Power Rankings: Wyndham Championshiptext sizeAugust 13, 2012
Rob Bolton, Fantasy Columnist
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 Rank Player Comment Carl
Winner at Sedgefield in its return in 2008. Also shared fourth last year. Held the 18-hole lead at Kiawah Island last week before finishing with a share of third place, his fourth top-three of the season. Co-owns the course record (61, 2008). Jason
Survived the cut on the number at the PGA Championship, then rose to place T27. Now leads the PGA TOUR in consecutive cuts made at 17. Also sits seventh in greens in regulation and fifth in both birdie average and adjusted scoring. Tim
Competing like his old self the last three months. Fresh off a T11 at the PGA Championship, which chased a T15 in Canada (that included a 62 in the second round). Tied for sixth at Sedgefield in 2008. Ranks eight on TOUR in proximity. David
Prior to a T42 at the PGA Championship, he chalked up top-10s at the U.S. Open and Bridgestone Invitational. Top-25s in each of his last three showings at Sedgefield, including a solo second in 2010. Actual scoring average during that span is 66.83. Webb
The defending champion missed the cut on the number at last week's PGA Championship in what was his return to action after a four-week break due to the birth of his second child. Currently ranks 26th in GIR and first in birdie average. Nick
First appearance at Sedgefield since missing the cut in 2008. Prior to missing the cut at last week's PGA, he strung together five straight top 25s. Disappointing splits reflect mid-season lull, but he's turned a corner the last two months. Josh
Top-10s in each of his last three starts, the most recent of which a solo seventh at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Currently 22nd on TOUR in greens hit and 32nd in birdie average. Top 25s in both starts at Sedgefield; all eight rounds par or better. Ken
Returns to Sedgefield for the first time since a T24 in 2009. Six top-10s this year, one in each month from February through July. Ranks 101st on TOUR in greens hit but 17th in Strokes Gained-Putting, 36th in birdie average and 34th in adjusted scoring. Bill
Not exactly contending of late, but he's lingering. Posted consecutive T19s at the British and Bridgestone Invitational before a T32 at Kiawah Island where he started the final round inside the top 20. Tied for 10th at Sedgefield in 2009. Brandt
The last winner at Forest Oaks (2007) transitioned nicely to Sedgefield, posting top-10s in 2009 and 2010. While he's struggled since a T3 at the British (after recovering from a rib injury), he ranks seventh in birdie average.
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.