GREENSBORO -- According to former Wyndham Championship winner Patrick Reed, the Bermuda grass greens at Sedgefield Country Club could be the most challenging for the PGA Tour event which begins today and runs through Sunday.
"If there is no rain, they are going to be really fast," 2013 winner Reed said Wednesday after playing in a pro-am. "There greens are the fastest, firmest, purest that I've ever seen."
Reed is making his fourth Wyndham start. He defeated Jordan Spieth in a playoff to win in 2013.
"Before, when I played here, even the year that I won, if you put the ball above the hole, even though you had to respect the putt, you had a chance," Reed said. "You could stop it next to the hole or no more than 1-2 feet past. I had a couple of putts today from eight feet that I just barely started and they went 5-6 feet by. It's going to put a premium on ball striking and positioning the ball."
Although there is no Tiger Woods, who helped attract record crowds last year, the field does include 10 of top 30 in World Golf Rankings, 11 of the top 30 in FedEx standings (the most in 10 years), seven who competed in the Olympics, 14 winners of major tournaments and seven former Wyndham winners.
Also missing as a player is defending champ Davis Love III, who is sidelined by hip surgery but is here judging talent as U.S. team captain for the upcoming Ryder Cup.
The Wyndham and next week's event at Bethpage Black in New York are the last two events in which hopefuls can earn an automatic spot by finishing in the top eight in special standings. Love will also have three captain's picks.
Rickie Fowler, one of the tournament's headliners this year and the top-rated player in the field at No. 8 in the world, is playing in the Wyndham for the first time in an effort to make the Ryder Cup team, after participating in the Olympics last week. Fowler has previously skipped the Wyndham to get in a week of rest before the start of the FedEx playoffs.
He is No. 12 in Ryder Cup standings.
"With where I was on points and Bethpage coming up, this was a good addition to the schedule," Fowler said. "It wasn't something we planned on earlier in the year but the Ryder Cup means a lot to me. It's something where I've been part of two teams and want to be a part of another.
"I know I'm a little ways out. Some good golf can take care of that."
Fowler got off to a strong start this season, posting two top-five finishes and and five top tens in his first nine starts. But in his last 10 starts, has has just two top tens and three missed cuts.
Fowler said his problem has been putting.
"It's a fine line from playing some very good golf now," Fowler said. "I want to show that I'm committed to the Ryder Cup and I want to be part of that team but I got to take care of my business."
Fowler shot 1-under on Wednesday.
"The greens have a decent amount of movement, some with more slope and they're in perfect shape, running good,' Fowler said. "They are very old school. They've got some speed and hopefully we can get some rain through the week.
"They are not too firm but at least coming out of the rough, it;s going to be tough to hold the ball on the green. The course -- it's going to definitely benefit ball-striking this week."
Reed sits right on the Ryder Cup bubble in eighth place. He hasn't won in nearly a year and is the highest-ranked player in FedEx standings without a win (seventh). But he does own nine top-ten finishes this season.
"If I take care of business this week and take care of business next week, I don't have to worry about being a captain's pick," Reed said. "Something I would love to do is go out there and earn my spot. There is nothing like that satisfaction of earning a top eight spot."
Reed, who also played the Olympics, said he planned to have the Wyndham on his schedule after missing it last year. He arrived from Rio around midnight Tuesday, played nine holes in Tuesday's heat and also shot 1-under in the pro-am.
"We regretted not coming last year," Reed said. "I thought if I took this week off, I would be rested for the playoffs. But watching the whole tournament from home last year, it was killing me because I won (for the first time) here. There was no doubt that I was going to play. . .When I saw the schedule with the Olympics meant that I would play seven in a row, the thing that kept coming to mind was not playing last year and regretting that decision."