Wyndham Championship: The Top 10 Players to Watch at Sedgefield
From Masters and US Open champions like Mike Weir and Lucas Glover to up-and-coming superstars like Anthony Kim and Ryan Moore, whoever said the Wyndham Championship was a second-tier tournament?
An eclectic field tees it up this week in Greensboro, NC, at Sedgefield Country Club, a golf course notorious for its miniature, undulating greens and rolling, viridescent fairways. These long hitting, titanium denting pros can approach the 7,130-yard course aggressively, which means another batch of incredibly low scores may appear in the near future.
But who has the upper-hand at such a vulnerable golf course?
Will Boo Weekley's gargantuan length off the tee allow him to capitalize at Sedgefield and grab his first 'W' of the year?
Can Anthony Kim rebound from his injury and prove to Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin that he is healthy and prepared to compete at Celtic Manor?
Or, in a season defined by parity and surprise, will an unknown champion rise to the occasion this week?
After performing phenomenally in his first eight events—carding four miraculous top-10s—of the 2010 PGA Tour season, Anthony Kim was forced to sit out the last few months of competition due to a serious thumb injury. Since Kim's disastrous return at Firestone two weeks ago some have wondered whether or not this incredibly gifted three-time Tour winner returned too soon.
However, let's not forget one of golf's greatest mantras: patience is a virtue.
The Oklahoma grad holds the No.14 World Ranking and has earned his position on Corey Pavin's Ryder Cup Team as well. Kim plays aggressively, attacking tightly placed pins, taking driver off the tee of narrow fairways, and never leaves a putt short.
After struggling to T-76 at Firestone and missing the cut last week at the PGA Championship, Kim can recover this week at Sedgefield.
Ryan Palmer doesn't just have momentum coming to Sedgefield as last year's winner, but he's also been playing outstanding golf on a consistent basis throughout 2010.
Palmer has gained notoriety for a variety of reasons on Tour, most notably refusing to sign contracts with brand name company's, sponsors, and rumor has it he even defies the norm by wearing golf shoes without spikes.
But Palmer's terrific performance this season has been overlooked. In 15 events, Palmer has recorded eight top-25 finishes, four of which were in the top-10. He's an excellent ball-striker and accurate enough to earn him the 24th ranking in Greens in Regulation on Tour. If Palmer could just drop a few more putts per round, he'd be in upper eschelon.
This week at Sedgefield he's got confidence, comfort, and could be the man atop the leaderboard come Sunday.
You can never count out a major champion.
Just look at what Tom Watson did a couple years ago at the British Open or Greg Norman at the Masters.
Mike Weir is a contender in every field he enters, but his last few years of competitive golf have been plagued by a multitude of injuries, inhibiting his chances of finding a solid rhythm.
Considering he's never been the longest off the tee, Weir tends to struggle from what used to be his forte—accuracy. His driver has been up and down and all around, never quite putting him in the kind of position to be aggressive from the fairway and attack pins.
If he can keep the ball in the fairway this week, put your money on Weir. Why? Well Weir ranks second in a pretty significant stat on Tour—Putts Per Round, not to mention 28th in Putting Average.
Lucas Glover has found himself in contention a few times this season, but has been relatively quiet since his US Open victory last year at Bethpage.
Keep an eye on him this week at Sedgefield because the course layout sets up well for his type of slow and steady game. Glover is the kind of player who will never overpower a golf course, but at Sedgefield, that may just be the trick that earns him a win.
This course demands length off the tee, which Glover has plenty of, averaging just over 290 yards off the tee. But, the slippery, hard-to-read greens also require competitors to meticulously strategize the speed and break while putting. Glover is a proven reliable putter on not only the most difficult of greens, but also under pressure.
When Boo Weekley chooses to get aggressive off the tee, he's like one of those acrobats walking across a thin wire—totally unflappable.
But unlike the delicate, flexible acrobats, Weekley doesn't tip-toe anywhere, but instead uses his massive frame to pummel the golf ball, which may just pay-off at the short track at Sedgefield.
The only two par-5s on the course this week are both under 550 yards, giving players like Weekley a crucial advantage of getting on the green in two.
Remember, Weekley is no stranger to success, both as a Tour pro and on the Ryder Cup Team two years ago at Valhalla. If his putter gets hot and he stays aggressive, Boo may just get his due.
If golfer's were endowed with one super-power on the golf course, Brian Gay would undeniably have the power of nearly flawless putting.
Whereas Boo Weekley may use his long drives to try and conquer the golf course, Gay may just be able to earn his first victory of the year by doing what he does best, sinking putts.
Though Gay has struggled over the last few weeks to find his rhythm, he's still ranked 16th in Putting Average and fourth in Putts Per Round. He also ranks No .3 in Driving Accuracy, meaning if he can find the green as easily as he finds the fairway, his putter will hopefully do the rest of the work.
Some may consider Gay to be a stretch this week, but don't underestimate his craftiness around the course and touch on the greens.
John Rollins remains one of the most under-appreciated players on Tour.
In 2010 alone, Rollins has made 12 cuts and earned eight top-25 finishes, including a T-8 at the Sony Open.
Rollins ranks fifth in Total Driving, which combines the stats of Driving Distance with Driving Accuracy among Tour players—a truly impressive stat. His Achilles Heel this season has undoubtedly been with the flat stick. Rollins is outside of the top-150 in both Putting Average and Putts Per Round.
However, if Rollins can get hot with the putter in Greensboro, expect him to be a presence down the stretch.
Aside from the fact that his name is "Brandt," this guy can seriously putt.
Ranked No.1 in both Putting Average and Putts Per Round on Tour, Snedeker automatically has a leg-up on the field as they compete on the tiny, difficult to judge putting greens of Sedgefield.
Snedker is coming off a T-16 at the Greenbrier Classic and T-39 at the PGA Championship, two solid finishes that definitely provide him with confidence at this week's event. He also has seven top-25 finishes in 15 cuts this season; a healthy reflection of his consistency on Tour.
Brandt may just be the surprise at this week's tourney. Remember the run he made a few years back at the Masters? Who knows if he can turn it on again, get his putter hot and driver straight enough to capture the first elusive victory of 2010.
Not many players on Tour currently epitomize the old golf adage 'short and straight' as well as David Toms.
Never a threat for his length off the tee (ranked 156th in Driving Distance at 279-yards), Toms is Mr. Reliable with accuracy (ranked 8th on Tour in Driving Accuracy).
He ranks in the middle of the pack with the flat stick, but Toms is a proven winner on Tour and may be a factor this week at Sedgefield if all the stars align.
Michael Letzig is one of those guys who typically goes under the radar on the PGA Tour.
His stats are all mediocre and his finishes are run-of-the-mill, (just one top-10 in 15 starts).
But what warrants Letzig's name on this top-10 list is the fact that he currently ranks 125th in FedEx Cup Points and considering only the top-125 get the nod for the playoffs, this week could essentially be his final week of competition unless he plays some exceptional golf.
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