The Wyndham Championship kicked off with a thrilling start as players vied for coveted FedExCup Playoff berths. While the competition was fierce, one player stood out – Sedgefield specialist Russell Henley, who has already secured his spot in the post-season.
Henley displayed brilliance reminiscent of two years ago, carding a stunning 8-under 62 in the opening round, pursuing his fourth consecutive top 10 finish at the Wyndham Championship. In 2021, Henley led the tournament after rounds 1, 2, and 3, appearing destined for victory, only to falter with a Sunday-71, narrowly missing a 6-man playoff by one shot.
Having earned a T9 and T5 finish in the events surrounding that performance, it is evident that the four-time PGA TOUR winner thrives at Sedgefield. Adding to his credentials, a victory last fall in Mayakoba and a T4 at the Masters have propelled Henley to 32nd place in the FedExCup standings. However, he has higher aspirations and could rise as high as 11th with a win.
Henley currently leads the field by one stroke, with Adam Svensson – another fall winner – and Byeong Hun An in close pursuit. Andrew Novak is two shots back in fourth place, while Adam Scott and J.T. Poston share fifth place, trailing by three shots.
The weather played a significant role in the first round, necessitating "lift, clean, and place" rules throughout. Rain is forecasted for the overnight period and Friday morning rounds, indicating a potential continuation of low scores for Round 2.
For players seeking a spot in the top 70 of the FedExCup standings, certain scenarios are crucial for their advancement. Adam Scott, for instance, needs a top-nine finish to maintain his 100% Playoffs record and has positioned himself well to achieve that goal.
Notable Draws to Watch:
Ludvig Aberg: The emerging Swedish star started slowly, but a strong finish with five birdies in his last eight holes catapulted him into contention. Ranking third in Strokes Gained: Putting and 25th in SG: Off-the-Tee on Thursday, he could improve his 83rd rank in SG: Approach, making him an intriguing option at +2500 to win.
J.T. Poston: Last week's runner-up, Poston, has been in a positive mindset, securing three consecutive top 10 finishes. With impressive putting stats, he remains a strong contender.
Adam Scott: One of the pre-tournament favorites, Scott's stress-free approach to securing a top-ten finish and progressing to the Playoffs is evident. An enticing +125 bet for a Top 10 finish could prove rewarding.
Shane Lowry: Despite a disappointing opening round, Lowry's skills in wet conditions could see an improvement in his approach game, making him an interesting choice at +130 for a Top 20 finish.
Russell Henley: While Henley started strongly, his +260 odds to win are not tempting enough at this stage of the tournament. It might be prudent to wait for another round or two before committing to a bet.
Andrew Novak: Despite an impressive first round, Novak's current FedExCup position necessitates a remarkable performance to advance, and his recent form does not inspire confidence.
As the Wyndham Championship unfolds, these players will be under the spotlight, and their performances will shape the FedExCup Playoff picture. With rain still a factor, the excitement and competition are far from over.