T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
2014 Wyndham Championship | Five players to watch
Series: Golf Buzz
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 | 11:41 a.m.
The PGA Tour is in Greensboro, N.C., this week for the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club.
The major championship season is behind us now after an incredible PGA Championship victory by Rory McIlroy last week at Valhalla, but there's still a lot to play for on Tour.
First and foremost -- there are still three captain's picks up for grabs for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. While the nine automatics were determined at the conclusion of play on Sunday, Captain Tom Watson won't make his wildcard picks until Sept. 2. He'll have a close eye on the Wyndham, as well as the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship in the coming weeks to see who is in form.
Secondly, this week provides one last opportunity for players to position themselves (or sneak in) for the start of next week's PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup, where the top 125 players qualify for the postseason-opening Barclays.
Here are five players to keep an eye on this week in Greensboro.
5. Tim Clark
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the RBC Canadian Open
Reason to watch: It's been a hit-or-miss season for Clark, but the "hits" have been big ones -- the win in Canada and a tie for second in Sea Island. He's missed the cut 10 times in 23 starts, including last week's PGA Championship. So what's to like about Clark this week then? Well, he's just three starts removed from that victory. And, in the start before that, he tied for fifth in the John Deere Classic. Then there's his record in this tournament -- the Wyndham Championship. Clark tied for 26th last year, finished second in 2012 and tied for sixth in 2008. Those are is only three starts at Wyndham (aside from a WD in 2009) since the tournament moved to Sedgefield in 2008.
4. Ernie Els
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Fourth at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
Reason to watch: It hasn't been the greatest of seasons for the Big Easy (two top-10 finishes in 20 starts), but his game is coming around lately. He fired a brilliant 65 in the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday to finish in a tie for seventh -- his second-best finish of the season and, remarkably, his 34th career top-10 finish in a major. Prior to last week, Els tied for 26th in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and also tied for 12th at the RBC Canadian Open. He's trending in the right direction. This is his fifth consecutive start.
3. Patrick Reed
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Humana Challenge and the WGC-Cadillac Championship
Reason to watch: This is the place where Reed's magical 12-month run began a year ago. Reed picked up his first PGA Tour victory in the 2013 Wyndham Championship and has won twice since then. There are going to be a lot of good vibes for Reed this week at Sedgefield -- not just because he's the defending champ, but also because he locked up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. It had been a relatively quiet summer for Reed until a tie for fourth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
2. Webb Simpson
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: Simpson got off to a blistering start in the 2013-14 season, winning the opening event in Las Vegas and following it up with top-10 finishes in five of his next seven starts. Then, things understandably settled down. A tie for third at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and a sole third at the Quicken Loans National should provide Simpson with the confidence he'll need in the coming weeks as he tries to prove to Watson he's worthy of a U.S. Ryder Cup captain's pick. At the close of the point-getting process on Sunday, Simpson was ranked No. 15. He's got work to do -- why not start in Greensboro where he earned his first PGA Tour win in 2011?
1. Brandt Snedeker
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Tied for eighth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Reason to watch: Snedeker is a past champion of the Wyndham Championship, but that came back in 2007 when the event was played at Forest Oaks. Since the move to Sedgefield, it's been a mixed bag for Snedeker -- a couple of missed cuts, but also a couple of top 10s (T5 in 2009 and T8 in 2010). What will this week bring? Well, he's playing his most consistent golf of the season. Outside of a tie for 58th at the Open Championship, Snedeker's worst finish in seven starts since a tie for ninth at the U.S. Open is a tie for 25th at the RBC Canadian Open. In his last two starts, Snedeker went T12 in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and T13 in the PGA Championship. Like Simpson, Snedeker is also hoping to snag one of Watson's captain's picks. He finished 20th in the standings at the close of the PGA Championship and needs to prove he's headed in the right direction. Snedeker yields the putting ability you need in a Ryder Cup.
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