It's Fed-Ex Cup shootout time in North Carolina this week. The Wyndham Championship in Greensboro North Carolina is now that traditional cut off for the PGA Tour Playoffs. If you’re not in the Top 125 you won’t be playing at The Barclays at Ridgewood, in New York State, next week.
Notables like Henrik Stenson, Mike Weir, Trevor Immelman, Steve Flesch, Matthew Goggin and Freddie Couples are also outside looking in as the ‘gravy train’ is set to leave for New York, and there is nothing that a professional golfer hates more than missing out on a good pay cheque!
Sedgefield CC plays host to the Wyndham and is a classical North Carolina Par 70 tree-lined test. Previous winners here were Par 70 ‘bent’ experts Carl Pettersson and Ryan Moore, who notably for the record were 58th and 78th in the Fed-Ex Cup when they won here. For me the winner will come from those who are comfortable Playoff qualifiers, which makes perfect sense as they have obviously had decent seasons with multiple Top 10 finishes etc.
However I’m also expecting decent performances from both those motivated to stay within the qualifiers and those looking to force their way into the Playoff picture. Indeed Kevin Stadler, JJ Henry, Rich Beem, Martin Laird and Scott McCarron are shining examples of this philosophy. All finished in the Top 3 at the Wyndham in 08 or 09 and were all OUTSIDE of the Top 125 when they did so.
Don’t be surprised to see Brett Quigley, Mark Wilson, Tom Pernice Jnr, Billy Mayfair Lee Janzen, and John Mallinger, and the aforementioned Couples, Goggin and Weir in the mix this week.
I tipped up South Carolina born and educated Byrd at the recent Turning Stone event and commented that “as night follows day he will contend in a tournament very soon.” He finished 10th in New York state after blasting a 63 in Round 4. Byrd will be motivated this week as he lies 121st in the FedEx Cup so needs a Top 5 result to guarantee qualification into the Playoffs and, more, importantly his 2011 PGA Tour card. Jonathan is a 3 time PGA winner who plays both Par 70 and Bent Grass green conditions extremely well and has recent momentum with a form line of 10/21/MC/21/16. RESULT: T34
It’s fairly typical of the non-descript nature of Troy Matteson that his recent run of decent form hasn’t really been noticed by the bookmakers too much. Decent returns of 28th and 44th at the PGA Championship and WGC Bridgestone are not to be sniffed at. Just ask Ian Poulter. Matteson also popped across to Sweden for the Scandinavian Masters the week after the Open Championship and finished a creditable 44th. These performances were preceeded with Top 10 finishes at both the Greenbrier & John Deere Classics so the Georgia boy is shooting low (-14 for both his T10s) and is clearly in-form. Success in Greensboro is no stranger to Troy as he finished 6th at Forest Oaks in 2006 and I also like the fact that his 2 Tour victories were both at Greyhawk GC, Arizona at the Fry’s.com Open - an event that recent winners Pettersson and Moore both have great form at. RESULT: T53
Arizona-based players play well in North Carolina and Martin Laird is no exception. I love Martin’s chances to contend this week in Greensboro for a number of reasons. I’ve always kept a keen eye on the Scotsman who went to college in Colorado. 2 Top 10 finishes in 2010 has led to a solid 101st position in the Fed Ex Cup race and momentum is on the his side after creditable 26th, 16th and 48th placed finishes at Loch Lomond, Akron and Whistling Straits. Martin was also 4th here at Greensboro in 2008 and finished 13th at Greyhawk last year, so has ‘eyes’ for this format of course. Bent grass is Laird’s favourite surface and I can see him going extremely well this week so take the 70/1 on offer. RESULT: T34
It was a close call between Petrovic and JJ Henry for a space in this week’s Wyndham team, but eventually I plumped for the less obvious Texan. His ‘long’ price is a result of his current form which features 3 MCs and 3 33rd finishes. It’s important to factor in that 2 of the 3 MCs were at the PGA and Open Championship. Put simply, Majors aren’t Tim’s bag! However then you get to the interesting stuff. 5th at Muirfield in June was an excellent bent grass performance - tied with reigning Wyndham Champion Ryan Moore jumps from the page. Move back into 2009 and you see Petrovic popping up with 5th at North Carolina’s classic Quail Hollow track backed up with another 5th at the low scoring John Deere Classic. Indeed Petrovic is no stranger to success in North Carolina as in 2007 he produced a 2nd here in Greensboro (at Forest Oaks). RESULT: T12
Finally I’m plumping for Virginia-based Aussie Marc Leishman to have a great week in North Carolina. 17th here on debut in 2009 I’m a real supporter of this 2nd year PGA Tour player who was also rookie of the year in 09. Where other ‘headline’ rookies like Webb Simpson and Jeff Klauk have gone backwards in 2010, Leishman has produced 7 Top 25 finishes. 7th at the Ross designed Aronimink track in July I’m a real believer that the current World 92 will take this week’s opportunity to contend for his first PGA Tour victory in North Carolina. RESULT: T18
All odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:15BST 17.8.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
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