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BlogGreenbrier Preview and Picks

The Greenbrier Classic

July 3 – 6, 2014

The Old White Course

White Sulphur Springs, W.V.

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,287

Purse: $6.5 million

with $1,170,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jonas Blixt

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 11 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with just one player from the top-ten, #3 Bubba Watson. The other top 50 players are #17 Jimmy Walker, #18 Steve Stricker, #25 Keegan Bradley, #29 Patrick Reed, #31 Webb Simpson, #35 Bill Haas, #38 Kevin Na, #45 Chris Kirk, #47 Brendon Todd and #50 Gary Woodland.  Last year this event had 10 top-50 players, the same as this year.

The field includes 9 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2014.  Those players are #1 Jimmy Walker, #2 Bubba Watson, #7 Chris Kirk, #8 Patrick Reed, #10 Brendon Todd, #11 Kevin Na, #15 Webb Simpson, #23 Keegan Bradley and #25 Gary Woodland.

The field includes 8 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list. those players are #1 Bubba Watson, #2 Jimmy Walker, #7 Patrick Reed, #10 Chris Kirk, #11 Brendon Todd, #16 Kevin Na, #17 Webb Simpson and #25 Gary Woodland.

The field includes 9 players that have won 13 events on the PGA Tour this year: Jimmy Walker (Frys.com Open, Sony Open in Hawaii & AT&T Pebble), Webb Simpson (Shriners Hospitals); Chris Kirk (McGladrey Classic); Patrick Reed (Humana & Cadillac); Bubba Watson (Northern Trust & Masters); Chesson Hadley (Puerto Rico); Steve Bowditch (Valspar) J.B. Holmes (Wells Fargo) and Brendon Todd (Byron Nelson).

The field includes all four past champion Stuart Appleby (2010), Scott Stallings (2011), Ted Potter, Jr. (2012) and Jonas Blixt (2013).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Greenbrier Classic field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Greenbrier Classic field in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Greenbrier Classic field.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the The Greenbrier Classic

Player Quicken Loans National BMW Intern. Travelers Championship Irish Open U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Colonial BMW PGA Byron Nelson Open Espana
Brendon Todd
(260 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(66)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP
Keegan Bradley
(184.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T31
(19)
DNP T4
(160)
DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP T29
(7)
DNP
Marc Leishman
(147 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP
Brendon De Jonge
(137 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP T42
(8)
DNP T28
(44)
DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T29
(7)
DNP
Kevin Na
(136 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Ben Martin
(134.67 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Brendan Steele
(130 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Chris Kirk
(121.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(44)
DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP
Jimmy Walker
(121 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP
K.J. Choi
(114.67 pts)
T64
(0)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Carl Pettersson
(110 pts)
T55
(0)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP
Shawn Stefani
(103 pts)
2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP
Bill Haas
(102.67 pts)
T30
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T35
(30)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Steve Stricker
(98 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(58)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Webb Simpson
(90 pts)
T30
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T45
(10)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Billy Hurley III
(87.33 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP T48
(4)
DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Tim Wilkinson
(79.33 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP
Chad Campbell
(71.67 pts)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP T46
(2.67)
DNP DNP DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP
Michael Putnam
(68 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP
Andres Romero
(62.67 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP
J.B. Holmes
(59.33 pts)
T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(66)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T75
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(59 pts)
DNP DNP T31
(19)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tyrone Van Aswegen
(57.67 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP T26
(24)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Chris Stroud
(56 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T69
(0)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP
Andrew Svoboda
(54.67 pts)
T46
(4)
DNP T71
(0)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the The Greenbrier Classic

Player Quicken Loans National BMW Intern. Travelers Championship Irish Open U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Colonial BMW PGA Byron Nelson Open Espana
Chad Collins
(-56.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Mark Wilson
(-53.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T72
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Y.E. Yang
(-53.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Jim Renner
(-53.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP
D.A. Points
(-43.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-20)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Derek Ernst
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Darren Clarke
(-36.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP
Robert Allenby
(-31 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP
Oliver Goss
(-30 pts)
T55
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Wes Roach
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

First we have the withdrawal of Jason Day this week.  We all thought the thumb was ok, but he missed the cut at Congressional and then withdrew from Greenbrier.  We haven’t received official notice (as of Monday morning) of why, just a tweet from a reporter from the Charleston Gazette, which is the main paper reporting this event.  So for the time being we have to wait and hope for the best.

Last week we got Tiger back, and he didn’t play very well.  He did come back from back surgery but still he just didn’t seem into it.  All parts of his game weren’t good, but he has gotten very well in making excuses.  One of them was that the grass at Congressional was different than his home backyard course.  Woods is getting a lot of scrutiny for not making another start before the British Open, in a way I can understand both points of view.  On Tiger’s side, he knows best how to prepare, and I would say more than half of his wins had come when he didn’t play the week before.  Of course Tiger doesn’t help his cause by saying he needs more “reps” or in everyday talk more experience under tournament conditions.  But he contradicts himself by not playing more.  It’s a wicked circle, and I can see both points of view.

I feel that Tiger is getting to the age where physically he isn’t as strong as he was five years ago.  Golf is a strange sport because the next five years should be his prime; that’s the way it is in golf.  But we forget one thing Tiger is entirely different.  Comparing him to say a Phil Mickelson, who has gotten better after 34 is entirely wrong.  Phil wasn’t mentally as tough in his 20s as Tiger was, and that could be a problem.  For a golfer to get better in his late 30s, it’s because he is so much mentally better. Guys like Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson and Vijay Singh learned the mental side of the game late. Thus, they played better.  Tiger couldn’t have been better on the mental side, and frankly that is a flaw on our thinking that Tiger is now hitting his prime.  He may of peaked already, a perfect example is Jack Nicklaus.  He only won three majors and five PGA Tour events in his 40s because frankly he couldn’t get any tougher mentally in his late 30s.

I am not saying that Tiger is never go to win again, he will and he could win a major or two.  But I give him very little chance of winning the four he needs to catch Nicklaus, and I don’t think that Tiger will win more than five events.  He will beat Sam Snead’s victory record but don’t expect many more wins for Tiger in the future.

One last thing, this tournament couldn’t be in better hands than those by its owner Jim Justice. But the reality for this event and the Quicken Loans, when they first started they had star-studded fields but now both struggle to gain marquee names.  That’s the reality of golf in July, the European players are playing on their home tour; American players are getting ready for the British Open, then a quick turnaround for the PGA Championship and the FedEx Cup playoffs.  So it doesn’t surprise me that the field isn’t stellar, it’s just hard to get all of the great players together when they have a U.S. Open, British Open, PGA and FedEx Cup playoffs in a span of 13 weeks.

Talking about the British Open, this will be a great place for four to qualify.  They have to be in the top-20, and the top-four gets the invites.  Of the players in Greenbrier that still haven’t gotten into the British Open are Stuart Appleby, Sang-Moon Bae, Steven Bowditch, Tim Clark, Chesson Hadley, Peter Hanson, J.B. Holmes, Charles Howell III, Davis Love III, Carl Pettersson, Brendon Todd and Vijay Singh.

Tournament information:

Most of the tournaments on the PGA Tour are in major cities across the world.  Of course there are some exceptions to the rule as the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is played in the small community of Kapalua, Maui, the Mayakoba Golf Classic is played in a resort in Mexico, the Puerto Rico Open is in the small town of Rio Grande and the Verizon Heritage is on a small island in South Carolina.  But on the whole most PGA Tour events are played around big cities so that it can draw bigger crowds and getting corporate sponsors easier.

So, in a way, the Greenbrier Classic is an anomaly.  Played in White Sulphur Springs, which is in the Greenbrier County, the total population is just 2,460.  The nearest big city is Roanoke, Virginia if you call 94,000 the population of Roanoke a big city, which is 40 miles from Greenbrier. So the folks that are paying the bills are not looking to attract big crowds to this tournament.

Making things even more intriguing is the fact that the Greenbrier Resort, which has been an American hallmark resort for over 200 years, was almost eliminated just six years ago.  Despite having an elegant facility that catered to big money who liked the reputation of having at least one employee for every guest, in some respects with all of the competition from other resorts the Greenbrier was close to becoming as extinct as some of the dinosaurs that wondered are lands millions of years ago.

But this never happened.  Five years ago when it looked like Marriott was about to buy it, break it up into little pieces and shutter what made this resort famous, a man by the name of Jim Justice came in on a white horse and bought the resort, it’s four courses and 6,500 acres for 20 million dollars by buying the stock of the holding company that owned the debt of the hotel.  It was a bold move by Justice, who was born and bred in West Virginia and is from up the road in Lewisburg.

Now for Justice, $20 million is like pocket change for some of us as he was born to a wealthy family who made their money in coal and farming and Justice made even more money in the 50 business’s that he owns.  But he didn’t stop with spending $20 million, Justice wrote more checks in sprucing up the resort and building the Underground Casino Club that had a star-studded opening this week.

Justice realizes that he needed to promote tourism, and he has gone out of his way big time to do that.  It’s been reported that he spent $80 million on the underground Casino Club and he opened up his checkbook to make sure that the PGA Tour would come to town, not only for this year but for six years.  With this big investment of golf, he will be able to showcase his resort and make it as well know as Pebble Beach was during the U.S. Open or even Kapalua is during the playing of the Hyundai.

After four years, the investment paid off.  The Greenbrier Classic produced a lot of good vibes about the resort and had propelled it to the top of the charts.  The only negative that came out is the field could be better but for many they just love spending fourth of July weekend at the Greenbrier.

Course information:

  • The Old White TPC
  • White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
  • 7,287 yards     Par 35-35–70

Many will remember Greenbrier as the site of the 1979 Ryder Cup matches and the 1994 Solheim Cup matches but both of these were played on the Greenbrier Course, which was originally constructed and opened in 1924 and was redone by Jack Nicklaus in the 70s.  But the course that holds the Greenbrier Classic is the Old White Course, a course design by C.B. MacDonald and Seth Raynor and opened in 1914.

It was the course built at the time for the Old White Hotel, and stood on the grounds between 1858 and 1922.  One of the first golfers to play The Old White was President Woodrow Wilson in April of 1914.  Now many people won’t remember this, but the course first held a PGA Tour event back in 1921 when Jock Hutchison won the White Sulphur Springs Open.  In the 50s, the PGA Tour came back to Greenbrier as in May the Greenbrier Pro-Am was played on the Old White Course as players like Cary Middlecoff, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Dutch Harrison were winners.

The course features generous fairways and challenging, undulating putting greens. Every hole has a distinct and well-defined strategy that allows for either a very challenging approach to the green, or one that has less risk, and a higher chance of success.  Many of the holes were design after famous Scottish holes, the 8th hole was styled after the Redan at North Berwick, the 13th after the Alps at Prestwick and the 15th after the Eden at St. Andrews.

Despite not having a regular tour event, a small pro-am was held on the course and over the years most of the famous players of the last 50 years came to play it.  In 2006, the course went through a restoration and today plays at 7,287 yards and to a par of 70.  The course has two par 5s, both of them on the back nine, and it’s always interesting to see if the course holds up as the best players in the world play it.

The only true negative came the first year the event was played.  The course was not tough enough for the pros of the PGA Tour.  Officials knew it, players knew it and when Stuart Appleby finished his round with three straight birdies to shoot 59 and win the event, the whole world knew that the Old White wasn’t up to snuff for the best players in the world.<P>

So with the approval of Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, who again took out his checkbook the course was closed right after that 2010 event.  With the help of renowned architect Tom Fazio,  all the greens were reseeded, one green is new, and new tees have been added to several holes to stretch the course to 7,287 yards, an additional 256 yards.  Fazio not only lengthened several holes, he added and eliminated trees, reshaped fairway bunkers but more importantly brought in rough in the fairways and made sure that the greens were firmer.

Since then the course has played tougher as the best round in the last three years is 62. Yes, there will be a lot of low scoring again, but I don’t see anyone shooting below a 62 with the changes, and I can’t see low scoring.  To show you the difference, the first year the scoring average was 68.536, shot and a half under par.  In 2013, the scoring average was 69.868 which is just a notch below par meaning the course is a shot and a half tougher than the first year.  Or for those wondering, The Old White was the 25th toughest course on the PGA Tour.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Greenbrier Classic:

Key stat for the winner:

Only four events have been played and in looking at the winners, one stat stands out.  That is scrambling which makes sense since the greens at Old White are small and if you miss the green it’s tough to get it up and down.  In 2010 Stuart Appleby was 2nd, getting it up and down 14 of the 15 greens missed.  In 2011 Scott Stallings didn’t do well in that stat but runner-up Bill Haas was second getting it up and down 18 of the 22 greens he missed.  In 2012 Ted Potter, Jr. won the event ranking 9th in scrambling, getting it up and down 16 of 20 times.  Last year Jonas Blixt got it up and down 19 of 24 tries, ranking T-3rd.   So look at those that have done well in scrambling this year to do well this week.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Of the 156 players in the field, only 69 have won on the PGA Tour and only 16 have won a major.  So this could be the week to shine, as was the week for Scott Stallings in 2011, Ted Potter, Jr. in 2012 and Jonas Blixt last year.  Look for that eager player ready to finally break out and win for the first time.
  • Going on the theme that no wins could be an advantage at the Greenbrier, just look at the 27 players that finished 5th or better in the history of the event.  Of the 27, only 9 of them had won on the PGA Tour.  So this may not be the week for those like Phil Mickelson or a Bubba Watson.
  • The par 4s are some of the best in the country so playing them well is important.  Stuart Appleby was 15 under in his 2010 win, Scott Stalling was 3 under in 2011, Ted Potter Jr. was 10 under in 2012 and Jonas Blixt was 4 under in 2013.
  • Is putting important?  For three of the four champions it is as Jonas Blixt was first last year while Stuart Appleby ranked 3rd in number of putts while Ted Potter, Jr. was T3rd in 2012.  As for Scott Stallings he was T53rd in 2011.
  • Weather will play a factor.  The weather has been dry the last week in the White Sulphur Springs area so the course will be firm and fast.  It will be steamy this week with high humidity and temperatures in the mid-80s.  Also like it is this time of year there could be pop-up thunderstorms in the afternoon.

 

 

Who to watch for at the The Greenbrier Classic

Best Bets:

Jimmy Walker

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T2 CUT T4 T4

Has been knocking on the door in this event, could be a great week for him.

Bill Haas

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T9 T33 T2

Looked good last week and has a great record in this event.

Kevin Na

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T7 T36

Has played great of late, played well here in 2912, this could be his week. Also ranks third in scrambling on the PGA Tour in 2014.

Best of the rest:

Webb Simpson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T41 T7 T9 CUT

Good course for him, watch him could sneak up the leaderboard.

Marc Leishman

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T73 CUT T16

Been playing great of late, can scramble and fits the mold of the other Greenbrier winners.

Patrick Reed

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
CUT

Looking to come back after his terrible final round at Congressional.

Brendon Todd

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T46

Watch him, high up in scrambling stat and playing well.

Solid contenders

Bubba Watson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T30

Could be a tough course for him but is a good scrambler.

Ted Potter, Jr.

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T6 Win

Has missed four of his last five cuts but look at how poorly Kevin Streelman was playing before he won Travelers. All you need to know is that Potter plays well here.

Andres Romero

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T41 CUT T4

Played well last week and finished T-4th here in 2011.

Steve Stricker

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T22

Hasn’t shown us much in 2014 but he could surprise us, know he is getting ready for next week.

Long shots that could come through:

Steven Bowditch

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T2 CUT T18

Watch him, was 2nd last year and has a win already in 2014.

Daniel Summerhays

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T9 5 CUT

Has two top-tens including a 5th last year.

Davis Love III

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10
T9 T17 CUT T60

Would be great to see him shine one more time on a great old course.

Comments

  1. alex munro says:

    Tiger needs to start playing events he rarely if ever he goes to. who knows this back op may do the trick, look at Deleat who had the same op but took a year off.

  2. Tiger is too scared to play outside his comfort level. The only new events he adds is either through personal relationships, like he did a couple of years ago playing in Greenbrier which was a favor to the owner of that Tournament Jim Justice who had some business relationship with Tiger. Also Tiger will play anyplace if you give him jet fuel and $2 million dollars. That’s why he played in Turkey last year.
    We should treat Tiger as Derek Jeter, I don’t think that Tiger has many more years left in competitive golf. We in the media learned an important lesson about Tiger when he didn’t show up for the Champions dinner at the Masters, the true facts are that golf is a business for Tiger and when he realizes that he can’t stay competitive he will disappear from the landscape in retirement and won’t show up anyplace.
    Tiger is a modern day Ben Hogan.

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