We are heading into the final week of the PGA Tour season with the Wyndham Championship. In this article, I will focus on the DraftKings Showdown slate for Thursday’s first round. Take a look at my course preview from earlier this week to familiarize yourself with the scoring holes and some of the players with strong course history at Sedgefield Country Club.
Dustin Diez also wrote his DFS preview outlining some of the key stats and his top plays for the week.
In general, the plays you like for the tournament should align well with what makes sense for the first two showdown slates on Thursday and Friday. The only caveats, typically, will be tee times and weather. I will almost always prefer the morning players, as they have fresh greens, and generally quieter conditions to play in. These factors typically lead to more birdies and lower scores, which is what Showdown is all about.
This week there is no predictable weather situation, no wind, or any other factor to have us really heavily favor one group of players over another. I’m going to lean on the key statistics and those players that have shown a tendency to start fast in opening rounds for my Thursday Showdown picks.
Brooks Koepka $10,200
I got burned badly by Brooks Koepka last Sunday in the final round Showdown at the PGA Championship, but I am going back to the well here in round one. He has continued to say he knows he needs to play well to improve on his FedEx Cup standing, and as the last event of the regular season, the Wyndham Championship will be his last chance to do that. In order to compete this week, it will be really important to go low on Thursday.
Brooks is a notoriously fast starter, ranking 18th in first-round scoring average this year, after finishing 12th in that category last year. He’s continued that in the past couple of weeks, setting the pace two weeks ago in the first round at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude with an 8-under 62. He followed it up last week, tying for the third-lowest Thursday round, with a 4-under 66.
Koepka gets the preferred early tee time this Thursday and I will look for him to come out firing to start the tournament.
Paul Casey $9,600
Paul Casey comes in having played some of the best golf of his career last week at the PGA Championship. He finished in a tie for second behind champion Collin Morikawa, but it was more that he got beat by fantastic play, rather than anything he did to come up short.
He shot under par for all four rounds of the major, with 16 birdies, just three bogeys and one double bogey. Casey gained 12.2 strokes tee to green, including 7.2 on approach. Both of those stats will also be key to scoring well this week at Sedgefield Country Club and he should be able to maintain that top form.
Add to it that Casey has positive memories at the Wyndham Championship, finishing third in 2015 and 13th last year. Everything is on the up and up for him right now, and I expect that to carry into a strong first round.
Brandt Snedeker $8,200
I will be honest, the safe play here is to find $100 and take Ryan Moore. He would fit more in the core play category. He has similar course history to Brandt and is in better form heading into this week’s Wyndham Championship. However, I am pivoting down to Snedeker in large part due to the huge discrepancy between the two in projected DraftKings ownership for the event. Moore is expected to be pushing 25% owned versus Snedeker’s 5%. This difference is a good indication of the sentiment regarding Snedeker’s form. I’ll prefer to use him in Showdown where you only need solid results over 18 holes, as a way to leverage his ownership and outstanding history at Sedgefield Country Club.
Snedeker has started fast at the Wyndham Championship. Outside of an even-par 70 in Round 1 in 2015, he’s gone low in his last three opening rounds, shooting 65, 59, and 64. The opening-round 59 certainly stands out, and it was that round that propelled him to win the event in 2018.
He isn’t in the best form, but historically that hasn’t mattered when he goes to Greensboro. He’s consistently played well in this event, especially in Round 1, and I am leaning on that to continue on Thursday.
Russell Henley $7,600
Russell Henley is a guy I really like to compete throughout the weekend at the Wyndham Championship. He comes in as one of the top tee to green and approach players in the field since the tour took a break for the pandemic. In his last four tour events he’s gained 8.2, 6, 1.6, and 7.1 strokes with his irons. At a second shot golf course like Sedgefield those types of numbers will lead to some really low rounds. The main thing that has held Henley back from better overall results has been his putter, but this week, he finally gets back on his preferred Bermuda grass greens.
This season he’s ranked 27th in first round scoring average and as mentioned, is headed to a course that matches up really well with his game. I like Henley to be a great value on this slate and to have the opportunity to have his name near the top of the leaderboard throughout the tournament.
Brice Garnett $7,000
Brice Garnett is another player that has done well at the Wyndham Championship. He finished sixth here last year with two 20th-place finishes in 2018 and 2016. Garnett is traditionally an average putter, but he’s far from average on the greens at Sedgefield Country Club. He ranks second in the field in strokes gained putting at this course, and has gained more than five strokes on the greens in each of his past three events here.
It’s not just his putting that has me liking Garnett in Round 1. He has gained strokes tee to green in three of his last four events, including 6.9 strokes his last time out at the 3M Open. During that tournament, he gained 3.1 strokes on approach, but lost 1.7 strokes putting. That’s solid form heading into a course where he clearly likes the greens.
If the ball-striking and iron play stays where it has been, he will have plenty of looks at birdie on Thursday. The stats say there may one player in the field you’d prefer standing over birdie putts to Garnett, but I’ll happily take my chances with him.