Colombian Camilo Villegas fired a final round final 63 to post 17-under-par 263 to win the 75th Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. Villegas defeated American Bill Haas and Freddie Jacobson by one shot as they filled out the podium and 54-hole leader Nick Watney finished T5.
For the first time in three and a half years, Camilo Villegas is holding the trophy on TOUR. He racked up five birdies and an eagle to post a bogey-free 63 for the second time this week as he jumped from T8 into the winner’s circle for the fourth time in his career. His opening round 63 also saw him circle five birds and an eagle without squaring a bogey. He was 10-under on Friday before bogeying his final two holes heading into the weekend. On Saturday he posted 68 to find himself four shots behind Watney entering Sunday. The key for Villegas this week was he only made four bogeys on the week and led the field in eagles with two. His ball-striking has not been the problem in recent years and it wasn’t again this week as he was T5 in fairways and T8 in GIR. The flat stick has been the usual suspect but this week he was 16th in strokes gained-putting (SGP) and a respectable 24th in putts per GIR (PPG).
At one point, Villegas was in THAT conversation in the early days of his career as he finished 2008 T4 at the PGA, T3 at the DBC, WIN at the BMW and WIN at The TOUR Championship. In that season he finished with two wins, two thirds, seven top 10s and 10 top 25s as he made 19 of 22 cuts. He finished 2009 No. 42 on the money list as he couldn’t keep the momentum going. In 2010, he rebounded by winning early at the Honda Classic and ending up 20th on the final money list.
That was his last victory on TOUR before this week.
2011 saw him pocket $1.2 million but he only made 13 of 25 cuts that season. The next year was his worst-ever on TOUR as 2012 saw him only hit four top 25s and his best finish was T18. He cashed just under $500k. He showed signs of life last season as he made 16 of 23 cuts and found the top 10 twice but he only had two other top 25s and that just doesn’t work for gamers. The shrewd gamers probably loaded up on him before 2013 and were not going to try that again this year. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Chasing the Colombian for a third year in a row didn’t make sense so don’t feel bad if he’s not on your roster either.
In 2014, Villegas was trying to put all the pieces together and 2013 did show signs as he finished 19th in the all-around final standings. This season is also the first time he’s been in positive territory in the SGP category since 2008. He’s always in shape and rarely injured and has been more a mystery than a mainstay in gamer’s lineups this season.
This performance reminds me of Gary Woodland last season before he won the Barracuda Championship. Woodland was racking up cuts for fun but couldn’t crack any big finishes. Villegas had made 17 of 25 cuts entering this week but only two of those went for top 25s. Heck, he entered this week off a WD at the RBC Canadian Open and he didn’t touch a club last week! Those are plenty of reasons to understand why he was overlooked this week by most.
Moving forward, I’m not going to have him anchor my lineup next week at The Barclays but I am a big believer in momentum. Sedgefield and Plainfield Country Club are both old-school ball-striker layouts so he’ll be on my radar, along with the other 121 players teeing it up in New Jersey as the FedExCup Playoffs begin next week.
Defending champion Patrick Reed played the weekend in 10-under but that couldn’t erase his opening round 71. No player has defended their title since moving to Sedgefield in 2008.
Of the last seven winners here, three of them have broken their maiden. All of those happened in odd-numbered years. This is 2014. #Dothemath
With this victory, Villegas collects $954,000, 500 FedExCup points and 500 very important FedExCup points. Villegas moves up from No. 105 to No. 37, 68 spots, to give him a shot of making the top 30 over the next three weeks. He won the TOUR Championship in a playoff over Sergio Garcia in 2008.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 24 of 41 events in 2013-14 but none in the last five weeks. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane, Kevin Streelman and Brian Harman have won for the USA.
Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed six victories. Hideki Matsuyama and Seung-yul Noh are the Asian representatives. Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy are the European chalk that has won four of the last six majors dating back to the 2013 U.S. Open. Angel Cabrera is joined by Villegas as flying the flag for South America; Tim Clark flies it for South Africa.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd, Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had 10 in 40 events in 2014.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14, 20 of 41 leaders have gone on to win as Nick Watney could not hold the 54-hole lead this week.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. Ryan Moore (30), Zach Johnson (37), Kevin Stadler (33) and Bubba Watson (35), Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30), Matt Jones (33), all were victorious before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35), Justin Rose (33), Tim Clark (38), Geoff Ogilvy (37) and now Villegas, 32, have added to the prime-timers trophy case as the season moves along.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), Brian Harman (27) and Rory McIlroy THRICE (25), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden (42) FINALLY has some company in the winner’s circle this year for the old folks as Angel Cabrera, 44, won at Greenbrier. The old folks were represented by David Toms at T18 this week.
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10
Bill Haas: His T2 is his best finish at the Wyndham in 10 starts and his best finish of 2014 as well. He’s now 22 of 23 on the year without slamming the trunk on Fridays and his consistency finally paid off for patient gamers. This was Haas’ best finish since winning the 2013 AT&T last summer but his steadiness has been noticed. It was a slight field and he did exactly what was expected from him. He led the field in birdies with 22 and only carded one bogey on the weekend as he closed 66-64. Those numbers shouldn’t be a surprise as he led the field in SGP and was T1 in GIR. Patrick Reed did that here last year and won in a playoff; this year, Haas missed by one shot.
Freddie Jacobson: The Swede was tied for the lead after birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 but crucial three-putt on the final hole knocked him out of a playoff with Villegas. The Junk Man struggled to find fairways and greens all week (not a surprise) but when he did, he converted as he was second in SGP and third in PPG. That’s what makes that performance on the final green surprising to gamers. This was his first trip to Sedgefield on the new Champion Bermudagrass greens. He adds this T2 to T17 and T12 in his last two visits so he’s moving into the horse-for-course stable! This was his best finish since his T3 at Colonial, another classic set-up, early in the year.
Heath Slocum: The 40-year-old needed a top three finish this week to gain enough FedExCup points to crack the top 125. He finished in solo fourth after bogeying his last two holes. Ouch.
Brandt Snedeker: Trailing Nick Watney by three shots and being paired with his good friend Webb Simpson, gamers were licking their chops for a big Sunday finish. Snedeker did roll in four birdies but his struggle was the same old, same old: the putter. He missed two putts of less than six feet and three putts of less than 12 feet on Sunday that really would have put pressure on the leaders. He was T35 in fairways, T53 GIR, 40th in SGP and T36 PPG and STILL finished T5! I know it’s a results driven business but that’s totally smoke and mirrors! He was my OAD this week and I’ll gladly take this T5 and RUN FOR THE HILLS!!! This was his third top 10 since the permanent move to Sedgefield in 2008. #automatic
Webb Simpson: Just imagine if he made any putts this week! He made five birdies today but three putted from three feet to make a double on No. 11. He rallied for three birdies in his last four holes to finish T5. His T5 adds to his T8, WIN, T22 and T11 last year. His last T3 was at the Old White TPC, another old-school design that he’s romped on so this shouldn’t have surprised any gamers. It did break a MC, T31 and MC streak since that result. I’m pretty sure he has a decent record at the DBC as well!
Nick Watney: In seven times of holding the 54-hole lead, Watney has converted only one time, his maiden voyage. Gamers that have been padding their lineups with him in the later rounds over the last month or so have been pleasantly surprised but the weekly gamers will have a tough time with this one. Needing a birdie to force a playoff on the final hole, Watney sprayed his drive right OB and his chances were gone. His 13-footer for par would have seen him share fourth but that didn’t happen either so he joined the party at T5. Watney has been T12 or better in three of his last four TOUR starts so that qualifies as hot in my book. He’ll be a great mid/late round pick next week.
William McGirt: As Villegas opened and closed with 63, McGirt did the same but with 64s. The North Carolina native racked up 20 birdies on the week to finish T8 and hit the top 10 for the second time this season (T9; Harbour Town). He moved up ten spots from No. 91 to 81 in the FEC standings so he’s covered through Boston. He’s made five of his last six and nothing has been worse than T32. This was his best finish since T6 at Riviera back in February.
Jhonattan Vegas: He backed up his T3 at the JDC with MC and MC in his next two so his frustration and gamers’ frustration continues. This week will just add to the fire as he only made five bogeys on a course he’s only played once. He only made one of them in the first two rounds and that helped him to guarantee his spot in the final 125 as his T8 sees him check in at No. 108 after beginning the week at No. 124. He’ll have to put up another big week in New Jersey if he’s going to be eligible for Boston as only the top 100 will advance this time next week. That’s a tough order two weeks in a row.
Kevin Kisner: It seems like he’s the only player from Georgia not to win a golf tournament in the last two years but he’s been quietly knocking on the door. After closing with 64 at JDC to finish T20, he fired 64 again the next time he played (RBC Canadian) on Sunday to finish T9. He only managed 67 on his third Sunday but this also resulted in a top 10, T8. Kisner only made TWO bogeys on the week and sadly one of them was on the final hole. He did find time for two doubles that didn’t help matters but his T8 did push him from No. 101 to No. 93 in the FEC standings. This was his third top 10 of the season and he’s now played the weekend in all three of his appearances at Sedgefield.
Brad Fritsch: Big Boy found himself in the final group on Sunday after 63-65 on Friday-Saturday as he sat one shot behind Watney. In only his 42nd start in the last two years, it’s not surprising that Fritsch faded. He’s only found the top 10 three times in those starts and has only 5 top 25s. The experience will come in handy at the web.com finals as he needed a podium finish as well to advance to the FEC Playoffs.
What happened to my pre-tournament favorites?
Brandt Snedeker: See above.
Hideki Matsuyama: The bad news is he MC. The good news he played both rounds at par or better (69-70). He was -3.010 SGP in round two if you were looking for a “why”.
Bill Haas: See above.
Brian Harman: This list has been all-or-nothing to get started! He finished 71-68 but had more bogeys (7) than birdies (6). Don’t forget he’s No. 21 in the FEC standings, one place higher than Matsuyama.
Patrick Reed: The defending champ fired at them after an opening round 71 and his final round 66 moved him up 18 spots to T24. I liked that he didn’t mail it and was fighting all week. I didn’t like that it took one round to figure it out but that’s kinda where we are at with Reed at this point: still learning.
Webb Simpson: See above.
Tim Clark: I don’t think anyone is surprised that he finished inside the top 25 (T24) and put all four rounds in the 60s. The NC State teammate of Carl Pettersson now has four finishes of T26 or better in five starts at Sedgefield. The other two were T6 and second.
Billy Horschel: A triple-bogey on the final hole will leave a bitter taste as Horschel dropped to T47 on the week. With the fields tightening up the next two weeks, reaching for Horschel doesn’t make any sense as his play isn’t backing it up. I will advocate for him in later stages if he left for the taking.
Robert Karlsson: One of the others who fell asleep in round one (72) only to come up just short (67) on Friday. He has no status so we’re done with him for the time being on this side of the pond!
Brooks Koepka: He was a great play in Yahoo! this week if gamers got the timing right as he closed with 64 to finish T38. He needed to win this week to make the Playoffs but his 73 on Saturday killed his chances and Yahoo! gamers like me. He’ll be on TOUR full time next year as he cashed over $1 million from just 16 events. Please circle him for future reference.
Justin Hicks: After finishing third and second in his last two, Hicks gave a noble effort this week as he put all four rounds at par or better. Sadly, none were lower than 69 or higher than 70 and that equaled T57 this week. Normal service resumed, gamers…
Ernie Els: Be careful when old guys play well because it just doesn’t last. All the talk about finding his putter last week was short-lived as he was T50 PPG and T54 SGP. He was T75th in fairways and T53 in GIR so his usually solid ball-striking was out to lunch as well. Looks like five weeks in a row was one too many!
Brendon de Jonge: His best finish in his last six on TOUR is T37 after his MC this week. There is no reason for including him moving forward if he can’t fire on a course where he had played 10 of his last 12 rounds at par or better. With four top 25s in 22 weekends, I’m done stretching.
John Huh: His four rounds of par or better contained nothing lower than 68 and nothing higher than 70. That, like Justin Hicks, equaled T57 this week. He’s now T19, T3 and T57 in his only three trips to Sedgefield.
Martin Laird: After opening 65-66, I was daydreaming that BOTH my Group 3 picks could be champs this week! Laird finished up T8 after 69-69 on the weekend and Brittany Lincicome led after 36 and 54 holes before losing in a playoff to NED and Inbee Park. We’ll bit Laird farewell as he needed one more birdie to keep his Playoffs alive and he didn’t.
Here’s how the 10-most volatile did on the final weekend on the regular season:
No. 130: J.J. Henry; His T32 saw him finish at No. 128 and he’ll miss out for the first time ever on the top 125. OUT
No. 129: David Lingmerth; 77 players made the cut so his T74 was worth only one FEC point. He finished at No. 134. OUT
No. 128: Greg Chalmers; His 72-69 MC didn’t allow him to earn any more points and like Henry, he misses out on the FEC for the first time as well. OUT
No. 127: Charlie Beljan; His 72-70 MC saw him drop to No. 130. OUT
No. 126: Sang-moon Bae; All it took was 66-66 on the weekend to finish T14 and move up to No. 120! Bae now gets another chance to crack the top five or so to earn a passage to Boston in round two. IN
No. 125: Paul Casey; His 65 on Thursday showed his intent this week and his T18 finish saw him easily keep his season going as he ended up No. 118.
No. 124: Jhonattan Vegas; His T8 moved him to No. 108 and gives him a real chance to move to Boston with a great finish again at The Barclays.
No. 123: Nicholas Thompson; After making the cut on the number, Thompson couldn’t take advantage of two more rounds as his 73-69 saw him finish T70 and No. 126 on the list. Ouch.
No. 122: Robert Allenby; His 66-74 MC saw him get the final golden ticket as Thompson needed ONE MORE POINT to jump over him at No. 125. I think I feel bad for Thompson because he at least MADE THE FREAKIN’ CUT in the final event but I’m reminded it’s the body of work, not one tournament, which decides the playoff positions. ORLY? Tell that to the guy who wins at The TOUR Championship! Hahahahahaha!
No. 121: James Hahn; T57 never sounded so good! IN
No. 120: David Toms; like Casey, a class player stood up and was counted as his T18 moved him to No. 112.
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon
I post my weekly preview column, Range Rover for the TOUR stop and Playing the Tips. Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game and my One-and-Done feature.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the The Barclays plus answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.