TEN BEST WYNDHAM CHAMPIONSHIP STORIES
Foreboding forecasts and intermittent rainfall gave a wet disposition to this year’s Wyndham Championship PGA event, held this weekend at Sedgefield County Club in Greensboro. The rain played havoc with tee times and attendance —particularly on Saturday — and gave players a shifting set of conditions that required near constant adjustment.
The cute couple
Eventual winner Patrick Reed made early headlines not just for his Day 1 score of 5 under par, but because of his caddy — wife Justine, a petite blond with a matching outfit who at just a shade above 5 feet tall and maybe a buck managed to lug his tour bag around 18 holes all week long. Most comments on the field concerned her payout arrangement — usually a tour caddy can count on 10 percent of a winning purse.
The Eastern press
A cadre of Asian golfers including Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, Koreans Jin Park, Sang-Moon Bae and KJ Choi, India’s Arjun Atwal and Fijian Vijay Singh, attracted 27 members of the foreign press corps.
The windowpane poncho
I saw a member of the Asian press during Saturday’s drizzle wearing a big, black poncho with a clear plastic windowpane across the chest. For three holes I wondered what that was all about, until I saw the guy looking through the windowpane while he took notes on a pad that stayed dry in the rain. That makes my Gots to Have list this year.
Missing the cut
The cut stood at -1 after the first two days of play, and some notable names did not survive to play on Saturday morning, among them Brandt Snedecker, Lucas Glover, Davis Love III, the aforementioned Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington (who really needed the points to stay in FedEx Cup contention) and 2009 Wyndham champ and holder of the 61-stroke course record at Sedgefield (and, incidentally, Grimsley grad) Carl Petterson.
After the second round of play, at 6 under par, American Charlie Howell III was disqualified from play for using a non-conforming driver. The weight cover on the club had come off on the range before he played his Friday round, and he used the non-conforming driver in that round. He still finishes at No. 26 on the FedEx Cup points listing.
Movement in cup standings
The Wyndham is the last event of the PGA’s regular season; the Top 125 in FedEx Cup points survive for the playoffs, which begin next week at the Barclays. Usually a couple of players can slip into the bracket on strong Wyndham play, but not this year — though Brian Harmon, Matt Every, Bob Estes, Bryc Molder and Jeff Overton were able to crack the Top 100.
I always feel there’s a lot more drama at the Wyndham among the players near the 125-mark bubble on the FedEx Cup standings list, reasoning that these guys have a chance to make significantly more money if they can squeak into the playoffs. I had high hopes for Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, who came in at No. 137, because I’ve seen him take this course apart, and Andrew Svoboda, a longshot at 202, mostly because he went to St. John’s University and had a monster first day, hitting or 5 under par.
Uh oh, Sergio
Defending Wyndham champ Sergio Garcia came out strong with a -5 on the first day of play, hit for par the next two days and hit for +1 on Sunday, finishing with a lackluster -4, good enough for 29th place and a small piece of the purse. And he still moved up 17 places in cup standings, resting at No. 59.
The playoff holes
Reed and his caddy finished in spectacular fashion. Second-place finisher Jordan Speith, who just turned 20 last month, came into the day at -9 and rode a wave of birdies on Sunday’s back 9 to force a playoff round with Reed just as John Huh, who spent most of the last day tied for the lead, broke down for bogeys on holes 17 and 18. Read more about the tournament in this week’s Crashing the Gate, on page 46.