If relatively unfamiliar venues at the recent British Open, RBC Canadian Open and PGA Championship weren't enough of a challenge for the lion's share of PGA TOUR membership, and if the Modified Stableford scoring system didn't impede momentum for others at the Reno-Tahoe Open, perhaps the new greens at Sedgefield Country Club at this week's Wyndham Championship will knock guys off balance.
Indeed, the ramp into the FedExCup Playoffs has taken the shape of an obstacle course.
Sedgefield's Bentgrass greens were replaced with Champion Bermuda just three months ago. As a result of the more heat-tolerant and speedier surfaces, scoring is expected to rise for what could be a significant deviation from the norm.
In the last four years, Sedgefield has ranked as the easiest (or second-easiest) par 70 on the PGA TOUR schedule. Greens-in-regulation splits have lived north of 71 percent, topping out at a gawdy 75.71 in 2010. Across the board, Sedgefield's profile suggests that as the table-setter for the Playoffs, it really has been a mad dash to qualify for the TOUR's postseason.
Ryan Moore's 16-under 264 in 2009 is the highest winning aggregate since Sedgefield returned as host in 2008 after a 31-year hiatus. The Donald Ross-designed layout served as co-host (with Starmount Forest Country Club, also in Greensboro) for the first four editions beginning in 1938. The two tracks then alternated singular duties as host 17 times from 1942-1960 before Sedgefield took over for 16 consecutive editions ending in 1976. (Incidentally, Forest Oaks Country Club, which hosted from 1977-2007, now serves as site of the open qualifier.)
Given the transition to Bermuda, putting may be more challenging as the undulations across the property are enhanced. However, the grass will need time to mature before a true indication of its impact on scoring is understood. A year ago, Wyndham extended its title sponsorship through 2016, so expect this week's results to potentially classify as an anomaly in the long-term. Regardless, the premium remains on hitting greens in regulation. Length is a non-factor, given a maximum measurement of 7,117 yards and two quite scorable par-5s.
A threat of rain exists on Tuesday and early Wednesday; any moisture will certainly soften the course. Dry conditions are forecast until the next chance for precipitation enters the picture on Friday and into Saturday. Temperatures will rise into the high 80s early before abating a bit on the weekend. Winds are expected to be light.
|Power Rankings: Wyndham Championship|
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In 2012, our expert will be publishing his list of players who didn't quite make the top 10 for that particular week. Here are five other players Rob Bolton likes at Sedgefield:
11. Brendon de Jonge ... Consecutive cuts made streak of 15 is second-best on the PGA TOUR. Top-20s in three of his last six starts. Ranks 11th in greens hit and 36th in adjusted scoring. Started the final round last year T11, then closed with a 72 to finish T40.
12. John Mallinger ... Had the week off following a solo fourth at the Reno-Tahoe Open. It was his second top five of the season and fifth top 25. He's also missed nine cuts in 20 starts, but he's posted a pair of top-15s at Sedgefield in as many appearances.
13. Gary Christian ... The PGA TOUR rookie has recorded five of his six top-25s this year in his last six starts, including the last four in a row. Ranks 24th on the circuit in greens in regulation. First-timer at Sedgefield should enjoy the cozy confines.
14. Blake Adams ... Tied for seventh at last week's PGA Championship, his best finish in 26 starts this year. Five top-25s in his last nine starts. Sits 77th on the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation, 55th in Strokes Gained-Putting and 40th in birdie average.
15. John Daly ... One of the feel-good developing stories. Ranks 137th in FedExCup points on the eve of the Playoffs. Backed up a T5 in Reno with a T18 at the PGA where he posted bookend sub-70s. He's 4-for-4 at Sedgefield but hasn't cracked a top 40 ... yet.