GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – When the first official shot of the Wyndham Championship is airborne early Thursday morning at the Sedgefield Country Club, there will be a lot of eyes on not only who wins but also who places and who shows. There’s a lot at stake in the PGA Tour’s final event of the season.

That includes who wins a lot of money, who gets to keep playing in the tour’s playoff and, in some cases, pure pride.

New COVID rules at the Wyndham Championship
Crowds at the Wyndham Championship

That pride includes bragging rights that are at stake because golfers from North Carolina’s universities tend to do well in this event.

Sure, legendary Sam Snead has won eight times in Greensboro, and he is from West Virginia and did not attend college. And Kevin Kisner, the 2021 champion, played at Georgia.

But North Carolina schools have made a mark in the event, perhaps most notably Wake Forest. The school ranked No. 3 for the number of its alumni who played on the Tour (behind Georgia and Texas and ahead of Stanford) has produced the winner three times and very nearly a few more.

Wake’s most famous alum, Arnold Palmer, NEARLY won in Greensboro. In 1972 was leading by two strokes with three holes to play when he hit a ball into the water on No. 16 at Sedgefield. He apparently wasn’t pleased about that.

The Greensboro Jaycees were an integral part of the Greater Greensboro Open, now the Wyndham Championship. In 1967, Arnold Palmer (left) is seen with Bill Black II, tourney winner George Archer and Henry Isaacson. (News & Record)

But his fellow former Demon Deacons have done darned well in the 83 events at Starmount Forest, Forest Lake and Sedgefield. Webb Simpson, a former U.S. Open champion, won here in 2011 and finished second twice. Wake alumni Lanny Wadkins (1983) and Scott Hoch (2001) are among the past champions.

That number could grow, too. Will Zalatoris, who was the PGA Tour’s rookie of the year (named the Arnold Palmer Award, of course) last year and is ranked No. 2 in the world right now, is in the field at Wyndham. Cameron Young, another Wake alum who is No. 9 in the FedEx Cup point standings, declined to enter.

But Bill Haas, a Wake alum who has contended here, is entered, and so is Simpson, who is trying to extend his season (more on that later).

Davis Love III reacts after his par putt on the 18th green during the second round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in 2015. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

After Snead, the winningest golfer in Greensboro has been Davis Love III, a product of UNC Chapel Hill. Love has won three titles, spanning three decades and 23 years (1992, 2006 and, surprisingly, 2015). That’s a rare accomplishment.

And there are other winners who have worn the state’s colors: Carl Pettersson (2008) played at NC State. Mike Souchak (1961) is from Duke, and JT Poston, the winner in 2019, played at Western Carolina.

There could be more, and the runner-up list includes Simpson, Haas, Souchak and probably others. So if you are venturing out to south Greensboro or watching the broadcast on Golf Channel and CBS, you might have a bigger rooting interest than you knew.

Here’s where you can find out about tickets and parking, but to help you with everything else you need to know, we’ve created a quick six things you might find useful.

Wake Forest alumnus Will Zalatoris reacts after making a birdie on the fourth hole during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at The Country Club on June 18 in Brookline, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Why is the Wyndham a more important event than it used to be?

Patrick Cantlay at the British Open. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

Do you think maybe being the 44th and final stop on the PGA Tour’s “regular season” would be better than the early spring date of the old Greater Greensboro Open? This is the final event in which players can amass points toward making the tour’s playoff process: the FedEx Cup. After the completion of the Wyndham, the top 125 in the points standings – based on their season-long performances and weighted events – will qualify to play in the FedEx St. Jude Championship on Aug. 11-14 just outside Memphis. That starts three weeks of events that whittle down those 125 to a champion, with the top 30 from the BMW Championship advancing to play at the Tour Championship Aug. 21-27 in Atlanta. Patrick Cantlay won in 2021.

Didn’t they use to do this in the fall?

Yes, the PGA Tour revamped its schedule significantly a couple of years ago, moving the PGA Championship from August to May and placing the Wyndham – which had followed the PGA – a little earlier but at season’s end, meaning the more robust entry list. This schedule wraps up the tour competition before Labor Day and avoids golf getting lost in football season, the baseball playoffs and even the NASCAR playoffs. It also clears the way for the biennial Ryder Cup and President’s Cup (which this year will be played Sept. 20-25 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte).

Does being at the end of the schedule help the Wyndham draw a strong field?

Adam Scott gets his green jacket for winning the Masters. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Yes, because there are players jockeying for the last positions among the 125 and others trying to move up in the point standings to be more likely to make the final 30. Anyone in the top 125 can win the title, but being in the top 30 is a must to play in the final event, regardless of what you’ve won. For instance, Cantlay is ranked fifth in a bid to defend his title. The top 10 players have a distinct advantage in the process, but there also is significant bonus money to be had. Every player who continues after the Wyndham will get a $120,000 bonus, and even the next 25 who fail to make the playoffs (Nos. 125-150) get an extra $85,000. But everyone in the top 10 gets at least a $1 million bonus, with No. 1 getting $18 million. Thus the field includes players who have won 10 major championships: Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Zach Johnson (two), Francisco Molinari, Lucas Glover, Simpson and Love (1997 PGA).

Who is likely to win that big prize?

Scottie Scheffler celebrates after putting on the green jacket after winning the 86th Masters golf tournament on April 10 in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, has won four tournaments this year and has a 1,221-point lead over No. 2 Cameron Smith, who recently won the British Open.  That lead would appear safe, but the difference between Smith and Hideki Matsuyama, who is No. 10, is half that: 638 points. Winning the Wyndham is worth 500 points, and Zalatoris, at No. 11, is only 55 points behind Matsuyama. Tony Finau, who won last week, jumped from 17th to 7th. All the second 10 are within 500 points of 10th. By the way, the rest of the top 10 are Sam Burns (3rd), Xander Schauffele (4th), Rory McIlroy (6th), PGA champion Justin Thomas (8th) and another Wake Forest golfer, Cameron Young (9th).

Who is trying to make that top 125?

Well, Simpson dropped a notch last week and is No. 126 entering this week, four points behind former British Open champion Stewart Cink. Nos. 120-124 are (in order) John Huh, Ryan Brehm, Tyler Duncan, Mattias Schwab and Patton Kizzire, all within 21 points of Simpson. But if Simpson were to win this week – as he did once and almost did two other times – and get those 500 points, he could jump all the way into the top 50. That’s within striking distance of the top 30, and you know what happens for the top 30.

Webb Simpson

The final pairing

England’s Nick Faldo and his former caddie Fanny Sunneson pose for a photo on the Swilken Bridge during a ‘Champions round’ as preparations continue for the British Open golf championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, on July 11. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

You likely will be watching to see who makes up the last twosome on Sunday, because that’s usually a strong indicator of who might win (or at least who was leading after the third round). But the real final pairing this Sunday will be above the golfers, up in the broadcast booth behind the 18th green, where former player Nick Faldo is serving as the analyst for his final regular event for CBS, alongside longtime play-by-play star Jim Nantz. Faldo, who won six major championships during his playing days, announced in June that the Wyndham would be his last regular broadcast. He didn’t rule out appearing sometime, but his weekly work on CBS, which broadcasts 20 events, including the Masters and the PGA, and the Golf Channel now ends. Faldo, a Brit, is known for discerning insights and congeniality. Maybe that’s why the queen knighted him.