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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Greenbrier Classic - Preview

Next up on the PGA TOUR schedule is The Greenbrier Classic at The Old White TPC. It should be noted that, though a classic track, the setting is The Greenbrier resort and it can play like a resort-style course at times. Jonas Blixt is the defending champion.

The Old White TPC is a 7,287 yard par-70 layout, with two par 5s, four par 3s and 12 par 4s. Simple math would suggest that Par 4 Scoring Average will factor heavily in the final results. Stuart Appleby somewhat famously fired a final-round 59 to win the inaugural event in 2010, but immediately following that tournament the course was lengthened by about 250 yards to try and calm down the scoring.

Here's how the winners and runners-up have fallen into place since 2010:

  • 2010 - Stuart Appleby (258) over Jeff Overton (259)
  • 2011 - Scott Stallings (270) over Bill Haas and Bob Estes in a playoff
  • 2012 - Ted Potter Jr. (264) over Troy Kelly in a playoff
  • 2013 - Jonas Blixt (267) over Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Johnson Wagner and Jimmy Walker (269)
Before even glancing at the stat sheet, we see several styles of players stepping up to the plate. As mentioned, Appleby closed with a 59 and got extremely hot during a year that wasn't all that impressive. Ted Potter Jr., Troy Kelly and Steven Bowditch were all players having poor seasons were it not for a special week in West Virginia. Scott Stallings has gotten hot on easier courses for wins several times in his career. Jimmy Walker is a player that tends to do well when driving accuracy doesn't really matter, but GIR and SPG does. Bowditch also fits that mold. While Walker is now an elite player, only Haas in '11 was worthy of even being thought of as elite at the time of his win. 

Digging into the stats, the formula for success is very much in line with what Jimmy Walker enjoys. Driving Accuracy doesn't really matter. Distance is nice, as the two par 5s are both fairly lengthy, but it isn't nearly as important as the ability to tame par 4s and par 5s. Birdies are important, as is putting in general. 

Typically form matters leading into every tournament, but it must be noted that the past results in this specific tournament have rendered current form less of a measuring stick. A hard look at course history is in order this week, as well as guys who can play resort-style courses well. This is a great place for a breakthrough victory for a guy on the cusp.

We will return tomorrow with our best effort at a Power Ranking. Until then, happy research!