Wyndham Championship Betting Preview

Photo courtesy Jim Epler

Photo courtesy Jim Epler

Sergio Garcia is set to defend his title this week in Greensboro, North Carolina as the PGA Tour heads to Sedgefield Country Club for the Wyndham Championship.
2013 Wyndham Championship Fact Sheet

  • Course: Sedgefield Country Club
  • Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Yardage: 7,117 yards, par 70
  • Defending Champion: Sergio Garcia
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Bill Haas

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday – 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

Key Storyline This Week
It might be hard to believe, but we’re actually only one week away from the FedEx Cup playoffs. Now, while it’s not exactly the most exciting thing in sports, I’ll give the PGA Tour credit for trying something here and it does help boost an event like the Wyndham, which typically doesn’t garner a ton of attention. So, what does it all mean? This is the last chance for players to improve their standing, or in the case of some players, to get into the playoffs. Players need to get to the 125th spot on the FedEx Cup points list to qualify for the playoffs, and they need to keep playing well from there to advance. The top 125 make it to the Barclays, followed by the top 100 going to Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship and the top 70 will get into the BMW Championship in Chicago. The top 30 then make it to the Tour Championship in Atlanta, and will play for a $10 million first place prize.
Who are the biggest names outside the top 125 right now? Peter Hanson, Padraig Harrington, Bud Cauley, Vijay Singh and David Toms are probably the most notable ones. The good news is that a win by anyone in the field this week ensures that they’ll be inside the top 125, but a lot of names will still be outside that number even if they finish inside the top 10 this week. Does that mean that we should be paying more attention to players who need to win to keep their seasons going? Perhaps, and Arjun Atwal’s win here back in 2010 allowed him to keep playing, but realistically, you should still follow all of the standard procedures when betting this week.
Sedgefield Country Club
It’s back to back weeks for short Donald Ross designed courses, with Oak Hill last week and now Sedgefield. Historically, Sedgefield has been a course that rewards the best putters, with the winner of the event over the last five years ranking no worse than fifth in putting average. Yes, that even includes Sergio, who was quite hot on the new Bermuda greens last year. Now, despite the change to Bermuda, the greens still run around 12 on the stimpmeter and they are also some of the smaller greens on the PGA Tour, so there is a premium on ball striking as well. Typically, Sedgefield yields a lot of birdies, especially since returning in 2008 for the first time since 1976. In the five years that Sedgefield has hosted since 2008, the winning scores have been -21, -16, -20, -18 and -18. So, what we’re looking for are guys who have an added ability to go low.
The toughest hole on the course has always been the closing hole, a 507-yard par 4 that sees the approach play uphill into a green that is well protected by bunkers on all sides. Over the last five years, it has played to an average of 4.29 strokes. The forecast is calling for a lot of rain on the weekend as well, so we could be in for another tournament that sees massive delays. If that happens, hopefully the PGA Tour decides to do something about the tee times for the weekend rounds.
Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker won the Wyndham back in 2007, the last year that Forest Oaks held before going back to Sedgefield, but he’s had some success here too, with back-to-back top 10 finishes in 2009 and 2010. His FedEx Cup spot is locked up and it’d be tough for him not to make it all the way to Atlanta, so he doesn’t have a ton to play for here this week. Since winning in Canada three weeks ago, he had a T33 at the Bridgestone and a T66 at the PGA, with no sub-70 rounds in eight tries.
  • Webb Simpson: Since missing the cut here back in 2009, Simpson has three top-25 finishes, including a win in 2011. It’s been a disappointing season for Simpson after last year’s U.S. Open win, and he hasn’t had a top-10 since the Travelers back in June. At a quick glance, one problem that I see is the variance between his high and low rounds in each tournament. Over the last four events, the difference has been 9, 11, 7 and 9 shots between those two. It’s tough to win like that.
  • Zach Johnson: Johnson is one of the hottest players in the world right now, as he’s on a streak of four consecutive top 10 finishes, with 13 of his 16 rounds being played at par or better. He doesn’t have a win to show for all of that, but with the kind of putter he is, that run could be coming to an end here.
  • Sergio Garcia: To say Sergio loves this place would be an understatement. In addition to his win here last year, he finished in solo fourth at his lone other appearance on the PGA Tour, missing out on a playoff by just one stroke. He also played here back in 1998 on the Nike Tour, picking up a third place finish. Played well last week on Thursday and Friday at Oak Hill before blowing up, but here’s your surprising stat of the day: Sergio actually leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting.
  • Bill Haas: Haas has a pair of top 10’s at Sedgefield in his career, and has never shot a round above 71 in his sixteen times around the course. He’s got four top-25’s in his last five events, including his win at the AT&T National.

Suggested Plays
Zach Johnson (Best Odds 16-1 at 888 Sport)
Suggesting him based on all of the reasons mentioned above. He’s only played here twice in his career, once coming back on the Buy.com Tour back in 2000 and he hasn’t had the best success here, but he’s playing too well to ignore at the moment.
David Toms (Best Odds 50-1 at Spreadex)
Toms probably had the quietest T7 in recent major championship history last week at the PGA Championship, as I’m not sure he was ever shown on the broadcast by either TNT or CBS. It was also his best finish of the year so far, a week after his previous best finish was recorded in Reno. He’s a good putter who could be starting to get hot, so I like him on an each-way bet this week.
Peter Hanson (Best Odds 80-1 at Coral)
Hanson’s on my list for most disappointing players of the 2013 season, as I was looking forward to his move over from the European Tour and he really hasn’t played well at all. As mentioned above, he’s currently outside the top 125, so he’ll need a good week to get into the playoffs, and his talent level suggests that 80-1 is a little crazy. When he’s on, he’s one of the best putters in the world, so I’m hoping that comes through this week.
Patrick Reed (Best Odds 100-1 at bwin)
Pretty much just a form bet here, as Reed is coming off of back to back top 10 finishes, and has really had quite a good year. He’s been near the top of the leaderboard in several tournaments, and in a field that’s a little short on talent, he shouldn’t be available at this kind of price with the way he’s been playing.
Jerry Kelly (Best Odds 117-1 at BETDAQ)
Kelly has taken the last month off, but he did finish tied for 4th in his last time out at the John Deere, just missing the playoff by one stroke. In four previous appearances at Sedgefield, he has two top-10’s and he’s broken 70 in 15 of his 16 rounds.
Stewart Cink (Best Odds 175-1 at Unibet)
Cink has never played Sedgefield, but he typically does well on courses like this. His season has been pretty good to this point, especially in comparison to his years since winning the Open Championship. I don’t think he wins this week, but at this kind of a price, he’s worth a shot on an each-way bet.

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