2021 Wyndham Championship Preview: Zalatoris, Wolff & Simpson Present Value at Sedgefield
Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images. Pictured: Will Zalatoris
- The PGA TOUR heads to Sedgefield Country Club for the final tournament before the FedEx Cup playoffs.
- Some of the biggest names are taking the tournament off for a final bit of rest, but there's still plenty of compelling players looking to close the season on a high.
- Chris Murphy uses strokes gained data to give his three favorite buys before the Wyndham Championship gets underway.
While the first three days at WGC-FedEx St. Jude were fairly mundane, Sunday certainly made up for it. There was drama, mostly in a bad way, left and right, in the final round in Memphis as the final pairing struggled to perform down the stretch under the pressure and multiple slow play warnings.
Harris English cruised through 64 holes at the final WGC of the year as he was seeking his third win of the season. Unfortunately for him, it was a 72-hole event and everything went haywire over those final eight holes. He would come in with closing nine 40, leaving him one shot short of the playoff between Hideki Matsuyama, Abraham Ancer and Sam Burns. Harris would actually beat his playing partner, Bryson DeChambeau, by one shot during that stretch.
Following the round, English acknowledged and partially blamed multiple slow play warnings for his poor play, which was likely a factor, but hardly the cause of such an ugly back nine with two doubles and a bogey.
The beneficiaries of the issues from English and Bryson were the three players that remained in the playoff. They would all par the 18th hole in the first round, but then Abraham Ancer would take dead aim in his approach during the second playoff hole on 18. He would actually be bested on that approach by Sam Burns, but only Ancer would capitalize to secure his first win on TOUR.
The Mexican needed everything to break just right on Sunday, but that is often how players find that first breakthrough win, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it lead to more in the future.
Now, the TOUR heads east to Greensboro, N.C. for the final tournament before the playoffs. The Wyndham Championship will take place at Sedgefield Country Club on Thursday, and some players will look for one final tune up before the FedEx Playoffs next week.
Buys for the Wyndham Championship
This is the final shot for Will Zalatoris (+2800), who has had a really solid season, but because of the way it unfolded, can only qualify for the playoffs with a win. He hasn’t been able to breakthrough for first on the big tour yet, so this is his last chance.
Willy Z had a really strong week at TPC Southwind as he gained strokes in all metrics per round. He closed out the week strong, especially with his irons as he gained 1.25 strokes on the field with his approach and close in a tie for 8th. It was another top-10 for the young star, and now he heads to his home state for a chance to extend his season further. I’m buying in on his form and the added narrative this week.
It is nearly impossible to talk about this event without mentioning Webb Simpson (+1000). One fact you will hear all week is about how he loves this event so much that he named his daughter Wyndham. So, here we are at Webb Simpson Week after he fired a final round 64 in Memphis to finish T15. His game is showing some flashes of coming back to form after some questions about injuries since his withdrawal from another North Carolina event at the Wells Fargo in May.
Webb really struggled most of the week at St. Jude as he lost strokes in his best category, approach, across each of the first three rounds. He certainly figured something out on Sunday though, as he gained more than three shots on the field with his irons. He would gain 4.26 shots tee to green in the final round, and will look to carry that momentum into his favorite event of the year.
It was a similar story for Matthew Wolff (+4500) this week as he was up and down throughout the week. Wolff actually started hot and had his name in contention on Thursday, but struggled to find his game in the second and third rounds. He would bounce back nicely on Sunday, gaining more than two shots on the field tee to green with 1.98 of those coming on approach.
Wolff has had some issues finding consistent form this season, but is really showing some of the flashes that had him in the hunt for the U.S. Open just short of a year ago. I expect we will see him begin to dial things in a bit better over time, and the Wyndham is an event with a lighter field, that could be a good place to start.