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Course Spotlight: Will a hot putter be enough to separate Denny McCarthy from the pack at Sedgefield?

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Course Spotlight: Will a hot putter be enough to separate Denny McCarthy from the pack at Sedgefield?

    Written by Keith Stewart @KJStewartpga

    Denny McCarthy is nearly a stroke better at putting than anyone else in the field at the Wyndham Championship. The flatstick aficionado is gaining over two strokes (2.14) against the field in his last 24 rounds. This gives the PGA TOUR’s best putter a huge advantage as we head toward Sedgefield Country Club.

    Looking back at the last 10 winners of the Wyndham Championship tells a very specific story. The Donald Ross design puts a premium on approach play and putting. The average strokes gained by those champions is over six strokes on approach and on the greens. Sedgefield’s iron play is centered around using your wedges and scoring irons. As a result, the Wyndham Championship rates as one of the easiest Strokes Gained: Approach venues on TOUR.

    All-time best shots from Wyndham Championship

    Since winning is about separating yourself from the competition, great iron play will only put you into contention. It will not be the edge you need to win. Sedgefield is also one of the top 10 most penal courses on TOUR from off the fairway. That 2-plus inch Bermudagrass rough really makes approach shots unpredictable. At 7,100 yards, the field of 156 players will all play to the same landing areas. Driving accuracy and distance statistically sit at the TOUR average.

    The top 65 and ties who make the weekend and compete for the $7.6 million dollar purse average hitting 72% of the GIRs with their scoring irons. Those in contention will secure even more. Since the greens average 6,000 square feet, most approaches will be well within 25 feet to the hole. The average winning score over the past decade is 19 under par. The number one way to differentiate yourself and win at Sedgefield is with the putter.

    Nine of the last 10 winners have gained over 3.5 strokes versus the field with their putter. That’s why, Denny McCarthy (+2500 to win at BetMGM Sportsbook) will be involved come late Sunday afternoon. The putter won’t do it alone, and McCarthy backs up that putting ability with solid par-4 scoring (SG: Par-4 ranked second) and birdie or better percentage (BoB% ranked 18th).

    Par 4 scoring is a great aggregation analytic for Wyndham week. It succinctly shows who can really score at Sedgefield, with par 4s accounting for nearly 50% of the holes played. Combined with an ability to convert birdie chances (BoB%), we get an even better idea of who to watch this week. J.T. Poston (+2800) won the Wyndham Championship in 2019 without dropping a shot all week. Poston has been delivering top 10s lately with a hot putter. He is also ranked fourth in SG: Par-4 and 25th in BoB% for this field. When Poston won in 2019, he missed five of eight cuts coming in. Considering his recent play, he must be on the short list to win.

    The PGA TOUR changed the FedExCup Playoffs qualifying ranking from 125 to 70 this season. Solid players like Justin Suh (+8000) sit just outside the number (ranked 77). Suh is ranked third SG: Putting and top 25 in both BoB% and SG: Par-4. Suh has gained over a stroke with his flatstick on the field in 14 straight starts! Seven of the last 10 winners at Wyndham held pre-tournament odds over +5000, which makes Suh and even better fit.

    Speaking of stars outside the top 70 at Sedgefield, what about Adam Scott (+3300)? Scott and Matt Kuchar are the only players who have qualified for the Playoffs every year since they began in 2007. Scott is currently ranked 81st and in need of an top-9 finish to qualify. The good news for the Aussie, he is ranked first in the field for SG: Par-4 and BoB%. Follow that up with top-10 ranking with his putter and Scott’s skills set him up for much-needed success.

    Donald Ross’s diabolical green complexes seldom select average putters to succeed. Start your winning card at Wyndham with a couple of these names. I bet your chances of winning will go up with those who fill up the cup!

    Keith Stewart is a five-time award winning PGA Professional who covers the PGA TOUR and LPGA from a betting perspective. Founder of Read The Line, he is also published by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. Follow Keith Stewart on Twitter.

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