Preview and Predictions for the 2015 Wyndham Championship
All of a sudden, the end of the PGA Tour season is on the horizon. Last week: the season's final major. This week: the final pre-FedEx Cup event: the Wyndham Championship.
Like it or not, the big news this week doesn't pertain to FedEx Cup bubble players or even the approach of the playoffs, but rather to the man pictured above: Tiger Woods. For the first time in his career, TW is teeing up in Greensboro. At 187th in the FedEx Cup standings, he needs a win to advance to the playoffs.
A field that includes 13 former major champions, six of the previous eight FedEx Cup winners and eight of the top 30 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings will take on par-70 Sedgefield Country Club with the imperative to make birdies at the easiest par-70 course on tour.
Click through for the full preview and predictions.
Where to Watch
Defending Champion: Camilo Villegas
Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, N.C.
Total Purse: $5,400,000
Winning Share: $972,000
FedEx Points to Winner: 500
Thursday and Friday: 3-6 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
Saturday and Sunday: 1-2:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel; 3-6 p.m. ET, CBS
Tiger Woods' Wyndham Debut
In a desperate bid to extend his season, Tiger Woods, fresh off a missed cut at the PGA Championship, will put a peg in the ground for the first time at the Wyndham Championship. Woods, who has made just five of 10 cuts this season, is presently No. 187 in the FedEx Cup points standings. He'll need a win in order to make it into the playoffs and extend his season.
Players on the FedEx Cup bubble
If you'll recall, only the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings make it into the playoffs/the Barclays next week. Thus, some notable individuals have some work to do in Greensboro to make it inside the top 125 (or remain there if they're on the bubble).
Here are the "bubble boys":
- No. 124: Luke Donald
- No. 125: Charl Schwartzel
- No. 126: Scott Langley
- No. 127: Seung-Yul Noh
- No. 128: S.J. Park
- No. 129: Camilo Villegas
- No. 130: Ryo Ishikawa
- No. 131: Billy Hurley III
- No. 132: Alex Prugh
- No. 133: Tom Hoge
- No. 134: Michael Putnam
- No. 135: Jonas Blixt
Twenty-five-year-old Brooks Koepka was impressive at Whistling Straits, where he tied for fifth. The showing was the Florida native's seventh top-25 finish in a row. He didn't play particularly well at last year's Wyndham Championship, but it's a more capable, competent and confident Koepka this time around. Koepka is eighth in strokes gained: tee-to-green and third in scoring average.
After a tied-for-12th showing at the PGA Championship, Brandt Snedeker returns to a venue where he finished tied for fifth last year with four rounds of 68 or better. Sneds, the No. 28 golfer in the Official World Golf Ranking, has eight top-10 finishes in 22 starts this season. Scrambling will be key this week, as will sub-70 scoring. Fortunately, Snedeker is fifth on tour in scrambling and 10th in scoring average. He won the tournament in 2007.
Things didn't turn out the way Hideki Matsuyama would have liked at Whistling Straits, where a final-round 74 saw him fall into a tie for 37th. Matsuyama had 15 top-25 finishes in 20 starts this season and has missed just one cut. The young Japanese star is fifth in strokes gained: tee-to-green and third in par-four scoring. He finished 15th at the Wyndham in 2013.
The Dark Horses
Holder of the Sedgefield Country Club course record, Carl Pettersson has historically played the North Carolina track very well. The Swede has two top-five finishes in his last six starts. He tied for 17th in Greensboro in 2012 and won in 2008. A horse for the course, to be sure.
Surprisingly on the FedEx Cup bubble, Charl Schwartzel will head to Greensboro knowing he needs to play well. Schwartzel finished seventh at the U.S. Open and has made 14 of 17 cuts this season. He hasn't teed it up in Greensboro before (because he hasn't needed to), but at 125th in the FedEx cup standings, he needs to tee it up to ensure he remains in the top 25.
Winner: Brandt Snedeker
We're pegging Vanderbilt alum Brandt Snedeker as this week's winner. Here's why.
Key stats/rank: Strokes gained: putting: 7; scoring average: 10; all-around ranking: 18; scrambling: 5
Recent form: U.S. Open: 8; Travelers Championship: T10; Open Championship: Cut; WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: T33; PGA Championship: T12
Longer-term form: Official World Golf Ranking: 28; Sagarin ranking: 29
Course history: Snedeker won the tournament in 2007 and has totaled an additional three top-10 finishes at the North Carolina track. He tied for fifth at last year's Wyndham Championship.
Based on the above, Snedeker can score and scramble, which is critical at Sedgefield. He's in form and has remained a top-quartile golfer and will benefit from a comparatively weak field this week. His pedigree at the course is excellent, and he's a past winner. Look for Sneds to get the job done.
All stats via PGATour.com and the PGA Tour Media Guide.