The world’s top golfers get one more chance to improve their position as the PGA’s regular season wraps up this week in Greensboro.
The Wyndham Championship serves as the regular season finale after which the points standings for the FedExCup Championship will be set.
Greensboro has been a stop on the tour since 1938, and Sedgefield, where this year’s tournament will be held, has hosted the Wyndham since 2008. Some of the biggest names in golf history have won the event, including Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Gary Player.
North Carolina is known as a golf hotbed, and the state’s elite courses and college programs have produced some of the top players in the sport. UNC’s Raymond Floyd and Davis Love III have won in Greensboro, as have Wake Forest’s Craig Stadler and Webb Simpson. Western Carolina’s J.T. Poston won three years ago.
Love, Simpson and Poston are all back this year to try to add another Wyndham championship to their resumes. The 58-year-old Love is a three-time winner, most recently in 2015. Simpson, 36, won in 2011 and was a runner-up in 2018 and 2019.
The three local winners are among eight former champions returning to the field in this year’s Wyndham Championship. Defending champion Kevin Kisner will try to repeat. Si Woo Kim (2016), Ryan Moore (2009), Jim Herman (2020) and Camilo Villegas (2014) are also back to try to become multiple champions.
The field is also packed with former major winners. In addition to Love, who won the PGA Championship in 1997, and Simpson, who took the 2012 US Open, the field includes Adam Scott (2013 Masters), Justin Rose (2013 U.S. Open), Jason Day (2015 PGA), Shane Lowry (2019 British Open), Francesco Molinari (2018 British Open), Stewart Cink (2009 British) and Zach Johnson (2007 Masters and 2015 British).
One of the favorites entering play has just missed joining the list of major winners multiple times in recent months. Former Wake Forest Demon Deacons golfer Will Zalatoris is the highest-ranked golfer in the Wyndham field this year at No. 2 in the DP World Tour standings, No. 9 in FedExCup points and No. 13 in the Official World Golf rankings. Zalatoris has eight top-10 finishes this season, including runner-up at both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. He also had a second-place finish at last year’s Masters.
Other golfers to watch this week include Billy Horchel, who is No. 14 in the world, and Sungjae Im, who is 14th in FedExCup points.
Harold Varner III should also be on any list of favorites. The Gastonia-raised Varner played at East Carolina before moving onto the PGA. He has been as high as No. 35 in the world rankings this year.
Rickie Fowler, a fan favorite and always a threat to win, will be in this year’s field in Greensboro as well. Fowler hasn’t won this season but has five victories on the tour.
“Rickie is a fan favorite no matter where he plays,” tournament executive director Mark Brazil said. “He’s been one of the five most popular players in the world the past 10 years or more. And to top that, he’s genuinely one of the nicest guys on tour. We are really excited about Rickie playing (this) week!”
Six golfers were given sponsor’s exemptions to join the field this week. Joohyung (Tom) Kim, who is just 20 but already ranked No. 39 in the World Golf Rankings, will get the chance to show he’s a future star. He’s joined by fellow exemptions Chris Gotterup, a rookie who will be making his sixth PGA start, and rookie Cole Hammer.
Another exemption, rookie Trent Phillips, has already won at Sedgefield, taking the Junior Wyndham Invitational title in 2017.
Two veterans round out the exemptions list — Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who has stood out on the European tour and Jason Dufner, winner of the 2013 PGA Championship.
The other golfers with North Carolina ties in the field include Kevin Streelman and Alex Smalley, who played at Duke 18 years apart. Streelman went pro in 2001, while Smalley, a current Greensboro resident, was a Blue Devil until 2019. Adam Long, a Blue Devil from 2006 to 2010, rounds out the Duke contingent in Greensboro.
In addition to Zalatoris and Simpson, Bill Haas will be representing Wake Forest at the Wyndham. The Charlotte-born Haas joined his father, Jay, and uncle Jerry as Demon Deacons golfers, winning ACC Player of the Year twice during his college career.
Lumberton-born William McGirt and Mount Airy’s Tommy Gibson are also in the field, as are three golfers with Raleigh connections. Chesson Hadley was born in the state capital and went to North Raleigh Christian Academy. Doc Redman was across town at Leesville Road High School. Andrew Novak was born in Raleigh and says his earliest golf memory was being given a ball with an NC State logo on it at age 3 by former Wolfpack golfer Carl Pettersson.
Cameron Percy was born and raised in Australia but now calls Raleigh home.
Whether following local products or the top golfers in the game today, the Wyndham should have something to spark everyone’s interest as the regular season wraps up with a bang.