Before we start, please check out our weekly piece with Golf Monthly! A look at the losers of 2013…
And a quick reminder: We’re trying to get as many people involved in the DownThe18th Fantasy Golf for 2014 with prize incentives hopefully on offer. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @downthe18th to get on board!
Usually in the past this would be rather a depressing week, with the next major some 8 months away! But with FedEx play-offs just round the corner, there is plenty to look forward to. The top 125 will go into the play-offs and everyone will be thinking about points this week, which makes it a really important tournament.
The Wyndham Championship has been held at Sedgefield Country Club since 2008, after previously holding it around 30 years ago. Garcia, Simpson, Moore and Pettersson have all won on the 7,100 Par 70 course. It is often regarded as one of the easier courses on the tour with the winner usually having to shoot around 20 under. So if you have a taste for a birdie or too, it will be a real help. As with any ‘birdie-fest’ it is always crucial to focus on GIR and putting. If you don’t get on the greens, you can’t make the putts! Sedgefield had a bit of a makeover for 2012 as well, with the greens all being changed to the very fast Champion Bermuda grass. This would ‘putt’ even more significance on putting statistics for this week. It’s a course for high scoring ‘plotters’.
Stan James and BetVictor have very kindly given us 6 places this week.
Webb Simpson (16/1 Bet365)
Webb is definitely due a win and why not at a course that he won on in 2011! The American will be the highest ranked player in the FedEx without a win in 2013 in the field. It has been an up and down year with 11 top 20’s thrown in amongst 4 missed cuts, but in general Simpson has just been very consistent. His first ever win on the PGA Tour was this championship and it will definitely evoke fond memories when he tees off on Thursday. And after being born right here in his home state of North Carolina, it seems like everything is pointing towards him.
Simpson has all the right statistics as well! 43rd GIR, 23rd birdie average, 16th scoring average, 38th strokes gained – putting and 55th proximity to the hole. We do feel 16/1 may be a little short so would advise betting TO WIN. This does of course mean he will finish 2nd…
Bill Haas (20/1 Various)
Bill Haas has been in fine form of late, picking up a delightful victory at the AT&T National back in June and barring a MC at the Open he has found 2 more top 10s and a T25 at the PGA last week. He looked impressive at times at Oak Hill and could have finished higher but for an inconsistent weekend.
Now this week he will be coming onto a course where he has shown a liking in previous years. T10 in 2009 and T7 last year when the greens were completely overhauled and made a lot more difficult. His accuracy from tee to green is sublime – 63rd driving accuracy, 12th GIR and between the distances of 150-220 his GIR stats are not above 27th (where he will be playing most of his approaches). His putting has probably been the difference in his recent performances as he was prone to missing the odd putt – 42nd in strokes gained putting and 26th in 3-putt avoidance. What makes us interested more than anything in the big bald nut of Bill is the fact he has the ability to shoot low and he rarely makes bogeys. 7th in bogey avoidance, 18th in scoring average and 26th for rounds in the 60s all help his cause.
Bill to win 2 this year? Yeah, course he can!
Chris Kirk (66/1 Various)
Chris Kirk is a really peculiar player for us. He has been on our radar for quite some time, not because we saw much of him playing but because his stats are simply ridiculous. Once we had him firmly in our sights, we saw quite a lot of him and he is an interesting prospect this week because of his short game prowess – 24th strokes gained putting, 10th 1-putt percentage and 65th 3-putt avoidance. His accuracy stats are also ridiculous – 53rd GIR and 5th in proximity to hole.
He played incredibly well at the AT&T Pebble Beach where he came 2nd and he showed his potential to shoot low – 4th round in the 60s, 27th in scoring average and 3rd in bogey avoidance. Since then he has only missed 2 cuts but rarely been able to mount a challenge, apart from a valiant T9 at the Sanderson Farms Championship a few weeks ago. He was inside the top 20 after Friday at the PGA last week but he struggled over the weekend and eventually finished T57. He will surely be feeling confident of continuing some promising performances and when you think he finished T22 last year, it could be interesting how he equips himself.
Let’s hope he can pick up his first victory since the 2011 Viking Classic!
Tim Clark (50/1 Various)
Here we are again. Timothy Henry Clark. We have kept going back to the South African in the hope that he produces a display we all know he is capable of, but he hasn’t quite delivered for us as of yet. His form hasn’t been eye-catching recently, without a top 10 in 5 tournaments, but he is arriving on a course that he finished 2nd at last year when his putting was on top form. He also finished T6 back in 2008 which proves this course suits his eye. He is 1st in driving accuracy and 23rd in proximity to the hole which shows how he is able to attack pins with unerring efficiency. He is also 74th in strokes gained putting, 9th in 3-putt avoidance, 55th in scoring average and 79th for rounds in the 60s.
We have said it before, but this is last chance saloon for us and Tim Clark; he does have the game for this course and if his putter gets going, he will be up there come Sunday.
Justin Leonard (125/1 Various)
Leonard really ticks all the boxes for us this week. His price is very inviting for such a PGA veteran. His course form is impressive, 3rd, 17th and 19th! And he has not played badly recently, making the cut in 5 of his last 6 events. Statistically, you can’t ask for much more. 33rd strokes gained – putting, 53rd birdie average, 16th total birdies and 29th total putting. He currently lies 89th in the FedEx standings and will certainly be looking to build on that this week. The 41 year old represents a real solid bet for us.