Inside the Ropes
The Greenbrier Classic
The Old White TPC, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
The Old White TPC
Par: 71 (34-36)
Average green size: 7,000 square feet
Stimpmeter: 10.5 ft.
Water Hazards: 10
Course Architect: C.B. MacDonald (1914); Redesign: PGA TOUR Design 2010-2011; Redesign Builder: MacDonald and Sons 2010-2011
Notes: Bentgrass/Poa annua fairways; Bentgrass greens; Kentucky Bluegrass rough
Winner’s Share: $1,098,000 and 500 FedExCup points
Defending Champion: Scott Stallings defeated Bob Estes and Bill Haas on the first playoff hole to claim his first TOUR victory
Date: July 5-8
Notes: This is year three of The Greenbrier Classic. There was a course redesign between 2010 and 2011.
The Greenbrier Classic was won in 2010 by Stuart Appleby who finished 22-under-par 258. Appleby shot 59, a la David Duval, in the final round to beat Jeff Overton by a shot.
The Greenbrier Classic was won in 2011 by Scott Stallings who finished 10-under-par 270 after the course was redesigned and returned to its original architecture. What a difference a year makes. In 2010, 10-under would have gotten you T45.
Forty-six players posted all four rounds in the 60’s in 2010; Zero accomplished that feat last year.
Last year, The Greenbrier Classic had one player in the OWGR top 15 and six from the top 50. This year, there are four players from the top 15 and 14 of the top 50.
Scott Stallings and Stuart Appleby have not had a top 10 this season.
The only two players to finish top 10 in the first two Greenbrier Classics are Brendon de Jonge (third, 2010, T4, last year) and Jimmy Walker (T4 both years).
Classic Charles Howell III stat: At the 2010 Greenbrier Classic, CH III played 72 holes of bogey-free golf and didn’t win. He was the first person on TOUR to “accomplish” this since Bubba Watson in 2006 (Chrysler Classic of Tuscon).
Young Guns versus Middle Guns versus Old Guns
In 28 events on TOUR in 2012, the “Young” folks and the “Middle” folks are now all knotted-up at 13-13-2 after Tiger Woods’ third victory of 2012 last week at AT&T National. Woods broke up a three-tournament streak of “Young” folks winning. The “Old” folks have two wins on TOUR this season.
For the “Young”, age during their victory in ( ), Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker (31), Kyle Stanley (24), Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan TWICE (29) Rory McIlroy (22), Justin Rose (31), Rickie Fowler (23), Dustin Johnson (27), Webb Simpson (26) and now Marc Leishman (29) are your winners.
The victorious “Middle” guys are Mark Wilson (37), George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods THRICE (36), Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34), Matt Kuchar (33), Jason Dufner TWICE (35) and Zach Johnson (36).
Steve Stricker (44) and Phil Mickelson (41) are the only “Old” guys to hit the board in 2012.
So What? So Let’s Dance!
The Greenbrier's original of three courses, the re-named The Old White TPC, will host the third Greenbrier Classic. Originally designed by Charles Blair MacDonald in 1914, The Old White TPC has been restored to its original design by Lester George since the inaugural Greenbrier Classic in 2010. In addition to the restoration, the course now measure 7,274 yards, an increase of 243 yards from 2010. Source: PGA TOUR Media
The Old White TPC, the first 18-hole golf course at The Greenbrier, opened in 1914. A legend of Greenbrier golf history, the course was named for the well-known Old White Hotel, which stood on the grounds from 1858 to 1922. President Woodrow Wilson was one of the first golfers to play The Old White TPC Course in April of 1914. This historic course features generous fairways and challenging, undulated greens. Charles Blair Macdonald, a dominant figure in the early history of American golf, designed the course and modeled several holes from some of the most famous European holes. The Old White TPC’s No. 8 was styled after the Redan at North Berwick; No.13 after the Alps at Prestwick; and No.15 after the Eden at St. Andrew's. Sam Snead shot his final hole-in-one on The Old White TPC’s No. 18 in 1995. From 2001-2006, Lester George restored The Old White TPC Course. His restoration brought back many of the original features of this C.B. Macdonald masterpiece. Source: GCSAA
Originally played the week after the RBC Canadian Open at the end of July, the Greenbrier Classic now moves to the first full week of July. After destroying the course in the inaugural event, the course became a TPC course and played significantly tougher in 2011. Fairways were narrowed and the greens were restored to their original design and the scores plummeted. The Old White TPC will favor ball-strikers that will find fairways and greens. It will be interesting to see how the players who teed it up last week adjust to the slower (10.5 this week versus 14.5) green-speeds this week. The rough is a bit shorter but after rain over the weekend it will be interesting to see how high they grow it for this week. Will this be another week of chalky-chalk-chalk or will another Scott Stallings emerge as a first-time winner? Let’s find out!
The 15 players who I think will make the most noise, as always, in order.
Tiger Woods: Um, er, well, eh…If he won last week, surely he can win this week. I was surprised, but not shocked, that Woods signed up to play the Greenbrier Classic. He remarked at the end of last year that he was looking to tee it up in unfamiliar surroundings to expand his palette. Having Woods and Phil Mickelson in the same event that doesn’t involve a major or pseudo-major just seems weird. Anyhow, Woods has won three of his last seven events yet I think the four “other finishes” have been more criticized than his three wins have been praised. It’s the way the “Tiger” world works. I believe Woods will play well this week because he’s hitting the ball so well and if this is a “shot-makers” course, well, he kinda qualifies for that as well.
Webb Simpson: The reigning U.S. Open champion will play in his last event until after his wife, due later in July, gives birth. Knowing that he has absolutely no pressure on him, I would expect one final flourish from Simpson before his hiatus. He’s now had a week off to reflect and relax after playing the week immediately the U.S. Open so I believe he’ll be mentally sharp and physically sharp. He leads the TOUR in par-four birdie-or-better conversion percentage which will come in handy this week.
S.Y. Noh: The young Korean has taken up residence in this column because he’s made nine-consecutive cuts and hit the top seven twice in his last three events. His eight-consecutive rounds under-par streak came to a halt on Sunday at Congressional but his final round 73 saw him share fourth place for his best finish ever on TOUR. He’s 33rd in ball-striking and 37th in total putting so whatever Sean Foley is doing is helping him as well as Mahan and that Woods guy. If Scott Stallings won here last year, there is no question that Noh can be “yes” in 2012.
Dustin Johnson: After his win at the FESJC in Memphis, Johnson has now followed that with MC (U.S. Open) and T44 last week (AT&T National). It’s not great but there is no question in my mind that Johnson has the talent to contend every time he tees it up on TOUR. He’s long, accurate and a solid iron player. This is a week that his hot-and-cold putter will not have to carry his weight as maybe they would have had to at Olympic Club and Congressional. Par-70 at 7,274 yards won’t bother Johnson one bit and neither will be the slightly-slower greens, running at just 10.5.
Cameron Tringale: Another solid ball-striker is added to the list this week as Tringale combines that with excellent putting. He looked like he was ready to get back on the top 10 train two weeks ago at the Travelers as he finished with 64 to finish T15. In round two last week at Congressional he posted a second round 65 to move into contention before he faded on the weekend with 76-76. Tringale obviously likes The Old White TPC as he missed the three-man playoff by just a single shot last year as he was T4.
Jim Furyk: Coming off a tough loss at the U.S. Open and his second-worst finish of 2012 at Congressional, Furyk will probably get lost this week with Woods and Mickelson showing up. I like Furyk even more when single-digits look to be a good score for theweek. Furyk couldn’t buy a GIR or a putt last week but still finished a respectable T34. On par-70 courses this year, Furyk has finished MC, P2, T8, fourth and T4.
John Huh: Last week made it three times in his last four starts that the rookie has cracked the top 19 on TOUR. Huh now has nine finishes in the top 25 on his 13 made cuts in 2012 and that includes four visits to the top 10. Not bad for a rookie who has hardly played any of these courses more than a handful of times. Huh tees it up this week for the 19th time in 2012 and his solid ball-striking and top 10 putting will once again find him up the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
Brendon de Jonge: One of the most interesting things I heard during the telecast on Sunday was David Feherty relaying de Jonge’s comment late in the fourth round about Woods and the galleries. He said something to the effect of “how does he deal with this every round?” Well, de Jonge had a front-row seat to the pressures of playing in the final group on Sunday with the biggest player in golf and that can’t possibly hurt him moving forward. Since back-to-back MC at Transitions and API, de Jonge has rattled off 11-straight cuts made. He’s now 17 for 20 in 2012 and has had two of his best three finishes in the last two weeks as he was T11 (AT&T) and T8 (Travelers). He has been knocked, rightly so, for his final round scoring in the past and last week that ghost came back as he fired 77 on Sunday to lose his 54-hole lead. For the record, de Jonge has a 64 and a pair of 66’s on Sunday this year as well so he has shown improvement. The good news for de Jonge is he loves The Old White TPC in whatever style it’s played. In 2010 he finished 17-under for third alone and last year he was nine-under to T4. His current form combined with his course history makes this the second-easiest projection for me this week.
Phil Mickelson: Mickelson fired 79 before WD at the Memorial and then backed that up with four rounds over par at the U.S. Open in his last two outings on TOUR. There has been plenty of speculation on the interweb about how and why both Mickelson and Woods are here this week but if anyone needs some “reps”, it’s probably Mickelson. Gamers should take solace in the fact that Scott Stallings won here last year after finishing T54 in fairways hit and that’s been Mickelson’s biggest weakness recently. I have a hard time leaving Mickelson out when only 14 of the world’s top 50 players are here this week. Very rarely does he have three bad starts in a row.
Jimmy Walker: In his first tournament since MC at FESJC, Walker looked like Woods in his first two rounds at Congressional as he made six birdies to only one bogey before the cut on Friday. The weekend found the late-arriving rust from not playing in three weeks as Walker turned around and made 15 bogeys and six birdies on the weekend to see him finish T32. The Old White TPC will be an encouraging site for Walker as he looks to emulate his past two performances here. In 2011 and 2010 Walker finished T4. Last year Walker also struggled to hit fairways but backed that up finishing T2 GIR. Walker, known for his putting, also struggled on the greens last year yet still finished in the top five.
Steve Stricker: In his last three events, Stricker has finished +6 (MC, THE PLAYERS), +6 (T50, Memorial) and +6 (T15, U.S. Open). GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! The good news is that each week has gotten better and he’s getting his game ready to defend his championship at The John Deere coming up next week. Stricker’s putter hasn’t been cooperating in 2012 but he’s still pegging fairways and GIR so that makes him dangerous.
Jeff Overton: After a miserable May that saw Overton MC in three-consecutive events has slowly turned the corner in June and early July. Overton has finished his last three events T38 (Memorial), T13 (FESJC) and T22 last week at Congressional. The one common denominator holding Overton back is the one “bad” round of tournament. At the Memorial, it was a third-round 78; at FESJC, it was a second-round +2 72; at Congressional he opened with 79 (+8) before playing the final three rounds six-under par. Overton has bittersweet memories at The Old White TPC. In 2010, he entered the final round looking for his first-career TOUR victory only to be “59ed” by Stuart Appleby. He finished T49 on the “new” design last year so he’s familiar with the track.
Greg Owen: Owen has now made five cuts on the bounce since missing out at WFC in early May. His last three starts have seen him finish T9, T11 and T17 last week at Congressional. Owen is 22nd on TOUR in ball-striking and that’s where he finds success. He’s eighth in GIR so his putting numbers are high so don’t let that fool you, especially on a course where GIR is more important than putting. I’m going with the hot hand here.
Pat Perez: In his last five starts, Perez has only finished outside the top 29 once so he’s another player that is looking to put all four rounds together and contend. Two years ago, in his only start here, he finished T9. Solid ball-striking (27th)? Check. Solid GIR (44th)? Check. Solid putting (24th total putting)? Check. Again, I have no problem riding a guy on solid streak.
Jon Byrd: Outside of the WGC’s (T33, T35) and the majors (T27, Masters; T56 U.S. Open) Byrd, when making the cut (seven times) has finished T12 or better in six of those appearances. His only finish outside of the top 12 was at the Transitions where he finished 73rd. He’s made six cuts in a row and has been playing excellent golf. His excellent short game is where his strength lies and that will be on full display this week.
--Guys that might not jump off the page but are worth a look this week.
Brian Harman: After missing the cut on the number at the U.S. Open Harman has played some solid golf, including a closing-round 67 (T low round on Sunday) last week at Congressional. The final round vaulted him to T11 and coming off his T24 at the Travelers, Harman is in excellent form. His T11 is his best finish in 13 made cuts (20 events) in 2012. It’s “heat-check” week for Harman!
Daniel Summerhays: Summerhays caught my attention after his T4 at Memorial in early June. He came back after a mini-break to MC at the Travelers before finishing T17 last week at AT&T National. Currently 20th on TOUR in ball-striking, including 13th GIR, Summerhays will hope this course plays as tough as Memorial and Congressional this week.
Chris Stroud/Roberto Castro: I’ll give you a “horse for course” and an excellent ball-striker to choose from this week. I combined the two because I am not sure where Stroud is physically after having to WD during the heat on Saturday at Congressional. What I do know is that he can really putt it and he likes The Old White TPC as he’s finished T18 (2011) and T9 (2010) in his two starts here. Castro has made the cut in six of his last seven starts dating back to WFC in early May and is an excellent ball-striker. He currently sits 12th in ball-striking and 10th in total driving so he’ll have no problem getting it around this week. His main question will be getting it in the hole as he has made 12 of 16 cuts but only has graced the top 25 twice. He’s been on this list before…
Lost in the Wilderness
Bill Haas: Maybe THIS week will be the return to form for Bill Haas! He finished P2 here last year but that, and his win at Riviera, seem like ages ago as Haas has MC in four of his last six events. His other two finishes in that span include T25 (THE PLAYERS) and T55 (CPIC). Those numbers don’t exactly inspire confidence this week but if he is going to break out, this week would make sense. I’m not willing to “hope” that happens based on where I would have to pick Haas this week in most drafts.
Spencer Levin: After his final round collapse (again; WMPO) at the Memorial, Levin has missed his last three cuts on TOUR. In those events, he has not broken or matched par. He has played his last seven rounds over-par. Levin has been steady this year, making 13 of 20 cuts, but his recent form pushes me away this week.
K.J. Choi: No, thanks. I can’t figure him out. Your turn! I fade him, he finishes T19, T15. I tout him, he misses the cut by a mile. He shouldn’t be on either list due to his inconsistent play.
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: The Greenbrier Classic (Glass’s Picks)
Group 1: Tiger Woods
Group 2: S.Y. Noh
Group 3: Greg Owen
Group 4: Chris Couch
Ned said, “…
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Now, Ned also provides us with his Golf Channel fantasy game selections as well!
Full Disclosure: I am NOT Ned! He’s smarter and better looking!
Steve Stricker-- A tossup for me between Furyk and Stricker this week. I'm giving Stricker the nod because he is coming off of a T15 at the U.S. Open and I didn't like the way Furyk played last week.
Webb Simpson-- He followed up his U.S. Open victory with a T29 at the Travelers. I expect him to again contend on a course that he tied for ninth place last year.
Jim Furyk, Charles Howell III, Phil Mickelson
Tiger Woods-- Last week he picked up his 74th TOUR title and his second win in his last three starts. This is his first time at the Greenbrier, but he is so hot that it's hard to fade him.
Dustin Johnson-- Like Woods, Johnson is a first time player at the Greenbrier. He won a month ago at the St. Jude and he hasn't gotten anything going since then. I'm taking him because he should at least make the cut and then I can shots with my next two picks.
Brenden de Jonge-- It is a learning process how to win on the TOUR and de Jonge got a lesson on Sunday when he carded a 6-over-par 77 to fall from the lead into a tie for 11th place. His record at the Greenbrier is very good with a T3 in '10 and a T4 last year.
Jimmy Walker-- Another player that was playing well last week and then had his problems on the weekend. He also has a great record at the Greenbrier with a pair of T4 results in the tournament's two year history.
Andres Romero, Brandt Snedeker, Marc Leishman, Ken Duke, Scott Stallings
Jeff Overton-- His game is coming around right now. His T22 last week at the AT&T National was impressive because he rallied after opening the tournament with an 8-over-par 79. He tied for 49th place here last year, but the year before that he finished in solo second place.
Jonathan Byrd-- It's very tough call between Byrd and Pat Perez. Byrd was one of the hotter players on the TOUR prior to the U.S. Open and Perez seems to rounding in form, plus he finish here in '10 with a T9. I'm going with Byrd as a personal preference, but I might eventually switch back to Perez.
Pat Perez, Cameron Tringale, john Huh, Harris English, Carl Pettersson
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: The Greenbrier Classic (Ned’s Picks)
Group 1: Tiger Woods
Group 2: Brendon de Jonge
Group 3: Pat Perez
Group 4: Patrick Cantlay
“And another thing…”
The analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat with GolfChannel.com's Ryan Ballengee on Tuesday at NOON, ET. They will be breaking down the field at the John Deere Classic and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.