Picks and tips for the Wyndham Championship

Torri Donley

The strangest PGA Tour season in recent memory is entering the home stretch. This week’s Wyndham Championship marks the final event of the 2019-20 regular season, one that has been truncated and rearranged by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the usual drama of keeping and losing cards won’t be as palpable, […]

The strangest PGA Tour season in recent memory is entering the home stretch.

This week’s Wyndham Championship marks the final event of the 2019-20 regular season, one that has been truncated and rearranged by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the usual drama of keeping and losing cards won’t be as palpable, with all players retaining at least some status for 2021, there’s still plenty to play for.

Sedgefield Country Club has hosted this event since 2007, and in that time it has favored course horses. If you play well once on the Donald Ross layout, where approach shots and putting are far more important than driving, chances are you will again sooner rather than later. And low scores are usually plentiful: two years ago Brandt Snedeker opened with 59 en route to victory, while last year J.T. Poston shot 22 under without making a single bogey all week.

Former champion Webb Simpson is a deserved betting favorite given his track record at this event, and Brooks Koepka might present the biggest question mark of the 156-player field. But here are some players (and wagers) to consider before play begins Thursday in Greensboro:

To Win (odds via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Paul Casey (20/1)

Casey came up short Sunday at Harding Park, finishing second at the PGA seemingly out of the blue. But there’s reason to suspect he might go one spot better this week on a course where he has had considerable success, finishing T-18 or better in each of his last three appearances while carding 12 straight rounds in the 60s. Sedgefield plays into the hands of a tactical player like Casey, who ranks third this season in strokes gained: approach, 12th in SG: tee-to-green and won’t have to make up any distance gaps off the tee this week. Casey has a pair of recent wins at Innisbrook, a course that has some similar characteristics to Sedgefield, and the sting of a major runner-up likely isn’t as potent at age 43 as it might have been earlier in his career.

Kevin Kisner (40/1)

The Tour is back in Kisner’s part of the country. A former standout at Georgia, Kisner’s first Tour win came at Sea Island and he lost in a playoff at Harbour Town. The southeast, with Bermuda greens and tree-lined fairways requiring tee-to-green accuracy, is where he tends to play his best golf. That includes in Greensboro, where he cracked the top 10 in two of his last three starts, and Kisner enters off a pair of top-25 finishes that were preceded by a third-place showing in Detroit on another Ross layout. Last week at Harding Park, Kisner was 10th in the field in SG: approach and seventh in SG: putting. This week on a less demanding layout off the tee, a similar combination could net him a win.

Rory Sabbatini (80/1)

Sabbatini is a bit of a risky pick, but the price merits consideration against what amounts to a middling field. The veteran is nine years removed from his most recent win but he’s been close in recent years, both overall and at this event specifically. Sabbatini has finished T-8 or better in three of his last four Wyndham appearances dating back to 2013, and last year he opened with a 63 en route to a T-6 result. He has three top-25 finishes in six starts since June, including solid showings at courses like Colonial (T-14) and Harbour Town (T-21) that bear similarities to Sedgefield in terms of course setup and grass types. Both of those tournaments featured final-round 65s from the Slovakian, and his proven ability to go low is just intriguing enough to merit a nibble at a long price.

Top 10s/20s (odds via DraftKings)

Patrick Reed (+200 top 10)

Reed isn’t getting much attention these days, and that’s often when he plays some of his best golf. This was the site of his maiden PGA Tour victory back in 2013, a memorable playoff win over Jordan Spieth. He has added a trio of top-25 finishes in three trips since, bolstering a solid record around Sedgefield that includes a final-round 63 a year ago. Reed posted top-10 finishes since the restart at both Colonial and Muirfield Village, finished T-13 last week at the PGA and ranks 11th this season in total strokes gained. His consistency may not be getting enough due right now, but that could change this week.

Si Woo Kim (+500 top 10)

This was also the site of Kim’s breakthrough performance, a five-shot win in 2016 at age 21 that came months before his victory at TPC Sawgrass. He also finished fifth at this event last year, firing a final-round 64, and while he has struggled with consistency in recent years he seems to have found his footing since the break. Kim has made seven straight cuts, including a T-11 finish at the Travelers and a T-13 finish last week at the PGA. While he ranks 131st on Tour this season in strokes gained: approach, he was seventh in the category last month at the Memorial (T-18 finish) and 15th in iron play last week at Harding Park. The ball-striking is coming around just in time to return to one of his favorite haunts.

Jim Furyk (+400 top 20)

Don’t sleep on the over-50 section of this week’s field. While there are some Tour courses where brawn outweighs strategy, Sedgefield isn’t one of them – just five years ago, Davis Love III won this event at age 51. Furyk is coming off a victory in his PGA Tour Champions debut and has a remarkably consistent record at this event, with top-10 finishes in each of his three trips to Sedgefield. That includes a T-4 showing two years ago, when he was the sitting U.S. Ryder Cup captain and closed with a 63. Furyk has made 3 of 6 cuts since the restart, and a familiar layout combined with a little extra momentum from his Champions win could be just the recipe for him to snag a spot on the fringe of contention.

Matchups (odds via Westgate)

Sergio Garcia (-130) over Jordan Spieth

The quest for answers continues for Spieth, and now it heads to a place that proved to be a low point a year ago. Last year Spieth was T-12 after two rounds and ballooned to a 77, the highest score of the week and one that caused him to miss the 54-hole cut in jaw-dropping fashion. Things haven’t gotten much better since, including last week at Harding Park where he struggled in a marquee pairing alongside Justin Thomas and finished near the bottom of the pack. This seems like a great opportunity to fade a struggling star while backing Garcia, a past champion (2012) who has finished no worse than T-29 in four appearances. Garcia also heads to North Carolina with some added motivation, as at No. 134 in points he needs a big week to qualify for the playoffs and extend his season beyond this week.

Harris English (-120) over Billy Horschel

English continues to be one of the most underrated storylines of the season, racking up top-20 finishes at nearly every turn. He has four such results in a row, including a T-19 finish at Harding Park, and the consistency shines through on the stat line: eighth in total strokes gained and 14th on the greens. The former Georgia standout is familiar with this type of course, and has never missed the cut in six Wyndham appearances. Horschel has some strong course history as well, with three top-11 finishes in the last four years, but he can’t match English’s consistent results since the break – or his solid ball-striking numbers.

Henrik Norlander (-110) over Christiaan Bezuidenhout

This is the kind of matchup that makes you realize we’re in a valley between top-tier tournaments, but winning bets cash the same regardless of the name on the ticket. Norlander has been quietly having the best season of his career, with T-31 or better finishes in each of his last four starts. He also cracked the top 20 in his Wyndham debut and relies on his iron play as a strength, ranking 45th on Tour this season. Meanwhile, Bezuidenhout has missed three of his last six cuts, including the PGA, and will be making his tournament debut.

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