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Softer course may lead to more birdies at PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship

By John Dell
Winston-Salem Journal
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/13/20/38/ciLGY.Em.138.jpeg|218
    Chuck Burton - AP
    Webb Simpson chips to the sixth green during the pro-am for the Wyndham Championship golf tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/13/20/38/EeM5n.Em.138.jpeg|228
    Chuck Burton - AP
    Webb Simpson, right, talks with Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), left, as they walk to the third tee during the pro-am for the Wyndham Championship golf tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014.

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  • 5 to Watch

    Webb Simpson: He has won this tournament once and needs a strong showing to get Tom Watson’s attention as a possible captain’s pick for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Simpson, a former Wake Forest player, called his year frustrating – he missed the cut at the PGA Championship – but he loves Sedgefield.

    Hideki Matsuyama: He’s ranked higher than anyone else in the field (No. 18). He also won the Memorial, is coming off a decent showing at the PGA Championship and tied for 12th at the WGC-Bridgestone two weeks ago.

    Bud Cauley: He’s among the desperate golfers trying to get into the top 125 in FedExCup points. He’s at No. 139. He finished third in the 2012 Wyndham but missed the cut last year.

    Tim Clark: A former N.C. State golfer, Clark has a good record in this tournament – he has three top-10s in his past five starts here and finished second in 2012. He also won the RBC Canadian Open last month.

    Bill Haas: Another former Wake Forest player, Haas also would like to play well and catch Tom Watson’s attention for Ryder Cup consideration. Haas has yet to win this year, but his ball-striking has never been better, and if his putter gets hot, he’ll be a threat.

    John Dell



GREENSBORO The stage is set for another Wyndham Championship.

The 75th version of the PGA Tour stop, which will open Thursday, has plenty of stories and contenders. Sedgefield Country Club might be a little softer because of early week rain, but that most likely means more birdies.

“Any week on the PGA Tour if it’s soft, and they get any rain, the scores go south quick,” said Webb Simpson, who won the event in 2011.

With no rain in the forecast and a stiff breeze most of Wednesday, Simpson said the course will be faster and firmer by the weekend.

“This course plays at its best when it’s fast and firm,” said Simpson, a Charlotte resident who grew up in Raleigh and played at nearby Wake Forest. “You’ll see more aggressive play (Thursday) and Friday, but come the weekend, there’ll probably be a few more irons off the tee.”

Billy Horschel said he expects to see a plenty of birdies on the Donald Ross layout that plays to a par-70 at about 7,100 yards.

“The greens are great, and the Bermuda greens are a great choice for this course,” Horschel said. “I think it will still be tough because the rough will be thick – and it doesn’t matter how soft the greens are when you have flier lies.”

The excitement of last year’s tournament will be tough to duplicate – Patrick Reed defeated Jordan Spieth in a two-hole playoff. Reed’s “shot of his life” on the 10th hole from nearly out of bounds is one of the best shots in tournament history. Reed even went back to the same spot in Wednesday’s pro-am to try it again.

Reed said last year’s victory, his first on the PGA Tour, opened all kinds of doors for him – and the biggest door was confidence.

“It really jump-started my career, that’s for sure,” said Reed, who at 24 now has three PGA Tour wins and will play for the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the first time next month.

Reed raised eyebrows season when he talked about becoming a top-five golfer.

“I believe that if I play well that I can reach my goal, which is to become a top-five player in the world,” Reed said. “I know it’s going to take time.”

The Wyndham, the sixth longest-running PGA Tour tournament, has a short list of back-to-back winners – only Sam Snead. He won the tournament eight times in all and in consecutive years twice (1949-50 and 1955-56).

Reed, Simpson, Arjun Atwal (2010) and Ryan Moore (2009) all had their first PGA Tour victories at the Wyndham.

The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more coverage, go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports.

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