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Favorites, Longshots and Fantasy Plays for the Wyndham Championship

By: Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads

The weather doesn’t call for much wind this weekend, but it being August in North Carolina means each day comes with a risk of late afternoon or evening thunderstorms.

All-in-all, the weather should be beautiful, if hot for the Wyndham Championship.

After one week of top 70 and ties, we’re back to a cutline of top 65 and ties, and we expect the cut to be either 1-under-par or 2-under, though our model leans more towards 2-under. The model also likes the winner at 18-under, top 5 at 13-under, top 10 at 11-under, and top 20 at 8-under.

Sedgefield Country Club is another par 70 playing around 7,130 yards. It’s a Donald Ross course with Bermuda greens and five holes with impactful water hazards. It’s not a particularly long course, and with two reachable par 5s there is ample opportunity for some low rounds of golf.

Sedgefield Country Club

Short par 4 performance gets a boost this week compared to TPC Harding Park, which required some great long par 4 performance. What’s most noticeable about the data for Sedgefield is the total variance.

Typically, courses with low scoring and high variance allow for some pretty diverse leaderboards. Like any course, we’ll probably see the best golfers at the top, but with so many opportunities for low scoring, it’s a good week for longshots to make some noise.

PICK TO WIN

Webb Simpson

The Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield is where Simpson won his first PGA title, and he seems to love playing here – finishing runner-up in each of the last two years. It’s a par 4 specialists course, and even the par 5s, where Simpson struggles the most, are scorable to where he probably won’t lose strokes to the field. Our simulator gives him a whopping 10.6% chance to take home the trophy, or about 19-2 odds.

OTHERS WHO COULD TRIUMPH

Our model gives Patrick Reed an 8.6% chance of winning.

Patrick Reed

If our model likes Simpson in a tournament, there’s a good chance it’s also a fan of Reed. Reed is second in the field in short par 4 scoring (plus-0.106 strokes gained per hole) to Simpson, and first in long par 4 scoring (plus-0.112), where Simpson is second. Our model gives Reed an 8.6% chance of winning (12-1 odds), second only to Simpson.

Billy Horschel

Horschel continues with our theme of the week; great at short par 4s. He’s fifth in the field this week in strokes gained on short par 4s at plus-0.083 per hole, and his variance is a relatively small 0.368. This means he’s consistently good at picking up strokes. He’s also a player who can pick up strokes in a hurry with the putter. Among players with 10 or more measured rounds since the restart, Horschel is ninth in strokes gained putting per round. Our model gives him a 3.2% chance of winning, or about 31-1.

Corey Conners

If only the Canadian could putt. Conners is among the worst putters on tour, but he still gains strokes on almost all hole types. His greens in regulation baseline is 71.2%, highest in the field. He’ll need it this week, and here’s hoping he can stick it to four feet and minimize the usage on the flatstick. Our model gives him a 2.2% chance to win, or about 45-1. His consistency also puts him near the top with a chance to crack the top 20, where the data gives him almost a 37% chance (ninth in the field).

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

The first South African we’ll feature, Bezuidenhout needs a good showing to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and he’s found a great course to pick them up on. He picks up strokes on all types of holes, but long par 3s are the only place he really picks up significant strokes. What helps him at this course is his consistency and how low scoring the course can be. A player who picks up strokes on a course that allows for picking up strokes (as opposed to encouraging losing strokes) is a great fit. The model gives him a 2.0% chance to win, about 50-1 odds.

LONGSHOTS WHO COULD SURPRISE

Branden Grace could be one to watch in his return to the field.

Branden Grace

Grace was striking it well before being forced to withdraw from the Barracuda after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s back in the field this week and looks to continue where he left off. Similar to his fellow South African Bezuidenhout, Grace gains a few strokes consistently on all holes playing on a course that encourages gaining strokes. We give him a 1.3% chance to win, or about 75-1 odds.

Adam Long

Long, a Duke product, is playing some good golf right now, and this course suits him. One metric we like using is Strokes Gained: Tee & Putt, where we add strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained putting together. The theory is they’re the least variable and don’t depend on a lie or obstacles. Off the tee, you get to carefully place your ball, and you get to do the same for putting. We will say that putting is a horrible round-to-round predictor, but it’s a pretty good tournament-to-tournament predictor. Since the restart, Long is 31st among 151 qualified players in SG: Tee & Putt per round, and 14th in the field. We give him a 1.4% chance to win, or about 72-1.

Carlos Ortiz

Ortiz missed the cut at the PGA Championship by one stroke last week, but the data points to him bouncing back at Sedgefield. We’ve mentioned the importance of short par 4 scoring this week, but long par 4s are still valuable, and Ortiz checks that box. He’ll need to play at least field-average on the short par 4s, where he typically loses strokes, but if he can pick up strokes at a higher rate on long par 4s, he should have a good chance to compete this week.

Sebastian Muñoz

Muñoz is a player our model is banking on for some positive regression. He’s missed four of his last five cuts on the PGA Tour, and has lost strokes putting in all five of those starts. During that time, he’s only lost strokes off the tee or with his irons once each. He’s still gained strokes putting on the year, and this could be the week his putting woes turn around. The model agrees and gives him a 12.5% chance to crack the top 10, 27th in the field.

FAVORITE DFS PLAYS (Draftkings)

Patrick Reed ($10,700)

Sungjae Im ($8,800)

Ryan Moore ($8,100)

Corey Conners ($8,000)

Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,700)

Brendan Grace ($7,100)

Brian Harman ($7,100)

Adam Long ($6,900)

FAVORITE DFS FADES

Brooks Koepka, one of our DFS fades this week

Brooks Koepka ($11,400)

Why is Koepka playing in this tournament? Any time we can watch more Koepka we’re happy, but for a guy with injury concerns who has already qualified for the FedEx Playoffs, we don’t have an answer. Regardless, the model finds this price too steep. It’s not the best course fit for a guy with Koepka’s skill set, and your top dollar is better spent elsewhere.

Paul Casey ($10,300)

Give me Casey on a difficult par 72 where he can ball strike his way into some birdies, but the data doesn’t point to him at top-dollar on this course. He’s too inconsistent with his scoring, and as we detailed with Bezuidenhout and Grace, we want consistency on this course.

Jordan Spieth ($9,000)

We wish he was fixed. It seems like he’s starting to get back to some semblance of Masters champion Jordan Spieth, but he isn’t there yet. Par 4s are where he struggles the most, and this course at that price is a big red flag. We’d rather have Sungjae Im at $200 cheaper.

 

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