Prize Fund – $5,300,000
Winner’s Share – $954,000
Well, we hope you have all recovered from the simply amazing PGA Championship over the weekend. You just have to sit back and admire the ability of Rory McIlroy. To come back the way he did, waiting all day in the clubhouse, watching Phil, Rickie and their followers before every shot shows levels of mental strength rarely seen in any sport. Tom Watson jokingly commented early on Monday saying, “I wish he was in my team” and he’s not wrong – Is it the start of the McIlroy era?
But golf waits for no man or woman and off to the Sedgefield Country Club we go. Playing nearly 350 yards less than the last couple of weeks at 7,100, the Wyndham is going to pose a different test to the guys who tee it up this week. With the small undulating greens and relatively generous fairways, going low is the order of the day. Three of the winning scores in recent times have been 20 under or below – whoever wins will need a 4-day pass on the birdie train.
GIR is the key stat of the week with Patrick Reed ranking comfortably 1st in that department last year on route to his victory. You need to be looking at scoring average, putting and scrambling. Looking at the holes, rarely will the guys be using anything more than an 8 iron. So we’ve had a look at guys who are competent with their approaches between 125-175yards too.
Another thing to really consider when looking at who is going to do well this week, is the FedEx rankings. All the guys have reason to do well with various cut off points during the play-offs but anyone outside the top 125 will be really motivated. Anyone outside the top 125 will have a tough time gaining exemption for the 2014/15 season as they go up against guys from the Web.com Tour for limited spaces. People always sneak in at the last minute.
Don’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Bill Haas (28/1 Paddy Power)
Always a solid bet whenever you pick him and he suits this course perfectly. But the problem with 2014 is that he hasn’t pushed on from anything more than consistent. Five top 5’s and no missed cuts is obviously very good but to be regarded as one of the best, you need trophies. Bill has won in each of his last four seasons and he will be well aware time is running out to get one this year. And having won the Tour Championship in 2011, he will be keen to give a good account of himself once again during the play-offs.
Ranks: 24th GIR, 75th strokes gained-putting and 41st scoring average. In an arguably weaker field, Haas at over double the odds of favourite Snedeker (although it is tough to see Sneds not doing well) is solid value.
Ricky Barnes (125/1 Paddy Power)
Not often we put someone at three figures in at number 2 but it shows our confidence in the American.
After a really promising 8th at the Barracuda Championship a couple of weeks ago, he will be looking to build on his 20th place last year. With the modified stableford format in use, he certainly found plenty of birdies on his way to that top 10. And it was clear progress from the Canadian Open, where he ranked T16 in GIR.
Ranks: 86th GIR; 53rd 1-putt %; T16 rounds in the 60’s; 65th scoring average; T32 approaches 125-150yards and 17th scrambling. Ricky is known for going low and being 112th in the FedEx he will need another good performance to make 100% sure he is on the tour next year.
Freddie Jacobson (66/1 Paddy Power)
Big admirers of the Swede and his putting prowess could prove key to his performance this week. He is someone who always looks good in the stats columns but often fails to produce a similarly impressive finish.
12th and 17th are his last two results around this track and it is one where his sometimes suspect driving seen this year will not be as much of a burden. T23 1-putt % and 6th strokes gained-putting means he loves to go low reflected in his T48 scoring average. Also ranks T26 approaches from 125-150yards and T34 proximity to the hole. Good value given his experience and relative form around this place.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (100/1 Boyle Sports)
If it is greens in regulation you want, then look no further. The Spaniard made a living out of doing just that on the European Tour and has recently moved to America to turn his hand to the PGA. Things have been tough having only recorded one top 10 in 22 starts. So why this week?
Well, Castano, often regarded as having no putting game, has started to putt quite well recently. Despite two tough weeks at the Bridgestone and PGA where the tracks were perhaps too long for him, he still played solid. He opened up with a 79 at the Bridgestone which killed him off but followed that with rounds of 71 and 67 whilst he was never above a 72 at Valhalla and eventually finished level par. But prior to this, came his 4th at the RBC Canadian Open. And it was there that he ranked 3rd in GIR behind Furyk and Hicks and 5th in putting average. Ranking that high in the putting stats is unknown for Gonzalo and he will be bringing confidence into this week. Will certainly going under the radar this week but someone who is as good as anyone at finding those greens.
John Huh (80/1 Coral)
Someone who because of his 3rd here last year and 3rd at the Barracuda, many people will be interested in this week. Those two finishes alone are enough for us but it was the fact he came into this last year on the back of 6 missed cuts in 8 starts. Admittedly, he missed the cut at Valhalla but his preparation was hardly ideal being Tiger’s first choice replacement!
As you know, the scoring format at the Barracuda meant to finish 3rd he was draining a lot of putts. Statistically, he isn’t a stand-out but T11 approaches from 150-175 yards is promising. He is inside the top 100 of the Fed-Ex but needs to do something special this week to find himself in the latter stages of the play-offs.
Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th