The Greenbrier Classic
Defending Champ: Danny Lee
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The Greenbrier Classic Picks: Show Index
The Greenbrier Classic Field
156 Players| Top 70 & Ties Make the Cut
The Open is now less than three weeks away and most of the world’s top players have already started migrating overseas in preparation for the year’s third Major. You’re going to see some elite golfers tee it up this week in Ireland at Rory’s tournament, and even more in Scotland seven days later. On the PGA TOUR? It’s a few names you’ve heard of, and a bunch of dudes trying to qualify for Royal Birkdale.
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Kyle Stanley not only banked a million-plus and a TOUR exemption with his playoff win over Charles Howell III, he earned a birth into The Open along with it. As did CH3, Martin Laird, and Sung Kang with their finishes. The Open qualification series continues the next two weeks on TOUR too. The three top finishers (who have not previously qualified) at the Greenbrier Classic will get a non-paid vacation to England, while there’s a lone invitation waiting next week at the John Deere Classic. In all, the Qualifying Series is being contested across 15 events in 10 countries. 44 spots in The Open are available in tournaments held on the PGA, EURO, Australasia, Asian, Japan, and Sunshine tours.
Fortunately for most the “big” names in the field, they’ve already earned their spot at Birkdale, so there will be no extra pressure on Patrick Reed, Bill Haas, Kevin Kisner, or Phil Mickelson. Yes, those the are top ranked names in this field. Exciting times! The mid-tier is comprised of solid PGA TOUR regulars and a few formerly great players in the midst of an awful season: David Lingmerth, Webb Simpson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, JB Holmes, Howell, Si Woo Kim, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Streelman, Russell Henley, and defending champ Danny Lee.
The Greenbrier Classic Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green
Par 4 Birdies or Better
Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 3 Efficiency 200-225 Yards
The Greenbrier Classic Course
The Old White TPC | 7,286 Yards | Par 70
Remember last year’s Greenbrier Classic? LIAR!!!! With the massive flooding in West Virginia, the 2016 Greenbrier Classic was the first PGA TOUR event cancelled and not rescheduled since the 2009 Sanderson Farms Championship. So again, LAIR!!!! The Old White TPC incurred extensive damage from the flooding and it was determined the course was beyond reasonable repair in the short time frame to host an event. If you’re worried about comparing the course to previous years, it appears like it’ll play somewhat similarly, at least from a Tee-to-Green perspective, but with a few tweaks to the layout and a complete overhaul of the greens and grass type. From the Greenbrier Classic media guide…
After the flood, the golf course was closed and completely restored by noted architect Keith Foster. While the routing plan and hole concepts were retained, every green complex was rebuilt. New grasses were introduced to the greens, fairways and bunkers faces, while trees were selectively thinned to reintroduce unbelievable views and sight lines not seen for decades.
So, beyond the greens, the modifications seem more aesthetic than anything. A quick glance at the scorecard reveals the course will play almost exactly the same length, and no holes have been altered from a design standpoint. If a player previously had a great feel for shot shaping at The Old White, it doesn’t appear as if that will be affected. If they only did well because of the flat stick, that could pose problems. The putting surfaces will now be comprised of V8 bentgrass and T-1 bentgrass will make up the fairways.
Greenbrier’s massive fairways afford deeper hitters an opportunity to hit a lot wedges into the greens while also limiting the damage one can do to themselves off the tees. I mean, I say that now, but I’m sure Jimmy Walker will find a way to shank an errant drive into the Greenbrier Casino at some point. The Old White TPC sports the easiest fairways to hit on the schedule and the shortest proximity to the hole of any course not played during the swing season. If you’re looking for comparable results and field strength, check out the Safeway Open leaderboard, you’ll see a lot of crossover.
Generally speaking, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green is the premier predictive stat every week, but based on past history, it’s even more prevalent at The Old White TPC. A combination of SG: T2G and Par 4 Birdie or Better Percentage will prove to be the most telling numbers. Also, three of the Par 3s play over 200 yards, and there has been a direct correlation between success at the Greenbrier Classic and strokes gained from that particular range. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of holes from that distance each week, and Par 3s have such unique designs, success on one may not one equal success on another. Especially if you’re looking at how players have fared recently. However if you’re curious to mess around and figure out who’s been great from that range, I suggest setting your own limits and giving it a look.
With scoring expected in the mid-to-high 260s, targeting a few recent Web.com Tour grads may not be the worst idea; victory at TPC Old White will akin to winning those birdie fests. In 2015, the Greenbrier Classic yielded the 8th most birdies of any event that season (of 52 courses).
The Greenbrier Classic Picks (Yahoo Game)
*I’m on holiday, so you’re getting the Cliff Notes version. Deal with it.*
Bill Haas & James Hahn – Haas has two T10s in five career starts, with four straight finishes inside the T25 overall entering play… HHHAAAAAHHHHNNNNNNNNN’s upside will be dictated by his putter. Much like we said about Kyle Stanley all season. He’s 17th in SG: T2G in his past 12 rounds, and has been one of the top Par 4 scorers in the field over his past 24 rounds.
Danny Lee, Webb Simpson, Jimmy Walker & Harris English – Lee’s the defending champ and comes in playing his best golf since that win two years ago. He’s made six cuts in a row with three Top 10s in that stretch… Sandwiched in between MC’s at the Greenbrier Classic, Webb has three Top 10s in his six career appearances at the Old White… Walker has an excellent history at the venue, he simply needs to get his whole game on one page. In a field of scrubs, it’s difficult to pass on his elite upside… English has a sneaky chance to win this week. In his past 12 rounds he’s second in SG: APP, 12th SG: ATG, 2nd in putting…… and 152nd of 156 in this field Off-The-Tee. Hopefully the easy-to-hit fairways afford him the ability to put the remainder of his game to good use.
Tony Finau & Sean O’Hair – Finau’s made nine of ten cuts, crushes Par 4s, and now gets to deal with fairways you can land an aircraft carrier on. After missing out on my boy Stanley last week, I refuse to the let same happen with Finau… O’Hair does everything pretty well across the board, then laps everyone on the Par 4s. He’ll live and die with his putter, something that’s been showcased at this event over the years – T13/MC/MC/T7.
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