The great John Denver used to sing ‘country roads take me home to the place I belong, West Virginia’.
And with that we head to White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia for the fourth edition of The Greenbrier Classic being played at The Old White TPC.
The Greenbrier Classic has replaced the Buick Open and had its inaugural event in 2010. It was won by Aussie Stuart Appleby on -22 with Jeff Overton finishing second at -21 and Brendon de Jonge in third place at -17. The course was rated second easiest from the 14 Par 70’s played on the tour.
In 2011 it was lengthened from 7031 to 7272 yards with 16 holes undergoing changes while all 18 greens were reseeded with bentgrass. Scott Stallings won his first PGA tour event after finishing on -10 and winning a play off against Bob Estes and Bill Haas.
Last year saw Ted Potter Jnr win his first PGA Tour event. He defeated Troy Kelly on the third playoff hole after finishing on -16 together.
The course is a Par 70 with 72 sand bunkers and 10 water hazards. The Purse this year is US$6.3M with the winner taking home $1,134,000.
Looking at the results from the last three years the course suits a player who plays well tee to green and is a good putter as the greens are undulating and can be difficult to read. It is always difficult to go off three years of stats when a tournament is still in its infancy. Players in good current form are always a safe way to go as well.
The Top 5 in betting are:- 14/1 Phil Mickelson, 16/1 Bubba Watson, 16/1 Webb Simpson, 22/1 Bill Haas and 28/1 Graham DeLaet.
Joining these guys in the field are nine winners from this season including Russell Henley, Scott Brown, Billy Horschel and Boo Weekley.
Not to mention International players like Andres Romero, Brian Davis, Ryo Ishikawa, Rory Sabbatini and Peter Hanson.
The two players to follow this week are-
Webb Simpson 16/1
As most people who follow my previews know, I am not a big fan of tipping the favourite. In fact I usually go out of my way to leave them alone.
This week will be an exception as Webb is ready to produce the goods and put in a great performance.
The World No.19 player been playing some great golf this season. Twelve made cuts from sixteen starts. From those twelve made cuts he has produced nine Top 25 finishes. Four of those went on to be Top 10’s. That’s a pretty good conversion rate in anyone’s book.
Those four Top 10’s were at the Northern Trust (t6th), WGC Accenture Match Play (t5th), RBC Heritage (P2nd) and Travelers Championship (t5th).
He goes into this week on the back of his t5th at the Travelers Championship were he hit 70% of greens in regulation, 71% driving accuracy, 100% sand saves and was ranked 37th in ball striking. If he takes those stats into this week he can expect to see himself up there challenging over the weekend.
Simpson has played in all three additions of the Greenbrier. In 2010 he missed the cut, however in 2011 he was t9th and t7th last year. From his eight rounds in 2011 and 2012, six of those were under par.
His 2013 stats have him ranked 30th in greens in regulation, 15th in birdie average, 16th in scoring average and 3rd in greens in regulation from other than the fairway.
In this field 16/1 is a great each way price. We know he has the mental strength and course management to play well this week. Webb showed that at last years US Open. This is his week.
Gary Woodland 55/1
When you think big hitters, you think of Gary Woodland. However I have chosen him this week for another reason.
Have a look at his form in June. Not many players can boast his results. T16th Memorial Tournament, T18th St Jude Classic, W/D Travelers Championship and T16th AT&T National. That’s three Top 20 finishes from four starts.
Gary withdrew from the Travelers Championship due to a sore back he sustained during a plane ride. To prove he was over the injury he backed up in the AT&T National and played great golf finishing T16th.
I like a golfer who is in form as it shows they have confidence and as we all know, a confident golfer can do things that an out of form golfer can’t do!
This will be Gary’s 4th start in the Greenbrier. His results have been MC, 4th, MC. Lets hope he remembers the positive vibes from 2011 this week.
Good Luck and Good Punting.