We turn to the house that Webb Simpson built for the final event of the 2021 PGA Tour Super Season before the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin, the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club. I am starting to write this Preview miles high en route to the Bahamas and will finish writing this article drunk on the beach or balcony, so I apologize now if this is not the greatest tournament preview you’ve ever read!
On the surface, this is a flyover event with a weak field on an easy course right in between a WGC and the beginning of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The players on Tour that do view the Wyndham Championship as a flyover event have done just that, and flown from Memphis to my home of Jersey City to prep for the Northern Trust. But to many of the players who are here, this may be the most crucial event of the year to secure themselves a spot in the Top 125 for the FedEx Cup Playoffs and maintain guaranteed full time Tour status. Just look at how winning this event last year changed the outlook of Jim Herman’s career! This event is winnable for most anyone in the field as Herman proved last year, and we’ve seen more surprise winners than expected winners over the past decade, making this a really great event to build out a betting card for. In terms of FedEx Cup motivation, Camilo Villegas, Justin Rose, Nate Lashley, Michael Thompson, Rickie Fowler, and Chesson Hadley all sit on the outside looking in at the FedEx Cup Top 125, and they amongst many others in this field will be facing extended time off if they fail to make a push up the leaderboard.
The formula to win at Sedgefield has always been simple: Hit a ton of fairways and convert a bunch of birdie opportunities. With that in mind I’ll be looking closely at players who excel in Fairways Gained, SG: APP, Birdies or Better Gained, SG: P on Bermuda, and SG: TOT on Short, Easy Scoring tracks. Here’s a look at everything to expect at Sedgefield Country Club for the 2021 Wyndham Championship.
Sedgefield Country Club Course Specs
- Yards: 7,131
- Par: 70 (4x 3’s / 12x 4’s / 2x 5’s)
- Grass: Bermuda Greens (Champion), Bermuda Fairways & Rough
- Architect: Donald Ross
- Historical Cutline: -2
- Comp Courses: Mayakoba El Camaleon, RBC Heritage, East Lake, TPC Southwind, Detroit GC, TPC Twin Cities, Sea Island (Seaside)
- Past Winners: Jim Herman (20), JT Poston (19), Brandt Snedeker (18, 07), Henrik Stenson (17), Si Woo Kim (16)
- Other Past Winners in the Field: Camilo Villegas (14), Patrick Reed (13), Webb Simpson (11), Ryan Moore (09)
Webb Simpson may only have one win at the Wyndham Championship to his name in 2011, but the man who named his daughter Wyndham after this event has been a case study at this tournament for Course History truthers over his career. Going back to 2011, Webb’s last 10 finishes at this event read: 3, 2, 2, 3, 72, 6, 5, 11, 22, 1. That’s enough to lead the field in SG: TOT, SG: T2G, and SG: BS at Sedgefield CC L24 or L36 rounds. His form has not been spectacular coming in, but he’s started to look healthy after going 4 rounds at The Open and WGC FedEx St Jude, so as always, he’ll be in play once more at the Wyndham Championship. Beyond Simpson, the rest of the Top SG: TOT at the Wyndham Championship includes Patrick Reed, Jim Herman, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na, Sungjae Im, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas, and Ryan Armour.
Looking at recent results, the list of players with multiple T10 finishes at this event over the last 5 years includes: Webb Simpson, Ryan Armour, Brandt Snedeker, Si Woo Kim, Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na, Sungjae Im, Rory Sabbatini, and Harold Varner III. Rafa Cabrera Bello, Hideki Matsuyama, Sam Burns, and Byeong Hun An also have notably high finishes at the Wyndham Championship as well.
Taking all of that past history into account, one thing is clear – lack of distance has not been an impediment to finding success at Sedgefield CC. In fact looking back at every player who’s won here over the last 10 years, none of them have ranked inside to Top 60 in the field in Driving Distance coming in, and JT Poston and Patrick Reed were the only two players to even rank above average in the field in Driving Distance. It’s not to say we should be fading anyone who hits the ball far, distance always helps, but it’s clear the design of this course favors the plotters in this field who can swing easy, position themselves off the tee, play out of fairways, and fire away at pins.
Looking at the comp courses this week, there are quite a handful we can draw from with similar qualities to Sedgefield CC. Detroit Golf Club and East Lake are the two other Donald Ross courses on the PGA Tour rotation. There tends to be very little overlap between the players who elect to play this tournament and the players who make it to East Lake, as a majority of players in good FedEx Cup standing typically take this week off after the WGC to prepare for the first round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs at The Northern Trust. Detroit GC is a great comp for this week however as another fairly short, easy Donald Ross design, so players like Hank Lebioda, Bubba Watson, Brandon Hagy, Sungjae Im, Kevin Kisner, Seamus Power, and Mark Anderson who played well at the Rocket Mortgage earlier this year may be worth another look. RBC Heritage is another interesting comp for this week as a short Bermuda track. Webb Simpson has won on both tracks and CT Pan has fired the two best finishes of his career at both with a win at the RBC Heritage in 2018 and a T2 at Wyndham in 2019. TPC Southwind, where many of the top players in this field will be coming from, is another Bermuda track that puts a premium on finding fairways, as does TPC Twin Cities, Mayakoba, and Sea Island.
There’s not a ton of tricks to this golf course, what you see is what you get, and if you can hit a high percentage of fairways, you’re going to set yourself up with plenty of opportunities to score. The last 5 consecutive winners have gotten to the -20 range, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t be the watermark once again in 2021, so the ability to make birdies and score in Easy Conditions will be key. There are just two players in the field this week who rank Top 30 in Fairways Gained, Birdies or Better Gained, and SG: TOT Easy Scoring: Brian Harman and Joel Dahmen.
- SG: APP
- Fairways Gained
- Par 4 Scoring / P4: 400-450
- Birdies or Better Gained
- SG: Putting (Bermuda)
- Course History
- SG: TOT – East Scoring
Stats To Avoid
- Driving Distance
- SG: OTT
- SG: ARG
- Par 5 Scoring
Fairways Gained is the most important stat at Sedgefield CC compared to the average Tour course, and by a wide margin. Players who struggle to find fairways consistently are going to struggle to keep up with the birdie pace in this field, so I’m likely to fade players who fall in the bottom 20% in Driving Accuracy this week. The Top 10 players in Fairways Gained entering this week include: Brendon Todd, Chez Reavie, Brian Stuard, Ryan Armour, Ryan Moore, Brice Garnett, Kyle Stanley, Doug Ghim, JJ Spaun, and Kramer Hickok.
SG: APP is always an important stat, but this week it jumps to even more of a premium as the #4 overall correlated stat with success at the Wyndham Championship. That makes sense at a pure birdie fest where par is a bad score on several Par 4s, so striping your irons consistently close will be crucial. The Top 10 plays SG: APP in this field are: Talor Gooch, Russell Henley, Kyle Stanley, Cameron Percy, Hideki Matsuyama, Will Zalatoris, Matthew NeSmith, Sam Burns, Doug Ghim, and Russell Knox.
Hit fairways, check. Hit approaches well, check. With those two steps out of the way, players will need to separate themselves on the greens with the field expected to reach greens in regulation at a higher clip than Tour average. The Top 10 Bermuda Putters in the field are: Brendon Todd, Chesson Hadley, Kevin Kisner, Sungjae Im, Ryan Armour, JT Poston, Patrick Reed, Denny McCarthy, Sam Burns, and Brian Harman. Just as important as general Bermuda putting this week will be converting Birdies or Better, so looking at the top BoB players in this field as well, that list includes: Jason Kokrak, Patton Kizzire, Sam Burns, Seamus Power, Brian Harman, Louis Oosthuizen, Hideki Matsuyama, Gary Woodland, Jhonattan Vegas, and Keith Mitchell.
If we wrap that journey from tee to green of Fairways Gained, SG: APP, and SG: P – Bermuda altogether, there are just 6 players who rank Top 50 in each: Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Harold Varner III, Russell Henley, Bo Hoag, and Cameron Percy. Broadening this out and including Birdies or Better Gained in the mix, there are 16 players who rank above average in those 4 categories: Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker, Pat Perez, Russell Henley, Harold Varner III, Ryan Armour, Sungjae Im, Mark Hubbard, Vaughn Taylor, Roger Sloan, CT Pan, and Scott Brown. You could do much worse than a player pool of just those 16 this week.
There are 8 Par 4s in the 400-450 range this week, so identifying players who excel in this range will be key as well. The Top 10 players in the field from this range includes: Russell Knox, Ryan Armour, Bran Harman, Kevin Na, Brian Stuard, Jason Kokrak, Harold Varner III, CT Pan, Brendon Todd, and Zach Johnson.
In terms of stats that don’t matter this week, I won’t be weighting Driving Distance, SG: OTT, SG: ARG, or Par 5 Scoring into my models at all, as these all fall towards the bottom of the correlation charts for historical success at the Wyndham Championship. It’s also important to note just how much SG: P jumps in importance this week, cracking the Top 10. This is not a tournament you can lean on your ball striking to mask a neutral putter to win, so the flat stick will need to get hot to stay in contention.
Taking the Top 10 Correlated Stat categories for this week at the Wyndham Championship, there are 15 players who rate out above average in all ten: Louis Oosthuizen, Seamus Power, Branden Grace, Jason Kokrak, Webb Simpson, Charl Schwartzel, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker, Pat Perez, Sam Burns, Russell Henley, Harold Varner III, Ryan Armour, Chris Kirk, and Roger Sloan.
Spotlight: Kevin Kisner
I’ll keep this Spotlight feature short and sweet, because unlike Mr. Kisner, this article business is a hobby for me, and I’ve got a banana boat calling my name. I love Kisner this week and I think all of the stars are aligning for him. Part of that star-alignment includes the opportunistic 79 he fired on Sunday at the WGC FedEx St Jude in order to keep him just a bit under the radar and lower down the odds board.
Kisner will be the first to tell you he doesn’t have much of a chance to win on long courses, so when he steps up to a 7,131 yard birdie fest of a track in Sedgefield CC, he should be licking his chops. Kisner is #4 SG: TOT on Short Courses, #5 SG: TOT on Easy Courses, #4 SG: TOT at Sedgefield CC, and #3 SG: P on Bermuda. He’s got 3 T10s in his last 4 trips to the Wyndham Championship, and at Detroit Golf Club, one of the top comp courses as a Donald Ross-designed birdie fest, he has two Top 10s in his last two appearances. All signs point to Kisner for me this week, and I believe the up and down results of late will find him right around 40/1 when odds open, which I’ll be all over.
What To Look Out For at the 2021 Wyndham Championship
Anytime you bring all the shorter hitting plotters into play, you’re liable to get a very random longshot winner, and I expect that to be the case once again at the 2021 Wyndham Classic. If former high school physics teacher (I’m assuming) Jim Herman can win this tournament, anyone can, which should make for a fun week of betting and DFS where you can really pepper longshot bombs on your card.
With all the course fit profiles in mind this week, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool, broken out by projected pricing/odds tier.
This week, I’m putting a premium on Fairways Gained, BoB Gained, and SG: APP followed by a more balanced mix of P4: 400-450, Course History, SG: P – Bermuda, Short Course History, and Easy Course History. #1 in my model is Patrick Reed, who ranks inside the Top 10 in the field in Short Course History, SG: P – Bermuda, and Course History at Sedgefield CC. The rest of the Top 10 is rounded out by Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Webb Simpson, Sam Burns, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Streelman, Harold Varner III, and Sungjae Im.