This week’s Wyndham Championship marks the final opportunity for players to crack the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list and advance to the Playoffs, while also looming large for those looking to secure 2013-14 Tour cards through the season-long money list. Here’s a look at some of the marquee pairings for Thursday’s opening round at Sedgefield Country Club:
7:50 a.m. (10th tee): Nick Watney, Ernie Els, Tim Clark
A winner last year at The Barclays, Watney has largely struggled this summer, with just one top-25 finish and five missed cuts across his last nine starts. He’ll play the first two rounds alongside a pair of South Africans, notably the four-time major winner Els, who is making his second appearance in Greensboro in the last three years. Clark rounds out the threesome, fresh off an appearance at the PGA Championship that included an ace during the final round.
8:10 a.m. (10th tee): Steven Bowditch, Peter Hanson, Bud Cauley
This can be termed the “FedEx Cup bubble” grouping at Sedgefield. With one event to go, Bowditch is clinging to the 125th and final playoff-eligible spot in the standings, while Hanson sits in 126th, just five points behind the Australian. Cauley sits in 130th position, hoping to bounce back from five missed cuts in his last eight starts in time to qualify for the playoffs for the second straight year.
12:40 p.m. (1st tee): Jordan Spieth, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson
Between Spieth and Johnson, this group has arguably two of the hottest golfers in the game. Spieth struggled to a missed cut at Oak Hill after two weeks off, but is only four weeks removed from his win at the John Deere Classic, an event where he outlasted Johnson and David Hearn in a five-hole playoff. Since his runner-up at TPC Deere Run, Johnson has reeled off three more top-10 finishes, including a tie for eighth last week at the PGA Championship. They’ll be joined by Haas, a winner last month at Congressional whose nine top-10 finishes are the most on Tour this season.
12:50 p.m. (10th tee): Martin Kaymer, K.J. Choi, Geoff Ogilvy
This veteran group includes a pair of major champions in Kaymer and Ogilvy, though all three are hoping to better their position in the standings in advance of next week’s event at Liberty National. Kaymer secured his spot in the top 125 with solid finishes each of the last two weeks, while Choi and Ogilvy are both inside the top 100 after solid, if unspectacular, 2013 campaigns. Ogilvy has made just five of 11 cuts since his runner-up finish at the Honda Classic, while Choi hasn’t notched a top-10 finish since his sixth-place showing at the Valero Texas Open.
12:50 p.m. (1st tee): Brandt Snedeker, Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson
Likely the biggest draw of the first two days, this group includes three players who have each left Sedgefield with the trophy in the last six years. Both Snedeker and Simpson scored their maiden PGA Tour wins in this event, the former’s coming in 2007, the latter’s in 2011, while Garcia returns to Greensboro as the defending champion. All three have experienced success since their wins in the Tar Heel state, with Snedeker winning five more times including last year’s Tour Championship, while Simpson has notched two more wins highlighted by last year’s U.S. Open. Though Garcia hasn’t won since this event last year, his 2013 season was marked by a near-miss at TPC Sawgrass and the Spaniard hasn’t missed a cut on U.S. soil this year.