Tournament: The Wyndham Championship, August 4-7, 2022
Course: Sedgefield Country Club (Ross), par 70, 7,131 yards. Located in Greensboro, NC.
Purse: I couldn't find it for the life of me. Last year the winner took $1.152M from a $6.4M purse, but the Tour has upped the prize money all summer in the face of competition from the LIV golf series.
Defending Champ: Kevin Kisner. The most bulldog-like of all the Bulldogs on Tour, Kiz got hot on his final nine holes and finished in a 6 way tie for first after 72 holes. UGA's own Russell Henley was the leader going into Sunday, but frankly collapsed on his final nine and ended up 1 short of the playoff (thus a T7 finish). But Kisner didn't spoil his chances - pars tied the first playoff hole and Kiz came through with the only birdie on the second playoff hole.
Fun Fact: The owner of the course supposedly owns more Donald Ross designs than anyone else. McConnell Golf is the brainchild of former medical software mogul John McConnell. Sedgefield is one of 3 other Ross courses in their portfolio. And by being a member, you have reciprocal privileges across the others. And these courses have history: the ACC conference was founded in the Sedgefield clubhouse, and Raleigh Country Club is the last course Ross designed before he passed away.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 2 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). And you can see tons more coverage on PGA Tour Live, available through ESPN+.
'Dawgs in the Field: 8. Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Kevin Kisner, Greyson Sigg, Sepp Straka, Keith Mitchell, Brendon Todd.
This is the final event of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season, apparently the last year it wraps around from fall to the next fall. 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. Which means there is a lot to play for.
There are 11 former Georgia golfers who are full-time PGA Tour members, 9 who are currently inside the top 125 for the playoffs, 1 who has a chance to get in, and 2 who have an "interesting" status. Below is the breakdown:
Harris English is a multiple-time Tour winner, and had one of the best stretches of his career last year. But he had hip surgery in February, missed a couple of majors, and is sitting in 195th spot on the points list (still 38th in the world though). So it won’t be easy. According to my math, he would need no worse than a solo 2nd this week in order to advance.
Brian Harman is safe at #55 (and 47th in the world). He is playing this week, hoping to pad some points and creep up a spot or two.
Russell Henley has played well here the last couple of years, and like Harman is safe in the 42nd position (54th in the world).
Kevin Kisner is sitting pretty at #33 in point (28th OWGR) and as defending champ has some pretty good vibes in G'boro.
Greyson Sigg is finishing his first full year on Tour, and at 111th in points, is almost certainly assured to make the playoffs. More importantly, he is almost certainly assured of keeping his Tour card. And that means job security for next year.
Sepp Straka got his first Tour win this spring, and though he's cooled off during the hot summer, he's still in 32nd spot in the rankings (and 69th in world rankings).
Keith Mitchell has been pretty quiet, but made enough cuts to put him in the 38th slot. His world ranking of 55 ain't bad either, and will get him in some invitationals next season.
Brendon Todd hasn't recaptured his 2020 form, recaptured from the mid-2010s, yet has amassed enough to be in 70th position. His world ranking of 122 says more about his last two years.
Chris Kirk is the first of this list that isn't entered this week. Kirk has been steady, and is ranked 52nd in playoff points and 57th in the world. He's obviously in the post-season and is likely resting before the playoffs, but the increase in points available in the post-season means he'd better play good right away in order to advance.
Hudson Swafford is also not playing this week. Technically he's still 63rd in points after a late winter win, so you might assume he's resting because he's safely inside the top 125. You'd be wrong. Big Hud made the jump to the LIV golf series this summer, is still suspended from the PGA Tour, and those suspended are not eligible for the playoffs. There are about a dozen golfers in the same spot - they qualified, but by breaking ranks lost their playoff eligibility. His world ranking is falling quickly (currently 102) and will continue to, as he plays the LIV series and isn't eligible for world ranking points.
The last former Bulldog is Bubba Watson. This one is... complicated. Rumoured early on to bolt for LIV golf, Bubba remained quiet and on Tour. He even made a Saturday charge at the PGA Championship in May. Immediately after, he announced surgery on a torn meniscus in his knee, and hasn't played golf since. So it seemed like he would stick around, since he can't play anywhere at the moment.
Unfortunately (at least in my opinion), he announced officially over the weekend that he is going to the LIV series. He will attend the next tournament but as a non-competing team captain (they have a really liquid and frankly cludgy team format). Bubba will not compete on the course until 2023, ostensibly due to further healing and rehab. Those LIV golfers suspended were only so after actually hitting a golf ball in a LIV event. Bubba won't be doing that for a while so I'm not certain what his status really is.
So Greg Norman got another major winner (2 Masters) and another player with varying degrees of popularity (see: Reed, P.; Koepka, B.; Garcia, S. to name a few others). Bubba has done so much good with his popularity and winnings: half a million to the children's hospital in his hometown of Pensacola, $50k to the Red Cross to help Japanese victims of the earthquake and tsunami, $100k to the Ronald McDonald house in Pensacola, raised $25k for the Hole In The Wall Gang after their camp was damaged in a storm, countless other support for charities affiliated with the Travelers Championship (where he's won 3 times), and has been a Masters ambassador at the annual Drive, Chip & Putt contested at Augusta National. He really has a big heart and has done a lot of good for a lot of deserving people.
From the outside it looks like his game and health are in decline. We may not know, but I know some will overlook the good he's done as he makes the move to an organization funded by people with a poor record of their treatment of others.
I'll end it before I get too deep. It's a complicated topic and situation. I just know the PGA Tour is better with Bubba on it, playing at a high level. If he's gone, I do wish him well. In the meantime I’m rooting on the 8 Bulldogs playing this week, and the at least 8 who will be competing in the playoffs for the FedEx Cup.
And as always...