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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

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  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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Morning 9: Improving golf coverage | Oral history of TW’s “best shot” | Nichols: Charity matches were great…but why no women?

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1. Match-inspired innovations for improving golf coverage
Golf Digest’s Shane Ryan with a few thoughts…Mid-round interviews…There’s no really good reason beyond mild annoyance to the players that this couldn’t work, even in the current COVID-19 environment, provided that safe social distancing is practiced. In the major team sports, coaches are obliged to give interviews, and players will occasionally speak at halftime or between periods. There are no “coaches” in that same sense in golf, but the game happens at a slower pace, and a 60-second walking interview between holes is not too much to ask. I don’t think there’s a reasonable argument that it’s overly disruptive, especially if planned in advance.”
  • …”Mic’d up players and caddies…In exhibitions past, we’ve witnessed players with live microphones, but the purpose behind it is dreaded “banter,” which typically comes across as hollow, forced and not very funny. But if players and caddies wore mics during a round, producers could find riveting audio that captures natural conversation or impromptu strategy sessions. Phil serving as a mentor for Tom Brady was riveting and hopefully stokes our appetite for similar mid-round insight…”
2. An oral history of Tiger’s “best shot” 
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…(This is just the introduction to a fantastic piece that talks to Bob Weeks of TSN and Steve Williams, among others!)…”Had it slipped between Tiger Woods’ 6-iron and golf ball, one rogue grain could have sunk his hopes of winning the RBC Canadian Open in 2000, becoming the first since Lee Trevino in 1971 to win golf’s Triple Crown – the U.S., British, and Canadian Opens in the same year.”
  • “So was it the ultra-fine margin? The stakes? The absurdly improbable physics of the shot itself?”
  • “Yes. Yes. And yes. All of these things compelled Scott Verplank, among others, to call it “the greatest shot I’ve ever seen in my life,” Woods’ 218-yard masterstroke from the wet sand at the par-5 18th at Glen Abbey. Woods’ caddie Steve Williams would return to the bunker once the commotion had died down, still struggling to get his head around what he’d seen. Others have made the same pilgrimage and tried to visualize what Woods had, tried to feel what Woods felt, for this was magic.”
3. Thrive? Struggle? Survive? 
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak contemplates what’s ahead for the golf industry…”These are strange times living through a global pandemic. Suddenly, golf courses are packed in a way the industry hasn’t experienced since Tiger Woods was revolutionizing the game in the late 1990s and former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was predicting 50 million golfers by 2020.”
  • “Well, that didn’t happen, but golf has been given this new-found seal of approval highlighting its healthy aspects and its ability to provide safe recreation. As courses across the country re-open there is pent up demand among golfers to get out and play. Tee sheets are mostly filled and former golfers and those trying out the sport for the first time are emerging out of the woodwork desperate to be in the sunshine and doing something, anything that has been deemed “COVID OK.” There is renewed belief that golf can grab a bigger piece of the pie among recreational and entertainment options.”
4. Where were the women?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols wonders…How can there be downside to two Sundays of golf taking center stage and raising mega-money for COVID-19 relief?”
  • “Well, there is no a downside, but it could’ve been more. As LPGA player Mel Reid tweeted during the TaylorMade Driving Relief Challenge, the broadcasts could’ve represented all of golf.”
  • “They could’ve included women.”
  • “…It would’ve been great to see an LPGA player and her sponsorship partners get in on the action in a similar fashion.”
  • “The TaylorMade event could’ve been a mixed-team format. Maria Fassi and Paula Creamer are both in Florida. Some of TaylorMade’s female stars could’ve also called in during the broadcast as Jon Rahm did. Staffers who could’ve called in include Natalie Gulbis, Muni He and Charley Hull. Sung Hyun Park, who speaks limited English, was involved in a charity exhibition in South Korea with current No. 1 Jin Young Ko. Women’s golf frequently takes center stage in that part of the world.”
5. 80% of golf retail open
From the NGF Q…”The number of physical golf retail outlets that are back in business continues to increase – from off-course stores and specialty club-fitters to green grass pro shops.”
  • “Approximately 66% of golf course pro shops are open at facilities that are open to play, the equivalent of almost 9 million square feet, although some states and counties have limitations on the number of customers permitted at one time. That percentage is up from 36% at the start of the month, but is unchanged over the past week as pro shops in at least 10 states (including Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and New York) have government mandates that say they must remain closed inside to customers.”
  • “Meanwhile, approximately 79% of off-course golf retail stores were open (in terms of total square footage) through May 25. This is up from 73% last week and 59% two weeks ago. In early April, only about 4% of the 6.5 million square feet of total off-course golf specialty space was open to in-store traffic. Roughly 81% of all off-course retail stores are now open to customers.”
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GolfWRX Classifieds Spotlight (05/27/20): Adams, Mizuno, Ping

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Gator5 – Adams CMB Irons

Forged – check, Multi-Material construction – check, cool as all heck because these clubs are sweet and Adams made some really cool gear – check!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Adams CMB Irons

Member Ksears – Brand New Mizuno MP20 Irons

Did someone say brand new Mizunos??? What else could you really want from a forged blade beside being meticulously crafted and forged in Japan – as well as being priced lower than retail.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link hereMP 20 Irons

Member 1hellaofashot – Ping G410 7 Wood

Speaking from experience let me just say this “stop denying the inevitable and embrace the 7 Wood” It’s endlessly versatile, more forgiving than a hybrid, and because this one for sale is a Ping G410 it is adjustable. Here’s your chance to dial in your own par 5 killer.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Ping 7 Wood

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds 

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Morning 9: Match 2: The most-watched golf telecast ever | Rory: Players don’t want fan-less Ryder Cup | Justin Thomas aces broadcast debut

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@attsportsnetpit
1. 5.8 million average viewers for The Match
AP report…”Two of the biggest names from the PGA Tour and the NFL proved to be must-see TV.”
  • “Turner Sports said the Sunday telecast of “The Match: Champions for Charity” attracted an average of 5.8 million viewers across four of its networks. Turner says it was the most-watched golf telecast in cable TV history.”
  • “It said the previous record was 4.9 million viewers on ESPN at the 2010 Masters, the year Tiger Woods returned to golf for the first time since the scandal in his personal life.”
  • “Woods and Peyton Manning scored a 1-up victory over Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady at Medalist Golf Club, a match that featured high entertainment with shots and with words, along with raising $20 million for COVID-19 relief funds.”
2. Shackelford’s take
A few observations from the scribe…“While still an overnight, it easily bests the previous week’s relief fund match that drew a 1.5 and total of 2.3 million viewers across three channels, including a 1.5 rating on NBC and a .24 on Golf Channel).”
“More incredibly, this means The Match 2 out-rated any major championship round on cable.”
“Given a so-so promotional run-up, a slow start to the show (caused in part by a slight weather delay) a dreary day to watch, and a long telecast, the rating is a stunning statement about the remaining star power of the contestants.”
3. JT’s TV debut
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…”That said, whenever he decides to put down the clubs, he should immediately pick up a mic.
The former Alabama star made his broadcast debut as an on-course reporter on TNT/TBS alongside CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis on Sunday during The Match: Champions for Charity, which saw Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning defeat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. Thomas received rave reviews from golf Twitter during and after the event. He was brilliant. His rapport with Woods and Mickelson allowed them to open up on a different level compared to the original The Match in 2018.”
“Most importantly, Thomas didn’t overdo anything. Unlike some broadcasters, he knew fans weren’t watching for him and he never once tried to steal the spotlight. He didn’t speak just to talk. When he had something to say, it was insightful or funny. Like a golfer picking out which holes he can attack and score on, Thomas picked his spots on where to interject throughout the broadcast like someone who’s been doing it for years, let alone a day.”
4. Tiger looked terrific 
Bob Harig writes…”For the first time in 98 days, we got to see Woods in action. And the last time we saw him, he didn’t look good. Woods shot 77 at Riviera Country Club on Feb. 16 and finished last among those who made the cut at the Genesis Invitational. And he complained that his back was stiff”
  • …”Woods hasn’t played since but neither has anyone else. And the time off has done him some good.”
  • “Woods didn’t miss a fairway. His swing looked smooth and in rhythm. He hit some deft pitch shots and a really nice long bunker shot. And all of this in difficult, rainy conditions.”
  • “It was just a charity match, but he looked pretty good. Who knows when Woods will resume his schedule when the PGA Tour returns next month, but his game looks good to go.”
5. Rory McIlroy: ‘Majority of players’ want 2020 Ryder Cup postponed until 2021 
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…”Rory McIlroy has a hunch about the Ryder Cup, and it’s one that golf fans around the world aren’t going to like.”
  • “In an interview with BBC Sport, the world No. 1 said: “My personal hunch is that I don’t see how it is going to happen, so I do not think that it will happen.”
  • “Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits is scheduled to host the 2020 Ryder Cup Sept. 25-27, but amid the coronavirus pandemic the event would most-likely take place without fans (if held at all).”
  • “I think the majority of players would like to see it pushed back until 2021 so that they can play in front of crowds and have the atmosphere that makes the Ryder Cup so special,” explained McIlroy. “The players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup. If they are not on board with it and don’t want to play then there is no Ryder Cup.”
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