Monday’s announcement that former World’s No. 1 will definitely be playing in this week’s 2015 Wyndham Championship at Greensboro’s Sedgefield Country Club adds exclamation point to what had already shaped up as the most exciting field in the tournament’s 76-year history.
By Brad King
GREENSBORO, N.C. (August 17, 2015) — Monday’s big announcement that Tiger Woods will definitely be playing in this week’s 2015 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro added an exclamation point to what had already shaped up as the most exciting field in the tournament’s 76-year history.
Though currently ranked south of the world’s Top 275, Woods remains among the most talked about players in golf history. He is, after all, a 14-time major championship winner and a 79-time PGA Tour champion, not to mention his 12 international wins and 14 “other” victories to his credit. Tiger’s career PGA Tour win total is second only to that of Sam Snead, who won the Piedmont Triad’s PGA Tour event eight times among his 82 career victories.
Woods was the No. 1 player in the world 264-consecutive weeks between August 1999 and September 2004 and 281-consecutive weeks between June 2005 and October 2010. After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 25, 2013, he ascended to the No.1 ranking once again, holding the top spot until May 2014.
Tiger needs to either win the Wyndham Championship this week or finish in solo-second to have any chance at becoming eligible for next week’s FedExCup Playoffs. Woods will be participating in Wednesday’s Pro-Am at Sedgefield — his first look ever at the Donald Ross-designed gem — playing alongside former Wake Forest and current Los Angeles Clippers basketball star Chris Paul.
The Greensboro PGA Tour event dates back to 1938 and is one of several annual staple events Woods has never played in. Now that he’s committed, the list of longstanding tournaments that have never enjoyed the “Tiger Effect” is down to seven: the Sony Open in Hawaii, the “Hope” Championship, Valspar, Shell Houston Open, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the FedEx St. Jude Classic and the Travelers Championship.
Along with El Tigre, among those who have committed to this week’s Wyndham Championship are world No. 12 Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama (No. 16), Brooks Koepka (17), Brenden Grace (20), Martin Kaymer (21), Billy Horschel (23), Paul Casey (27), Brandt Snedeker (28) and Bill Haas (30). Also in Greensboro will be
Hall of Famer Ernie Els, 2011 Wyndham and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson — along with fellow major winners Charl Schwartzel, Jason Dufner, Stewart Cink, Justin Leonard and World Golf Hall of Famer Vijay Singh — former world No. 1 Luke Donald, 2009 champion Ryan Moore, Harris English, reigning champion Camilo Villegas, two-time champion Davis Love III, 2008 winner Carl Pettersson, 2005 champion K.J. Choi and 2010 winner Arjun Atwal.
Not to mention a good turnout from golf’s up-and-coming crop of “young guns” including Justin Thomas, Ollie Schniederjans, Daniel Berger and Chesson Hadley.
To say that the Wyndham Championship has flourished since moving back to Sedgefield Country Club — one of the courses on which the tournament was founded in 1938 — would be a major understatement.
Title sponsorship from Wyndham Worldwide in 2007 and the move back to Sedgefield’s Donald Ross Course in 2008 were major factors in the tournament’s exciting resurrection.
This year’s star-studded field represents just another reason the Wyndham Championship has hit its stride during the past few years. The event now holds an important position on the PGA Tour schedule, representing the final opportunity for some players to move into the top 125, thus securing exempt status for the following season and qualifying for the FedExCup Playoffs, while those already qualified for the Playoffs can improve their seeding.
In addition, starting in 2016 the Wyndham Championship could play a more prominent role in who will make the U.S. Ryder Cup team. The PGA of America tweaked the points system allowing golfers to continue accumulating points all the way up until The Barclays, one of the FedExCup playoff tournaments. In previous Ryder Cup years, points were awarded only up until the PGA Championship.
Of course, boasting one of the most popular, classic golf courses in the PGA Tour’s lineup doesn’t hurt, either. When McConnell Golf purchased Sedgefield from the membership in 2011, owner John McConnell poured massive funds into the property for significant upgrades. Today, Sedgefield Country Club is a jewel in the McConnell Golf lineup, a fitting home for North Carolina’s oldest PGA TOUR event.
“The move back to Sedgefield in 2008 was one of the few real game changers in our history, but when John McConnell bought it three years later, every aspect of the club improved immediately,” said Wyndham Championship Tournament Director Mark Brazil. “Players noticed it year one.
“John (McConnell) quickly realized playing on bentgrass greens in August in North Carolina didn’t work; and he changed the greens over to Champion Bermuda,” Brazil said. “That was a strong statement that he wanted everything to be first class. Outside of the major championships, Sedgefield is now a top-five course on the PGA TOUR.”
“Prior to (McConnell’s) ownership you couldn’t see how good this place was,” said Sedgefield CC Director of Golf Rocky Brooks. “McConnell Golf took it to a level of excellence most didn’t know possible.”
Arguably the most important local flavor for the Wyndham Championship came with Winston-Salem-based BB&T’s role in the recent 10-year sponsorship extensions from Wyndham Worldwide and BB&T. BB&T has been sponsoring the event since the early 1980s and remains the tournament’s longest-standing sponsor.
So important is the relationship that in April, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem made his second Sedgefield visit in eight months to help announce Wyndham Worldwide and BB&T’s 10-year extension as title sponsor of the tournament, continuing its commitment through 2026. They become only the fourth title sponsor in PGA Tour history to extend 10 years.
“Wyndham has had a very positive impact on every aspect of the tournament, from helping the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation’s efforts to increase charitable contributions through the Wyndham Championship, to elevating the tournament’s visibility and on-site enjoyment through creative brand activities and promotions,” Finchem said.
“With great sponsors in Wyndham and BB&T, and terrific work by the tournament organization here — and a really good golf course,” Finchem said. “Every year, now in my view at least in the last eight, 10 years the (Wyndham Championship) has done what you really want to see a PGA Tour event do, that’s get better every year.
Finchem paid a surprise visit to Sedgefield before Sunday’s final round and said the atmosphere around Sedgefield almost felt as if the FedEx Cup Playoffs had begun.
“The Wyndham is kind of a play-in and you see this field affected by players who really need to play well to get in next week which is the same phenomena you have during The Playoffs and then you see players who are in but want to improve their position,” Finchem said.
All of it making clear that the region has rallied around the Wyndham Championship — and the Wyndham Championship has rallied around the region.
ADDITIONAL WYNDHAM CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES
This year, Wyndham Championship organizers are offering multiple methods of free admission to make the Wyndham more affordable than ever. The following people will be admitted free on the specified days:
- Military Ticketing Supported by Quicken Loans — As a Birdies for the Brave ® sponsor, Quicken Loans is proud to support complimentary and discounted Military Ticketing throughout the PGA TOUR season — Members of the Military (active duty, reservists and veterans) may CLICK HERE to receive up to 2 complimentary tickets each day to the tournament
- Children ages 15 and under are admitted free of charge with a paying adult. One youth per adult.
- Teachers representing Piedmont Triad-area K-12 institutions and one guest will receive free admission to the tournament Wednesday, August 19 through Sunday, August 23 with a current school identification card — courtesy of the Weaver Foundation and Technology Concepts & Design, Inc.