It was a solid week for us at the PGA with 150/1 pick Cameron Champ bagging a decent share of the place money and first round leader selection Scottie Scheffler also placing however things could have been a lot better.
After holing a 40ft putt for birdie on the sixth to tie the lead Champ had a round 7ft for birdie on seven. Unfortunately he was unable to hole that one and from there on in it was a struggle for him and due to the bunched nature of the leaderboard he needed a very welcome birdie on 17 in the end to make the frame at all. Meanwhile Schauffele who we chose to play for nine places for slightly bigger odds finished tenth and 200/1 ante post pick Si Woo Kim finished a couple of shots out of the places as well.
The tournament was won by Collin Morikawa who produced a magnificent weekend performance to bag his first Major. The highlight was a his tee shot on the driveable par 4 16th, which he hit to 7 feet for eagle. A mightily impressive display and at the moment it would appear the sky’s the limit for the young Californian.
Moving on and hard as it is to believe we have reached the last regular event of the PGA Tour season before we head in to the Play Off’s , The Wyndham Championship.
The Wyndham Championship was first played on tour in 1938 and was initially known as the Greater Greensboro Open.
Historically the event was always played in April/May time, however in 2007 it was renamed the Wyndham Championship based on its new sponsor and at the same time it moved to its current spot.
The Wyndham Championship has carved out a niche spot for itself on the PGA Tour over recent years as the last regular season event before we head in to the play offs, and it’s now last chance saloon time for those on the bubble of making it in to the top 125.
All week long we will see the names of the players in the field roll alphabetically through the bottom of the screen in either green or red to indicate their position and whether they are ‘in or out’.
The significance of finishing inside the 125 for players not already exempt for the following year [through a victory in the previous season for example] would normally be huge, as not only does making the top 125 secure you a spot in the first play off event, The Northern Trust and give you a chance to progress further, but in a regular season it would guarantee you your playing privileges on tour for the following year.
This year however with the season being abbreviated, while making the top 125 is still key for Play Off purposes, players who finish outside of the 125 will not lose there playing rights.
Still, making the play off’s is a huge money spinner and every putt, birdie and bogey counts. Be prepared for the inevitable heroics and heartbreaks come Sunday as someone either birdies the last three holes to get in at 125 or three putts the last to fall from 122 to 128.
The current ‘bubble boys’ who I am sure we will see plenty of on our screens for the first couple of days at least are Russell Knox and Charl Schwartzel who occupy the last two spots at 124 & 125 respectively, and Bronson Burgoon and Chase Seiffert who sit just outside at 126 & 127.
In addition this year there is an added ingredient in play as the season long Wyndham Rewards Bonus comes to a conclusion.
The Wyndham Rewards is basically an extra pot of $10 Million that is split between the players who finish in the Top 10 of the regular season long Fedex Cup points race, which concludes after this week in North Carolina.
The player who finishes in first spot will take home a cool $2 Million, the runner up $1.5 Million and so on all the way down to $500,000 for the player who finishes in 10th.
Based on this you would think that the big name players who currently fill those positions would be turning up in droves to in an attempt to clinch the top prize in this pot and this was no doubt the hope of the sponsors when they committed to this bonus fund.
Unfortunately however with only 500 Fedex Cup points going to this weeks winner and with Justin Thomas holding a lead of 556 points over Collin Morikawa in the Fedex Cup standings Thomas has already sown this up so this has somewhat petered out.
The field and the market therefore is headed up by in form course specialist Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood.
Sedgefield CC is a par 70 measuring just over 7100yds.
The greens are Bermuda.
The course was designed by Donald Ross and opened for play in 1926.
Other Donald Ross designs used on tour include East Lake, home of the Tour Championship, Aronimink which hosted last years BMW Championship as well as the 2010 & 2011 AT&T Nationals & Detroit G&CC the new home of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
In summary Sedgefield CC plays as one of the easiest Par 70s on tour and is a course that the shorter hitters tend to perform well on.
Finding the fairways and greens here is the order of the day with GIR being particularly significant as this will give you the opportunity to make the birdies that will be required to get the job done.
So let’s take a look at the last ten winners since 2010.
The winners of these events have been as follows;
2019 JT Poston
2018 B Snedeker
2017 H Stenson
2016 S W Kim
2015 D Love III
2014 C Villegas
2013 P Reed
2012 S Garcia
2011 W Simpson
2010 A Atwal
With this event until last year historically coming the week after the PGA Championship the key point that we used to have to consider is whether to side with players who had been in the hunt at the previous weeks major and this year with the scheduling change we are back in that situation.
From my point of view therefore with this weeks test about as polar opposite as you could get from what the players faced in California last week I think it makes sense to start by looking at how the players who won here had fared at the PGA Championship the week before, when it proceeded the Wyndham in the schedule and this has thrown up some quite interesting numbers.
The first thing to say is for the purpose of looking at these winners I have discounted Si Woo Kim’s victory in 2016 as this was the year the PGA was played earlier in July to accommodate the Olympics. In addition I have ignored last years event won by JT Poston, which was played under the PGA Tour’s new schedule.
Of the remaining eight winners five of them had played in the PGA. Snedeker, Stenson, Love III, Simpson and Garcia. Of these, five players D Love III, S Garcia and W Simpson had all missed cut in the years last Major.
The two who made the cut were the 2017 and 2018 winners Stenson and Snedeker who finished 13th and 42nd at the PGA respectively.
In summary then only two of the last eight winners of the Wyndham had played four rounds in the PGA the week before.
To a certain extent of course this can be explained by the fact that the bigger names and higher ranked players who you would expect to have finished higher in the field at the PGA choose to take this week off, however it is still an interesting statistic.
The next main thing that catches my eye is the correlating course form with TPC Sawgrass and Hilton Head.
Firstly if we look at the last ten winners here five of them have either before, or subsequently since, won The Players Championship.
These players are Stenson, S W Kim, Love III, Garcia and Simpson. In addition of the other five winners over this stretch Villegas has a 3rd place finish to his name at TPC and Sneds was fifth there this year so that leaves only Reed without Sawgrass pedigree.
If we then look at the RBC Heritage, which is another shortish Pete Dye design we see that last years runner up CT Pan was victorious at Hilton Head while last years Wyndham Champion, Brandt Snedeker is a former Hilton Head Champion, if we then dig a bit further we can see that Si Woo Kim, winner here in 2016 was runner up at Hilton Head last year, while 2015 veteran champion here Davis Love III collected Plaid Jackets for fun at the Heritage in his earlier years on tour.
Finally to bring it up to date last years champion here JT Poston had finished sixth at Harbour Town in the spring prior to his victory and also posted another top ten there this year, while this years Heritage Champion Webb Simpson is the standing dish here.
The message is loud and clear therefore, players with Sawgrass and Hilton Head form go seriously well here.
As for past course form at Sedgefield itself whilst this is always useful it does not appear to be essential as three of the past four winners here, Poston, Stenson and Si Woo Kim had played in the event six times between them prior to winning and had only made one cut between them posting a best place finish of 50th!
Conversely though the 2018 winner Brandt Snedeker, who memorably opened up his week with a 59, had a raft of ‘previous’ here, notching his first tour victory here in 2007 before posting four top eight finishes in his most recent eight starts.
Next lets take a look at how important recent good form coming in to the week has been over the years. Below is a table showing the last ten winners and their four previous starts coming in to the week with the most recent start shown first.
2019 JT Poston 29 MC 11 MC
2018 B Snedeker 42 8 MC 3
2017 H Stenson 13 17 11 MC
2016 S W Kim 25 MC 23 2
2015 D Love III MC MC 54 MC
2014 C Villegas WD 45 26 MC
2013 P Reed 9 7 MC 34
2012 S Garcia MC 29 MC 38
2011 W Simpson MC 9 16 8
2010 A Atwal 68 74 41 64
As we can see from this table there is no hugely clear picture here with only four of the past ten winners having posted a top ten finish in their previous four starts.
Another thing to look at is how many of these winners were first time winners on tour. The answer to this is five with Poston, S W Kim, Reed, Atwal, & Simpson all landing their first PGA Tour title in this event. This is certainly therefore a good week for maidens to grab their first victory.
Finally, as mentioned above Sedgefield CC is one of the easiest par 70s on tour and this is reflected in the winning scores notched.
The lowest winning number over the past ten years was recorded by Poston last year and Stenson in 2017 who both got the job done with a -22 total with Poston memorably going all four rounds bogey free while the highest winning score was Reed’s -14.
On average though somewhere around the -18 to -20 mark is required to walk away with the trophy.
After a break from the norm in San Francisco last week we return this week to the staple diet of late of temperatures in the mid to high 80s with, unfortunately, a chance of thunderstorms on all four days.
Wind does not look to be an issue with nothing more than more than around 8 - 10mph forecast all week so scoring conditions should be ideal.
As I always say though…this could all change!
I have gone with five players this week as follows;
SI WOO KIM – 40 -1 – 1.5pts E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 3rd
First up for me this week is a player who seems to clearly be emerging from a long slump, Si Woo Kim.
Regular readers will know that I sided with Si Woo at big each way odds ante post at last weeks PGA Championship and but for a frustrating Par [at the driveable 16th], par, bogey finish we could have easily reaped big rewards.
Having backed a player at 200/1 one week jumping onboard again at 40/1 the following doesn’t of course initially seem hugely appealing however there is an awful lot to like about the young Koreans chances here this week.
Firstly if we backtrack, as has been well documented Si Woo has started working with Claude Harmon III over the past twelve months and while the results weren’t initially forthcoming since an 11th place finish at the Travelers in June he has been in a really solid vein of form making seven cuts on the spin.
What has been really noticeable from the 25yr old has been the quality of approach play of late and this was again in evidence at TPC Harding Park and it was only his old nemesis the putter, which held him back slightly.
This week of course Kim returns to familiar territory at Sedgefield CC, the scene of his first PGA Tour title in 2016 and where he also finished fifth last year having missed his previous five cuts – if anywhere is going to warm up his somewhat suspect putter it should be here.
A former players Champion of course and a runner up at Hilton Head Si Woo clearly loves this kind of test and with his form trending so nicely of late I can see him adding a second Wyndham title to his CV this week.
HARRIS ENGLISH – 28-1 –1.5pts E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 23rd
Next up for me this week is another player who is surely trending towards another victory, Harris English.
After several years in the doldrums battling to keep his playing privileges English started the 2019/20 season like a house on fire with four top six finishes in five starts and he has barely looked back since.
After a missed cut at the Charles Schwab on his first start after lockdown the 31yr old has slotted in to a solid groove of form posting four straight top 20s including a 19th place finish at the PGA Championship where he closed with a 66.
What has made this run of form all the more impressive is it has come in the midst of English testing positive for Covid-19, which resulted in him having to firstly miss some events and then upon his return play either as a single or in ‘covid linked’ groups alongside other players who had tested positive.
Happily for the Georgia man this situation has now concluded and he is back in the full tour fold re pairings etc.
So English arrives here in strong form and what is noticeable is that every single department of his game is firing on all cylinders. This can be seen by the fact that he ranks 14th in putting for the season, 19th from tee to green and 36th in approach play.
With regards to form at Sedgefield CC Harris has played really solidly here over the recent years even when in the midst of his slump, something, making his last six cuts on the spin here posting two top 11 finishes along the way.
Furthermore English also has a top ten finish at Hilton Head on his CV while he has been a master over the years at another short par 70, Waiailae CC, home of the Sony Open.
All in all English is doing everything very well at the moment and if he continues finding fairways and greens and putting in the way he has been for some time now it is hard to see him not contending this week and I am keen to have him onside.
KEVIN KISNER – 45-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 3rd
In a week where in all honesty all of our picks are ‘right there in front of you’ the next man I can’t avoid putting up is Kevin Kisner.
Unlike his fellow Georgia native English, Kisner’s 19/20 campaign has been fairly up and down so far with the highlights to date being a fourth place in January in Hawaii and a recent third place at the Donald Ross designed Detroit CC home of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Kisner followed up that third place in Detroit with a disappointing missed cut at the Memorial however since then he has played solidly in Memphis to finish 25th and then he produced a sterling effort to finish 19th at the PGA on a course, which clearly was way to long for him to realistically compete.
Eighteenth for driving accuracy in San Francisco, tenth in approach play and seventh in putting Kisner arrives in North Carolina with all parts of his game in good order.
So we’ve established Kisner is trending nicely in the right direction however what makes him of most interest this week is his body of form on the appropriate correlating tracks. A runner up at both TPC Sawgrass and Hilton Head alongside numerous other strong performances at Harbour Town, Kisner obviously loves this sort of test on a shorter course, something backed up further by his high finishes at Waialae CC over the years.
With regards to his form at this venue the 36yr old last visited Sedgefield in 2017 when he finished 42nd. In his prior to starts to that though he finished 10th and eighth.
A winner at the WGC Matchplay Kisner’s last stroke play victory came at the Dean & Deluca in 2017 and it woudn’t surprise me at all to see him back in the winners enclosure this week.
RYAN MOORE – 55-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED MC
I mentioned earlier that on the back of the PGA Championship it is not uncommon for the winner of this event to have sat out the Major the week before and this is the case for my last two picks this week.
The first of these is Ryan Moore. Moore actually gained late entry in to the PGA however he, on first glance somewhat surprisingly, chose to skip proceedings for ‘scheduling reasons’.
As I say whilst this initially seemed a surprising decision once the week unfolded in San Francisco it became apparent that as one of the shortest hitters out there Moore would basically have had next to no chance at TPC Harding Park. On this basis it may just be that his decision to skip last week and arrive in North Carolina rested and ready to make an end of season push proves to be an inspired one.
Prior to his week off the UNLV man had bounced back from three missed cuts straight after lockdown to post back to back 12th place finishes at the 3M Open and Barracuda so he should arrive in North Carolina in a confident mood.
A former winner here Moore sits ninth on tour in Driving Accuracy, 42nd in Strokes-Gained-Off-The-Tee and 33rd in approach play for the season so his long game is in good order. The problem however, as it has been for a while now for Ryan, is on the greens. Encouragingly though at the Barracuda Ryan finished the week 13th in putting, which is certainly an upward turn.
Moore has always been a player who builds up a head of steam with the majority of his previous tour wins telegraphed by strong performances leading in. In addition he is a player who has always played his best golf from this time of year onwards through to the fall and I think he has a great chance of bagging his sixth PGA Tour title this week.
HENRIK NORLANDER - 80-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 59th
For my final pick this week I am going to roll the dice with Henrik Norlander.
Norlander who first graced the PGA Tour in 2013 has been on and off the big stage since then. This season however after bouncing back once more courtesy of a win at the Wichita Open on last seasons Korn Ferry Tour he finally seems to have found his feet in the big league posting three top tens along the way.
Over the recent weeks the Swede has been particularly impressive as he has followed a 41st at The Travelers with a 12th at the Ross designed Detroit CC, a 31st, sixth at Memorial and 23rd last time out at the 3M Open.
Similarly to our other selections this week what makes the most appeal about Norlander alongside his current strong form is his history on shorter par 70 tracks.
This season he has posted a fifth place at the RSM, where he also lost out in a play-off in 2017, and a ninth at the Sony, while his equal best performance on tour in his debut season way back in 2013 came when he was 16th here.
Short off the tee the 33yr old finds fairways and greens for fun so this is the ideal track for him to take advantage of and in an event, which has been kind to first time winners over recent years I can see Norlander making a bold show to add his name to that list this week.
UPDATED - AUGUST 11th
FANTASY DRAFT KINGS PICKS
PICK 1 - RYAN ARMOUR - DK VALUE - $6800 - FINISHED 25th - DK POINTS TOTAL 88.5
For my first selection this week I am going to side with Ryan Armour.
One of the shortest hitters on tour Armour is also one of the most accurate.
On this basis it is not too hard to work out the kind of track the one time tour winner is most likely to flourish on and not unsurprisingly Sedgefield CC is one of them.
Over the past three seasons Armour has arrived here in pretty poor form and has posted finishes of 22 8 and 4.
This summer Ryan posted back to back top 6 finishes at the Travelers and Rocket Mortgage, however since then he has missed his last three cuts. This week though, back on one of his favourite hunting grounds I expect normal service to be resumed and for Armour to deliver a solid week.
PICK 2 - BRICE GARNETT - DK VALUE - $6700 - FINISHED MC - DK POINTS TOTAL 23
Cut from a similar cloth to Ryan Armour Brice Garnett is another who relies on accuracy over power.
Not unexpectedly therefore the 36yr old has also enjoyed his time here over the years finishing 6 20 & 20 in his last three visits.
Twenty sixth last time out at the 3M Open Garnett produced his best result since lockdown at the correlating Hilton Head where he finished 17th and I expect him to enjoy his time in North Carolina this week.