PGA DFS Primer: Wyndham Championship (2021)
The PGA Tour has provided a playoff in seemingly every tournament held across the last few weeks. At TPC Southwind, 30-year old Mexican Abraham Ancer shot a birdie on the second playoff hole, eliminating Sam Burns and Hideki Matsuyama to claim his first win of the season. Ancer delivered an incredible -8-under-par performance in the second round of the 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, while Matsuyama and Burns ascended the leaderboard on Sunday with impressive -7-under-par and -6-under-par outings, respectively.
Dustin Johnson finished T10 (-11) and was my best recommendation of the weekend, followed closely by Rory McIlroy T12 (-10) and Jordan Spieth (-10). Johnson had consecutive -5-under-par rounds but the opening and closing rounds cost him a potential top-five finish, while McIlroy and Spieth overcame plus scores in their first round with impressive scrambling in their final three rounds. Shane Lowry (T23/-6), Collin Morikawa (T26/-5), and Viktor Hovland (T36/-2) all strung together disappointing performances based on my expectations heading into TPC Southwind.
The final regular-season tournament is set to take place this weekend at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. Known as the Wyndham Championship, there will be quite a few players with a lot to gain and even more to lose in regards to the FedExCup rankings and postseason. Factoring in each player’s incentive level is important at the 2021 Wyndham Championship but dominance in maintaining a high green in regulation (GIR) percentage, combined with a hot putter, will provide an edge at Sedgefield. Let’s take a look at the players I like in lineups at the 2021 Wyndham Championship.
- 2020: Jim Herman (-21)
- 2019: J.T. Poston (-22)
- 2018: Brandt Snedeker (-21)
- 2017: Henrik Stenson (-22)
- 2016: Si Woo Kim (-21)
Sedgefield Country Club is designed in the image of Donald Ross but extended its length to 7,131 yards and a par 70 back in 2007. There are only two par 5s and four par 3s at Sedgefield, meaning players will need to seize on the rare opportunities that allow for a birdie on the fourth stroke. It also means that tee-to-green irons are crucial to success, as creeks and restored bunkers flank most of the Bermuda greens.
Expect a ton of birdies on a course that has seen the winner score -21-under-par across its last five tournaments, meaning that reaching the greens in regulation and avoiding the numerous sand bunkers is critical to success. Bermuda grass in the rough is shorter than the rough deployed at previous Open Championships, as it measures in at two-and-a-half inches. The most difficult hole on the course doesn’t wait long to challenge golfers, as Hole 6 is a 423-yard, par-4 forcing a finesse shot off-the-tee, where only 13 percent of players average a birdie. Depth perception and iron accuracy are crucial for navigating the fairways and avoiding the plethora of bunkers. While the Bermuda grass creates an ideal putting surface, it’s countered by the tiered layout on some of its greens. Overall, expect a lot of under-par rounds from most of the players but don’t forget about making the cut, which is a rule that returns after two weeks of international tournaments.
Relevant Betting Stats
- Greens in Range percentage
- Strokes Gained: Putting
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
- Sand save percentage
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
Rickie Fowler ($8,600)
Rickie Fowler is one of the many players at Sedgefield with a lot on the line this weekend. The 32-year old American only has one top-ten finish on Tour this season but it occurred recently at the PGA Championship, where Fowler finished T8 (-1). He followed up his best performance of the season with another impressive outing the next weekend at The Memorial Tournament, finishing T11 (-4) before missing a cut and posting several lackluster outings in his last three tournament appearances. Fowler is now on the verge of failing to qualify for the FedExCup for the first time and previously finished fourth in the FedExCup rankings back in 2015. He doesn’t have a lot of eye-popping metrics this season but is ranked 13th in strokes gained around the green (.367) and averages 3.76 birdies per round, meaning he could return good value in lineups at a great discounted salary.
Brian Harman ($9,900)
One of the more underrated golfers at the 2021 Wyndham Championship is 34-year old American, Brian Harman. He’s in possession of one of the best putters on Tour, ranking 20th in strokes gained putting (.505), and has a very accurate driver, ranking 39th (66.13%) that will help him avoid bunkers and water hazards. He’s relatively pricey but the consistency he brings entering Sedgefield should not be dismissed, as he has four top-20 finishes across his last six tournaments. Harman’s a finesse player whose skill set aligns well with this course, and also has impressive sand save percentage (56.72%) that ranks 30th. Harman’s familiarity with Sedgefield, logging a T6 finish (-16), assures that he will flood lineups with points to finish near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon.
Will Zalatoris ($10,300)
Despite being one of the highest-ranked players at the Wyndham Championship this weekend, 24-year old Will Zalatoris is in jeopardy of missing the FedExCup Playoffs. Zalatoris will need to be the outright winner this weekend in order to earn a berth in the postseason due to not having “full status” on the PGA Tour. While Zalatoris has the stakes significantly raised at Sedgefield, he is an aficionado within most of his strokes gained categories, most notably tee-to-green (13th/1.217) and approaching the green (7th/.790). Even with strokes gained off-the-tee, Zalatoris is 38th (.307) and hits greens in regulation 69.01 percent of the time, ranking 22nd on Tour. His driving accuracy, putting, and sand save percentage are weaknesses but with the extra incentive to compete and make the FedExCup Playoffs, I think Zalatoris carries over the momentum he established at TPC Southwind last weekend, where he finished T8 (-12). It’s a blue-chip recommendation that is costly but provides a massive floor and the extra incentive for the playoffs could push his production even higher.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
Kevin Kisner ($9,900)
A native to North Carolina, 37-year old Kevin Kisner should have plenty of confidence after finishing T3 (-18) at Sedgefield in 2020. There’s no doubt he has been inconsistent throughout the 2020-21 PGA Tour season but he is 14th in strokes gained putting (.530) and has a fantastic ability with controlling his driver, ranking 20th in driver accuracy percentage (67.89%) that will allow him to bypass many of the sand bunkers and water hazards that force precise shots. Rostering Kisner for under $10,000 salary is a good value and his T5 and T8 finishes in consecutive weeks at the Travelers Championship and Rocket Mortgage Classic indicate he can get red-hot at any time. With two awful outings in his recent tournament appearances, perhaps it’s time to invest in Kisner’s comfort with Sedgefield and believe in his elite putter. In any case, this is a good salary-saving floor option that offers premium upside in lineups, as Kisner returns to his home state.
Brandt Snedeker ($9,800)
Brandt Snedeker returns to Sedgefield after winning outright in 2018, scoring -21-under-par in the process. The 40-year old American has flashed in moments during Tour this season, however, his most recent appearance at the Barracuda Championship resulted in a missed cut. Snedeker rattled off a T6 finish at the Valero Texas Open back in April and recently finished T11 (-10) at the 3M Open, leaning on an accurate driver and a solid putting game to climb the leaderboards at these tournaments. The problem arises when he is unable to make the green in regulation, forcing accurate putts to save par. I like Snedeker as a salary-saving option that has a decent floor but carries a winning pedigree from his victory at the 2018 Wyndham Championship. He may wind up closer to the T42 (-7) finish we saw last year but regardless, Snedeker is a quality floor play in lineups that will allow you to invest in blue-chip players like Hideki Matsuyama and Louis Oosthuizen.
Louis Oosthuizen ($11,800)
Speaking of Louis Oosthuizen, the 38-year old South African has to be itching to win a tournament to close out the regular season. He has recorded four second-place finishes in 2020-21, including at the PGA Championship, U.S. Open, and most recently, the 3M Open. A +4 final round at the WFC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational last weekend saw Oosthuizen slip up much more aggressively than he usually does on Sundays, resulting in a T17 (-7) finish. Statistically, Oosthuizen is the best strokes gained putter on Tour (.937) and also boasts an impressive 12th ranked sand save percentage (60%) that allows him to scramble and recover quickly from a poor approach shot. Not many flaws can be identified in his game, making him one of the safest blue-chip players to insert into lineups at the 2021 Wyndham Championship this weekend.
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