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It may have had its share of name changes and been through three courses, but the Wyndham (or Greater Greensboro Open, for those that have watched golf for far too long) has long been a favourite of players and viewers alike.

Changes to the schedule now sit this long-held tournament in between the final major of the year and the start of the FedEx play-offs, but whilst those at the top sit out and prepare for the Fedex St.Jude, five of the world’s top-30 join the rest at Sedgefield looking to show-off their claims to a Ryder Cup pick or to confirm their place inside that elusive top 70 – the ticket to many riches.

There is a strange look at the current table, too, with Justin Thomas needing a wonderful week to launch himself up from 79th in the table after a dismal loss of form, and Ben Taylor and Austin Eckroat straddling that vital 70th place. One decent long putt could make the difference between going home and earning a minimum of 40k. All that plus an opportunity to make the top 50 and a place at the BMW in three weeks’ time.

Those factors have to be taken into consideration, but maybe more for the in-running punter on Sunday afternoon, so let’s stick with what we know.

Sedgefield offers a sub-7200-yard par-70 that calls for accuracy over length at each turn. There is no point in bombing it off the peg as it pays no dividend, so simply find the fairway and be comfortable with your yardage.

2021 champion Kevin Kisner summed it up with the comment, “where everybody–we’ve got to put the ball in the same place,” whilst Webb Simpson, former winner and holder of multiple course top-10 finishes, admitted, “it favours nobody. So I think that’s what makes it hard to repeat, that if you have a field of whatever, what did we have, 156 players, that almost everybody in the field has a legitimate chance to win.” 

Occasionally, course correlations are tough to find but, here at Sedgefield (as well as former host Forest Oaks) boasts a definite link to that handful of courses that defy the modern game – get those irons in close.

Three-time winner Davis Love III was victorious at both hosting tracks and also won twice at Sawgrass (The Players) and a record five times at the Heritage at Hilton Head. Read similar for Simpson, also winner at all three tracks, Si Woo Kim (a win and three top five finishes here, runner-up at Heritage, top-10 Sawgrass) and Carl Pettersson, who won here and at Hilton Head alongside a pair of top-10s at Sawgrass. With Adam Scott, 2003 Players champion and runner-up here last year, and the afore-mentioned Kisner and his top-10s across the board, the link is clear.


Best Bet – JT Poston 30/1


I’m a big fan of the 30-year-old Sea Island resident as he seems to be fairly simple to predict, and after a run of three to six finishes in four starts, he is surely peaking for a serious tilt at the title he won in 2019.

In beating course specialist Webb Simpson, Poston became the first player for over 40 years to win a PGA Tour event whilst going bogey-free, backing up his then-recent form of 6th at The Heritage and 11th at the Rocket Mortgage, an event that sees a correlation via Kevin Kisner and the similar putting surfaces.

It may have taken three years, but after finishing third at Hilton Head and top-10 at the Wells Fargo, he broadcast his second PGA title with a runner-up at River Highlands (Kisner and Simpson behind) confirming that promise with an all-the-way three-shot victory at Deere Run, a course that continues to reward aggressive iron play and quality putting.

After a season, if not year-ending, ninth place at the Tour Championship, Poston’s form dipped slightly at the end of 2022, and this year started in average fashion.

Whilst top-10s at the American Express and Valspar are nothing to cry about, I expected more of a player on the fringes of every major, but it’s only in the last few weeks that he has come right.

I’m not fussed if a player missed the cut at the Scottish Open this year, such is the distinct lack of similarity, but that the selection managed his second consecutive top six finish at Renaissance is very encouraging, particularly as the previous week was his defence of the John Deere.

Finishing just outside of the top-40 at Hoylake is fine, but its last week’s solid, if distant, runner-up finish that really catches the eye – especially after his form lines of 2022.

Top-20 for greens-in-regulation and leading the putting average reads well and, for those of a more up-to-date nature, so does the top-10 in approaches, tee-to-green and the short game. That he can get these results off a slightly disappointing tee-shot game is encouraging, particularly as his approach figures are slightly skewed after a water ball when chasing down the stretch.

Poston has played here six times, with his two best finishes of first and 21st both showing his best form after the tee shot. Impressing with his flat stick (ranks around 12th over the last four events) he currently needs a decent finish to establish himself in the field for the second play-off event (the BMW), an event he currently gets into by just one place (49th).


Danger – Aaron Rai 45/1


Not long ago, these events would have been part of ‘the Webb courses’. By that, I mean if you say Webb has a chance, then it’s clear the likes of Kisner and Daniel Berger (remember him) must also be live runners.

I’ve kept with that notion for Poston, and there is a definite ‘type’ of player needed here – Englishman Rai fits right into that category.

Maidens win at Sedgefield. Not only Poston, but Ryan Moore, Si Woo Kim and last year’s champ, Tom Kim, are all names that, amongst others, have won their first PGA Tour event here. Rai can continue that theme after a solid last few outings.

Career victories are progressive in their quality and include three on the lower level Challenge Tour, one of which in tree-lined Kenya, and a win at tight Fanling (Hong Kong Open) on the DPWT. Step it up and Rai beat Tommy Fleetwood et al in horrendous conditions at the Scottish Open in 2020, on a course that saw Xander Schauffele win two years later.

So? Xander was the winner at the 2022 Travelers, beating Poston and Sahith Theegala into second place, the latter with form at The Heritage, Memorial and John Deere.

In his last seven events, Rai has posted 12th at Charles Schwab (10th into Sunday), third place behind Rory McIlroy in Canada, 24th at the Travelers, ninth at the Rocket Mortgage (top-five after three rounds) and, after missing the cut on the number in Scotland, a top-20 at the 3M.

Over the last three months, Rai leads the way for driving accuracy, is 27th for greens-in-regulation and top-30 for overall ball-striking. Yes, his killer putting of years gone by had disappeared for a while, but he’s found positive strokes in both Detroit and at Twin Cities.

Currently, at 61 in the FedEx rankings, he is sure to get to Memphis but he’ll want to keep going into the top-50, and past finishes at Muirfield and Sawgrass (26th and 20th respectively) suggest this may be the place he will do it.


Danger – Alex Smalley 45/1


There is a long queue waiting for Smalley and despite his maiden status, I was expecting him to be slightly shorter than his current price given his recent form.

Formerly world ranked 12th in the amateur ranks, the 26-year-old was one of the best golfers to come out of Duke University, before playing on the victorious 2019 Walker Cup side at Royal Liverpool.

Many a quality college star has come and gone but Smalley hinted at better to come, when in 2022 he shot a final round 65 at the Corales to finish joint runner-up, finished sixth in Mexico (second at halfway) won by Jon Rahm, recorded a 21st in Rory McIlory’s Canadian Open where he sat third going into Sunday, and a closing 16th at the John Deere and 10th at the high-class Scottish Open, falling just one shot shy of a place at the final major.

Smalley finished last year with a run of 11th, fourth and fifth place through Bermuda, Houston and the RSM and a final ranking within the world top 100.

We often seek immediate success from the younger players, but mostly it’s a case of waiting and viewing steady, if not spectacular, progression. That’s exactly what we have.

Since the beginning of May, Smalley has recorded top-25 finishes at Quail Hollow, the PGA, and at the Canadian Open, bettering those with a top-10 at the Travelers and John Deere (hello!) where he could do little against a rampaging Sepp Straka, subsequent runner-up at The Open.

Over three months, Smalley ranks 33rd in overall performance in the full PGA field, comprising 19th in ball-striking, 20th for greens-in-reg and 15th in par-4 performance. Translated, that gives us some of the best irons and tee-to-green figures in the game.

After career finishes at Sedgefield of 29th (8th at halfway) and 13th last time (5th after round one) Smalley will look to confirm current form and keep his place just in front of Poston in the FedEx rankings. Expect nothing less of this local member with, by his own admission, over 75 rounds at Sedgefield in his locker.


Danger – Adam Svensson 60/1


Canadian Svensson just pips his compatriot Adam Hadwin to the final selection after recalling his victory at Sea Island last year, an event that Simpson and Kisner have also done well at.

When making his debut here in 2019, the final selection threatened a course-record 59 before recording a second round 61, the same score he had shot at the Sony just a few months before.

Back then, Svensson was chasing status and needed a top-three finish to qualify for the top-125 (as it was then) and a continuing season. That isn’t the case now, sitting in 37th, having followed up his victory with a top-10 at Riviera, 13th at Sawgrass (led at half), 27th at Quail Hollow (fourth at half), and a recent run of 40th, 21st and 37th at the Rocket Mortgage, John Deere and 3M.

Those last two events have seen a steady improvement in both approaches and tee-to-green, and whilst the putter needs to show a bit more, he did manage to turn around his 2019 putting stats via this course – perhaps he can do that again? For a player that just two years ago won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour, all at 17-under, it’s a fix he can make on the right track.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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