Between 1692 and 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts, twenty people were burned at the stake in a series of prosecutions; accused and found guilty of witchcraft. Winston-Salem has come a long way since then, but the Sedgefield Country Club golf course will provide a tough examination for the participants in this year’s PGA Wyndham Championship.
It may not be sorcery, but it’ll take a certain amount of magic to finish top of the heap in this tournament. Join us as we run the rule over the course and players and suggest a spellbinding 80/1 shot that may just prove rather enchanting!
THE WYDENHAM CHAMPIONSHIP | SS1, 12:00
Favourite: HENRIK STENSON 12/1
TOURNAMENT & COURSE OVERVIEW
The Sedgefield Country Club is primarily known as being North Carolina's premier golf course, having hosted the PGA Tour event, the Wyndham Championship, in this guise, since 2007.
The course itself was originally designed by Donald Ross and opened for play in 1926. The Ross Course is a par-70 beauty, which harbours a dark side: 48 sand bunkers, twelve creeks and a pond await the unwary golfer. The greens, which are Championship Bermuda grass undulate like a drunken Greek belly dancer at a wedding.
Measuring 7,172 yards, the Ross Course does not play long off the tees, but must be played from the green back to the tee. Emphasis must be put on ball placement in the fairway in order to get the appropriate angle to the green, so any imprecision will be penalised. The tees, fairways and rough are all bog-standard Bermuda Grass.
The 'signature' hole is the 18th. Famed for its picturesque beauty, this par-4 measures 507 yards and demands an accurate drive from the tee. It is considered the most difficult on the course, with an uphill shot onto an undulating green that would make a crazy golf designer blush with shame. Birdies here are almost non-existant!
PRIZE POOL: The prize pool is $5.8 million, with $1,008,000 up top for the winner.
WEATHER: The weather could be a HUGE factor this weekend as thunderstorms are predicted throughout and will certainly make the course play faster than anticipated. Thursday lunchtime should see a small respite, so shrewd followers may choose players who tee-off times mirror this.
THE KISS OF LIFE FOR KEVIN?
Henrik Stenson comes into this tournament as favourite, which given his inconsistency this season has left many baffled. However the 41-year-old Swede loves short, classical courses, especialLy those designed by Donald Ross factor in the fact that there is a reduced field and he'll be desperate to climb up the FedEx playoff leaderboard rankings and it becomes much clearer why the guys upstairs have installed him as favourite. However, he's a shaky 12/1, and to our mind, there's better value elsewhere in the field.*
So, who gets the nod this time round? Well, a player who has gone under the radar for a while, but who could be suited to this course is Byeong-hun An. The 25-year-old South Korean seems to be maturing all the time and he's also approaching a little form. He has back-to-back top-30 finishes in the US and finished 18th here in his only visit. He has a good, accurate drive and won at Wentworth, a course similar in look and feel. With compulsory military service beckoning you get the feeling that he'll be looking to sign off on a high. You could say we're shooting for the stars, but at 40/1 there's enough leeway for a speculative punt. he's certainly got enough in his armoury!*
Next up is a 33-year-old from the neighbouring state of South Carolina. Kevin Kisner was having the USPGA of his life, leading through the first three rounds before crumbling in the last. Of course, that's not ideal preparation but Kisner, who has employed a new mental coach, could use the disappointment of last week to at as a springboard for a serious title assault here. The field is reduced, the pressure off somewhat and he likes the course to boot, having finishes T8 in 2014 and T10 in 2016. Second favourite at 14/1, he's our pick of the week.*
Lastly, we're going to plump for Scott Stallings. Again, he won't be the first name on everybody's lips, but he has what it takes to tame Sedgefield. Two cuts on the bounce after a T5 at the John Deere and a T3 at the Barbasol Championships will have many scratching their heads at the wisdom of our choice, but sitting out of the USPGA may have done him the world of good. He finished 14th on his debut here, and whilst he's missed two cuts since, if he can get off to a good start then the weather may also play into his favour. Agreed, a little left field, but odds of 80/1 and StanJames.com paying SIX places lends a little optimism for a small wager.
More, you say? More demanding than the ex you lot!
Okay, we've explained how length, precision will come into play here, which leaves us liking the cut of Chez Reavie's gib. The 35-year-old. from Wichita, Kansas, has had a solid, if unspectacular year, a T4 at the St.Jude Classic being his best finish. However, a T22 at the PGA followed a T23 at the RBC, which shows his consistency. He also finished T16 at the US Open, which shows he has the mental strength to mix it with the big boys, something he doesn't need to worry about this time out. he also knows this course quite well, with a couple of top 10 finishes under his belt and looks to be great value at 35/1.*
- 2016 Kim Si-Woo -N/A
- 2015 Davis Love III - 200/1
- 2014 Camillo Villegas - 150/1
- 2013 Patrick Reed - 100/1
- 2012 Sergio Garcia - N/A
- 2011 Webb Simpson - 22/1
- 2010 Arjun Atwal - 350/1
Whoever you're backing, don't forget StanJames are offering our famous ACCA Insurance on the WYNDHAM
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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