On the heels of “Glory’s Last Shot” comes that last gasp for many PGA Tour regulars as they try to resurrect their lagging golf season by at least squeaking their way into the FedEx Cup playoffs.
I can’t imagine that this week’s Wyndham Championship will carry with it the sense of drama and substantial emotions of last week in Wisconsin but nonetheless it is a tournament on a storied venue with some relevant consequences to the pros, mostly of the pocket book variety. Those left out of the playoffs lose out on a shot at some big paydays, including the $10 million awarded to the FedEx Cup winner.
The 71st Wyndham Championship, of course, is the evolution of the Greater Greensboro Open, first won in 1938 by Sam Snead and held dear to the hearts of fans in a very golf mad part of the United States. As such, a win here is valued by players in many ways – sentimentally as a place where many of the games greats have played and now, as the last event before the playoffs, as the place where they need to grind if they want the glory that the lucrative extra events offer.
In 2009 Ryan Moore secured his first PGA Tour win at The Wyndham. A back nine barrage of birdies helped him force his way into a playoff with Kevin Stadler and Jason Bohn, where he prevailed after three holes.
While Moore will carry that confidence into the week at Sedgefield Country Club, the venerable Donald Ross layout that was rebuilt for modern play in 2007, I think you still have to look another recent champion as the man to beat for the week. 2008 Champion and tournament record-holder (21 under par) Carl Pettersson is the home town boy, having arrived in the scenic North Carolina town via Sweden and England at the age of 15, and pairing his roots, record and recent play together suggests another great weekend ahead for the Wolfpack Alum.
Pettersson is just a month removed from his win at the RBC Canadian Open where a third round 60 stunned both himself and the crowd at tricky St. George’s Golf & Country Club. And that is not his only course record of note – he also holds the Sedgefield mark of 61 that he tallied during his run to the Wyndham title in 2008.
It is not the most glamorous field you can find on the PGA Tour in a year but the playoff situation certainly has added to the quality players who have committed to make the trip to Greensboro.
Expect a game title defence by Ryan Moore while other names of note, based on recent performances would be Steve Elkington, Justin Leonard, and even young Aussie Michael Sim who missed the cut at Whistling Straits but seems to be rounding out some form on the course.
At Sedgefield the pros will face a course lengthened even more for 2010, now peaking at 7130 yards. Even at that length the course ranks among the easier ones on tour so you if you are big fan of low scoring, this week is for you. Watch for a player to break out of the pack on the back nine with a streak of birdies. At the same time you can expect that the tour mathematicians will be kept busy right down the final putts with players moving to and fro on the final nine with plenty of score changes.