Tournament: Wyndham Championship, August 3-6, 2023
Course: Sedgefield Country Club (Ross), par 70, 7,131 yards
Purse: $7.6 million total, with $1.4 million to the winner.
Defending Champ: Tom Kim. Due to some rain delays Saturday, Kim was actually trailing Sunday morning when he finished his 3rd round. Apparently he didn’t like that, so he shot 61 to blow away the field and become the first player born in the year 2000 to win a PGA Tour event. UGA’s own Kevin Kisner (cover photo) won the event in 2021.
Fun Fact: The owner of the country club, McConnell Golf, is making quite a name for themselves in this area. John McConnell practically taught himself computer coding, built and sold 2 medical software firms, and started buying distressed, but quality, golf courses and clubs. Sedgefield is one of 15 current properties McConnell has taken over, and injected with cash to improve the amenities.
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)
‘Dawgs in the Field: 6. Harris English, Chris Kirk, Greyson Sigg, Russell Henley, Davis Thompson, Brendon Todd.
If you follow the Tour at all, you’re aware this week will finalize the players qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and a chance at the $18 million first prize (and even $1 million for 10th place). Starting last September, PGA Tour and a few sanctioned events provided points based on a player’s finish. Most Tour events awarded 500 to the winner and 3 points for last place making the cut (majors and a few elevated events gave out a few more). 40-odd events later, we’re in August and the last event to award points, thus the last chance to slip into the playoffs - or to fall out.
Thanks to the LIV/PIF influence, the Tour altered the post-season format to just 3 events, and made the cutoff more stringent. To play the FedEx St. Jude Championship, you must have finished in the top 70 of points (previously 125). To advance the next week to the BMW Championship, you will have to place inside the top 50. And to finish at the Tour Championship at East Lake, you must be top 30. And while there is position jockeying in the playoffs themselves. the attention this week is on who can make it in at all or who takes the rest of the month off.
The golfers will be facing a pretty typical Donald Ross design. It is a short track, with only two par 5s - and both of those are reachable in two shots by almost all the pros, especially if they hit the fairway. The course’s defense are the greens - false fronts, severe undulation, and tucked pins. If you hit fairways and greens, you can go low. But if you miss them, you’ll find yourself stressing for par. And the 18th hole is a beast, severe downhill off the tee to a long uphill approach. Just ask Russell Henley.
There are myriad of articles you can find breaking down those who have a chance or aren’t yet guaranteed to advance. I’m going to keep it Classic City Canine-centric:
Kevin Kisner has had a horrible season, and not necessarily a great last 18 months. He recently publicly confirmed he has thrown in the towel for this year and will try to use the break to find his game. He even allowed his caddy, Duane Bockman, to loop with Sepp Straka (which resulted in a win at the John Deere and a runner-up at the Open). He’s at #202 in FedEx Cup points and has fallen to #93 in the world. So we won’t see him again until possibly this fall, or even early 2024.
Greyson Sigg has had a respectable season with a couple of high finishes, but he sits at #105 in points and doesn’t have a great chance to get in. I’m pretty sure only a win or solo 2nd place would give him enough points.
Davis Thompson is on the cusp in his rookie campaign. An early season 2nd place finish gave him a nice base, and he currently sits at 75th in points. Missing the cut last week in Minnesota dropped him from 72nd. While there are some alternative scenarios, all things being equal he needs to finish solo 25th place this week to guarantee a playoff spot.
Keith Mitchell has been hot and cold in 2023. When he’s hot, Cashmere Keith cashes those top 20 checks. When he’s not, he will miss the cut. And he had enough of those to start this past week at 66th place - definitely on the hot seat. In a case of perfect timing, a T5 finish at the 3M moved him up 9 spots to 57 and a lock for the post-season.
Brendon Todd has played fairly steady, if unspectacular golf this season. He’s also comfortably inside the top 70 at #42. Harris English is basically in the same position at #43.
Russell Henley won at Mayakoba in November with some spotty results since that time. Still, that win was good enough, and he’s currently at #34. Chris Kirk also had a win this season back in February at the Honda, and that puts him at #26.
I don’t have the historical rankings from earlier in the season, but I imagine Sepp Straka was at or near the cut line at the end of June. But he won the John Deere, and followed that up with a 2nd place at the British Open, and that has bumped him all the way up to #15.
And Brian Harman, your winner of the Gold Medal and Champion Golfer of the Year, is sitting pretty at #6. He was top 20 in FedEx Cup points pretty much all season anyway, so his Claret Jug just pushed him into the top 10.
By my math, we’re guaranteed that 10% of the first playoff event will be former Georgia Bulldogs. And that is a Bulldog point of pride. Enjoy all the drama, and the announcers constantly throwing out the scenarios of who is out and who is in. And as always...