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BlogGreenbrier Preview and Picks

A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier

September 12th – 15th, 2019

The Old White Course

White Sulphur Springs, WV

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,268

Purse: $7.5 million

with $1,350,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Kevin Na

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 20 of the top 100 and 7 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with one player from the top-10, #10 Bryson DeChambeau.  The other top-100 players in the field include #24 Marc Leishman, #25 Bubba Watson, #34 Kevin Na, #39 Keegan Bradley, #45 Cameron Smith, #48 Byeong Hun An, #54 Jason Kokrak, #56 Sungjae Im, #61 Tom Lewis, #63 J.B. Holmes, #70 Scott Piercy, #79 Sunghoon Kang, #82 Branden Grace, #84 Joaquin Niemann, #85 Russell Knox, #87 Scottie Scheffler, #91 Joel Dahmen, #92 Nate Lashley and #100 Brian Harman.

Last year the field included 8 of the top-50 players from the World Rankings.

The field includes 7 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2019.  Those players are #12 Bryson DeChambeau, #14 Jason Kokrak, #19 Sungjae Im and #24 Marc Leishman.

The field includes five of the eight past champion: Kevin Na (2018), Danny Lee (2015), Ted Potter, Jr. (2012), Scott Stallings (2011) and Stuart Appleby (2010).

Six players in this year’s field have played in every Greenbrier Classic/A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier since its inception in 2010. Those players are Jonathan Byrd, John Daly, Brendon de Jonge, J.J. Henry, Cameron Tringale and Johnson Wagner

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 the 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 A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier

Player Korn Ferry Tour Champ. Tour Champ. Boise Open BMW Champ. Nationwide Children’s The Northern Trust Portland Open Wyndham Champ. Ellie Mae Classic Barracuda Champ. WGC FedEx St. Jude British Open Barbasol Champ.
Viktor Hovland
(179.33 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kramer Hickok
(179.33 pts)
3
(90)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
Scottie Scheffler
(175.33 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jason Kokrak
(175 pts)
DNP 14
(54)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP
Fabian Gomez
(169.33 pts)
2
(100)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP T7
(36.67)
T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
Tom Lewis
(158 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP
Zac Blair
(153.67 pts)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matthew NeSmith
(152 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brandon Hagy
(146.67 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sungjae Im
(130.83 pts)
DNP T19
(46.5)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Mark Hubbard
(128.67 pts)
DNP DNP 4
(80)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Scott Harrington
(123.67 pts)
DNP DNP T43
(7)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Bo Hoag
(123 pts)
T39
(11)
DNP DNP DNP T64
(0)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rob Oppenheim
(113.33 pts)
T33
(17)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 6
(40)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Grayson Murray
(112 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Brehm
(109.33 pts)
T46
(4)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Bronson Burgoon
(107.33 pts)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Anirban Lahiri
(106.67 pts)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Byeong Hun An
(106 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T28
(22)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP
Brendon Todd
(105 pts)
T67
(0)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
Tyler Duncan
(104 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP T30
(20)
DNP T71
(0)
DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP 64
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Marc Leishman
(98.33 pts)
DNP T24
(39)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(45)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
David Hearn
(93.67 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
Tom Hoge
(91.33 pts)
DNP DNP T20
(30)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP 77
(0)
DNP 6
(20)
DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
Cameron Davis
(90.33 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T11
(13)
Harold Varner III
(90 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 68
(0)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Chris Baker
(87 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP T37
(13)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Beau Hossler
(86.67 pts)
DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Robert Streb
(86.67 pts)
DNP DNP T30
(20)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Bryson DeChambeau
(79.33 pts)
DNP T12
(57)
DNP T48
(2)
DNP T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T48
(1)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Joseph Bramlett
(78.33 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
D.J. Trahan
(76.67 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
Richy Werenski
(72.67 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
Billy Hurley III
(70 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP T43
(7)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
Hank Lebioda
(60 pts)
T19
(31)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T78
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T70
(0)
Joaquin Niemann
(57 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T31
(19)
DNP T30
(20)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Lanto Griffin
(57 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Henrik Norlander
(56.33 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Josh Teater
(55.67 pts)
74
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
Cameron Percy
(55 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Maverick McNealy
(54.67 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T48
(1.33)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Harris English
(52.33 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP DNP T29
(7)
Harry Higgs
(50.33 pts)
DNP DNP T11
(39)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kristoffer Ventura
(50 pts)
T56
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Doug Ghim
(48.67 pts)
T19
(31)
DNP T37
(13)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier

Player Korn Ferry Tour Champ. Tour Champ. Boise Open BMW Champ. Nationwide Children’s The Northern Trust Portland Open Wyndham Champ. Ellie Mae Classic Barracuda Champ. WGC FedEx St. Jude British Open Barbasol Champ.
Sebastian Cappelen
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Freddie Jacobson
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T70
(0)
Andrew Novak
(-23.33 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jamie Lovemark
(-23.33 pts)
T67
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tim Wilkinson
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Zack Sucher
(-18 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T71
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
Peter Malnati
(-16.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T73
(0)
Sung Kang
(-16.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T63
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 60
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Nelson Ledesma
(-16.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Morgan Hoffmann
(-16.67 pts)
T67
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Three weeks before the Greenbrier Classic in 2016 a massive storm devastated the Greenbrier Valley. On June 23, 2016, 14 inches of rain fell in a span of 12 hours.  It turned the Greenbrier Valley into something that hasn’t been seen since Noah’s Ark’s was used.  The flooding devastated not only the area but wipe away the golf courses that were a part of the Greenbrier resort.  The floods were so biblical that 26 people in the state of West Virginia lost there lives that day and once the water resided the resort’s Old White course suffered extensive damage and was impossible to fix in such a short length of time.

When things finally dried out, it was determined that a total restoration was needed.  They hired Keith Foster, who does nothing but work on existing clubs in making them better and more playable.  This was not only a big job, but time was short because they had to seed the course before the winter.  At the same time, Foster needed to redo the course with the same Seth Raynor features that it had before the flood.  Along with rebuilding the course, he also updated it by repositioning 20 bunkers which brought the course more to the level of the best players in the world.  It was like redoing the Mona Lisa and making sure that nobody could tell the difference.

Since the renovations, two Greenbrier Classics were played and every player had rave reviews.  It was if the course had been the same for 100 years.

Change of the schedule

When the PGA Tour wanted to shorten the schedule, they knew that between three to five tournaments couldn’t return or had to be shifted.  The first one to get eliminated was the Dell Technologies which was in Boston and part of the FedExCup playoffs.  The original sponsor Deutsche Bank bailed after the 2016 event and Dell Technologies was a stop-gap sponsor.  So they knew this event would go away.  The same with the Quicken Loan, the sponsor was more interested in an event near it’s home in Michigan and the PGA Tour had some interesting offers from the Detroit Golf Club which made that trade-off work.  But for the original folks that ran the Quicken Loan, they became lame ducks when Congressional wiggled out of their commitment and nobody wanted to sponsor a tournament at TPC Potomac, so the Washington D.C. area lost that event.  Down in Houston, Shell ended their 20 year relationship in 2017 with the tournament and for the longest time, the tournament had no sponsor.  It played sponsor-less in 2018 but was dead in the water for 2019.  But they found some short-gap funding and the PGA Tour moved it to the fall schedule, which worked out better for them in being able to afford the event.  The same with Greenbrier, they didn’t really want to spend the money to have a July event and when they saw they could save half of the cost by moving from July to September jumped.  So with that, the tour was able to grow the fall schedule from eight to eleven with the addition of Greenbrier and Houston.  They also added the Bermuda Championship to play as the opposite-field event from the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and Sanderson Farms Championship got full-field status.  One last change saw the CIMB Classic in Malaysia fold up and it’s being replaced by the Zozo Championship in Japan.  The one big move the Safeway Open in Napa which started the schedule is now the third event in with Las Vegas moving up a month behind Napa with the Mayakoba Golf Classic and the RSM Classic pretty much staying put in their same time slot in November.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the fall having three additional events as it now stretches to ten weeks instead of seven weeks.  There is still room for growth, don’t be surprised in the near future when you possibly see an event or two from Australia join the PGA Tour in the near future.

A new class of graduates

Ten days ago another 25 players joined the 25 players who got there PGA Tour cards from the regular Korn Ferry Tour season earners at the start of August.  Of the 50 that earned cards, all 50 of them will play at Greenbrier.  But a sobering fact, of the 50 players that earned PGA Tour cards in 2018, 31 weren’t able to retain their cards and 29 of them had to attend Korn Ferry Tour finals (Sangmoon Bae and Chris Thompson were above 200 in FedEx Cup points and not allowed to attend Korn Ferry Finals).  Of those 29 only five Cameron Davis, Fabian Gomez, Hank Lebioda, Kramer Hickok and Robert Streb were able to retain their cards for 2020 which shows how hard it is to stay on the PGA Tour.

The only ray of good news, in looking at last year’s class of 50, Cameron Champ, Dylan Frittelli and Adam Long did win on the PGA Tour in 2019 but for Champ he only had three top-ten finishes all of them in the fall swing, Adam Long only had one other top-ten and Dylan Frittelli only had one top-ten in his John Deere victory.

The thing everyone will be looking for is who is going to star in 2020?  From the class of 2018, Sungjae Im didn’t win but did have seven top-tens and was 19th in the FedExCup standings.  Lucas Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open but fell on some tough times was 29th in the FedExCup standings with seven top-ten finishes.  After that, it’s a drop to Max Homa at 60 in the FedEx Cup followed by Champ at 62, Frittelli at 63, Wyndham Clark at 64 and Adam Long at 69.  So, in reality, the 2018 class was a bit of a dud.

Of the 2019 class, you can see that without doubt, Viktor Hovland will do well.  He showed it finishing low amateur at the Masters and the U.S. Open and after turning pro at the Travelers finishing T-54th, in his next six professional starts not finishing higher than T-16th.  It’s not about if he will win but how fast Hovland will win.  In a way Hovland will be as hot as Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa was showing that these men that just left college in June will be the PGA Tours next superstars.

I also see the possibility of Scottie Scheffler doing well, he won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019.  The other two time winners Xinjun Zhang, Robby Shelton, and Kristoffer Ventura also have a chance to have a decent year.  One last player to watch in 2020 will be Maverick McNealy, the 23rd old Stanford graduate has shown some potential and after spending two years on the Korn Ferry Tour comes out with plenty of firepower.

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 A Military Tribute At The Greenbrier is an anomaly.  Played in White Sulphur Springs, which is in Greenbrier County, the total population is just 2,463.  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 nine years ago.  Despite having a beautiful 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 wandered our lands millions of years ago.

But this never happened.  Nine 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.   He bought the resort, and 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 businesses 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 in 2010 but for years afterward.  With this significant investment of golf, he has been able to showcase his resort and make it as well known as Pebble Beach was during the U.S. Open or even Kapalua is during the playing of the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

After a decade, 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, despite the move from July to September maybe this event will have a better chance to get better in this date.

For the time being, Justice has very little to do with Greenbrier as he is the governor of West Virginia.

Course information:
  • The Old White TPC
  • White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
  • 7,292 yards     Par 34-36–70

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 initially constructed and opened in 1924 and was redone by Jack Nicklaus in the 70s.  The course that holds the Greenbrier Classic is the Old White Course, course design by C.B. MacDonald and Seth Raynor and opened in 1914.

Now the course was 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 restoration and today plays at 7,292 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 real negative came the first year the event was played.  The course was not severe 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.

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, but he also added and eliminated trees.  He also 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 more robust as the best round in the since 2011 is 61. With the new restoration of the course, it will play a lot tougher this year. Yes, there will be a lot of low scoring again, but I don’t see anyone shooting below a 61 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 was a shot and a half tougher than the first year.  For those wondering, The Old White was the 25th toughest course on the PGA Tour.

In 2014 the scoring average was 70.101 the first time the course played over par.  The Old White was the 26th hardest course on the PGA Tour.  In 2015 they played the tournament in perfect weather, and the scoring was 69.168 the 35th toughest course on tour.

The course played tougher but in the summer of 2016, a couple of weeks before the event was to be played the area was totally destroyed by the West Virginia flood.  Justice hired golf course architect Keith Foster who came in and restored the course to the same level it was before the floods, even making sure the 8th green had it’s “redan” look along with making sure the 13th had the Prestwick “Alps” and the 15th hole had it’s “Eden” look from St. Andrews.

With the year off and reconstruction of the course, in 2017 the course played to a 69.86 average making it the 27th toughest course on tour.  Last year the course played to a 69.31 average making it the 34th hardest course of the year.

So we know that the course is pretty much the way it was before the ’16 flooding.

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:
  • Bryson DeChambeau – $11,100
  • Viktor Hovland – $10,900
  • Jason Kokrak – $10,500
  • Marc Leishman – $10,200
  • Bubba Watson – $10,000
  • Sungjae Im – $9,800
  • Joaquin Niemann – $9.700
  • Scott Piercy – $9,600
  • Byeong Hun An – $9,500
  • Russell Henley – $9,400
  • Scottie Scheffler – $9,300
  • Kevin Na – $9,100
  • Cameron Smith – $9,000

Have to say this, because of the nature of the field with only two top-25 players in the field and a bunch of non-marquee players, the tendency is to avoid them.  It’s hard to justify picking Bryson DeChambeau at $11,100 who hasn’t played that great of late.  The same with Viktor Hovland at $10,900, he has played a total of seven events as a pro, yes he played well last week finishing runner-up in the Korn Ferry Championship but it’s not a PGA Tour event on a course he has never played on.  Frankly to be truthful the winner will be someone that we can’t fathom winning at this point of time.  In the course of the last couple of weeks, all 156 players have worked on their games and worked on their strategy for the upcoming season and we will see someone like Kevin Tway, who won the first event last year at the Safeway Open winning again.

Now Jason Kokrak at $10,500 is a perfect candidate to do well this week, he has worked hard on his game and played well over the summer so maybe with the time off he is ready to go.  Kokrak was T-3rd at Greenbrier last year so yes he is a key on everyone’s radar scope.  Bubba Watson is $10,000 and plays regularly at Greenbrier, he either owns a home or does work for Greenbrier so that is the reason he is here, but to risk that high of a price on him is stupid.  He did finish T-9th at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, but after that missed the cut so I say don’t take him.  Sungjae Im is $9,800 and had a great year in 2019 but he hasn’t played the course so it’s a bit of a gamble.  The one thing you will get from Im is he will get a top-25 finish and does make a fair amount of birdies, who knows maybe it will be his time.  Joaquin Niemann at $9,700 is a better shot, he was T-5th last year at Greenbrier and played well over the summer.  He fits the characteristics of that surprise winner so the money is worth it on him.  Scott Piercy at $9,600 is also a good choice, yes he is high but had a good summer.  Byeong Hun An at $9,500 he has never played at Greenbrier, but he plays well at the Wyndham which is the same type of course.  But I say no to him, is a terrible driver finding it hard to hit fairways but is good in Greens hit and hitting greens from rough.  Also, a poor putter which is his biggest Achilles heal, if he can override that for a week he plays great.  Russell Henley at $9,400 is worth looking at, has played great at Greenbrier, is 34 under in his last 12 rounds including finishing 5th in 2015 & ’17.  Scottie Scheffler at $9,300 is someone to think of, he ended his season with a win at the Nationwide Children, T-11th at Boise and T-7th at Korn Ferry Tour championship. Never played at Greenbrier, but the course is a lot like the course he was runner-up at last week on the Korn Ferry Tour.  Kevin Na at $9,100 showed that his game is great for Greenbrier with the win last year.  His win in May at Colonial is another sign that he can play great on old-style courses.  Last is Cameron Smith at $9,000, he has never played on this course so I say no to him.

*Players in that $7,600 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Harold Varner III at $8,700 is a good choice, played well last year finishing T-5th and ended his year playing well.  Robert Streb at $8,500 is also a very good pick, was T-11th last year, 2nd in 2017 and 2015 at Greenbrier.  Finished the year strongly with a T-3rd at the Barracuda Championship and T-5th at the Nationwide Children’s.  Tom Lewis at $7,900 could be a sleeper pick, he won the Korn Ferry Championship and looked good, that great play could carry over.  Austin Cook is $7,800 and played great last year, in his only Greenbrier start was T-5th. Danny Lee at $7,900 could be a sleeper pick, he played terribly over the summer but has played well at Greenbrier.  Kramer Hickok at $7,700 is also a good gamble, after a terrible rookie year on the PGA Tour broke out with great finishes in the finals, finished T-5th at the Boise Open and 3rd at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.

Some of the “bargains” this week at Greenbrier

This is a tough category mostly because we just don’t know much about these players.  I see a major winner like Jason Dufner at $7,500 and Jimmy Walker at $7,400 but there are good reasons they are cheap, they haven’t played well in a while.  Anirban Lahiri at $7,200 and Henrik Norlander at $7,100 could be good choices just because we don’t know much about them and both have been in contention in tournaments.  Grayson Murray at $6,800 could be a good choice, after a terrible year on the PGA Tour was T-2nd at the Rex Hospital Open and T-7th at the Korn Ferry Tour helping him retain his PGA Tour card for another year.

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

The key stat for the winner:

Only eight 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.  In 2013 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.  Now in 2014 Angel Cabrera ranked T-52nd in scrambling, but it was for a good reason.  That’s because Cabrera led the field in Greens hit so that you can see the reason for the sub-par scrambling rank.  But after that things drastically changed.  In 2015 Danny Lee was T-43rd in greens hit but was not that great of a scrambling, ranking 47th  2017 winner Xander Schauffele was 1st in greens hit and 68th in scrambling (only five worst than him).  In 2018 Kevin Na was 2nd in scrambling after finishing T-34th in greens hit.

So in making your picks look at the scrambling stats for 2019 and see if any of the top players interest you this week.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:
  • I know this event has only been played eight times, but the tournament still hasn’t seen a winner who led after either the first round, the second round or the third round.  It’s been a come-from-behind haven for this event, with no 54-hole leader yet able to close the deal on the final day. Three of the seven winners have come from at least four shots back – Jonas Blixt (2013), Ted Potter Jr. (2012) and Stuart Appleby (2010).  Now for 2011 winner Scott Stallings he was one back of Anthony Kim.   Angel Cabrera in 2014 was two shots back.  In 2017 Schauffele was two back going into the final round, and Danny Lee was one back in 2015.  Last year Kevin Na was a shot back going into the final round and shot a final round 64 to win by a shot.
  • Of the 156 players in the field, only 53 have won on the PGA Tour, and only six 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, Jonas Blixt in 2013, Danny Lee in 2015 and Zander Schauffele 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, look at the 56 players that finished 5th or better in the history of the event.  Of the 56, only 17 of them had won on the PGA Tour.  So this may not be the week for those like Sungjae Im, Jason Kokrak, Viktor Hovland or a Robert Streb.
  • The par 4s are some of the best in the country so playing them well is essential.  Stuart Appleby was 15 under in his 2010 win, Scott Stalling was 3 under in 2011, Ted Potter Jr. was 10 under in 2012,  Jonas Blixt was 4 under in 2013, Angel Cabrera in 2014 was 11 under while in 2015 Danny Lee was 5 under.  Last year Kevin Na played the par 4s the best of any winner at 15 under
  • Is putting important?  For five of the eight champions, it is as Jonas Blixt was first in 2013 while Stuart Appleby ranked 3rd in number of putts while Ted Potter, Jr. was T3rd in 2014, Danny Lee was T-4th in 2015 and Kevin Na was 1st last year.  As for Scott Stallings he was T53rd in 2011, and 2014 winner Angel Cabrera was T-29th.  2017 winner Xander Schauffele was T-49th in putting last year.
  • Weather will play a factor. The tournament will have to dance around a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Some days, the forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms, a late summertime fact of life at White Sulphur Springs.  The worst days will be Saturday.  Temperatures will be in the high 80s each day with high humidity, good news no wind all week.  One thing to remember, this time of year it’s hard to predict the weather because there could be pop-up thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Who to watch for at the A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier

Best Bets:

Viktor Hovland

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Since turning pro after the U.S. Open has only been higher than 13th once in seven pro starts. In his last start was T-2nd at the Albertsons Boise Open which helps earn his PGA Tour card.

Jason Kokrak

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T3 CUT T54 T41 CUT

Was T-3rd last year at Greenbrier. Stats are solid for Old White, in 2019 was T-19th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, 32nd in Greens in Regulation, T-76th in Scrambling and 11th in Birdie Average.

Robert Streb

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T11 2 T2 71 T41

Was T-11th last year, 2nd in 2017 and 2015 at Greenbrier. Finished the year strongly with a T-3rd at the Barracuda Championship and T-5th at the Nationwide Children’s.

Best of the rest:

Bryson DeChambeau

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T14

Other than missing the cut at the PGA Championship and the British Open has been solid since May. Game is suited for Old White as he hits it fairly straight off the tee, hits a good amount of greens and can hold his own around and on the greens.

Sungjae Im

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Had a stunning rookie season, only one to make it to the Tour Championship. Playing at Greenbrier for the first time, ok from tee to green he was 30th in 2019 in Greens in Regulation but his strong suit is scrambling (was 7th last year), putting (was T-38th in putts made inside 10 feet) and T-28th in birdie Average.

Scottie Scheffler

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Ended his season with a win at the Nationwide Children, T-11th at Boise and T-7th at Korn Ferry Tour championship.

Marc Leishman

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT CUT T73 CUT T16

Yes his record is terrible in this event but he hasn’t played since 2015 and is a different player now that back then. Has had bumps in the majors and big events, but on the whole has been very consistent all year and usually plays well in the fall.

Solid contenders

Kevin Na

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
Win T32 T52 T7 T36

Showed that his game is great for Greenbrier with the win last year. His win in May at Colonial is another sign that he can play great on old-style courses. The best part of his game has been putting, ranked 7th in Strokes Gained Putting.

Russell Henley

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
10 T5 5 T30

Has played great at Greenbrier, is 34 under in his last 12 rounds including finishing 5th in 2015 & ’17.

Byeong Hun An

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Has never played at Greenbrier, but he plays well at the Wyndham which is the same type of course. Been consistent on the PGA Tour in 2019

Long shots that could come through:

Fabian Gomez

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T56 CUT T77 T43

After struggling on the PGA Tour ended the season strong on the Korn Ferry Tour finishing T-7th in Portland and runner-up last week in the Korn Ferry Championship which help him retain his PGA Tour card. Started strongly at Greenbrier last year only to finish with rounds of 73-70.

Kramer Hickok

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

After a terrible rookie year on the PGA Tour broke out with great finishes in the finals, finished T-5th at the Boise Open and 3rd at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.

Grayson Murray

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
WD

Ditto for Murray after a terrible year on the PGA Tour was T-2nd at the Rex Hospital Open and T-7th at the Korn Ferry Tour helping him retain his PGA Tour card for another year.

Comments

  1. lholznagel@comcast.net says:

    what do you mean small greens????

  2. The average size of Greenbrier greens is 6,700 square feet which are below the average green size on the PGA Tour.
    Yes I see were you are coming from, they aren’t small like Pebble Beach, still, Greenbrier is below normal.

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