This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.116M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Greensboro, N.C.
Course: Sedgefield Country Club
2018 champion: Brandt Snedeker
Well, here we are. It's not quite August yet, and the regular season is about to end. Last year at this time, the PGA Championship and a WGC event had yet to be played. This is by design, of course, though the condensed season has felt a little rushed, especially with the majors coming in rapid fashion. The beauty of the Wyndham Championship has always been the last-chance race to get into the top 125 of the FedEx Cup standings – and thus earning a playoff berth and Tour card – the top-150 – which grants conditional status – or, in extreme cases, the top-200, good for a spot in the Korn Ferry playoffs. The PGA Tour took steps to minimize the Wyndham drama this year; fortunately, those steps failed.
The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 was new for 2018-19. It offers $10 million to the golfers with the most FedEx Cup points during the regular season. Its goal was to add excitement to the Wyndham event, but instead, nobody cares about it. Here's what the Tour's website trumpeted back in November: "The bonus program will provide additional drama to the Regular Season finale." Um, no. Almost none of the top players were drawn to the Wyndham, as Brooks Koepka has already locked up the $2 million first-prize bonus. Further, there are three straight weeks of playoffs ahead, which would mean six straight weeks of play for the very best golfers. It all worked out for the best, because this tournament has traditionally been about the lesser golfers battling for their livelihoods. Historically, there hasn't been a whole lot of movement this week, but it's still fun to watch the drama unfold – certainly more fun than watching the richest guys fighting it out over more riches.
According to the Tour's website, over the first 12 years of the playoffs, an average of 2.7 golfers moved into the top 125 at the Wyndham. Last year it was two, the most has been five, and the fewest has been zero. Almost all of those who do make the playoffs in this last-gasp try are inside the top 140. Just four times has someone outside that threshold cracked the top 125, with Rory Sabbatini the last to do it two years ago. The biggest jump ever was by Davis Love III, famously winning at age 51 in 2015 to climb from 186th to 76th.
So, who actually is here? No one in the top 15 in the world rankings. No. 17 Webb Simpson, No. 19 Paul Casey and No. 24 Patrick Reed constitute the entire top-25 collection. The headliner, however, is Jordan Spieth, who is back for the first time since finishing as runner-up behind Reed six years ago. It's actually sad to see him entered. Spieth doesn't need the money, but he does need the points, as he is very close to the 70th position in the standings, which is the cutoff to get into the second playoff event. Defending champion Brandt Snedeker is back, one of 11 guys in the top 50 of the OWGR, but he barely moves the needle. Luckily for tournament organizers, the Class of '19 gang – Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland – will be in Greensboro. They are fun to watch – and are expensive to roster this week.
Sedgefield is among of the shortest courses the golfers will see all season. One of its prime defenses is narrow fairways. They average only 26 yards wide at the 275-yard mark, dropping down to 22 by 325. But that hasn't been much hindrance to today's modern golfer. The tournament has always been a birdie-fest, with the winning score often in the 15- to 20-under range, and last year Snedeker got to 21-under, besting Simpson and C.T. Pan by three strokes. The birdie-fest mentality goes a long way in determining our key stats and Champion's Profile below. The greens are a bit large for such a short course, but the Donald Ross design counters that with undulations and run-offs. There are only two par-5s, and they're both short at 529 and 545 yards. There are six par-4s under 425 yards.
Weather-wise, it's looking like a typical Carolina summer swelter. It'll be hot and sticky with minimal wind all week, though right now the forecast is calling for scattered thunderstorms the first three days (but not much pre-tournament). In other words, the tournament will be one big green-light special.
Fun Wyndham fact: Frank Nobilo's lone PGA Tour win came here in 1997, in a playoff over fellow broadcaster Brad Faxon when the tournament was known as the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic. Nobilo's Golf Channel colleague, Brandel Chamblee, was also in the field, but he missed the cut.
Key Stats to Winning at Sedgefield Country Club (in order of importance)
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: tee to green
• Proximity to the hole
• Putting average/strokes gained putting
• Birdie or better percentage
Snedeker finished at 21-under-par last year with 24 birdies and two eagles. Stenson shot 22-under and Kim was also at 21-under. Stenson made a whopping 29 birdies. Kim had 25 plus an eagle. When you birdie more than a third of the holes, it's almost as if "birdie-fest" doesn't fully tell the story. Maybe eagle-fest? There were 77 of them last year, second on Tour behind the 78 at the Canadian Open. Greens in regulation numbers will be high across the board. It's more than that. You have to get the ball close to the hole (proximity) or make a lot of putts, or both. Stenson and Kim each led the field in proximity, and just about everyone the past decade ranked in the top 10. Snedeker was 12th. And in any birdie-fest, putting matters. As for filling out lineups with some lesser guys, we will still rely mostly on current form, course history and stats. But there is something not so easily quantified that counts every bit as much: At crunch time, how will these guys fighting for their livelihoods handle the pressure?
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Webb Simpson - $11,200 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
This was a bit of a stunner, seeing such a low price for such a big favorite this week. Simpson was $11,600 last year, then went on to finish second, and we envisioned perhaps a rare $12,000 price tag this time around. So we couldn't jump on Simpson fast enough. He checks off every box this week, and even some boxes that don't need checking. Simpson finished solo second last week, his second runner-up in his past four starts. He was the 2011 Wyndham winner and has four more top-6s since then. The only drawback? Of course, he will be a popular selection.
Brandt Snedeker - $10,000 (25-1)
The defending champion is probably No. 2 behind only Simpson in terms of historical success at the Wyndham event. He has four top-5s at Sedgefield going back a decade. Snedeker also has a pair of top-5s in his past six starts overall, and he hasn't missed a cut since the Masters. He's coming off a T27 last week at Memphis. Snedeker's short game is as good as it ever was: he sits third in strokes gained: around the green and 11th in SG: putting.
Patrick Reed - $9,700 (20-1)
We've been saying it for weeks now, but there's no reason to stop: Reed is playing better and better. Last week, he quietly added a T12 at the WGC, his fourth straight top-25, two of which have doubled as top-10s. He tied for 10th at the Open Championship. Reed has not been back to the Wyndham since a T22 three years ago. He also famously stared down Jordan Spieth to win the tournament back in 2013.
Viktor Hovland - $9,500 (25-1)
Matthew Wolff has won, Collin Morikawa has won. And remember that just five weeks ago, Hovland was viewed as clearly the best of the incoming collegians. He's been very good, but not great, since turning pro. He hasn't missed a cut in his past seven PGA Tour events going back to his amateur days earlier this year. After turning pro at the Travelers Championship, Hovland has played three more events with a T13-T13-T16 compilation. We think he'll be even more motivated by the fact he's the last of the three notable newcomers to claim victory.
Tier 2 Values
Rory Sabbatini - $9,200 (50-1)
Sabbatini has to at least be in the conversation for PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year. In his past nine starts, he has four top-10s and two more top-20s, including a tie for 16th last time out at the Open. Sabbatini was 57th at the Wyndham event last year, but the year before that he tied for fourth – and that was when his game was far inferior to where it is now.
Cameron Smith - $9,000 (40-1)
Smith has gone from T29 to T20 to T12 his past three times out – that after not getting so much as a top-50 since February. The Aussie wasn't in the field last year, but he tied for seventh two years ago and for 18th back in 2015. Smith's stats are not pretty to look at, though his issues have started on the tee, something that could be minimized this week.
Alex Noren - $8,800 (40-1)
Like Smith, Noren is another guy who has found his form after a brutal season. His tie for 12th at the WGC follows a T11 at the Open and a T26 at Munich a few weeks before that. The veteran Swede has never played Sedgefield, but this year he has to, as he sits right on the playoff bubble at 125th in the standings.
Lucas Glover - $8,700 (50-1)
Glover rides a pair of top-10s and a top-20 into this week. He's made a terrific comeback this season after last year was filled with personal issues that led to him plummeting outside the top 150 in the world rankings. He's now back to 75th (higher than Sabbatini, for a point of reference). Glover's strength is his laser-like iron game – he is ranked 16th on Tour in proximity. Before missing last year's Wyndham cut, he finished T28-T22-T18 there.
Tier 3 Values
Abraham Ancer - $7,700 (60-1)
Ancer is coming off a missed cut at the Open Championship, but before that he had made seven straight cuts, two of them at majors. He sits 65th in the points race, so he still has work to do to ensure a top-70 standing, and that's easier to do this week than next. Ancer tied for 24th a year ago at Sedgefield. He's ranked T9 in proximity and 60th in birdie-or-better percentage.
Doc Redman - $7,600 (80-1)
The former world No. 1 amateur has made only five PGA Tour starts this season, but has top-25s in three of them, including the Open Championship. You'll remember he qualified for Royal Portrush by finishing runner-up to Nate Lashley at Detroit. Redman has played at least one tournament on five different Tours this season: PGA, Europe, Korn Ferry, Mackenzie and Latinoamerica.
Vaughn Taylor - $7,400 (100-1)
Taylor has climbed from the 300s in the world rankings at the beginning of the year to 115th now. He's coming off top-6s in two of his past three starts, and he's missed only one cut since March. Taylor is very accurate, especially with his driver (ranked 25th) and his putter (fifth in SG: putting). Taylor has never had much success in this tournament, but he's a different golfer this year.
Bud Cauley- $7,300 (100-1)
Cauley has taken some time off since tying for 18th at the John Deere, so at a time of year when many guys are grinding and playing week after week, he at the least should be refreshed. Cauley sits 100th in points, so he's secure for the first playoff event and keeping his card. Cauley has played the Wyndham Championship six times over the past eight years, with a best of T3 in 2012, as well as a T10 in 2016. He skipped last year's tournament. He ranks 11th in birdie-or-better percentage and is first on Tour in strokes gained: around the green.
Roger Sloan - $7,100 (125-1)
At age 32, this is only the second year the Canadian has had a Tour card. Unlike last time, Sloan will be keeping it for at least another year. He sits 91st in the standings, and has really come on strong down the stretch. He has compiled four straight top-25s, improving each week: 21-15-10-7. Sloan has played the Wyndham just once before, missing the cut in 2015. He's ranked T56 in proximity and 66th in birdie or better – great numbers in this crowd.
Nick Taylor - $6,800 (100-1)
Another Canadian and another Taylor, he has made seven straight cuts, and sits comfortably inside the top 125. Taylor is at 114th, so he still has a long way to go to get to top-70, but for this week the pressure is off. Aside from being a shorter hitter, Taylor has pretty decent stats across the board, including 37th in strokes gained: putting. Last year at Sedgefield, he tied for eighth.
Stewart Cink - $6,300 (Field, 12-1)
The veteran missed 10 weeks with a back injury but is 3-for-3 in cuts since his return, culminating with a tie for 20th at the Open Championship. Cink sits 177th in the points race, and he'd likely need a win, or perhaps a runner-up, to get inside the top 125. It will be interesting to see what he chooses to do after this week, as he could attempt to keep his card in the Korn Ferry playoffs. He also might qualify for a major medical extension. Cink last played here three years ago, when he tied for 14th.
Charlie Danielson - $6,100 (Field, 12-1)
Since qualifying for the U.S. Open and tying for 58th, Danielson has tied for 15th at the 3M Open and for seventh at the Barracuda, a result that got him into this week's field. He's also made three starts on the Canadian Tour after a long injury absence, scoring three top-10s there. This seems to be a great opportunity to take a flyer on a real battler, and at a bargain-basement price.