2020 Wyndham Championship Primer

Wyndham Championship
Chez Reavie tees off on the 2nd hole during the final round of the 2017 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield CC in Greensboro, NC. Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This week’s Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour is a tale of two contests — there’s the race to capture the Sam Snead Cup, awarded to the winner of the tournament, and then there’s what is usually a scramble – an even madder scramble this year due to COVID – deeper in the field amid constantly changing calculations for those anxiously trying to crack the top-125 mark in the season-long FedEx Cup standings.

The last regular-season event annually sends players to wildly differing fates. Those who finish inside the top 125 advance to the playoffs: three events with a gradual cutdown before the season culminates with the top 30 players in the standings playing for the Tour Championship. All of the top 125 are also guaranteed to retain their tour cards for the 2020-21 season.

But those who finish from 126-200, unless exempt by another criteria, are relegated to the purgatory option of competing in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to try and keep their Tour cards.

So, that said, what stories are likely to emerge as the weekend progresses? As you would expect after back-to-back weeks where events featured nearly all 50 of the top players in the world, the depth of talent will drop substantially.

Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the 14th tee during the first round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake GC on Aug 22, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Only six of the current top 20 players in the Official World Golf Rankings will be teeing it up in Greensboro – three Americans: Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, and Patrick Reed, alongside three Englishmen: Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, and Paul Casey.

Defending champion J.T. Poston will enter in poor form which includes three missed-cuts and a T75 (last week’s PGA) in his five most recent starts.

Out of the current top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings, just a handful will be playing this week, with No. 3 Simpson leading the way.

Sitting right on the proverbial hot seat at position No. 125 in the FedEx Cup standings is Charl Schwartzel, with Russell Knox just one point ahead of him at No. 124 and Bronson Burgoon just 11 points behind at No. 126.

Taking a deeper view, Sergio Garcia, who has made the postseason in 12 of the 13 years it’s been held (missed by four spots in 2018), is currently No. 134 in the FedEx Cup standings, and just 28 points off the pace of Schwartzel.

On three occasions, as many as five players have done enough at the Wyndham to move back inside the top 125 and bump out another player. With a spread of just 35 FedEx Cup points separating the 13 players at No. 124 to No. 136, this could be another of those years.


The Skinny

Tournament: Wyndham Championship
Commonly Called: The Greensboro
Dates: Aug. 13-16, 2020
Where: Greensboro, N.C.
Course: Sedgefield Country Club
Distance: Par 70, 7,127 yards
Architect: Donald Ross
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Purse: $6,400,000
Winning Share: $1,152,000
Trophy: Sam Snead Cup
Defending Champion: J.T. Poston 
Marquee Players: Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Sungjae Im, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Kevin Kisner, Si Woo Kim, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Davis Love III


TV & Online

Rd 1: Thu 3-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Rd 2: Fri 3-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Rd 3: Sat 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6:00 pm (CBS)
Rd 4: Sun 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6:00 pm (CBS)
Web | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Wikipedia


Wyndham Championship History

Sam Snead
52-year old Sam Snead poses with the trophy after winning the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at Sedgefield CC in Greensboro, NC. Credit: AP Photowire

The Wyndham Championship is most closely associated with the man who, along with Tiger Woods, has the most victories in PGA Tour history (82), Sam Snead.

Snead first won the tournament in 1938, which was the inaugural event, and went on to win eight times total, five more victories than second-place Davis Love III. Snead’s last Wyndham triumph, in 1965, was notable as the then 52-year-old became the oldest player to win a PGA event, a record that still stands today.

In his later years, Snead took on the role of hosting the tournament. The winner’s trophy is called the Sam Snead Cup.

The beginnings of the Wyndham Championship can be traced all the way back to 1938, when it was known as the Greater Greensboro Open. The tournament has been played at three different courses, all in the Greensboro, N.C. area.

The current host venue, Sedfield Country Club, was the home course off and on in the early years before moving there permanently from 1961-1976 and then again from 2008-present.

In addition to Snead, notable winners include Ralph Guldahl, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Lloyd Mangrum, Billy Casper, Julius Boros, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros, Raymond Floyd, and Sandy Lyle.

History: Title Names

2007-20: Wyndham Championship
2003-06: Chrysler Classic of Greensboro
1996-02: Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic
1988-95: KMart Greater Greensboro Open
1938-87: Greater Greensboro Open

History: Recent Winners

2019: J. T. Poston (-22)
2018: Brandt Snedeker (-21)
2017: Henrik Stenson (-22)
2016: Si Woo Kim (-21)
2015: Davis Love III (-17)
2014: Camilo Villegas (-17)
2013: Patrick Reed (-14)
2012: Sergio Garcia (-18)
2011: Webb Simpson (-18)

History: Records

Scoring:
258 Henrik Stenson (2017), J.T. Poston (2019)
-23 Jesper Parnevik (1999)

Wins:
8 – Sam Snead (1938, 1946, 1949-50, 1955-56, 1960, 1965)
3 – Davis Love III (1992, 2006, 2015)


Defending Champion

J.T. Poston Wins Wyndham Championship
J.T. Poston celebrates with the trophy after winning the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on August 04, 2019 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

J.T. Poston fired a final-round 62 at Sedgefield Country Club to win his maiden PGA Tour title at the season-ending Wyndham Championship.

Poston entered Sunday’s finale three shots off the pace of 54-hole leader Byeong Hun An, but following a low-round 8-under par, highlighted by a four-hole stretch of an eagle and two birdies on Nos. 5, 7 and 8, the North Carolina native’s dreams became reality: He was posing with the Sam Snead Trophy and is now forever a PGA Tour champion.

“Yeah, it feels unbelievable. I mean, a dream come true. You know, I’ve always dreamt that I could win out here and I felt like I kind of proved that,” said a smiling Poston, who finished all 72 holes without a single bogey.

“Gave myself some chances over the years. But to be able to do it here in North Carolina with a lot of friends and family, I don’t think I could have drawn it up any better.”

Webb Simpson, also a native of the Tar Heel state, carded Sunday 65 to reach 21-under par and secure his second-consecutive runner-up finish – and the third in his last five starts.

Despite another close call, Simpson was happy for his fellow North Carolinian.

“Congrats to JT. He played phenomenally today. Happy for him,” said Simpson, who moves to No. 13 in the world rankings. “He’s a young player, such a nice kid, so I’m happy for him.

“It wasn’t the start that I needed. I needed to make some birdies early on. I was 2 over through three, which kind of killed me.

“But despite the disappointment, I’m really happy and proud of the way we finished being 7 under on my last 15 holes after starting like that. So disappointed, but a lot of positives going to the playoffs.”

Overnight leader An (67) maintained his lead until two late bogeys on Nos. 15 and 18 sent him tumbling to solo third-place at 20-under par. Up until those two dropped shots, An had played bogey-free through 68 holes.

Final Top 5

Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. J.T. Poston -22 (-8)
2. Webb Simpson -21 (-5)
3. Byeong Hun An -20 (-3)
4. Viktor Hovland -19 (-5)
5. Si Woo Kim -17 (-6)


The Field

Webb Simpson RBC Heritage
Webb Simpson reacts on the 16th green during the final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, SC. Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The field’s top ranking (No. 6), along with some home cooking, would seem to be on the side of Webb Simpson although he’s fallen off a bit (T37, T12, MC) since winning at Hilton Head, followed by a top-10 in Detroit.

The North Carolinian has been a solid bet at past Wyndhams, with seven top 10 finishes in 11 starts, including a win in 2011 and two recent runner ups (2018, 2019).

Brooks Koepka has struggled most of the year, with only a single top-10 finish all season. The best positives you could cite for his chances are motivation after last weekend’s final-round flop which excited the media. He did finish T6 in last appearance in Greensboro (2015).

Brooks Koepka chips to the 13th green as caddie Ricky Elliott looks on during the third round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park on Aug 8, 2020 in San Francisco, CA. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Also teeing it up this week is Patrick Reed, who won his first PGA Tour title at Greensboro in 2013, beating a then 20-year old Jordan Spieth in a playoff. Since that win, Reed has performed solidly in three follow-up appearances, but has failed to crack the top 20 in each start, posting T24 (2014), T22 (2016), and T22 (2019).

Alongside the aforementioned trio of American stars, three Englishmen are essentially co-headlining, including Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, and Paul Casey.

World No. 12 Fleetwood, who sits at No. 85 in the FedExCup standings, enters in poor form with not a single top 25 in three starts since the COVID reboot. Rose (No. 17) and Casey (No. 19), though, each posted top-10 finishes last week at the PGA, and both should tee off with good vibes.

Shane Lowry
Shane Lowry hits a shot on the 10th tee during day one of the 2018 Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris, France. Credit: Getty Images/Tony Marshall

Ireland’s Shane Lowry followed up a T6 in Memphis with a disappointing T66 at the PGA. At No. 131 in the FedExCup, Lowry will need a good week just to get into the postseason. He missed the cut here in 2018, but tied for 7th in 2017.

Finally, one name to keep an eye on is the previously-mentioned Spieth. Now 27-years old, the former all-world superstar is in the midst of a mind-boggling three-year slump that his seen his star fall precipitously.

Now ranked No. 60 in the world, and No. 94 in the FedExCup standings, he will need to turn it around fast, or he’ll be in danger of not only missing his third straight Tour Championship, but his first miss of the postseason’s second leg (BMW), which includes only the top 60.

Spieth has only played Greensboro twice – a playoff loss in 2013, and a T78 in 2019, but enters in poor form, finishing T71, T30, T13, MC, T54, and T68 in his last six starts.


Full Field and Odds

Webb Simpson
Webb Simpson on the 18th green during day three of the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston on September 2, 2018 in Norton, MA. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The favorite is Webb Simpson, who owns two-straight runner-ups in Greensboro, and is listed at 9-1. The world No. 6 is the field’s top-ranked player.

Simpson is followed by big-game star Brooks Koepka, who disappointed on Sunday at the PGA, but now has the media to motivate him. Koepka is offered at 11-1.

Patrick Reed, who won here in 2013, is listed at 16-1, alongside Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

Fleetwood’s countryman, Justin Rose and Paul Casey, round out the top-5 betting favorites at 20-1.

Top-5 Betting Favorites

1. Webb Simpson (9-1)
2. Brooks Koepka (11-1)
3. Tommy Fleetwood (16-1)
3. Patrick Reed (16-1)
5. Justin Rose (20-1)
5. Paul Casey (20-1)

Wyndham Championship | Sedgefield CC | Greensboro, NC | Aug. 13-16, 2020


Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images | Joel Cook and Casey Hoffman contributed to this report.


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