Wyndham Championship 2021: Fantasy picks, power rankings and analysis
We’ve reached the end of the 2020-21 regular season with the Wyndham Championship this week in Greensboro, North Carolina, one of the PGA Tour’s oldest haunts. The 7,131-yard, par-70 Sedgefield CC is a friendly destination, yielding birdies in streaks and forcing the pros to balance patience and aggression as they attempt to climb the leaderboard.
On the latest edition of the Caddie Line Podcast, Webb Simpson’s longtime caddie Paul Tesori made excellent points in his conversation with host John Rathouz, illustrating Simpson’s remarkable consistent performance at Sedgefield.
Simpson is not only a North Carolina native who attended school down I-40 at Wake Forest, but also an accurate player comfortable working the ball both ways and proficient on Bermuda greens. Also, the course fits his eye, an intangible that’s quantified by his win in 2011 and four consecutive top-3 finishes.
Looking back at recent champions, they shared a similar DNA. Six of the last seven Wyndham winners ranked in the top 10 that week in fairways hit. Likewise, six of eight were in the top 10 in greens in regulation (none were worse than 19th). And the last five champions were top five in SG: Approach.
The formula seems simple enough. Find the fairways and the greens are easy to hit (72 percent vs. the Tour average of 65.8). Keep the ball under the hole on the slick, perfect Champion bermuda greens, putt for birdies. There’s only one par 5 on each side and it can’t be missed. The field averages birdie or better 55-60 percent of the time on those two holes.
There are 12 par 4s at Sedgefield and eight of them register between 400 and 450 yards. More than a fourth of the approach shots are in the 125-175 yard range.
Expect the cut to fall around 3 under. The champion will likely be 20 under or better.
With most of the top-ranked players skipping this week to prepare for the playoffs, don’t be afraid to dig deep to build a roster. Jim Herman started the 2020 Wyndham at 100-1, becoming the sixth Wyndham champion at triple-digit odds in the last 12 years. The most recent form means little, considering five of the last 11 champions missed the cut or withdrew in their prior start and only Patrick Reed (2013) finished in the top 10.
- Brice Garnett, Michael Gellerman, Sean O’Hair, Roger Sloan, Brian Stuard, Camilo Villegas
As always, good luck.
Golfer power rankings
25. C.T. Pan – The bronze medalist in the Olympics has missed the last three cuts on the PGA Tour, however he was the runner-up in the 2018 Wyndham. Even through his recent struggles in the States has hit fairways and greens at a steady clip.
24. Chris Kirk – Has made the cut in his last five Wyndham Championships with a T-11 as his best finish. A short course and Bermuda grass specialist, playing well at RBC Heritage, Sony and Detroit GC earlier this year. Form could be better (missed 5 of 8 cuts) but this is a good place for him to gain momentum entering the playoffs.
23. Branden Grace – Has gained an average of 2.8 strokes on approach per tournament over his last five starts. He’s third in the field in SG: Total over the last 36 rounds. Made the cut in two of three Wyndham starts.
22. Doc Redman – The North Carolina native finished T-3 in the 2020 Wyndham and finished runner-up the last time the Tour was in the Carolinas at Congaree. He’s available at an attractive price coming off two missed cuts and a T-49 at Barracuda. Flourishes in easy scoring conditions.
21. Harold Varner III – Shared the first-round lead a year ago, propelling him to a second top 10 in the last four years at the Wyndham. Native of nearby Gastonia played college golf at East Carolina and will enjoy the home fans’ support. Finished T-15 at Barracuda. Top 10 in scoring opportunities gained on easy courses and 25th in scoring on 400-450 yard par 4s.
20. Bo Hoag – Sitting on the bubble at 125th in the FedEx Cup standings. Put himself in position to make the playoffs with sharp iron play that generated top 20s in his last two outings. Top 20 in the field in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds and tied for 42nd in only trip to Wyndham.
19. Sungjae Im – He’s finished in the top 10 only twice since the Sentry TOC and only once in the last 12 starts. Anyone backing Im this week will pay a hefty price. Still, he’s 32 under the last two years at Sedgefield, finishing in the top 10 each time. Encouraged, though, because he gained 1.2 shots on approach in Memphis and is top 20 in the field in the last 24 rounds on Ross courses, short courses, Bermuda courses and easy scoring courses.
18. Ryan Armour – The accurate veteran is 122nd in the FedEx Cup standings. After missing the Barracuda cut must play the weekend here to solidify his spot in the playoffs and exempt status for next year. He’s one of two players in the field to rank top 10 in Fairways Gained, scoring on 400-450 yard-par 4s and SG: Putting on Bermuda. Also has three top 10s in the last two months.
17. Patrick Reed – The Tour’s iron man is making his eighth start in nine weeks, a wild journey that’s spanned three continents. Of course he has the Ryder Cup in view (ninth in points) and hopes to channel the vibes from his 2013 victory in Greensboro. Just one top 10 in the last nine starts.
16. Zach Johnson – Has finished in the top 7 in two of his three appearances at Sedgefield. Top 10 in the field in scoring on 400-450 yard holes. Last top-10 finish was in March at the Honda on bermuda greens.
15. Joel Dahmen – Strong on the 400-450-yard par 4s, has gained an average of 2.3 strokes on approach in the last five tournaments and tied for seventh at the Barracuda. Made the cut in two previous Wyndham trips. Ranks 10th in the field in scoring over the last 24 rounds on easy courses.
14. Louis Oosthuizen – Somewhat surprised to see him in the field this week but his entry means automatic inclusion in the Power Rankings. Missed too many fairways in a T-17 at Memphis yet still gained shots on approach for the eighth consecutive tournament. All the numbers are solid but not my favorite play in a shootout.
13. Kevin Streelman – The Duke graduate is 16th in the field in scoring on 400-450-yard par 4s. Has made the cut in five of six Wyndham starts with one top 10. Finished T-19 at The Open in his last outing and has finished 26th or better in six of the last eight tournaments.
12. Seamus Power – Broke through to win the Barbasol Championship behind strong play down the stretch which was his sixth consecutive top-20 finish. Crushes the shorter par 4s. Putts his best on Bermuda. Talented pro is playing with house money now.
11. Talor Gooch – Has made 11 of the last 12 cuts and doesn’t have to hit the driver – the only club that’s given him trouble – that often at Sedgefield. Finished T-25 at last year’s Wyndham. Has also gained strokes on the greens in his last three tournaments.
10. Kevin Kisner – Enjoys shorter courses, Ross layouts and pure greens. Has three top 10s in his last four Wyndham appearances, including a T-3 a year ago. Looks to rebound from horrific ballstriking in Memphis (lost 9.3 shots on approach).
9. Webb Simpson – A closing 64 at TPC Southwind produced a T-15 and perhaps indicates he found a groove with his irons (has lost strokes on approach in his last three starts). Record is excellent at Sedgefield and most Ross courses.
8. Charl Schwartzel – Twice a runner-up this season (Zurich, 3M) and should enjoy just his second trip to Sedgefield in the last six years. Has a T-3 and T-14 on his resume here. Accurate driving during his recent run of good play and consistently hits more greens in regulation than the field average. Terrific putter on Bermuda.
7. Hank Lebioda – He’s been hot and has played the weekend in both trips to Sedgefield. Was headed for another high finish at the 3M Open but withdrew to visit his ailing father in the hospital. Fully exempt status is locked up. Like how he handled himself coming down the stretch at Detroit GC. He’s a steal in Fantasy formats.
6. Will Zalatoris – You know the story by now. Despite an incredible rookie campaign, must win to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. The former Wake Forest star is dealing with a back injury but has the ballstriking (fifth in field over last 36 rounds) to have a multitude of chances on the weekend.
5. Patton Kizzire – Love his putting touch on Bermuda greens and the driver has been an asset rather than a liability of late. Is 4-of-4 making the cut at the Wyndham with a pair of top 25s. Had back-to-back top-3 finishes earlier this season when his irons were cooking.
4. Jason Kokrak – Powerful player has won twice this season, conquering a similar tee-to-green challenge at Colonial. He’s finished 16th or better in three of his last four Sedgefield appearances. Also was T-12 at Detroit GC, another Ross course. He’s third in the field in SG: Total over the last 24 rounds on Bermuda greens.
3. Kevin Na – Has finished T-18, T-10 and T-4 in his last three trips to Sedgefield. Fairway hitting machine was T-2 at John Deere and T-23 at Memphis in his last two starts. Attacks the 400-450-yard par 4s. Top 20 in the field in scoring on short courses over the last 24 rounds.
2. Russell Henley – He’s 28 under the last two years in Greensboro, finishing T-9 in 2020. Leads the field in scoring on easy courses over the last 24 rounds and is top 10 in proximity from 125-150 and 150-175 yards. Making his first start since The Open so should be fresh and ready for a strong stretch run.
1. Brian Harman – Has made the cut in only three of eight Wyndham appearances but landed in the top 10 in two of those attempts. Excels at every skill Sedgefield demands: hitting fairways, short approach shots and putting on bermuda greens. Caps his most consistent season with his third PGA Tour victory.