As has become customary, the Wyndham Championship marks the end of the regular PGA Tour season. Therefore, while most of the top players take a break following the USPGA, this is a huge week for those seeking to reach the top 125 on the Fedex Cup points list, which means an invitation to the Barclays Classic and a chance to win career-transforming sums during the forthcoming play-off series.
Since the event moved to Sedgefield GC in 2008, both winners have been fairly predictable. Indeed, the two champions concerned share favouritism this week. The wider places were more mixed, offering no discernable trend.
Course and stats
There are several useful clues for betting at Sedgefield. Those last two results show that driving accuracy and putting average are easily the most important stats. Low scoring is available to those finding the fairways, but that position off the tee is extremely important due to the smallish, undulating greens that are very difficult to hold from the rough.
Furthermore, the fact this is an old course, designed by Donald Ross, points to a correlation with three other recent tournaments. There was the Ross-designed Aronimink, host to the AT & T National; St George’s, host to the Canadian Open; and Greenbrier Classic venue The Old White Course. All of these courses date back to at least the 1920s, and present a distinct challenge from the PGA Tour norm. It is no coincidence that this week’s favourite, Carl Pettersson, won at St George’s, has won previously at Sedgefield and made the top ten at Aronimink.
Golf betting
1pt ew FRED COUPLES @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
Freddy made the top five here last year, and will appreciate this old-fashioned test more than most. Languishing down in 164th place on the Fedex Cup list after only a few PGA Tour outings, he needs a very big week to make the play-offs, but as we saw when he challenged for the Masters, Couples remains competitive against his juniors.
Leishman takes the eye on the basis of his recent form around those not dissimilar golf courses. He finished seventh at Aronimink, 17th in the Greenbrier Classic and made the top 20 here last year. The Aussie has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but has plenty of titles to his name on lower tours, so hopefully can cope with the pressure of being in contention.
Few players have been more accurate off the tee recently than Willis, enabling five top 20s from his last eight starts. He has plenty of Sedgefield form too, making the top 15 last year and finishing runner-up in a Nationwide Tour here way back in 1999.
Currently in 154th place on the points list, Immelman is another big name in need of something special. Three encouraging results last month suggest he’s up to it, and on the road to recovery after a miserable spell plagued with injuries. The former Masters winner registered top 25s in consecutive weeks against classier fields than this in the Scottish, British and Canadian Opens.
1pt ew JERRY KELLY @ 80/1 (GENERAL)
Kelly missed the cut at Whistling Straits, but did all the damage early on and may be better judged on his previous third place at Atunyote. That week, he hit over 87% of greens in regulation and, as usual, scored well in the driving accuracy stats too. One would expect this course to suit a peak-form Kelly, and he indeed made the top ten on his sole visit in 2008.
Odds of 80/1 seems a big price about Bettencourt considering that, prior to missing the USPGA cut, he’d been in the form of his life. After his maiden win at the Reno-Tahoe Open, Bettencourt registered three straight top 25s, including on two of the aforementioned layouts, St George’s and The Old White Course. His putter is red-hot right now.
I’m giving one more chance to this recent failed pick on the basis of his form on these courses. Letzig, a prolific birdie-maker when on song, made the top ten at Sedgefield two years ago, and finished fourth at St George’s. Moreover, his performance in finishing 21st in the Greenbrier Classic was one of the season’s great comebacks, having looked a cert to miss the weekend before closing with 65/66/65.