FedEx Points Bring Drama to Wyndham Championship
The stakes are high at the Wyndham Championship, which begins Thursday at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., and only part of it has to do with the $1 million winner's share of the $5.6 million purse.
Just as important are the 500 FedExCup points on the line, and viewing promises to be dramatic as players vie for coveted positioning in the final event before the first leg of the playoffs at The Barclays next week. The top 125 players in the FexExCup Standings will earn spots into The Barclays, which is why all but three players ranked 100-150 are in the field this week.
Sitting on the magic number is South Korean Whee Kim at No. 125, but even that spot might not be good enough at the end of the week. Rookie Jon Rahm is in the field playing on conditional status and should the impressive former amateur star win this week, he would automatically convert to official FedExCup status and qualify for The Barclays.
The Top 120 players in the FedExCup standings are likely to earn a spot in the first leg of the playoffs with a top-125 finish this week, with all players below them needing strong showings to improve their positions. For example, Camilo Villegas, who skipped the Olympic Games to try to improve his FedExCup standing, enters the week at No. 150 and may need a top-five finish to earn enough points to play next week. The good news? Villegas won the event in 2014 with a final-round 63 and has made the cut in all five appearances.
It all equates to high drama over the weekend as every drive, chip and putt could dramatically affect those hovering around the bubble - and determine whether their season ends this week.
Advice for those who want to secure their playoff spots? Go low.
Davis Love III, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain who is not in the field this week, won the Wyndham for the third time last year at 19-under, with all finishers in the top nine posting four rounds in the 60. Sedgefield has played as the easiest par 70 on the PGA Tour each of the past two seasons.
Ryan Moore, who is coming off a victory at the John Deere Classic last week, posted four rounds in the 60s to finish in a tie for 10th in last year's Wyndham - along with Tiger Woods, who was making a last-ditch attempt to make the playoffs.
"I like this golf course a lot," said Moore, who won the event in 2009 in a three-way playoff against Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler. "I think it's a great course, a lot of character. You've got to hit a lot of different shots off the tees, into the greens, a lot of different clubs. I enjoy golf courses like that. It's not just get up, hit a driver as far as you can, try and hit a mid-iron and long iron into every single hole. There's lots of different types of holes out here and that's kind of fun, interesting golf."
Moore moved up to No. 23 in the FedExCup standings with last week's victory. Also comfortably in the field for the Barclays is Tour rookie Harold Varner III, who is 79th. And as a North Carolina native, Varner III is another big fan of Sedgefield. This is his first entry into the Wyndham, although Varner III has played the course many times, and his parents and some teammates from East Carolina will travel to watch the tournament this week.
"Just real excited," he said. "I love playing at home. Just ready to get going. Took the last two weeks off, just been itching to get back.
"It should be a good time."
There are several former winners at Sedgefield, including Brandt Snedeker, who enters No. 6 in the FedExCup standings, making him the highest-ranked player in the standings in the field this week. Other former winners include Carl Pettersson, Arjun Atwal and Webb Simpson, who earned his first Tour victory at Sedgefield in 2011. He and wife, Dowd, named their third child Wyndham in 2014. Simpson has broken par in 19 of his past 24 rounds at the event, posting a win along with three more top-10s.
"I love coming here," he said. "I said to some people last night, living in Charlotte, Quail Hollow is kind of a home tournament as well, but this is a lot closer to home to Raleigh for me. It feels like my home event."
"I love this golf course. We don't play enough courses on Tour, I don't think, that are as good as this in terms of playability. I feel like, no matter how far you hit it off the tee or what your skills are, everybody is really equal starting the week."
Other top names in the field this week include Patrick Reed (No. 8 in FedExCup points), Justin Thomas (No. 9), Kevin Na (No. 10) and Kevin Kisner (No. 11).
But the real focus is on those on the bubble - with former Tour winners Scott Stallings and Kyle Stanley currently sitting at No. 126 and 127. Top 125 not only means a spot in the playoffs, but a Tour card for the 2016-17 season. Those from 126-150 will have conditional status with limited starts - or choice where those opportunities come. Below that? It's back to the Web.com Tour.
Every player from No. 114-135 is in the field. And there is certainly hope. Love III vaulted from No. 186 to 76th with last year's victory. In all, five players secured their playoff berth at the Wyndham last year. Among them?
One Camilo Villegas.
"It's a special place for me," Villegas told PGATour.com of Sedgefield. "A lot of great people there, and great memories obviously of 2014. "It hasn't been the best year. I need to step it up."