Last chance to qualify for FedEx playoffs

Last weekend produced two maiden winners on the PGA Tour, with Abraham Ancer winning the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at 45-1 and Erik van Rooyen taking the Barracuda Championship at 66-1. 
Ancer has proven to be a world-class player over the last couple of years and finally caught the breaks. He jumped from No. 23 to No. 11 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The dual Mexican and American citizen triumphed in a playoff over Sam Burns and Hideki Matsuyama on the second extra hole. Ancer hung in there all day as the final pairing of Harris English and Bryson DeChambeau, plus playing partner Cameron Smith — who was tipped here last week but settled for T-4 along with Paul Casey — found trouble off the tee all too frequently on the back nine. 
Meanwhile, van Rooyen set a tournament record of 50 points under the Modified Stableford scoring format. This victory, while not providing a Masters invitation, gives the South African a two-year PGA Tour exemption and an entry into next year’s PGA Championship. Van Rooyen jumped into the top 100 in the world at No. 79. 
This week the PGA Tour moves to Greensboro, N.C., for the Wyndham Championship. This provides the last opportunity for players to clinch spots in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings to make the playoffs and lock up their playing privileges for the 2021-22 season.
Webb Simpson (12-1), a North Carolina native who won his first PGA Tour event here in 2011, named one of his daughters Wyndham after this tournament’s sponsor. He is always a contender here, with two runners-up and two third-place finishes in his last four stops in Greensboro. Matsuyama (14-1) was a late entry after his runner-up showing last week in Memphis. Louis Oosthuizen (18-1) has been as hot as any player in the world but is still seeking his first victory of 2021 and his first win on American soil. He’ll try to reach that milestone in his first career appearance at Greensboro. 
Patrick Reed (22-1) earned his first career victory here in 2013 but is also playing his fifth consecutive week, including international trips for the British Open and the Olympics. Will Zalatoris (28-1) is in the field on a sponsor’s exemption and is still just a temporary member of the PGA Tour, and he is not eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs unless he wins the Wyndham. Jason Kokrak and Brian Harman also share a 28-1 tag with Zalatoris. 
Then there are those on the bubble for No. 125. Players such as Justin Rose (66-1), Tommy Fleetwood (40-1) and Rickie Fowler (55-1) need huge weeks to force their way into the top 125.
The Event
The Wyndham Championship was established in 1938 as the Greater Greensboro Open, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts took over as sponsor in 2007. The event has been the site for several PGA Tour records. In 1965, Sam Snead set marks for being the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event — he was 52 — and for most wins at one event with his eighth. Exactly 50 years later, Davis Love III won here at 51 and became the oldest player to win on the PGA Tour since the Senior/Champions Tour era began in 1980. The Wyndham is also the final event before the FedEx Cup playoffs. The top 125 players on the points list after this event will make the playoffs. Three golfers jumped inside the top 125 at last season’s Wyndham Championship, led by surprise winner Jim Herman, who vaulted from 192 to 54.
The Course
Sedgefield Country Club began hosting the Wyndham Championship in 2008. The tournament is held at the Ross Course, named for designer Donald Ross, which opened in 1926. Renovations were conducted in 2007 by Kris Spence, a golf course architect based in Greensboro who worked as the course superintendent at nearby Forest Oaks Country Club, which hosted the Wyndham from 1977-2007. 
Sedgefield is a par-70 of 7,131 yards. It is a typical Carolina course with tree-lined fairways, pine straw and Bermudagrass throughout. Five water hazards are in play on six holes, and the layout is not that heavily bunkered, with 52 on the course. The undulating Champion Bermuda greens average 6,000 square feet and are on the faster side, rating 12 on the Stimpmeter. Sedgefield, where the winning score has been 21 under par or better in each of the last five years, poses few problems for the pros. The course record of 59 was set by Brandt Snedeker on his way to victory at the 2018 Wyndham. 
If looking for a course correlation, here are some other Donald Ross designs:
Pinehurst No. 2 — 2014 U.S. Open
East Course at Oak Hill — 2013 PGA Championship
Detroit GC — Rocket Mortgage Classic
Plainfield — 2011 and 2015 Barclays
Aronimink GC — 2010 and 2011 AT&T National, 2018 BMW Championship
East Lake GC — Tour Championship
Wyndham Championship Recent History
2020: Jim Herman (-21/259), 600-1
2019: J.T. Poston (-22/258), 100-1
2018: Brandt Snedeker (-21/259), 25-1
2017: Henrik Stenson (-22/258), 12-1
2016: Si Woo Kim (-21/259), 150-1
2015: Davis Love III (-17/263), 500-1
2014: Camilo Villegas (-17/263), 125-1
2013: Patrick Reed (-14/266), 80-1*
2012: Sergio Garcia (-18/262), 40-1
2011: Webb Simpson (-18/262), 20-1
2010: Arjun Atwal (-20/260), 200-1
 * - playoff win over Jordan Spieth
Stats and Angles
Quality approach shots indicate success at Sedgefield. Here are the results in strokes gained: approach for the last five Wyndham Championship winners:
2020: Jim Herman, fourth
2019: J.T. Poston, first
2018: Brandt Snedeker, third
2017: Henrik Stenson, third
2016: Si Woo Kim, fifth
Strokes gained: approach (last 24 rounds)
1. Hideki Matsuyama 28.5
2. Louis Oosthuizen 24.7
3. Michael Gellerman 24.4
4. Sam Burns 23.6
5. Kyle Stanley 22.6
6. Cameron Percy 20.9
7. Seamus Power 19.2
8. Russell Henley 18.7
9. Bo Hoag 17.9
10. Chez Reavie 17.6
11. Jhonattan Vegas 17.4
12. Luke Donald 17.1
Sedgefield has eight par-4s that measure 400 to 450.
Strokes gained: par 4s 400-450 yards (last 24 rounds)
1. Hank Lebioda 15.6
2. Kramer Hickok 15.5
3. Zach Johnson 13.6
4. Ryan Armour 11.9
5. Kevin Streelman 11.6
6. Scott Stallings 11.6
7. Brandt Snedeker 11.1
8. Brian Stuard 10.5
9. Chez Reavie 10.4
10. Sam Burns 10.2
11. Brendon Todd 9.8
12. Satoshi Kodaira 9.5
The Champion Bermudagrass greens at Sedgefield are among the faster ones on the PGA Tour and are likely to roll over 12 on the Stimpmeter.
Strokes gained putting (Bermuda and fast) (last 24 rounds)
1. Denny McCarthy 26.4
2. Rickie Fowler 24.7
3. Patton Kizzire 24
4. Sam Burns 23.8
5. Brendon Todd 23.2
6. J.T. Poston 21.8
7. Charl Schwartzel 20.9
8. Richy Werenski 18.1
9. Vaughn Taylor 17.1
10. Wyndham Clark 16.6
11. Nate Lashley 16.6
12. Peter Malnati 16.3
The winning score at Sedgefield has been 21 under par or better in each of the last five Wyndham Championships, so low scoring and lots of birdies are needed.
Birdie or better gained (last 24 rounds)
1. Patton Kizzire 24.1
2. Seamus Power 23
3. Jason Kokrak 18.9
4. Jhonattan Vegas 18.7
5. Hank Lebioda 18.2
6. Sam Burns 16.1
7. Pat Perez 15.7
8. Hideki Matsuyama 15.2
9. Aaron Wise 15.2
10. Bubba Watson 15.2
11. Satoshi Kodaira 13.8
12. Louis Oosthuizen 13.8
Sungjae Im 36-1
The Olympics story, as pertaining to Im, has been well chronicled. Now that is behind him, and he can focus on his usual busy PGA Tour schedule again.
Im has finished sixth and ninth the last two years at Sedgefield. While he was way off on the greens last week (-4.6 SG: Putting), he is back on his preferred Bermuda this week. 
Russell Henley 40-1
Henley rates third on the PGA Tour this season for SG: Approach and is eighth in this field over the last 24 rounds.
He has a good record at Sedgefield, making three of four cuts, with a best of ninth last year. Henley also has been in good form of late, with finishes of 13-19-11 in his last three events before missing the cut at the British Open last time out.
Charl Schwartzel 55-1
Schwartzel should come to Greensboro refreshed from three weeks off after posting his best finish of 2021 at the 3M Open with a T-2. 
While not a regular participant at the Wyndham, Schwartzel has gone third and 14th in his last two appearances at Sedgefield. The South African ranks seventh in this field in strokes gained: putting on fast Bermudagrass greens in his last 24 rounds.
Jhonattan Vegas 64-1
Vegas has three runners-up this year, including two in his last five starts (Palmetto, 3M Open). He also has four top-20s in his last five starts, including a T-16 at the Olympics, where he led the field for strokes gained off the tee.
The course form does not show much with four missed cuts surrounding an eighth in 2014, but the recent form should outweigh that. Vegas rates 12th in this week’s field for shots gained: approach and fourth for birdie or better: gained over his last 24 rounds. 
Rickie Fowler 68-1
Fowler sits at No. 130 in the FedEx Cup standings and needs a good week to climb into the top 125 or he will have to rely on the lifetime PGA Tour money list exemption to maintain his full playing privileges. 
Fowler’s putter has started to fire again of late as he rates 15th in this week’s field for strokes gained: short game (putting + around the green). 
Brendon Todd 70-1
Todd has had a down season and is just hanging on inside the top 125. However, he has posted his best season performances tee to green in two of his last three PGA Tour starts. 
The best club in Todd’s bag is always the putter. He rates No. 4 in the field for strokes gained: putting on Bermudagrass over the last 24 rounds.
Patton Kizzire 80-1
After back-to-back T-3 finishes at the Colonial and Byron Nelson in May, Kizzire hit a dry spell, missing three straight cuts. However, he has made three in a row since.
This is the type of event where a birdie maker like Kizzire should thrive. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks first in the field in birdies or better: gained. Kizzire is a specialist on the Bermudagrass and ranks third in this week’s field for strokes gained: putting on Bermuda (fast) greens. 
Chez Reavie 100-1
Despite having just one top-10 finish this season, Reavie’s game has shown signs of coming around after making seven of his last eight cuts. He has gained strokes on approach and tee to green in each of his last seven starts. 
Reavie also ranks in the top 10 in this week’s field for strokes gained: approach and strokes gained: par-4s 400-450 yards. A shorter par-70 should also suit Reavie, as he ranks fifth on tour for driving accuracy. He rates 114th in the FedEx Cup standings, so he is likely safe to make the playoffs, but this looks like a spot for him to move up toward the top 70 and make the second playoff event, the BMW Championship. 
Cazoo Classic
Scotsman Grant Forrest was in contention to win his first European Tour title last month at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, but a tough final two holes dropped him to a T-4. Last weekend Forrest broke through with not only his first European Tour victory but also his first title as a professional in the Hero Open at a tag of 75-1, winning by one stroke over Englishman James Morrison (50-1 this week). Forrest became the first home winner in Scotland on the European Tour since Paul Lawrie took the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. Forrest, the third straight European Tour maiden winner in as many weeks, is also in this week’s Cazoo Classic field at 50-1.
This week the European Tour goes south to Ash, Kent, England for a first-time event, the Cazoo Classic. Bernd Wiesberger (18-1) has the shortest price in this field and got back into the winner’s circle in Denmark the last week of May. The Austrian is primarily here in a weaker field to jump-start one last surge into potential consideration for the European Ryder Cup team. Andy Sullivan (22-1) has a couple of top-10 finishes within the last few months but is not quite in the form he showed one year ago. Masahiro Kawamura (25-1) has two top-5 finishes in his last three starts and three top-6s in his last seven. Richard Bland (28-1) is having a career year on the European Tour at 48, with his first victory coming at the British Masters in May plus two top-5s since and making the cut at the U.S. and British opens. Calum Hill (28-1) shared the 54-hole lead with Forrest last week but settled for a T-4. 
The Event
The English Open, held annually on the European Tour from 1988-2002, was scheduled to return to the schedule in 2021. But Cazoo, an online car retailer based in London, takes over sponsorship of this event and has rebranded it the Cazoo Classic. The company also sponsored the Cazoo Open in Wales three weeks ago. 
The Course
The London Golf Club is in Ash, Kent, England, 20 miles southeast of London. The golf club was developed by Japanese businessman Masao Nagahara in response to a perceived need for a world-class course in the vicinity of London and purportedly at the behest of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Though the club was opened in September 1993 by Thatcher’s husband, Denis, the official course opening was in July 1994 and was accompanied by a charity skins game featuring Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Tony Jacklin. Nicklaus designed the Heritage Course at London Golf Club. 
At 7,327 yards for a par-72, the course has been lengthened slightly since the European Tour last visited in 2008-09 for the European Open. In the 2008 European Open, Ross Fisher set the course record with a 63. The track is an exposed parklands design built at 500 feet of elevation, which can make it susceptible to the wind. 
Tall fescue grass lines the fairways and gives the course a little bit of a linksy feel in places. Fairways are generous, and the bentgrass greens are large. 
Chase Hanna 50-1
The American, who played college golf at Kansas, plays primarily on the Challenge Tour and has mustered four top-7 finishes in his last six starts there. He also finished T-6 at the Cazoo Open two weeks ago on the European Tour.
Hanna, tipped in this column last week, finished T-6 at the Hero Open, having led the field for strokes gained: approach and strokes gained: tee to green. He began the summer ranked 688th in the OWGR but has worked his way into the top 250 in two months. 
Sean Crocker 50-1
Crocker returned to Florida for a few weeks off, and it might serve him well.
Crocker finished T-9 several weeks ago at the Irish Open, but he ranked first in the field for SG: approach on a similar Nicklaus design to what he will see this week. Crocker is one of the very best ball strikers on the European Tour, ranking 11th for SG: approach and 13th for SG: off the tee.
David Law 60-1
Law comes in with a streak of eight made cuts. Included in that streak are two top-10 finishes capped by a T-4 last week at the Hero Open. 
The Scotsman rated second last week in the Hero Open field for SG: approach.
Garrick Porteous 66-1
The Englishman ranked fifth at the Hero Open field for SG: off the tee and third for SG: tee to green on the way to a top-10 finish, which was his first of the season.
He has shown gradually solid form with last week’s T-10 plus a T-15 at Galgorm Castle two weeks earlier. 
Wilco Nienaber 66-1
This is a bit of a speculative play on arguably the world’s biggest hitter off the tee this side of Bryson DeChambeau. Nienaber, 21, won his first event as a professional on the Sunshine Tour in May in his home country of South Africa.
After a respectable T-14 in his PGA Tour debut at the Palmetto Championship, he made the cut at the U.S. Open followed by two missed cuts in Europe. He has been playing against much stronger fields over the last few months, including last week at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, and might fire on the drop in class this week.
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