PGA TourTournament Previews

Wyndham Championship Preview

The biggest story this week, like it or not, is Tiger. He’s playing Greensboro for the first time in his career, signalling just how far his game (and pride) has fallen. Tiger’s aura was built in large part by his ability and desire to be extremely picky about where he would play (in the process conferring second-class citizenship upon those events left off his list and no willingness to mix things up during his prime). That Tiger now needs an event like the Wyndham, if only for reps, says everything that needs to be said about his standing in the game. My how the mighty has fallen. But what a voyeuristic treat it’ll be this week to watch!

Tron Carter put together an exceedingly girthy Wyndham preview last year – we at NoLayingUp take pride in deep diving the lower profile events. No sense in me trying to recreate the wheel concerning course and vibe, so here are his funny musings from a year ago (note: one quibble I have with Tron is Raleigh/Durham being mentioned alongside Greensboro, W-S, etc. Felt that was a bit unfair – I ride for the Triangle!):

The tour heads to Greensboro this week for what looks like a nondescript event on the surface. To be real with you, I couldn’t pick Greensboro out of a lineup of Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Durham, or any other mid-sized Carolinas city you want to throw in there. Wikipedia tells us that the following hail either from Greensboro or are closely associated with the area:

  • Daughtry
  • (Hot) Carl Pettersson (went to high school here)
  • The Petty Family (of NASCAR fame)
  • G.I. Joe (seriously, G.I. Joe spent his formative years here)
  • Rick Dees (of “Weekly Top 40” radio fame)
  • Donna Edmondson (Playboy Playmate of the Year ’87)
  • Ricky Proehl (wide receiver/dirty little slot/BOMB THREAT for the St. Louis Rams of 90’s)
  • a disproportionate amount of Survivor contestants
  • outlet mall baron Stanley Tanger
  • and then some other people who have actually been contributing members of society at large.

If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know about Greensboro, then I’m not sure what will.

But seriously, this tourney’s been around for 75 years, which is remarkable (especially considering the small market, constant shuffling on the schedule, former Chrysler and KMart sponsorships, and current spot in the dungeon of the TOUR schedule) and preserves vestiges of the older, less flashy TOUR of yore. In those 75 years, Sam Snead’s won EIGHT TIMES, including the inaugural tourney in 1938 and his last victory here in 1965, WHEN HE WAS 53 YEARS OLD.” 

Sam-Snead-1a

 

Course

Sedgefield Country Club

The par 4 18th.
The par 4 18th.

Sedgefield is the only Donald Ross course on the permanent schedule and a prototypical example of the Scotsman’s work. False fronts, long par 4’s, and classic design features are the norm. It’s a handsome, no-frills par 71 playing only around 7,100 yards, so it’s a fair test for most of the field and allows for some hilarious scoring. Peep the list of winners since the event moved back to Sedgefield and you’ll notice a pattern: Ballstrikers. Reed, Webb, Serg, Ryan Moore, and Hot Carl Pettersson have all triumphed (in addition to Sneds and Arjun Freaking Atwal). Look for our picks to reflect that ballstriking fervor.

Vibe

Fair or not, I picture a TON of Webb Simpson doppelgängers wandering around the premises all week, mixed with some rabid members of the NC State Wolfpack. This year you can add a bunch of BigCat Truthers to the mix. Per GC’s Todd Lewis event organizers printed an extra 49,000 tickets on account of Cat, experienced an inordinate spike in the number of media credential requests and had to reconfigure the interview area on his account. That’s staggering to me and speaks volumes about how dumb people are. Think about it: in 2013 Patrick Reed and a 19-year old Jordan Spieth went to a playoff in this event and watching tonight’s replay of that final round shows an exceedingly chill crowd. The new wave of talent continues to make waves this year and will certainly make a run at the title this week. And yet the people who actually give a shit about good golf will have a front row seat to the action while Tiger’s sideshow loops on the main stage. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

Last Year

wyn

I honestly don’t remember much about last year’s tournament. I remember Reed beat Spieth in 2013 but nothing endures from last year. And that’s not an indictment of the leaderboard or anything; I thoroughly enjoy these ‘one-off’ events and the boards they produce (not to mention the scoring: LY only two guys who finished top-25 didn’t shoot in the sixties in the final round). Will be interesting this year to see if this one devolves into a veteran moxy-fest on the classic track or if the young wave keeps asserting itself and supplanting some of the stalwarts. Hope I at least made some Heath Slocum needs to get on the whip jokes.

Fantasy/Gambling Insights

Here are the odds, good luck. Last year picked Koepka, Horschel, de Jonge, Harman and a few others without much success. This year’s field boasts Thomas, Koepka, Matsuyama, Moore, Scott, et. al. Can’t say I disagree with the picks from the TOUR website one bit, but they make the University of Alabama Alpha Phi recruitment video look downright diverse. There’s some thoroughbreds in the mix (and in addition to those mentioned, I think Haas sets up really well, too). Other flyers include Spencer Levin (500/1, shorter course, sitting precariously in 122nd in standings and looking to be aggressive to make playoffs), Daniel Summerhays (110/1, I’m shocked this guy hasn’t won yet. Not much history here, just a hunch), and then two guys who I think are undervalued on a weekly basis and will win sooner rather than later, and on a shorter, classic course like this: Carlos Ortiz (240/1) and Jon Curran (350/1). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Horschel, too – the microwave’s about to get flipped on. Lastly, it’s a damn travesty that Robert Streb’s sixth place standing in the FedEx Cup precludes necessitates him skipping events like this. He’s finished well here the last two years and would be primed to take the title.

The Fringe

  • My lasting image of the Wyndham is that beach near the 16th hole. First, it always looks like a great time. Second, let’s be real, there’s usually at least a hard-body or two hanging out and the TV cameras linger just a second or two longer than normal. Not the worst thing in the world. 15
  • Speaking of 17, by all accounts it was the precursor to 16 at Phoenix, 17 at Sawgrass, 16/17 at Honda, and any every other manner of rowdy outposts at TOUR events. The best part? It was completely organic and not a bastardized corporate scene. Ah, simpler times.
  • I would give anything for the Cat to be real with himself (and with the world at large) and do the right thing: admit he needs additional reps and play all four Web.com Tour Finals events. It would be like MJ playing minor league baseball, riding the busses, embracing the grind, and loving the game for what it is. Fort Wayne, IN, Davidson, NC; Columbus, OH, Sawgrass’ B track: A taste of America and prime diner country. Let’s get the feline his “little cup of coffee” with a side of reps!
  • While researching this event I got sucked down into a Sam Snead wikipedia wormhole, emerging an hour later dazed and astonished. Aside from being re-amazed by all of the stuff I already knew about him (actually reading through the list of his 82 official PGA Tour victories was jaw-dropping), I found out that Snead shot 60 at The Homestead at the age of 71 (!), and shot 78 at The Greenbrier at the age of 85 (!!!!). Also, he won the PGA Club Pro Championship in 1971, which is the least fair thing ever. As always, thank you Wikipedia.
  • An interesting historical note per Wikipedia: Charlie Sifford, who passed away earlier this year, was the first African-American allowed to compete in a PGA-sponsored event  in the South when he competed at the GGO in the 1961.
  • I’m keen to see what CBS does this week as far as production this week. It’s been a shitty season for them, as their trusty old fluffy, narrative-based telecast that’s light on golf shots, really light on variety of players and heavy on commercials is becoming rapidly outdated. CBS’ telecast was my favorite up until last year, when NBC really made some strides and ESPN showed it was possible to show a TON of live golf shots. Cat’s weekend slot will dictate much of what they do, but I’m curious to see if they show the ability/willingness to evolve. They certainly have talented people in place (Feherty, Kostis, and Macatee are total pros), not to mention people with the requisite production chops to boot. At this point they’ve been on auto-pilot for long enough. Wake up guys.
  • Looking to get back in the cut over the next few weeks and do a deep dive on the Web.com Finals with a look at those on the ascent to the TOUR and those looking to stave off the inexorable decline to the feeder league. That’s the good stuff, IMO.

Enjoy the week. Tron should be around this weekend as his wife is out of town and he’ll be writing wedding thank you notes, beer in hand, splitting time between the “Made in Denmark” Eurostop (top of mind: Matthew Fitzpatrick getting serious respect at 17/1 and “Is Thorbjorn Olesen still alive?”), the Wyndham and wondering what purpose Holly Sonders serves on the FoxSports U.S. Am Telecast. I should be in and out too. Check in with us on Twitter: @BigRandyNLU, @ TronCarterNLU, @ngschu, and over at the @NoLayingUp mothership.

About the Author

Perma-case of the yips inside 5 feet. Completely lose my swing at least once a year. No concept of what a good leave is. Harbor delusions of golf grandeur.

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One response to “Wyndham Championship Preview

  1. Yet again, Team NLU bring forth an entertaining and informative article and prove that they are the new masters of modern golf journalism.
    Big, yet bright, Randy writes with the ease and swagger of a young Shane Bacon.
    “Tron” swings a club with the power and flair of Dustin J Gretzky, yet manages such delicate keyboard strokes.
    And let’s not forget Team Captain, Chris S., who selfies with the charm and dynamic charisma of one Ian J. Poulter! And how about his Vines!
    Keep up the great work, Team NLU!

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