It’s D-Day for Padraig Harrington

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For Germany’s former US PGA Champion Martin Kaymer and Ireland’s three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, this week’s Wyndham Championship is critical.

It could mean the difference between playing in the big-money Federation Cup play-offs or packing their bags and heading home to Europe.

That’s because only the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup points standings on Sunday will make it through to next week’s Barclays, the first of the four FedEx Cup play-off tournaments that culminate in the season-closing Tour Championship in late September.

And right now Kaymer (119th) and Harrington (128th) are both hovering dangerously around the inside and outside fringes of the qualifying bubble with Harrington looking especially vulnerable.

Last year Heath Slocum, who moved up from 128th to 124 at the Wyndham, was the only golfer outside the bubble who made it through to The Barclays, so Harrington must know that the task he is tackling is not an easy one and that he is going to have to produce a stellar performance at the Sedgefield Country Club this week to go through.

He must know that to do that he is going to have to shoot a lot of birdies without giving away too many bogies for, since Sedgefield rejoined the tour five years ago, it has generally been ranked as one the two easiest par-70 courses on Tour

Sergio Garcia won the championship last year when the average score edged up to a five-year high of 69.37 and while the bookies all seem to like Zach Johnson, Web Simpson and Brandt Snedeker – their three favourites are listed at odds of between 14 and 16 to one – Garcia, who leads the US Tour in strokes gained-putting, isn’t too far behind with odds of between 18 and 20 to one.

It’s not for nothing, though, that Johnson, Simpson and Snedeker are up there on top, both with the pundits and with the bookies

Johnson’s tie for eighth at last week’s PGA Championship gave him his fourth consecutive top 10 finish, Simpson, who won the Wyndham in 2011, shot a 64 at Oak Hill last week on his way to a tie for 25th, and Snedeker, last year’s FedEx Cup champion, comes to Sedgefield with 2013 wins in the Pebble Beach National Pro-am and the recent Canadian Open.

So yes, each should tee off at Sedgefield with plenty of form – but then so should surprise package Hideki Matsyuma, our dark horse this week, who came to America on invitation after an amazing start to his career in homeland Japan, and with the help of a tie for sixth in the Open at Muirfield and a tie for 19th at Oak Hill, has already moved up to 29th on the Official World Ranking list.

Two other new faces making the bookies top 20 list who might be worth keeping an eye on are teenager Jordan Speith who came into pro golf this year with a spectacular amateur CV and has already won a PGA Tour title, and Roberto Castro, a 28-year-old Texan with six wins on the Web.Com and Nationwide Tours and a tie for 12th at last week’s PGA Championship – his third top 15 in his last five starts.

Major winners Ernie Els and David Toms head the list of seasoned golfers who could also make a play for the Wyndham title, but unless someone comes along to upset the apple cart, perhaps in desperation as he attempts a last-minute snatch of a place in that all-important 125, it’s going to be tough getting past the likes of form-men Simpson, Snedeker, and Johnson.

Garcia? – on recent form I can’t see him retaining his Wyndham title.

Since his tie for 21st at the US Open, he has finished in 40th place at the WGC-Bridgestone and in a 61st place tie at the PGA, but if he can shrug all this away and rediscover the earlier-season form that earned him a tie for 3rd at the WGC-Cadillac and for 8th in both the Masters and The Players, he might well have a shot at retaining his title.

Skybet’s winner odds:

Skybet’s top 20 outright winner odds for the Wyndham Championship at mid-day on Thursday were as follows:

Zach Johnson 14/1
Brandt Snedeker 16/1
Webb Simpson 16/1
Sergio Garcia 18/1
Martin Kaymer 25/1
Hideki Matsuyama 28/1
Jordan Spieth 35/1
Ernie Els 40/1
David Toms 40/1
Tim Clark 40/1
Jason Bohn 40/1
Paul Casey 45/1
Roberto Castro 50/1
Boo Weekley 50/1
Jimmy Walker 50/1
Andres Romero 50/1
Chris Kirk 66/1
Carl Pettersson 66/1
Nick Watney 66/1
Brendon De Jonge 66/1

For all the betting odds, you can go to Oddschecker.com:

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