The Wyndham Championship has two dynamics going into Thursday’s first round. First is the cash incentives for star players to enter the event. An other is tour grinders trying to keep their cards in the last event of the season.
To make this event more appealing to better players, the PGA Tour partnered with Wyndham to create a $10 million prize pool. That will be awarded among the top 10 players on the season-long points list.
Brooks Koepka already has the top spot sewn up by winning last week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic. The next nine positions, though, could have seen some movement, but the only problem is a lot of those star players decided to bypass this event. Of those in the top 10, only No. 8 Paul Casey is entered to play. He could move up to as high as fourth with a victory, and is only 112 points behind No. 7 Dustin Johnson.
One player, Webb Simpson, could crack the top 10 and earn some extra money. He is at No. 13, 104 points away from the 10th spot, occupied by Justin Rose.
Simpson, who finished second at last week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, is the favorite at Wyndham at 10/1. Hideki Matsuyama is next at 14/1, followed by Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth at 18/1.
Compacted Schedule to Blame
The thinking for those skipping this event was to rest up for the playoff stretch. It begins the following week at the Northern Trust, then the BMW Championship, and finally the Tour Championship.
For many, a full schedule from June until September, was the reason giving for cutting back on other non-major events.
Tiger Woods said after the Open Championship that he was tired and wanted to rest up for the playoffs. He even skipped the WGC event last week.
Brant Snedeker, who is the defending champion and 25/1 to win here again, told reporters that the bonus might entice some stars to come next year.
“I think it’s in the process of changing the mind. I think this year was kind of a wait-and-see attitude with it,” Snedeker said. “I think next year hopefully it’s going to create a little bit more drama, guys realize how important it will be.”
Snedeker understands why some are not playing.
“It’s tough. I get why, because we have three big events coming up. We had two big events back-to-back, so guys are tired,” Snedeker said. “Obviously next year, things might be different. Guys might see that as a huge bonus, or a huge added incentive to come out here and play. Maybe if they tweak it a little bit, do something a little bit different next year with the way the prize money’s shelled out, it might entice more guys to come.”
Spieth Late Addition
One golfer with some name recognition was Spieth, who decided last Friday to enter the Wynham. He is currently 69th on the points list, and would like to be in a better position to make the Tour Championship at the end of the season.
“I would like to make East Lake, that’s my goal now,” Spieth said. “That’s why I decided to play next week as well. It’s a tournament that I always want to play. With four playoff events in the past and then normally [the former World Golf Championship in Akron, Ohio], PGA and then there, I mean, it’s too much.”