The Greenbrier Classic
The Old White TPC
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
The Old White TPC
Par: 70 (34-36)
Greens: Bentgrass; 7,000 square feet on average.
Rough: 3” Kentucky bluegrass
Water Hazards: 10
Course Architect: C.B. MacDonald (1914); Lester George (2001-2006); C.B. MacDonald and Sons (2010-2011)
Winner’s Share: $1,170,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Jonas Blixt held off four players to win by two shots.
Dates: July 3-6
Notes: The top four players inside the top 12 who are not currently eligible for The Open Championship will punch their ticket to The Open at Hoylake. Last week Shawn Stefani, Charley Hoffman, Ben Martin and Brendan Steele qualified.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 23 of 33 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane and Kevin Streelman have won for the USA.
Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Hideki Matsuyama and Seung-yul Noh are the Asian representatives and Justin Rose has joined Martin Kaymer as the only European winners.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd and Hideki Matsuyama are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had nine in 33 events in 2014.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35) and Justin Rose, 33, add to the prime-timers trophy case. All of them have had previous TOUR victories.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22) are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season. Stewart Cink, 41, continued his steady cut-making ways and horse-for-course form at CCC with T21, the best of the “Old Guys” last week.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
Course history around these parts can be quite tricky. Stuart Appleby shot 22-under-par, 258 to win in 2010 and closed with 59. In 2011, Scott Stallings won on 10-under. That makes sense, right!?!
Ted Potter, Jr. won on 16-under in 2012 and Jonas Blixt posted 13-under last year. That’s at least in the same neighborhood.
In 2010, there were 46 players who put all four rounds in the 60s.
In 2011, there were 0 players who put all four rounds in the 60s.
In 2012, there were 14 players who put all four rounds in the 60s.
Last year, just seven players achieved this.
In the last two seasons the field has played this tournament under par on average.
In 2012, it ranked the 27th hardest (of 49 courses used) on TOUR.
In 2013, it ranked 25th hardest (of 43 courses used) on TOUR.
Remember, after Stuart Appleby tore the place to shreds in 2010, the course was “fixed up” to make it play tougher.
There’s a reason two of the four winners have been first-timers.
Plenty of birdies and nobody really has an advantage because it’s only been in the rotation, in this form, since 2011.
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14.
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
Jeff Overton joined the club on players to get beat by a 59 on Sunday in 2010 by Stuart Appleby.
Inside the Ropes
C.B. MacDonald created this course for the movers and shakers of government and society in years just before World War I so there’s plenty of history around these parts. His original design included generous fairways and severely contoured greens. Sounds like modern day Jack Nicklaus design to me except the greens, due to the severity of the undulations, must be kept at a rational, playable 10.5’ on the Stimpmeter so rounds don’t take seven hours.
As gamers have noticed over the four years, there are hardly any trends that have developed so form will be my greatest guide this week.
I can’t look back in 2010 when 46 guys put ALL FOUR ROUNDS in the 60s and compare that to last year where only seven players accomplished that feat.
Jeff Overton has the tournament record with 25 birdies. He didn’t win.
Jonas Blixt needed 21 of them to win last year as he fired 13-under-par.
Stuart Appleby won a title here firing 59 on Sunday. He was 22-under.
Scott Stallings beat Bob Estes and Bill Haas in a playoff.
Ted Potter, Jr., beat Troy Kelly in a playoff.
Jonas Blixt held off Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones and Johnson Wagner last year.
I’ve learned over the last four years that this is a tournament where most chalk goes to die. Webb Simpson had a four-shot lead two years ago and evaporated on Sunday. Woods missed the cut here in 2012. Mickelson missed his last two here. Bubba Watson’s best finish is T30. Steve Stricker’s is T22.
The lack of consistency in the setup and the relative newness of the redesign make this a difficult week for gamers. The pros will go out in 34 without any par fives before coming home in 36 with both par fives in play. Their rounds will end on the par-three 18th. Everything about this event is different as families’ join the players on this resort where there are a billion things to do. It almost seems like the players are distracted by the surroundings as opposed to the happenings on the golf course. Watch out for the unmarried without children this week!
With only two par fives in play, birdies will be required on those holes and par-four scoring will be in play. As I stated above, plenty of birdies and the avoidance of bogeys is never a bad combo either. With greens stretching upwards of 7,000 square feet I’d keep my eye on above average putters as well!