By Andrew Both
GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) – A $10 million (£8.2 million) bonus pool for the top PGA Tour players over the regular season has not been enough to attract any of the top seven to this week’s Wyndham Championship.
Tournament sponsor Wyndham put up the money in the hope of luring some of the big box office attractions to a tournament that suffers due to its time slot immediately preceding the PGA Tour playoffs.
Hence, most of the big names are skipping this week’s regular-season finale after playing the British Open and WGC-St. Jude Invitational the previous two weeks.
Brooks Koepka locked up the $2 million Wyndham Rewards first prize with his St. Jude win on Sunday.
Paul Casey, who at number eight on the FedEx Cup/Wyndham Rewards points list is the highest-ranked player in action this week, said he understood why most of his peers opted to skip the tournament ahead of the three-event FedEx Cup playoffs.
“I would like to have seen more players here but … the ultimate prize we’re trying to win (is) the FedEx Cup,” the Englishman said at Sedgefield Country Club on Wednesday.
“Guys are doing whatever is necessary to get themselves in the perfect position for that. I thought probably one or two guys would be here but I can’t answer for them, and I shouldn’t.”
A win on Sunday and would lift Casey from eighth to fourth in the Wyndham standings and would also earn him a $1.1 million bonus.
But considering he would have played six weeks in a row by time the Tour Championship rolls around late next month, Casey admitted that the situation was not ideal.
“It’s a challenge,” said Casey, who thinks he has only four or five years left to realistically challenge at the top level.
“I’m 42, so it’s not great … but I love playing golf so why not take this opportunity.
“The form I’ve got and my opportunities are not going to be there forever. I’m one of only a handful of guys who’s still doing this at this level in the 40s.”
The field is not completely devoid of star power.
Three-times major winner Jordan Spieth will be in action as he tries to play his way back into form. The American is 67th on the FedEx Cup points list after a sporadic campaign.
World No. 17 Webb Simpson and No. 24 Patrick Reed are also playing.
Reed and Spieth had a magnificent duel here six years ago, when the former won a playoff after threading a miracle shot through the trees to set up birdie at the first extra hole.
Fellow American Brandt Snedeker is the defending champion.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)