Out of the Rough: Wyndham Championship (2023)
It has taken nearly 11 months to get to this point as the PGA TOUR enters its final regular season stop on the 2022-2023 season with a trip to Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The end-of-season FedEx Cup Playoffs begins a week from Thursday as the 70 top ranking players in the FedEx Cup Standings will battle it out over three weeks for PGA TOUR season long supremacy.
The reduction of the playoffs from 125 golfers to just 70 sets up for multiple storylines and some sure-fire dramatics in this final stage of the regular season this week.
Golfers teeing it up this week are looking to cement themselves in the top 70 of the FedEx Cup Standings or jockey position to secure a better placement.
In all, we’re in line for some thrilling (or we can hope) golf this week.
Like last week, with the beginning of the FedEx Cup Playoffs just a week away, most of the world’s elite will be sitting idle and not playing to instead rest up before the next three weeks.
This week’s field lacks a headlining name as there are no golfers within the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) top-15 teeing it up.
Instead, the field is led by Sam Burns who is the only golfer within the OWGR top-20.
He’ll be joined by the likes of Justin Thomas, Sungjae Im, Hideki Matsuyama and Shane Lowry who each fall within the top 30 of the OWGR.
Other notable names playing this week include Russell Henley, Denny McCarthy, Si Woo Kim, Adam Scott, Billy Horschel and Ludvig Aberg.
Tom Kim is the defending champion of this event as he overcame an opening quadruple bogey on Thursday to eventually win the event by five strokes. In doing so, he became the youngest PGA TOUR winner at just 20-years-old since 1932.
Kim will not be playing this week however as he continues to record from his freak ankle injury he suffered at The Open.
Kevin Kisner is the 2021 champion of this event and like Kim, will not be playing this week.
Past winners of this event that will be playing this week however, include Jim Herman, J.T. Poston, Si Woo Kim, Davis Love III, Webb Simpson and Ryan Moore.
Thomas is back in the headlines this week after another missed cut a week ago at the 3M Open. Thomas, a 15-time winner on TOUR and former world number one currently sits 79th in the FedEx Cup standings and is in serious danger of missing out on the playoffs.
Sedgefield CC plays as a par 70 at 7,131 yards, placing it below TOUR average in terms of a per-hole standpoint.
It features a standard mix of two par fives, four par threes and 12 par fours and is set as your prototypical short, positional course on the PGA TOUR.
The course is set in a way to reward those who are accurate off the tee and calls for a repeated dosage of wedges and mid-iron approaches.
The unique aspect of this week’s track comes with a heavy concentration of short par-fours. Eight-of-the-12 par fours measure between 400-450 yards.
This produces the fact that nearly 30-percent of all approach shots will come from 150-175 yards this week. This, of course, is well above TOUR average.
Beyond the par fours, Sedgefield also features two very reachable par fives and two short par threes that measure under 175 yards. These four holes must be capitalized on as history has proven that any eventful winner has scored well here.
With the mention of needing accuracy off the tee, the fairways are funneled to set up these approach shots. It was already mentioned that nearly 30-percent of approach shots will come from 150-175 yards but additionally, the 100-150 yard range of approach shots will be equally as important this week.
The greens of this Donald Ross design are Bermuda, which takes away some of the advantage of elite putters as Bermuda is historically easier to concur than Bentgrass. Still, these greens are nuanced and undulated.
Catching a hot flat stick will be crucial this week and unlike courses we’re seen recently that feature Bentgrass, anyone can catch a hot putter and concur these Bermuda greens this week.
In all, just five holes at Sedgefield CC have a scoring average over par. Those holes include two 500-plus yard par fours and two 225-plus yard par threes.
The 507 yard par-four 18th hole is the most difficult hole on the entire course and has produced some eventful finishes on Sundays. Take a quick trip back to 2021 where we saw a six man playoff for example.
Course history too is repeatable here due to its need for pin-point accuracy off the tee and short approach shots.
Per The Lines, the top-ten players in Strokes Gained: Total at Sedgefield CC are Webb Simpson, Sungjae Im, Russell Henley, Billy Horschel, Si Woo Kim, Brandt Snedeker, Jim Herman, Rory Sabbatini, Zach Johnson and Ryan Moore.
Those names in itself should show the importance of accuracy off the tee opposed to distance this week.
In all, Sedgefield has proven to be one of the easiest tracks on the PGA TOUR to gain strokes on approach. It is very much a point-and-shoot golf course.
Since 2016, the winning score has failed to reach -20 just once (2021.) This puts the Wyndham Championship in the ‘birdie-fest’ category.
There is at least a 40-percent chance of precipitation for all four days this week as of the time of writing this. Currently, Thursday holds the highest chance at 60-percent as Friday and Sunday feature 50-percent chances and Saturday holding a 40-percent chance. Highs will climb across the four days as well. Thursday currently calls for a high of 77-degrees with temperatures gradually increasing to 90-degrees come Sunday. Winds, at this point, don’t seem to be a factor as each day is set for eight-to-nine miles-per-hour. We could see some wet conditions this week on the golf course.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda (SG: PUTT Bermuda)
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Driving Accuracy
Proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards
Proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards
Par Four Average Scoring
Birdie or Better Percentage
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
In a field of this nature, much like last week, there are slim pickings in these upper price ranges. With just four names to choose from here, I’m taking Hideki Matsuyama ($10,600) as my top option. Matsuyama is currently seventh on TOUR in bogey avoidance, 11th in SG: APP, 14th in proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards, 21st in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 30th in par four average scoring, 57th in GIR%, 61st in birdie or better percentage, 74th in both SG: OTT and driving accuracy and 76th in ball striking. His downfall in terms of our model comes on the greens where he ranks 120th on TOUR in SG: PUTT Bermuda. That is a legitimate concern as he lost -3.058 strokes on the greens at last week’s 3M Open. Unlike the 3M Open however and its Bentgrass greens, any golfer can get hot on these Bermuda greens so we can hope that Matsuyama can catch a hot flat stick. Matsuyama placed T30th at last week’s 3M Open but a week prior, placed T13th at The Open Championship. He also went T13th recently at the Travelers Championship. His season has been highlighted by a fifth at THE PLAYERS and T9th at the Farmers Insurance Open. He’s on the books at +1800 and he will receive a monetary donation on my behalf there. Also consider Russell Henley ($10,200.) Henley’s game matches up well here which is evident in his last three starts here as he went T6th a year ago, T7th in 2021 and T9th in 2020. He’s in the top ten of strokes gained: total at this event per The Lines. Henley is currently first on TOUR in driving accuracy, 11th in proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards, 22nd in bogey avoidance, 30th in par four average scoring, 31st in SG: APP, 42nd in ball striking, 52nd in GIR%, 84th in SG: OTT, 102nd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards and 117th in birdie or better percentage. His downfall comes on the greens as he ranks 175th on TOUR in SG: PUTT Bermuda. He’ll need to catch a hot flat stick this week to be in contention. Henley has also quietly been in some good form outside of an awful showing at The Open Championship. Prior to that, he made nine-of-ten cuts with seven top 20’s, two top 15’s and a top five. That run of events was highlighted by a T4th at The Masters.
This isn’t a price range I love this week outside of my top option in Si Woo Kim ($9,000.) Kim is not in the best of form, missing the cut in his last two events in The Open and Travelers Championship. However, he does have some fantastic finishes on the season, placing fourth at The Memorial, T2nd at the AT&T Byron Nelson and winning the Sony Open in Hawaii. This is also a course and event that Kim has been dominated at. He withdrew a year ago but in 2021 he placed T2nd. He also placed T3rd in 2020 and fifth in 2019. On top of all of that recent success here, he won this event in 2016. Kim is currently fourth on TOUR in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 12th in driving accuracy, 18th in SG: APP, 29th in SG: OTT, 53rd in par four average scoring, 62nd in ball striking, 63rd in birdie or better percentage, 64th in both proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards and bogey avoidance and 116th in GIR%. His downfall, much like everyone we’re talked about until this point, comes on the greens as he ranks 169th in SG: PUTT Bermuda. Kim has proven success here and knows what these greens will offer. He’s on the books at +2500 and I’ll be riding two units on him there. Also consider J.T. Poston ($9,200.) Poston is fresh off a T5th at last week’s 3M Open and beyond that, is in some great form as well. He placed T41st at The Open and went T6th at both the Genesis Scottish Open and John Deere Classic. Poston also used the Wyndham Championship to secure his maiden PGA TOUR victory in 2019 and placed T21st here a year ago. He is currently 42nd on TOUR in GIR%, 53rd in par four average scoring, 62nd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 65th in bogey avoidance, 69th in ball striking, 76th in proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards, 78th in SG: APP, 79th in driving accuracy, 95th in birdie or better percentage and 106th in SG: OTT. His downfall also comes on the greens as he ranks 128th on TOUR in SG: PUTT Bermuda season long but has proven to be a hot putter as of late. He has recently gained 4.774 strokes on the greens at the 3M Open, 7.270 at the Genesis Scottish Open and 7.294 at the John Deere Classic. If he can continue to putt the way he has been, he’ll be in contention on Sunday.
Aaron Rai ($8,600) comes second in my model of those playing this week. He’ll be making just his second start at this event as he made the cut here a season ago. Outside of missing the cut at the Genesis Scottish Open, Rai has also been in some decent form. He placed T20th at last week’s 3M Open, T9th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and T3rd at the RBC Canadian Open. Rai is currently fifth on TOUR in driving accuracy, eighth in par four average scoring, 14th in GIR%, 16th in ball striking, 33rd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 44th in SG: APP, 45th in bogey avoidance, 55th in SG: OTT, 59th in proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards and 67th in birdie or better percentage. Can you catch onto the trend? Rai’s downfall comes on the greens as he ranks 144th on TOUR in SG: PUTT Bermuda. However, he has been much improved as of late. He gained 2.951 strokes on the greens at the 3M Open, 2.264 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and 0.082 at the RBC Canadian Open. Rai is on the books at +5000 and I will be placing a unit there. Also consider Alex Smalley ($8,100.) Smalley has had some moderate success here at this event and course, placing T13th a year ago and T29th in 2021. He has made the cut in seven of his last nine events, highlighted by a T2nd at the John Deere Classic and T9th at the Travelers Championship. He is currently 17th on TOUR in GIR%, 28th in bogey avoidance, 29th in ball striking, 30th in par four average scoring, 36th in SG: APP, 45th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 59th in SG: OTT, 77th in proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards, 92nd in driving accuracy, 108th in SG: PUTT Bermuda and 112th in birdie or better percentage. He’s on the books at +6000 and I’ll be placing that line on my betting card.
I love both of the options in this price range. My first suggestion is someone I’m constantly on in Kevin Yu ($7,000.) Yu is currently second on TOUR in both ball striking and GIR%, third in both SG: OTT and par four average scoring, fourth in birdie or better percentage, 11th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 19th in bogey avoidance, 47th in driving accuracy, 54th in SG: APP and 71st in SG: PUTT Bermuda. His downfall in the model comes with a 142nd placement in proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards but he is elite from 150-175 yards and is an elite balls striker, I’m not too concerned there. This of course will be his first Wyndham Championship tournament. Yu placed T37th at last week’s 3M Open and T6th at the John Deere Classic. His time is coming to win on the PGA TOUR. Let's hope this is the week. Yu will of course be on my betting card at +12000. Also consider Lucas Glover ($7,500.) Glover is currently 11th on TOUR in driving accuracy 18th in ball striking, 19th in GIR%, 21st in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 27th in SG: APP, 30th in par four average scoring, 47th in both proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards and bogey avoidance, 54th in SG: OTT and 73rd in birdie or better percentage. His downfall, like most, comes on the greens as he ranks 170th in SG: PUTT Bermuda. After switching to a long putter, Glover has been a much better putter. Although he lost -0.658 strokes on the greens at the Barbasol Championship, he gained 3.582 at the John Deere Classic and 5.414 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He did miss the cut last week at the 3M Open but prior to that placed fifth at the Barbasol Championship, T6th at the John Deere Classic and T4th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Glover hasn't had the best success here but did make the cut and placed T54th a year ago. He’ll be on my betting card at +11000 as well.
My first suggestion in this price range is Dylan Wu ($6,900.) He is fresh off a T5th at last week’s 3M Open. He has played this event once prior, missing the cut a year ago. However, his game lines up well this week. Wu is currently eighth on TOUR in GIR%, 26th in ball striking, 29th in birdie or better percentage, 30th in par four average scoring, 31st in bogey avoidance, 55th in SG: APP, 66th in proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards, 68th in driving accuracy, 94th in SG: OTT, 96th in SG: PUTT Bermuda and 99th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards. In other terms, he’s above average in each of the statistical categories we took into consideration this week. Of those we highlighted, he is the only one to be above average in each of the statistical categories. Also consider Ben Martin ($6,700.) Unlike most that we’ve talked about this week, Martin is not in good form. He’s missed the cut in five-of-his-last-nine events. Prior to that however, he had a run of seven tournaments where he made the cut, highlighted by a T5th at the Honda Classic, T8th at the Corales Puntacana Championship and T10th at the Valero Texas Open. Martin has played in this event the last three years, making the cut in both 2021 and 2020. On the season, he is currently 21st in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 29th in SG: APP, 30th in par four average scoring, 36th in GIR%, 49th in both ball striking and driving accuracy, 53rd in birdie or better percentage, 84th in bogey avoidance, 89th in proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards, 99th in SG: OTT and 114th in SG: PUTT Bermuda. As I preach with these selections in this bottom price range, we really just need these guys to make the cut and I believe Martin can do just that.
Hideki Matsuyama (+1800) - 2u
Si Woo Kim (+2500) - 2u
Aaron Rai (+5000) - 1u
Alex Smalley (+6000) - 1u
Lucas Glover (+11000) - 1u
Kevin Yu (+12000) - 1u