Last Updated: 2019-07-30
WYNDHAM CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
This week players head to Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina for the Wyndham Championship. While the timing of this tournament has varied year to year, Sedgefield has hosted some iteration of this tournament since 2007, giving us plenty of data to determine what is needed to be successful here. This week concludes the PGA Tour’s regular season and the top 10 players after this week in the season long points race will divvy up a $10 million bonus. Adding such a lucrative prize was supposed to lure the top players to Greensboro, but unfortunately that didn’t quite work out with Paul Casey being the only one in the top 10 in the field. With most of the top players playing in the British Open and last week’s WGC back to back, it had to be expected many would take the week off with the FedEx Playoffs looming. My hope is that future schedules allow for rest to ensure the best fields are present for the most lucrative events.
WGC ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL RECAP
Brooks Koepka once against showed why he is the best golfer on the planet, besting a field that included most of the world’s top 50 players by 3 strokes. One of my outright selections highlighted here last week, Webb Simpson, finished 2nd and Corey Conners missed a top 20 and 5/1 payday by 2 strokes. While the event left a little to be desired from a gambling perspective, I was absolutely taken back by the event as a whole. The course is great, and the cause is simply incredible. I have to admit, I had no clue the impact this tournament has within the community and more importantly the impact it has raising valuable funds for the St. Jude’s Children Hospital. If you want a perspective on what it means to the players, take a look at Brooks’ post win interview. It was definitely a great week, now onto The Wyndham!
Whereas last week TPC Southwind provided a difficult test for players, Sedgefield Country Club plays as one of the easiest par 70s on Tour. Last year, Brent Snedeker set the 18-hole course record with a first round 59 and held on for a 3 shot win over native Webb Simpson. That 59 illustrates how low these guys can go here and the 21 under tournament score highlights where players will have to be to get a win. While the tree lined fairways are relatively tight, they aren’t very difficult to find as the course typically plays soft. Hitting fairways is key as 5 of the last 7 winners ranked 13th or better in fairways hit on the week. The greens are the exact same as the players faced last week, Bermuda, and are actually large considering the short nature of the course. This means successful players will be hitting tons of greens, with the key being doing so on the correct tiers. Again, the typically soft nature of this course allows these pins to be fired at, meaning I will be looking at guys who can give themselves as many birdie opportunities as possible.
As birdies, birdies and more birdies will be necessary for success here, basically one every 3 holes, my model will incorporate stats that produce the chirp chirps. Strokes gained approach and ball striking are key components each week and that theme continues here. I will also be looking at Opportunities Gained which rewards players for approach shots within 15 feet. As fairways are key the Fairways Gained stat credits players who hit more than the field average of fairways within a given round and will help find players who are accurate off the tee, giving them a chance to fire at pins. Finally, 8 of the 12 par 4s measure between 400-450 yards in length so I will key in on strokes gained on par 4s of that distance which will basically highlight fairway hitters and the prolific wedge players. Onto the plays!
Viktor Hovland +2663 – I was surprised to see the other rookie phenoms, Matt Wolff and Colin Morikawa, take home victories before Hovland found himself in the winner’s circle. The Low Amateur at both the Masters and U.S. Open came onto Tour with plenty of fanfare and has largely lived up to it with 3 straight top 20s. Hovland is a ball striking machine, ranking first in the stat over his last 24 rounds and 2nd to only Morikawa over his last 12. Hovland’s issue on Tour has been putting, losing strokes in 4 of his last 5 outings and the one event he gained strokes, the Rocket Mortgage (4.2 to be exact) he had his worst striking effort of the year ONLY gaining 4.2 strokes ball striking. Anyone who has read my previews over the last year knows I am a sucker for guys who pure it and can’t make putts and this is no exception. If Hovland combines anywhere near his putting performance from the Rocket Mortgage with the striking he has shown thus far on Tour he will complete the rookie phenom trifecta for wins.
Joaquin Niemann +5050 – Before Hovland, Wolff and Morikawa were the new hot shots Niemann was being talked about in the same light early last year. At the beginning of his pro career he tallied a bunch of top 10 finishes but lost his form late before he could break through for his first win. After a rough start to the year, Niemann is finally gaining the form that had so many excited. Prior to a missed cut at the British Open (kid is from Chile, he had to be cold!) Niemann had tallied two top 5s and a top 10 in his last 4 starts. His game has been solid all around, gaining strokes in every major category other than putting (-.8 strokes gained) over his last 20 rounds. More importantly he rates in the top 10 in ball striking over his last 8, 12, 24 and 36 rounds which helps to place him 6th in my model for the week. This makes 50-1 a great value and I’ll gladly take a share at anything near this current number.
Kyle Stanley Top 20 +310 – Stanley, a two time winner on Tour, started the 2019 season in absolutely terrible form, missing 8 out of 12 cuts prior to the U.S. Open. However, it seems as though something may have clicked at Pebble as Stanley has since made 5 straight cuts. Stanley is far from a bomber, ranking 147th in driving distance, but he certainly thrives on shorter courses that require accuracy off the tee. Look for Stanley to absolutely live in the fairway this week, he’s ranked 4th in the field over his last 24 rounds in fairways gained, and have plenty of short irons and wedges into susceptible greens. Anytime I see a former winner with a 3/1 top 20 my interest is piqued. Anytime I see one who is rounding into solid form vs a weak field it is most likely a bet as is the case here.
2u Redman (+105) over McCarthy – The casual golf fan is wondering who TF are these guys. Well, I’m here to do the work for you. McCarthy is basically a poor man’s Jordan Spieth. His entire game is predicated on making 20+ foot putts. McCarthy has made 7 of 15 cuts since February 1 (not a great number) and in every single tournament in which he made the cut he gained 4 or more strokes putting. Less than 4 strokes gained? Missed Cut. Redman has a solid, but not spectacular all-around game. He has lost strokes to the field tee to green in only two of his last 10 starts and is coming off a British Open performance where he gained 4.5 strokes on approach. Redman can best McCarthy in a number of ways this week and here they are offering the better player at plus money. Although there is almost no chance you will see a shot either of these guys hit, don’t let it stop you from backing a mispriced dog.
1u Reavie -1.5 Strokes (-110) over C. Smith – Reavie was highlighted in this space last week and after besting Woodland I’m going back to the well. Coming off a 27th at the St. Jude, Reavie comes in at 8th in my model. Enough said there. Ultimately, this is more of a fade of Smith. Smith has gained more than a full stroke on approach in just 2 of his last 10 starts and ranks 108th in approach and 129th in fairways gained over his last 24 rounds. That is a recipe for a missed cut at Sedgefield.
That is it for this week’s breakdown! Thank you for reading and as always, feel free to shoot me any questions on Twitter @jmazzjd!
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