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DraftKings PGA: Wyndham Championship

Len Hochberg

Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.


WYNDHAM CHAMPIONSHIP

Purse: $5.8M
Winner's Share: $1.044M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Greensboro, N.C.
Course: Sedgefield Country Club
Yardage: 7,127
Par: 70
2016 champion: Si Woo Kim



Tournament Preview

For many golfers and fans, the Masters or maybe the U.S. Open is the biggest tournament of the year. But for many other golfers, it's the Wyndham. It's their Super Bowl. This is where so many golfers learn -- and help determine -- their fate and their livelihood for the year ahead and beyond. Think about your own future employment coming down to your performance over a four-day span. Yes, the entire PGA Tour season decides which golfers will finish in the top-125 in the FedEx Cup standings and therefore keep their playing privileges. But it all is finalized this week at Sedgefield. And even though traditionally not many spots in the playoffs change hands this week, it's must-see TV. Watching a guy on the bubble hit a snap hook on 18 is like watching a train wreck -- it's gut-wrenching but hard to turn away. Last year, after all the final-round volatility -- and, boy, do CBS and the Golf Channel do a great job of pumping that up -- only two golfers outside the top-125 climbed in. The year before, when Tiger Woods was making a last-gasp effort to qualify, five made it through (Woods was not one of them). We will still rely mostly on current form, course history and stats to identify the top picks for this tournament, but there is something not so easily quantified that counts every bit as much: At crunch time, how will these guys handle the pressure? Even all the data can be misleading, as guys who have compiled their sub-par numbers in stronger fields all season now must be judged in a watered-down group.

As for the field itself, last year's was significantly stronger, but that was an Olympics-fueled aberration thanks. This time around, only two golfers inside the top-25 in the OWGR are entered, and No. 9 Henrik Stenson is here presumably to move closer to the minimum 15 PGA Tour starts required to keep his card (right now, he's at 12). But a solid finish also could go a long way in getting him to the Tour Championship; right now, Stenson is 75th in points. No. 24 Kevin Kisner is also entered, and you have to wonder how he will rebound so quickly after such heartache at the PGA Championship. No. 37 Bill Haas, No. 43 Ryan Moore, No. 44 Russell Knox and No. 47 Billy Horschel round out the top-50 guys in the field. Sedgefield is one of the shortest courses the golfers will see all season. One of its prime defenses is narrow fairways, and that will be a consideration in the key stats and Champion's profile below. The fairways average only 26 yards wide at the 275-yard mark, dropping down to 22 by 325. That's far slimmer than Glen Abbey, where we last saw many of these golfers the week before the Bridgestone. On the other hand, when a course is so short, even wayward drives are recoverable from the rough with a wedge in hand. The tournament has always been a birdie-fest, with the winning score often in the 15- to 20-under range, though last year Si Woo Kim ran away to win by five at a record-tying 21-under. The greens are a bit large for such a short course, but the Donald Ross design counters that with undulations and run-offs.

Weather-wise, expect the typical Carolina summer swelter. It'll be hot and humid with a chance of thunderstorms every day. Notably, the wind is forecast to be rather light all week, and that will give everyone lots of green lights to attack pins.

Key Stats to Winning at Sedgefield Country Club (in order of importance)

• Proximity to the hole
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained approach
• Putting average/strokes gained putting
• Scrambling/strokes gained around the green
• Driving accuracy
• Birdie or better percentage

Past Champions

2016 - Si Woo Kim
2015 - Davis Love III
2014 - Camilo Villegas
2013 - Patrick Reed
2012 - Sergio Garcia
2011 - Webb Simpson
2010 - Arjun Atwal
2009 - Ryan Moore
2008 - Carl Pettersson
2007 - Brandt Snedeker

Champion's Profile:

Last year, Kim shot a 60 in the second round and ended up tying the tournament record of 259. When you have to birdie almost 1 in every 3 holes to do that, it's more than finding greens in regulation. You have to get the ball close to the hole (proximity) or make a lot of putts or both. Kim was first in proximity but only 34th in strokes gained putting. If a golfer can excel in every area but one, as Kim did, then he won't need lights-out putting. But in any birdie-fest, putting matters. A look at the last five winners shows a fairly even distribution of the key stats listed above, but proximity does rate a bit higher than the others. Of course, hitting your second shot from the fairway makes it easier to get close.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values 

Henrik Stenson - $11,500 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 12-1)
 
Would it be surprising to see Stenson stick around for two days and miss the cut but add a 13th tournament to his PGA Tour ledger (he'd then get the other two he needs in the first two playoff events)? Maybe. But even though his current standing of 75th in points would ensure he'd make it halfway through the four-event playoffs and thus get to 15, there's incentive to reach East Lake. And the easiest way to do that comes this week before the fields get much tougher. It's been a down year for Stenson, but he's rebounded of late with top-20s at the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship.

Jason Dufner - $10,400 (25-1) 

Dufner's 2016-17 success has definitely been front-loaded, and he's barely played since winning the Memorial almost three months ago (just four U.S. starts). He has amassed 11 top-25s in his 16 cashes this season, though at $10,000-plus we need a lot more than that. Dufner is 21st on Tour in proximity, 35th in driving accuracy and, surprisingly, 29th in birdie or better percentage.

Bill Haas - $10,200 (20-1) 

It's been a quiet year for Haas, but there he is, on the cusp of qualifying for the Tour Championship at 34th in the point standings. Similar to Dufner, Haas has 11 top-25s in his 17 cashes, and he's run off five straight at Sedgefield, including a runner-up in 2014. Haas is 26th in greens in regulation. Of the four Tier 1 selections, this one gives us the most pause.

Webb Simpson - $10,000 (20-1) 

Simpson had an off-year at the Wyndham in 2016, tying for 72nd. But he had run off six straight top-25s before that, four of them top-10s, including his 2011 victory. Simpson is sixth in scrambling and 17th in proximity, both of which go a long way toward blunting his poor putting. He's made his last eight cuts dating to May.

Tier 2 Values

Ryan Moore - $9,600 (25-1)

The 2009 Wyndham champ missed six weeks following the Memorial dealing with a shoulder injury. Upon his return, he promptly missed two straight cuts -- not surprising. But he then tied for 28th at the Bridgestone and for 13th at the PGA, signaling that everything is just fine once again. Even though Moore wasn't full strength for a period earlier this season, he still has top-25s in more than half of his 15 cashes.

Kyle Stanley - $9,300 (40-1) 

Stanley hasn't done much since winning the Quicken Loans in mid-July, but three of his four subsequent starts have been in elite fields: two majors and a WGC. This course -- and field -- is much more to his comfort level. Stanley tied for 14th here last year. He still sits first on Tour in greens in regulation and is second in proximity.

Lucas Glover - $8,600 (50-1) 

The South Carolina native has notched top-25s at the Wyndham the past two years, and had three more of them a number of years back. Glover is fifth in greens in regulation, 23rd in proximity and, surprisingly, 53rd in birdie or better.

Kevin Streelman - $8,300 (50-1) 
Streelman hasn't played the Wyndham in five years, but he enters on a strong run, having made seven straight cuts, four of them top-20s. No one thing in his game stands out statistically. He's 31st in driving accuracy, 47th in scrambling, 52nd in greens in regulation, 60th in proximity.

Tier 3 Values 

Chad Campbell - $7,900 (50-1) 

We can't begin to wonder what it would take for the fine folks over at DraftKings to elevate Campbell's price north of $8,000, especially in this field, but we'll take the gift and be happy with it. The veteran has made seven of his last eight cuts, five of them top-25s. He's had mixed results at Sedgefield, highlighted by a personal best of T4 in 2012. Campbell is second in scrambling, 12th in greens in regulation, 17th in proximity and 25th in strokes gained approach. How is his price so low?

Ollie Schniederjans - $7,600 (60-1)  

Schniederjans has missed only six cuts all season, and one of them was last time out in the funky-scoring Barracuda. Before that, you'd have to go back to April for his prior MC. His season-long numbers are not great, but Schniederjans has made significant strides in greens in regulation and scrambling of late. He's 34th in proximity, 39th in strokes gained approach and T51 in birdie or better.

Brandon Hagy - $7,400 (60-1)  

Hagy is one of the longest and least-accurate drivers on Tour (third in distance, 190th in accuracy). That still adds up nicely to 26th in strokes gained off the tee. Hagy drives it so far that despite often being in the rough he's hitting wedges to the green. That's not the best long-term plan for serious success on the Tour, but Hagy is riding six straight made cuts, three of them top-20s. The run of cashes has landed Hagy at 106th in the point standings, meaning he's thinking top-100 and not worrying about the top-125 threshold.

Richy Werenski - $7,400 (Field, 8-5)  

Werenski endured a rough patch of five straight missed cuts. But he's now followed that up with four straight cashes, including three top-25s. He lost in a three-man playoff to Chris Stroud two weeks ago at the Barracuda. The rookie is 25th in proximity and 33rd in greens in regulation.

Long-Shot Values 

Blaine Barber - $7,300 (Field, 8-5) 

Barber is safely inside the top-125 at 118th, so playoff pressure should not be an issue. He's struggled to make cuts, only 12 out of 23, but he's on a run of three in a row. Barber is eighth in proximity, 11th in strokes gained putting and 34th in greens in regulation. Which leads to the question: With those great numbers, how does he miss so many cuts?

Daniel Summerhays - $7,100 (Field, 8-5) 

Summerhays is on a run of eight straight cashes, two of them in majors. You'd need solar-eclipse glasses to look at some of his hideous season-long stats, as he sits well outside the top-100 in proximity, scrambling and greens in regulation. But Summerhays has vastly improved over the last couple of months.

Peter Malnati - $6,900 (Field, 8-5) 

Malnati is surging to the finish line with nine straight cuts made -- The Players was his last MC. But the first half of his season was so awful he's still on the outside looking in at 166th in the point standings. The problem is he hasn't racked up many high finishes. But he's 24th in strokes gained putting and 28th in scrambling.

Ryan Blaum - $6,900 (Field, 8-5) 

The 33-year-old rookie is well inside the top-125, and is even nearing the top-100, which would get him into a second playoff event. Blaum has made five straight cuts, two of them top-10s, and has missed only six cuts all season. He's 25th in strokes gained putting.

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