short game and putting do thrive here, like a JT Poston (2019 champion) or Patrick Reed (2013). With it being the week before a WGC and playoff run, it’s natural that the top of this field is pretty light and that presents chances for big time breakthroughs. Most notably headlining the field are Justin Rose, Billy Horschel, Adam Scott and all of the past champions I highlighted.
MAKING YOUR PICKS
I’m prefacing my weekly picks based on exactly what I value the most. With every play I make, I’m always taking into account these factors and for the Wyndham Championship, I’m hedging my bets on horses for the course, and the intangible of players that need a big week to preserve their jobs on tour. Pressure makes diamonds, right?
1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top 10 streaks and consistent play are never a bad thing.
2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.
3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.
4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just right for buying.
Last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, I had to lean on Cameron Young and he was a pick that stayed in contention but never threatened to win. I’d be lying if I said I saw Tony Finau winning back-to-back weeks. Outside of that, four of my other five picks played the weekend and three finished in the top 20, so the picks were a solid B.
THE SIXPACK OF PICKS
(Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)
1: Will Zalatoris – Last week’s T20 would be considered an “off week” based on recent model of consistency. I’m not getting off this ride until Willy Z cashes one in. Much like Tony Finau, his time to win is inevitable.
2: Russell Henley – Coming off a dance with contention last weekend in Detroit, Henley finished in the top 10 at Wyndham last year and is a great fit for the track.
3: Si Woo Kim – One of those FIVE sudden death playoff losers from last year’s event. He’s poised to have a bounce back week at a place he’ll be eager to tame.
4: C.T. Pan – The South Korean has had a close call with winning here in 2018 and finished in top 30 last year. This is a good opportunity to buy low on his stock heading into the playoffs.
5: Webb Simpson – How can you not? Despite lack of great form, The man freakin’ named his CHILD after winning this event in 2011. Hard to believe it’s been a decade plus from that victory, but Simpson is an auto bet to contend here until he retires.
6: Nick Hardy – With his position at #138 in the fedex cup far from solidified, this an up and coming gutsy pro that should deliver a big week when he needs it the most
My RYP One-and-Done Pick: Russell Henley
Where to watch: Golf Channel and CBS all weekend!
Why to watch: PGA Tour cards will be kept and lost, and it’s last call for heroics for much of the Tour.
What to eat: North Carolina BBQ… probably still has nothing on Texas though.
Purse: $7.3 million
Winner’s Share: $1.34 million