Ben Coley's Wyndham Championship betting preview and tips

Last Updated August 17 2017, 13:42Golf
Luke Donald
Luke Donald

On the back of a 50/1 winner in the PGA Championship, Ben Coley has five selections for this week's Wyndham Championship.

Recommended bets: Wyndham Championship

1pt e.w. Luke Donald at 150/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6) - never one to discount on these, short classical tracks we know he loves

1pt e.w. Nick Watney at 125/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) - another class act who could bounce back at suitable venue

1pt e.w. Ollie Schniederjans at 80/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6) - bound to be spurred on by last week's PGA winner

1pt e.w. Byeong-hun An at 40/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6) - played well here for top-20 on debut; plenty of incentive to better it

1pt e.w. Ryan Palmer at 90/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6) - back-to-form top-10 last time; needs another big week to make Playoffs

Click here for our transparent tipping record

Henrik Stenson heads the betting for what looks a stock renewal of the Wyndham Championship, as many of the game's best take time out before the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Stenson is the chief exception and perhaps that's a nod to Sedgefield Country Club, the course which hosts this event for the 10th year in succession. This classical, old-school layout is known to be fair, far less demanding than the majors which precede it and, most importantly in this case, is designed by Donald Ross, on whose courses the Swede is second to none.

In fact, an extremely strong case can be made for Stenson on his Ross record alone. It includes first and second at East Lake from just two visits, second at Plainfield, third at Oak Hill, fourth at Oakland Hills and fourth at Pinehurst. All of these were in high-class fields and point to the fact that he should be bang there in contention throughout this week. Even his poor form at this particular course can be ignored - it came when he was attempting to rebuild a career five years ago and more.

The negative is that the Wyndham Championship, in part because of its place on the calendar, tends not to be won by a fancied, proven performer. In fact, since Ryan Moore's play-off success in 2009 it has gone either to a first time winner (Moore, Arjun Atwal, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Si-woo Kim), or a class type searching for a way back like Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas or Davis Love. Granted, Garcia stands out but he was winning his first PGA Tour event in more than four years. And while both Reed and Simpson were well-fancied, they had yet to prove they had what it takes to go ahead and win at this level.

Stenson really doesn't fall into either of these two distinct categories. He is a world-class player and he's playing well, with last week's top-15 at the PGA Championship particularly notable given a previously abysmal record at Quail Hollow. To rule him out because nine years worth of winners say he doesn't fit the profile would be absurd, but it's not absurd to let him win if he must. After all, 2017 has hardly been a vintage year for him and you have to go back to 2008 for the last winner of this event who so much as made the weekend at the season's final major. Most of them hadn't even played in it.

Those facts take away from the obvious claims of Kevin Kisner, but he must go well if able to recover from last week's disappointment. This is an ideal course for the straight-driving all-rounder and if pushed I would say yes, he will take away the positives and maintain his form, but it can't be a given. At no bigger than 18/1, I don't want to be worrying that my player could suffer a substantial mental letdown and of the two market principals, Stenson is much the better bet.

However, I'm going to take a speculative punt on a couple of formerly top-notch players who might find that they can rediscover their form here, starting with Luke Donald.

It's been another largely disappointing year for Donald, the former world number one who is now ranked 100th and continues to fall. Last week's missed cut in the PGA Championship will be his last major for a while unless he finds something and soon.

Any player whose best result since the start of May is a share of 58th clearly has questions to answer, but Donald faces an increasingly uphill battle on most golf courses as he is neither long enough nor accurate enough to keep tabs on modern golfers. He will have no excuse here, as was the case when second yet again in the RBC Heritage earlier this year.

What's interesting is that Donald's results in 2017 look very similar to those of 2016. A year ago, he finished second in the Heritage, spent summer missing cuts or finishing down the field, and then sprung to life here at Sedgefield with second place behind Kim. The Korean was untouchable during the final round, but Donald might have given him something to think about but for an extremely disappointing week on the greens.

In fact, one of the world's best putters when on-song lost ground to the field and was not able to fully capitalise on a display of supreme iron quality, ranking second for proximity to the hole, behind only the champion and ahead of third-placed Hideki Matsuyama, one of the most deadly iron players in the sport.

That was Donald's second visit to the course, and on the first he finished 26th. His worst score across eight rounds completed is a two-under 68 and his scoring average is an impressive 66.75, rounds of 64 and 65 last year showing that he can shoot the numbers required on what's typically a low-scoring layout.

"I love Donald Ross' design. I think he's somewhat of a genius in terms of architecture and I've always enjoyed his golf courses," Donald confirmed.

"The greens are very true, very fast, quite undulating. You have to have some imagination.

"The golf course actually people told me would be a good fit for my game and I can see why."

Of course, there is a risk that Donald just hasn't got the confidence to compete here, but through the last few years of struggle one thing has remained constant: his ability to perform under familiar, comforting conditions at courses like Hilton Head, Copperhead, Wentworth and this one.

Rarely do we get to back him at a three-figure price under such circumstances and he'll know that this is a great chance - his best since the third week in April - to earn FedEx Cup and world ranking points and perhaps even end his trophy drought.

One feature here since Garcia won under atypically wet conditions has been the need to hit the ball close, obvious though that may appear.

Every champion since the Spaniard has ranked inside the top-10 for proximity to the hole and that's part of the case for Nick Watney, who ranks sixth for the season and is also prominent in the strokes-gained tee-to-green charts.

It's almost exactly five years since Watney's fifth PGA Tour win and there's been enough encouragement lately to suggest he may yet add to that tally.

Now seemingly free from the injuries which have dogged the career of a player who looked a potential major winner at the turn of the decade, he's made enough cuts to have his card for 2018 just about wrapped up and while other aspects of his game need work, his iron play has been as good as it ever was.

Given how important that it as Sedgefield, and the fact that poor putters have been fine here in the main, he looks interesting owing to a good record both here and across a range of Ross courses.

Watney won and finished seventh at Aronimink in the two years that hosted what's now the Quicken Loans National, while he's been fourth at East Lake, fifth here at Sedgefield, 10th at Plainfield and 10th at Hillcrest, a course used on the Web.com Tour.

Fifth place here came courtesy of a supreme display of iron accuracy and it could so easily have been even better. Watney played the last five holes in three-over, including a double at the last, and was three adrift of a champion who played the same stretch four shots better.

No doubt, that was evidence of a lack of confidence at the end of a severely disrupted season and there's a risk something similar could happen, but at a three-figure price he's worth a speculative play having shown up well in better company two starts ago before a poor final round.

As regular readers may know, I'm a big believer in players feeding off friends, compatriots or even rivals and the idea that they can, under certain circumstances, spur each other on to greater things.

Justin Thomas said as much after he won the PGA Championship, surrounded by friends like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Bud Cauley on the final green.

Daniel Berger summed it up even better, tweeting that watching a former college rival win made him want to 'hit range balls for the next five hours' and I see it as an open and shut case. How would you not be inspired by seeing a friend you know you can compete with winning a major championship?

Cauley is without doubt the obvious candidate to use Thomas's win as an immediate springboard, given that he is playing well enough to capitalise and now returns to a course where he went toe-to-toe with Garcia and was 10th last year.

However, he's into 33s and that looks plenty short, so I am keen to go in again with Ollie Schniederjans.

This formerly world-class amateur is another member of the 'Class of 2011', which includes Spieth, Thomas, Berger and Patrick Rodgers, who earlier this year said, "Take nothing away from (Thomas), he's playing incredible golf, probably the best in the world right now, but we've played against him our whole life. He's one of my best friends, and so it's motivating to see him play so well, so I think that's probably showing a little bit."

Rodgers is not in the field this week, but Schiederjans most certainly is and as an excellent iron player, he's worth chancing at a big price on his course debut.

Schniederjans, like Spieth born in Dallas, was outstanding from tee-to-green in the John Deere Classic and the RBC Canadian Open, before missing the cut in the Barracuda Championship last time out which is easy to ignore given the unique nature of that event.

I'm much more interested in the fact that all four top-10 finishes this season have come on correlating tracks, including at the RSM Classic and the RBC Heritage. Former Wyndham winner Simpson has lost play-offs at both, and the latter in particular is a huge pointer. Indeed, Davis Love is a five-time winner at Hilton Head and he's one of two players to have done the double, the other being Carl Pettersson.

Schniederjans' victory on the Web.com Tour last year came on a low-scoring par 70 and while missing the cut on his sole start at Sedgefield, he'd have made it but for a bogey at his 36th hole. Given that he was trying to earn a PGA Tour card at the time and shot 67 in round two, that's perfectly encouraging.

Next on the list is my only selection from towards the head of the market, Byeong-hun An.

One year ago, a young Korean with a brilliant tee-to-green game won this from the front and An could do something similar, just as he did when securing his sole European Tour title at Wentworth, a nicely correlating course in its own right.

An has put together back-to-back top-30 finishes in the US, ranking 15th in strokes-gained tee-to-green at the PGA Championship last week, and looks ready to get competitive again in what's a fairly low-grade affair behind the favourite.

There are a couple of other factors which I think could work in his favour, beyond being a fine iron player who was 18th on his sole start in this event two years ago, striking the ball particularly well along the way.

Firstly, he's playing for a Presidents Cup place. An currently sits 13th in the standings and has at most three events remaining to improve his position. At 94th in the FedEx Cup standings, he's not quite guaranteed to be playing in the last of the three but realistically needs to do so if he's to either earn a place on the team, or impress enough for a captain's pick.

Byeong-hun An
Byeong-hun An

An is also, according to reports, preparing to do his military service in South Korea and while his play won't affect that obligation, he'll surely be keen to sign off on a high. Most famously, Sang-moon Bae began his service after a devastating end to the 2015 Presidents Cup and An will be desperate to have his chance to impress there.

Finally, I wonder whether Grayson Murray's win might also add that one or two percent which can make all the difference at this level. An and Murray engaged in something of a spat earlier this year and there's a chance at least that our man is just that little bit more motivated to secure his own PGA Tour breakthrough while he can.

All of this is hugely speculative, but I like An regardless at 40s. He's a class act and having had a good spin round here in 2015, he should go really well.

Finally, I'm going to chance Ryan Palmer in preference to Daniel Summerhays.

Palmer ranked fourth in strokes-gained tee-to-green when returning to form to finish ninth last time, and he was particularly pleased with some putting improvements having switched to the popular claw grip.

That result has helped him climb to 128th in the FedEx Cup standings, just eighth points off Geoff Ogilvy in 125th and 12 behind Summerhays in 124th.

With just the top 125 progressing to the Playoffs, Palmer needs to finish inside the top 50 at least if he's to earn a start in the first of four events, which he hasn't missed since way back in 2009, so he's got plenty to play for in the final event of the regular season.

The 40-year-old has his excuses when it comes to lacking the consistency we'd become used to. Palmer lost his father in a vehicle accident in 2015, while at the end of 2016 he sacrificed golf to be by the side of his wife Jennifer as she underwent treatment for cancer. When last he was asked, Palmer said she was responding really well and would be coming off her medication in August.

Perhaps, then, it's no real surprise that he picked up last time and while missing the cut here on his sole start, that was almost a decade ago.

It's speculative again but that tends to be the way to play the Wyndham, the last full-field event of the season and a chance for someone to change the path of their career.

Posted at 1630 BST on 15/08/17.

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Six places on the Wyndham Championship with Sky Bet

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