Tournament: The Wyndham Championship, August 1-4, 2019
Course: Sedgefield Country Club (Ross Course), 7,127 yards, par 70. (Greensboro, NC. About an hour southeast of Mayberry).
Defending Champ: Brandt Snedeker. Besides being a pitchman in horrible commercials for Wyndham Hotels, he’s also a proud Vanderbilt Commodore. He opened up with a magical 59 last year, but still needed to close strong to fight off several other players. A birdie on the tough 18th hole Sunday sealed the deal.
Fun Fact: Believe it or not, this is the only Donald Ross design that is a regular stop on the PGA Tour. Also, the club was purchased several years ago by a former software millionaire, who sold his software companies and started buying golf courses. Thirdly, the Atlantic Coast Conference was founded in the clubhouse. No word on if they took the logo from the nearby and plentiful bags of goat feed.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
‘Dawgs in the Field: 5. Joey Garber, Harris English, Sepp Straka, Russell Henley, Brian Harman.
This is it, boys and girls, the last tournament before the FedEx Cup playoffs. For the uninitiated, the PGA Tour wanted to generate more interest in the late season events so they instituted a playoff system. In essence, you earn points during the season based on tournament finishes and the top 125 for the year make the first round of the playoffs.
In years past, the 2nd round would be cut to the top 100, then the top 70 in the third round, only the top 30 in the Tour Championship, culminating in a $10 million prize for the overall winner. This year, they’ve eliminated one round of the tournament so after the top 125, the playoffs are cut to the top 70, then the top 30. And the overall champion receives $15 million (all in addition to the tournament winnings - yes, this is pretty sweet).
So the Wyndham is the last chance to earn points and get into the coveted top 125 spots. There are several former Bulldogs already assured of making it in, and several that are on the outside hoping to make a jump.
Joey Garber: #167. The Tour rookie has made 10 of 21 cuts, but has 2 top 10 finishes. He might need a top 10 finish this week as well in order to qualify for the playoffs.
Harris English: #151. A Tour winner in past years, English has 20 cuts made out of 27 chances, but no top 10 finishes. The players in positions 100-170 are pretty close together, so he too will likely need a top finish this week in order to advance.
Sepp Straka: #110. Another Tour rookie, Straka snagged 5 top 25 finishes along with a 3rd place. That adds up to being inside the top 120, and very likely safe. Making the cut and earning some points will be insurance, and hopefully moves him towards the top 70 to make the 2nd round.
Brian Harman: #106. Also a multiple winner on Tour, Harman has had a poor season by his standards, missing 13 cuts along the way. Though 3 top 10 finishes, including a tie for 8th at the Players Championship bolstered his point total enough to put him in a similar position to Straka.
Russell Henley: #85. The Macon product has 3 career titles on Tour, but missed the cut in over half his tourneys this season. A 2nd place finish just a couple of weeks ago and 4 other Top 25s have him safely in the top 100. Another top 10 could move him into the top 70.
Those are the Bulldogs playing this week. Not playing are:
Brendon Todd: #183. He is mathematically eliminated from the post-season even with a win. We will probably see him on the Korn Ferry Tour next season.
Hudson Swafford: Like Todd, Swafford has a single Tour title to his name. But at #155, a second place or better is the only way to get into the playoffs. He hasn’t played since early June, so he might be recuperating from an injury.
Keith Mitchell: #35. In his 2nd year, Mitchell captured The Honda Classic earlier this season and is assured of making the playoffs, likely into the 2nd round. So we won’t see him until next week as he rests for the next few days.
Bubba Watson: #68. Mr. Consistency, at least this season. Bubba made the cut 14 times out of 18 chances. No wins this year, but 3 top 10s and earning points most every time he teed it up. We will also see him next week.
Those who finish 126-150 in the points list will have restricted Tour privileges next season but will be qualified for the Korn Ferry Tour finals in a couple of months. That determines who earns an exemption to the PGA Tour for next season. So there are other ways to play the PGA. If you finish 151 -200, you will have Korn Ferry Tour status next season and can try to make your way back to the PGA Tour via multiple wins or the Korn Ferry finals. If you’re over #200, you are really on the outside looking in.
So if you want some drama before college football starts, the PGA Tour might just be the ticket. There will be some players who go back and sell insurance or real estate because of how they play this week. Some will go from courtesy cars and corporate jets to driving beat-up 2nd hand cars around the country. And some will walk away with more millions in their pocket. Hopefully some of those will be Georgia Bulldogs.