Tournament: Wyndham Championship, August 12-15, 2021
Course: Sedgefield Country Club, par 70, 7,131 yards. The Ross Course, located in Greensboro, NC.
Purse: $6,4 million total, $1.152 million to the winner
Defending Champ: Jim Herman. The journeyman really defined the word “clutch”, having to birdie his final 4 holes in the 2nd round to simply make the cut. He did that. Starting Saturday in the back of the pack, he shot a 61 to launch up the leaderboard. That left him 4 back for the final round, but he came back and overcame some big names such as Billy Horschel, Webb Simpson, and UGA’s own Kevin Kisner to capture his 3rd PGA Tour title. He also jumped from 70+ spots outside the Playoff rankings all the way to 54th.
Fun Fact: This is an old tourney but it has moved around, both on the calendar and in the Greensboro area. In the late 70’s through the early aughts, the course was played at Forest Oaks. Which in my opinion didn’t impress the millionaire PGA Tour pros - the houses on the course weren’t exactly exclusive. And the locals fell to calling it the “Pop Top Open” for the beer consumed by the intimately-sized patrons.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (CBS).
‘Dawgs in the Field: 10. Davis Thompson, Brendon Todd, Sepp Straka, Keith Mitchell, Bubba Watson, Kevin Kisner, Hudson Swafford, Chris Kirk, Russell Henley, Brian Harman.
This is the final event of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season. Those who finish Sunday in the top 125 of FedEx Cup points will continue into the playoffs next week, and keep their Tour eligibility for next season. Those from 126-150 have limited eligibility, but can play on the Korn Ferry Tour or qualifying school. Even those who are mathematically safe into the playoffs want to earn more points and solidify their position, all in hopes of capturing the $15 million playoff championship prize. Yeah, there’s some things at stake.
So much so that every player but one currently ranked 105th - 150th are in this weeks field (Chucky 3 sticks is exempt next season, so he looks like he’s going to skip out on the playoffs this year).
In terms of Georgia golfers, every one who are eligible for the playoffs are ranked 110 or higher. In other words, barring something crazy, we could have 10 former Bulldogs taking up 125 of the playoff spots. Here’s where they stand.
Davis Thompson is playing on a sponsor’s exemption (his last), and is not a PGA Tour member - just a award winner from PGA Tour University which gave him a kickstart to playing PGA Tour events while only granting Korn Ferry Tour status. I know it’s confusing.
Brendon Todd is #110 on the points list. This gives him a little comfort, as it is unlikely for him to drop out of the top 125. It’s possible, just not very likely. And he would need to play well this week to position himself to advance past the first playoff event.
Sepp Straka is #105. He’s got 3 top 10s and 3 more top 25s this season, making the cut in 18 of 29 events.
Keith Mitchell is in the 96th position. He is solid for the first playoff event, but the field is cut to the top 70 point winners for round 2. So he needs a good week now and a solid next week to keep playing.
Bubba Watson is at #71. Somehow. A closer look shows he only missed 3 of 20 cuts, so that helps. And he had a couple of good streaks - 3 out of 4 top 10s in the fall, 4 out of 4 top 20s in the spring. Playing in all the majors helps since he made all the cuts, and played in WGC events which are almost free points.
Kevin Kisner holds the #69 slot. There is no doubt Kiz is a bit out of sorts. He changed putters earlier this summer in an attempt to score better. But his shots gained tee-to-green is abysmal for someone who normally strikes his ball and doesn’t make mistakes. At one point he missed 7 of 9 cuts over the summer; then promptly had 2 consecutive top 10s. Who knows?
Hudson Swafford is at #55, mostly thanks to a win in Mexico last fall and a T2 this summer. Literally mostly. Like those two finishes account for 83% of his season point total. If he wants to play the 2nd round of the playoffs, he needs to make the cut this week and next. A top 10 finish in either should lock him into round 2, but the playoff points are higher and thus it becomes more volatile.
Chris Kirk sits at half a hundred (Spurrier translation: 50). Kirk started the year on a major medical extension, making an incredibly clutch up and down for birdie at the Sony Open to secure his playing privileges for the rest of the season. A very solid, if unspectacular season with 9 top 25s though he has missed a few cuts lately and might not be in great form.
Russell Henley wobbles around at #46. I say that because his results bag is decidedly mixed. Some early season top 5s, a horrible month of June, playing not so great in the majors other than 3 fantastic rounds at the US Open, popping up here and there for a top 20. I’ll take his $2.3m in season earnings though.
Brian Harman is the highest ranking ‘Dawg this week, holding down the #32 position. He’s had a season that about half of the Tour would envy. No wins, but 22 made cuts in 25 tries, 12 of those top 25s, 5 of those in the top 10, and third place finish. Nothing flashy, but steady as she goes and racking up the points and the cash.
Harris English, not playing this week after his back nine collapse Sunday, is #4 on the points list and can make travel plans for the first two rounds of the playoffs. If he makes the cut in round one, he can book travel to East Lake for the championship.
While we don’t have any Bulldogs on the bubble per se, I would like to see some Red and Black on the leaderboard Sunday. Because that could result in about 10% of the playoff events populated by golfing ‘Dawgs. And that is something to see. And as always...