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Wyndham Championship: Finals week frenzy

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By Pete Pappas

GolfWRX Staff Writer

The Wyndham Championship is the final stop for the PGA Tour regular season this week. But a crowd of noteworthy competitors is still frantically scrambling to gain admission to the Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs, which begin next week with The Barclays at Bethpage. So when the gates close Sunday evening at Wyndham’s Sedgefield Country Club, you better not be on the outside looking in, or it’s “wait until next year.”

Reigning Wyndham champion and 2012 U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson is in Greensboro, NC to defend his title, and will be grouped with Carl Pettersson (who’s controversial two-stroke penalty derailed the Swede’s efforts to chase down PGA Champion Rory McIlroy last week at Kiawah), and Davis Love III (this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup captain; and currently ranked 119th in the FedExCup standings).

Last year at Wyndham, Simpson broke out with his first career Tour title, winning by three-strokes thanks to steady weekend play (including a bogey-free final round).

“I really couldn’t think of a better place to win than here in Greensboro,” Simpson said afterwards of his “home-state” maiden victory.

Simpson went on to win the Deutche Bank Championship (the second FedExCup PLAYOFFS event), but fell short in the Tour Championship two weeks later.  Simpson would however finish second overall in the final standings behind eventual 2011 FedExCup champion Bill Haas (whose brilliant 17th hole greenside save with his ball submerged in a water hazard was one of the most unforgettable moments in PGA Tour Playoff history).

Among the swarm of flag hunters vying for Sedgefield supremacy this week — seven past Wyndham winners, eight tournament winners this season, and 12 major winners are all looking to keep their seasons alive.

Simpson currently ranks 13th in the FedExCup standings by virtue of his U.S. Open victory and six top-10 finishes, and comes in as the field’s highest ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings (No. 5).

The only other player at Greensboro inside the World top-10 is Jason Dufner (No. 9), and he’s excited to be here.

“Sedgefield is a terrific layout, and I think the course will be even better with new Bermuda greens,” Dufner said.  “It’s going to be a great week.

Dufner is one of just five players on Tour with multiple wins this season, and looked very impressive picking up titles earlier this season at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and HP Byron Nelson Championship.  He currently ranks third in the FedExCup standings.

Meanwhile, former Wyndham champion Brandt Snedeker currently ranks 23rd in the FedExCup standings on the strength of his win at the Farmers Insurance Open and T-3 finish at the British Open.  Wyndham was Snedeker’s first victory on Tour in 2007, helping him earn “Rookie of the Year” honors.

The top 125 players in the FedExCup standings will move on to Bethpage, and high-profile names conspicuously on the wrong side of 125 entering play this week in Greensboro include Y.E. Yang (129), Gary Woodland (130), John Daly (137), and Camilo Villegas (146).

It still seems like just yesterday that an excited Yang celebrated winning the 91st PGA Championship by spontaneously military pressing his tour bag.  The South Korean erased a two-shot final round deficit for his first and only major, and handed Tiger Woods his first blown 54-hole major lead in the process.

Although Woodland has yet to taste major victory (or even finish inside the top-10 at a major for that matter), his 2011 Transitions Championship victory by one-stroke over Simpson put him on the Tour map.  This season, however, Woodland has struggled. In 18 starts he’s yet to finish higher than 24th, and has missed four cuts (with two coming consecutively, including one at the U.S. Open).

Two-time major champion Daly remains one of the most polarizing figures in golf, and “The Lion” comes in to Sedgefield with a “mini-roar” four top-20 finishes in his last seven starts.  In the last two weeks alone he’s moved up 26 spots in the FedExCup standings.  But Daly has never finished inside the top-40 at Wyndham, and he’ll have to do that if he plans to be around for the Barclays.

And Villegas rose to rock-star status almost overnight with his first two Tour victories coming in back-to-back 2008 FedExCup events (the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship).  “Hombre Arana” has 10 career top-10s in the PLAYOFFS, however a poor season thus far (with a T-18 best finish) has left Villegas fighting just to keep his card (a testament to how deep the well of talent runs on Tour – and how quickly fortune can turn).

Following the coronation of an Irish King in America at the PGA Championship last week is a tough act for Wyndham to follow. But Greensboro is the final frenzied push for a chance at the most lucrative payout on Tour.  And that means for anyone not named Rory; it’s time to go for broke.

You can follow Pete on twitter @TheGreekGrind and GolfWRX @GolfWRX

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour talk” forum.

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Pete is a journalist, commentator, and interviewer covering the PGA Tour, new equipment releases, and the latest golf fashions. Pete's also a radio and television personality who's appeared multiple times on ESPN radio, and Fox Sports All Bets Are Off. And when he's not running down a story, he's at the range working on his game. Above all else, Pete's the proud son of a courageous mom who battled pancreatic cancer much longer than anyone expected. You can follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 15, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    It’s a tough one to pick but I like the chances of a few players. Carl Pettersson has had a very consistent year and played well at the PGA last week.

    Brendon De Jonge has been knocking on the door a few times this year and might get his chance to break through in an open event.

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Thursday’s Photos from the 2017 PNC Father/Son Challenge

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 PNC Father/Son Challenge at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida.

The 20-team field includes some of the game’s legendary major champions, and their sons. Notable teams include John Daly/Little John Daly, Nick Faldo/Matthew Faldo, Tom Kite/David Kite, Bernhard Langer/Jason Langer, Greg Norman/Greg Norman Jr., Jack Nicklaus/Gary Nicklaus Jr., and Lee Trevino/Daniel Trevino.  The teams will compete in a scramble format over 36 holes to decide the winners of the Willie Park Trophy.

Last year, David Duval and his step-son Nick Karavites took home the trophy, and they are back in the field this year to defend.

Check out our photos below from this year’s event!

Thursday’s Photos

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos

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An instructor’s perspective on the Chamblee/Dufner Twitter controversy

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If you have not had a chance to read the latest exchange on Twitter between Brandel Chamblee and Jason Dufner — and his teacher Chuck Cook — you have missed a wonderful controversy brewing. As you may know, Brandel is never one to hide his feelings on his views of the golf swing (he’s against The Golfing Machine teachings). And when people disagree with him (Jason Dufner), he’s not hesitant to tackle his opposition head on.

I’d like to take the time to weigh-in on what I feel should be focused on from an instruction standpoint, instead of what has been said on Twitter in this controversy.

Brandel’s side

First of all, I consider Brandel to be a friend of mine and he has been nothing but gracious to me during my professional career; though we have differing viewpoints on certain things. I have often called or emailed him, asking his opinion on one thing or another, and he has never failed to answer me. In fact, I love hearing what he has to say, even if it’s the opposite of what I feel personally and professionally — he hardly speaks without research to back it up. When you have the kind of stage he has, you must be armed with facts.

As we all know, Brandel is not a fan of the new breed of instruction. He prefers the old school methods, and clearly from his initial Tweet that sparked the entire controversy, he prefers an upright backswing. He is not a fan of most technologies used on the lesson tee, and he is very vocal regarding the Golfing Machine book and the Trackman launch monitor. While I hold both these things dear to me personally, I do understand how he could not be as convinced as I am of their successes within the game.

People must understand his opinion is a matter of perspective, and though he has this perspective as a player, and as a player-turned-teacher, he does not have the thousands and thousands of hours on the lesson tee. This does not make him right or wrong, it just gives him a different viewpoint.

Dufner’s side

As a teacher myself, I admire Dufner’s rise to fame and to the top ranks as a player, and I applaud him for doing so in spite of the odds and the drama that has gone on within his personal life over the last few years. I am proud to see him step up on a public forum and defend Chuck Cook (his long time teacher) on this Twitter thread. It is refreshing to see! Though I don’t know Jason, I’d like to shake his hand for doing so. My biggest gripe with Tour Professionals, in general, is their failure to stand by their instructors when things are not going well.

The last time I saw a player defending his teacher this adamantly was in a text string I had with Kevin Kisner (who is a great guy and friend) and John Tillery (his teacher and also a friend), who was not picked as one of the Top-100 Teachers on the latest list by Golf Magazine. As I told Kevin and John, it is a matter of time before he is recognized by Golf Magazine. The lists are subjective and many things go into the selection process; they make good choices and other times they make mistakes. John is a heck of a teacher and will always be Top 100 in my book! So kudos to Jason and Kevin for standing up for their guys…they both deserve it 100 percent.

Chuck Cook’s side

How Chuck was dragged into the middle of this whole controversy is beyond me, because he is one of the nicest and most soft-spoken guys. I also consider him the top-1 percent of teachers within our business. Chuck was in Vail for many years while I was also teaching there, and we have been on many outings together. He has been nothing but professional to all of us and anyone he comes into contact with personally. When someone questions him or his ability to teach at the highest levels, I can only say look at the two U.S. Open Champs he has taught, as well as what he’s done with countless other people within the game of golf. He is a smart and stand-up guy and deserves nothing but respect from all of us.

Chuck, I wish I could be HALF the teacher and person you are and have always been! That is a fact.

The Golfing Machine

Now, we could write an entire article series on the book I call my bible within the golfing world. However, 99 percent of the people in the world call it a “method,” or too complex, although every top teacher uses its methodologies within their instruction. It is ONLY an encyclopedia of motion — that’s it. It tells you what will and will not work together during the swing. What the book lacks has been the proper messenger to get the word across and that blame is only on timing. That’s not a knock on the past teachers who have used it or the players on Tour who have employed it.

Homer’s great book was born in 1969, and sadly the world would not be ready to hear these type of ideas in this type of format until now. And, like anything, it has been grossly misunderstood. The book and teachings have been chastised and will continue to be until a few more generations realize the greatness of what is contained within its pages. Only time will help our cause.

The Conclusion

Its all good… it’s not a big deal people! Please understand we ALL come from different places within the game and have our own opinions based on our perspective. Remember that these are all subject to change and can at any time. Every one of the people in that string of Tweets have their own agenda to promote and have the basis to call themselves great in what they do for a living. As long as we all have a drink and a laugh together at the end of the day, I see no harm in a gentleman’s disagreement between friends as long as nothing was done out of malice.

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Friday’s Photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 QBE Shootout at Tiburon G.C. in Naples, Florida. Formerly known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout, or the Shark Shootout, the unofficial event plays host to 24 of some of the world’s best golfers, competing in a two-person team competition. The format calls for 54 holes; first-round scramble, second-round modified alternate shot, and third-round fourball (or better ball).

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Here is a list of the teams:

  • Daniel Berger-Gary Woodland
  • Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele
  • Kevin Chappell-Kevin Kisner
  • Jason Dufner-Billy Horschel
  • Harris English-Matt Kuchar
  • Tony Finau-Lexi Thompson
  • Brian Harman-Pat Perez
  • Russell Henley-Kyle Stanley
  • Charley-Hoffman-Zach Johnson
  • Shane Lowry-Graeme McDowell
  • Brandt Snedeker-Bubba Watson
  • Sean O’Hair-Steve Stricker

Last year, Harris English and Matt Kuchar took down the crown, finishing at 28-under par for the event. Of course, they’ll be playing together again this year as the defending champs.

Check out our photos from the 2017 QBE Shootout below!

Friday’s Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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