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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Haas can claim victory in Sedgefield test

Tensions will be high with FedEx Cup places up for grabs

Wyndham Championship hopeful Bill Haas
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 7pm Thursday

Wilkerson's top tip
Bill Haas 25-1
Last week's USPGA Championship was the final opportunity of 2017 for the world's top players to put a major trophy on their mantelpiece.

But while everyone except Justin Thomas will be thinking about what might have been at Quail Hollow, there are plenty of players who know they have to put in a good performance at this week's Wyndham Championship or their season will be over.

Next week is the first round of the FedEx Playoffs and only the top 125 will feature in the Northern Trust, so it is little surprise that those scratching for a place in a potential four-tournament showdown with a $10m first prize are staying in North Carolina for an extra week.

It's equally predictable that most of the big names are taking a week off, although Henrik Stenson is on duty so that he can play in the required 15 tournaments to keep his US Tour card, while Kevin Kisner will be hoping for an immediate recovery after he slipped in the final round on Sunday.

So it looks like a tournament that is open and up for grabs and one player who could seize the opportunity is Carolinian Bill Haas.

Haas never gave himself a chance of claiming a first Major last week after he carded a 75 in his opening round, but this is a tournament where he has performed well even though it is not among his six PGA Tour successes.

He has claimed four top-ten finishes at Sedgefield and has not finished lower than 22nd in his last five Wyndham attempts.

Before last week, his 78 in the second round at The Open was the only one of his previous 17 that had been more than 72.

It's been a season of what might have been - he has collected 11 top-25 finishes in 21 outings - but the 35-year-old born in nearby Charlotte looks a decent price to improve on that.

Next best
Webb Simpson 25-1
Another local boy who has failed to make a mark in the last couple of Majors but has had a decent campaign in regular events is 2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson.

He tied for 72nd in last season's tournament but had impressive Greensboro form figures of 8-1-22-11-5-6 in his preceding sixth Sedgefield efforts.

Simpson has adjusted his putting style following the anchoring ban and looks in a position to challenge again.

He has finished in the top 20 five times in his last seven regular US Tour events and this is an opportunity for his first win since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2013.

Other selections
Bud Cauley 45-1
Scott Brown 80-1
Bud Cauley tied for 33rd in the PGA Championship last week and has the potential to go well.

The man from Alabama has claimed four top-ten finishes this season and has some decent Sedgefield form having finished third in 2012.

His first US Tour victory may not be too far away.

Scott Brown's third place in Greensboro was two years ago and he should take some confidence from a decent performance at Quail Hollow, where he finished tied for 13th after a final-round 73.

He is comfortably in for next week as he is 60th in the FedEx Cup standings and this could be a good opportunity to push for a chance to play in the Tour Championship for the big prize.

Others to note
Henrik Stenson
Results have been improving for the 2016 Open champion with 26th his worst finish in eight of his last nine tournaments, but he's playing to make sure he fills his tournament quota so motivation may be an issue.

Kevin Kisner
Finishes of eighth and tenth in 2014 and 2016 would make him a good pick on course form, but missing such a great chance to win his first Major may leave a bit of a hangover.

DA Points
Has claimed top-20 finishes in this tournament in two of the last three years and started well at Quail Hollow with a 68 before fading away.

Luke Donald
Finished second last year and is still ranked fourth in strokes gained putting, but is struggling having missed his last six Stateside cuts.

Staking plan
B Haas
1.5pts each-way 25-1 general
W Simpson
1.5pts each-way 25-1 bet365, BetBright, Boylesports
B Cauley
1pt each-way 35-1 bet365
S Brown
1pt each-way 80-1 BetBright

Wyndham Championship
Course Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina
Prize money $5.8m ($1.044m to the winner)
Length 7,127 yards Par 70 Field 156

Course records – 72 holes 259 Carl Pettersson (2008), Si Woo Kim (2016) 18 holes 60 Si Woo Kim (2016)
Course winners taking part Davis Love, Carl Pettersson, Ryan Moore, Arjun Atwal, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Camilo Villegas

When to bet By midday Thursday
Where to watch Live on Sky Sports Golf from 8pm
Time difference North Carolina is five hours behind the UK and

Last week – USPGA Championship 1 J Thomas (45-1), T2 F Molinari (150-1), P Reed (110-1), L Oosthuizen (125-1), T5 R Fowler (18-1), H Matsuyama (12-1)

Course overview Donald Ross created this layout in 1926 and it was redesigned by Kris Spence in 2007. Sedgefield Country Club has hosted this tournament since 2008, when it returned to the US Tour schedule after a 32-year absence.

Modern professionals have found birdies easy to come by in the Wyndham. The winning score has been an average of more than 16 under in the last nine years, with Si Woo Kim hitting 21 under last year.

The greens were switched to Champion Bermuda grass for the 2012 event in an effort to make them harder and faster. They are small, very undulating and typically slope from back to front, with plenty of run-off areas around them, so quality scrambling is required.

The 507-yard par-four 18th and 501-yard par-four 14th are the most difficult holes, while the 547-yard 15th and the 529-yard fifth (the only par-fives on the course) are the easiest.

Story of last year Si Woo Kim broke the course record with a second-round 60 and stormed to a five-shot success, with Luke Donald his nearest challenger.

Weather forecast The tournament could get off to a rainy start on Thursday morning but it is likely to be hot with temperatures peaking at 33C. Friday and Saturday should be hot and dry but anticipated rain on Saturday night could soften the course for the final round.

Type of player suited to challenge There are five holes at Sedgefield which fall into the category of difficult – the par-fours at 11, 14 and 18, and the two long par-threes (seven and 12) – but the rest of the track is fairly straightforward. The champion is likely to have spent four days regularly rolling in birdie putts.

Key attribute Touch

He has claimed four top-ten successes at Sedgefield and has not finished lower than 22nd in his last five Wyndham attempts
E.W. Terms
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