Wyndham Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis
WE ONLY seem to have been back in action for five minutes on the PGA Tour but this week’s Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club represents the final opportunity for players to make it into the top 125 for the truncated FedEx Cup Playoffs. Big tournaments are coming thick and fast now and these guys really do not want to be missing out.
After the Wyndham, the top 125 move to TPC Boston for The Northern Trust, the following week that number will be culled to 70 for the BMW Championship before the top 30 head to East Lake for The Tour Championship. Twelve months ago Rory McIlroy won the FedEx Cup for the second time and if he wants to repeat the feat the Northern Irishman is going to have to pull his finger out. But at least McIlroy is sure to qualify for the playoffs.
There are some big names outside the 125, most notably Open champion Shane Lowry (131), Rafa Cabrera Bello (133), and Sergio Garcia (134), all of whom have struggled since the restart. Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is 200th.
It is only two years since Justin Rose won the FedEx Cup and he has seen his world ranking tumble from number one to 17. He is without a victory in 18 months. He made a promising start at the Charles Schwab Challenge, where he finished third, and followed it with a tie for 14th at the RBC Heritage. But then came missed cuts at the Travelers, Workday and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, at The Memorial at Muirfield Village, a course that is made for his game.
“My golf has been poor for the past year, but I have been working hard for the past three or four months and you don’t always see the results straight away,” said Rose, who recently split with swing coach Sean Foley. “But I know that the results are coming and I feel in a much better place than 12 months ago. I have just turned 40. I missed the WGC St Jude because I needed to mark that milestone, and it allowed me to press the reset button.
“My thirties were amazing, having children and building the bulk of my career but I am still very hungry. I can come across as laidback but I am driven and get very frustrated. I get miserable when I am not playing well and it is in everybody’s interests that I rebound.”
Rose finished 9th at the US PGA Championship.
Founded 82 years ago in 1938 as the Greater Greensboro Open, this event was usually played in April or May, until a schedule change in 2003 saw it being moved towards the end of the season. Less than two months shy of his 53rd birthday, Sam Snead set PGA Tour records in 1965 when he recorded his eighth victory and became the oldest winner on tour - unsurprisingly, both records still stand. Davis Love III was 51 when he won five years ago.
In 2007, the tournament was renamed the Wyndham Championship and is traditionally the final event before the playoffs, offering one final chance to qualify for the FedEx Cup and retain tour privileges although this season nobody will lose their card as a result of truncated schedule.
In 2018, during the first round, two-time winner Brandt Snedeker shot a 59. At the time, it was the 10th sub-60 round in the history of the PGA Tour, and just the third with a bogey. Snedeker shot a 27 on the inward nine, holing a 20-foot putt from the fringe on the final green. It is played at Sedgefield, a course designed by the legendary Donald Ross. It opened in 1926 and was redesigned 13 years ago.
Last year’s tournament was won by JT Poston. It was his first professional victory and he achieved it in some style after shooting a final round of 62 and playing all 72 holes without a bogey - the first man since 1974 to achieve the feat.
After starting 2016 with no status on any tour, Poston Monday qualified for the United Leasing Championship on the Web.com Tour and finished in a tie for 23rd place, which got him into the Rex Hospital Open, where he tied for third and earned special temporary membership for the rest of the season.
Five more top-15s, including two runner-ups, saw Poston finishing 10th in the money list, earning his PGA Tour card for 2017. Poston beat Webb Simpson by a shot and Simpson returns to Sedgefield enjoying some of the best form of his career. The former US Open champion is a two-time winner this season. He has added distance and has become a formidable putter - it is quite a combination.
The tournament was won in 2015 by Davis Love III, in 2016 by Si Woo Kim, in 2017 by Henrik Stenson, in 2018 by Brandt Snedeker and last year by Poston.
Webb Simpson. On the crest of a wave
Brandt Snedeker. Loves this place
Justin Rose. In need of a very big week.
Webb Simpson. Playing like a man reborn
Brandt Snedeker. Two-time winner here
Justin Rose. Will be giving it his full attention
Harold Varner III. Underrated - mostly by himself
Ryan Moore. Plays his best golf at this time of year
Paul Casey. Playing some superb stuff at Harding Park
Tommy Fleetwood. Back to his best
Sungjae Im. The South Korean is like a machine
Jordan Spieth. Still looking for that spark
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