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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Greenbrier Classic - Preview

The Greenbrier Classic return to The Old White TPC for the sixth time, and here is a preview to get us off and running. Before we begin to take the plunge into this tournament, it needs to be pointed out that this has proven to be relatively difficult to handicap over the first five editions.

The Old White TPC is a par-70 layout that stretches out to 7,287 years. Stuart Appleby won the first edition in 2010, which included a final-round 59, but the course was lengthened considerably following the maiden voyage. Because of that, an asterisk belongs by the 2010 results for the purposes of predicting the outcome of 2015.

As one would expect, a par 70 means we have 12 par 4s, four par 3s and a pair of par 5s. Both par 5s fall on the back nine, and offer birdie chances.

Here is the list of winners and runners-up since the inception.

  • 2010 - Winner: Stuart Appleby (22-under 258) over Jeff Overton (259)
  • 2011 - Winner: Scott Stallings (270) over Bob Estes and Bill Haas in a playoff
  • 2012 - Winner: Ted Potter Jr (264) over Troy Kelly in a playoff
  • 2013 - Winner: Jonas Blixt (267) over Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Johnson Wagner and Jimmy Walker (269)
  • 2014 - Winner: Angel Cabrera (264) over George McNeill
Here's what I gather from this list:
  • Driving accuracy doesn't matter, in terms of a stat. The fairways are ample and the penalty for missing them is minimal. Blixt, Walker and Cabrera are all very good examples of players that are proven winners when driving accuracy doesn't matter.
  • This is a resort course, and because of that it's a "go low." Appleby obviously shot a 59, and has won on the Plantation Course where low scores abound. Scott Stallings popped up where numbers go deep. Bill Haas is a two-time winner at the Humana Challenge where you must take it deep. Ted Potter Jr was a mini-tour legend before making it to the PGA TOUR. That's a circuit where you have to shoot 65 every round to win. A player has to be comfortable with going deep. 
  • It would not be a surprise to see a recent Web.com Tour grad pop up here. That tour is also known as the "wedge dot putt" tour, and low numbers are everywhere out there.
Stats are going to be very difficult to get a handle on this week, as what is most relevant would be a players stats on easier courses. How a player performed at Memorial, for example, would offer very little relevance to The Old White TPC. Unfortunately, the dreaded "feel" does come into play this week in addition to course history and current form.

We will return later in the week with a power ranking and one-and-done selection. Until then, happy research!

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