2019-2020 Greenbrier Preview

Let us never forget the heroes on this day 18 years ago.

A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier

The Old White TPC

White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,292
Par: 70 (34-36)
Greens: V-8 Bentgrass; 6,500 sq. ft. on average.
Stimpmeter: 12′ and/or “tournament speed”
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass up to three inches.
Bunkers: 77
Water Hazards: 8
Architects: C.B. MacDonald (1914); Keith Foster (2016)
Purse: $7.5 million; $1.35 million, 500 FEC points (winner).
Defending Champion: Kevin Na (-19, 261)
Fact of the Week: Nobody who has led after 18, 36 or 54 holes has EVER won. WIDE OPEN.

 

Notes:

  • 156 players.
  • Top 70 65 and ties will play the weekend.
  • No more MDF.
  • All 50 Korn Ferry grads are playing.

 

The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM and contains plenty of angles.

Previous champions

*- playoff

Year Winner (*playoff) Total
2018 Kevin Na -19; won by five after closing 63-64-65.
2017 Xander Schauffele -14; first TOUR win in his first appearance.
2016 Cancelled
2015 Danny Lee -13*; won a four-man playoff for his first TOUR win.
2014 Angel Cabrera -16; old man at 44.
2013 Jonas Blixt -13; averaged 2.85 birdies per round before racking up 5.25 each round in his win.
2012 Ted Potter Jr. -16*; won for the first time in his 16th start on TOUR; entered the week on MC X 5.
2011 Scott Stallings -11*; rookie and first-time winner.
2010 Stuart Appleby -22; shot 59 on Sunday.

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 258; Appleby
Course Record: 59; Appleby (2010)
Defending Champion(s): n/a
Multiple Winners: n/a
First TOUR Win (most recent): Stallings, Potter, Jr., Lee and Scahauffele.
First Win in First Appearance: All but Lee and Na.
Low Round Last Year: 61; Anirban Lahiri (first appearance; Round 2).
Rookies of Note Last Year: T5 Joel Dahmen, T21 Talor Gooch.
Odd Fact: Hole No. 18 is a Par-3; both Par-5 holes are on the back nine.

Thoughts

The Greenbrier hosts the kick-off event for the first time as it was moved from its usual spot in July. As shown by the winners above, it’s a complete garage sale/flea market of winners. Digging deeper into the podium over those years doesn’t help or spot any major trends. Nobody repeating is also a clue of the wide-open nature of the event. Sigh.

This year will be THE MOST difficult Greenbrier to handicap and it’s not even close.

Those who didn’t qualify for the BMW Championship or East Lake have had a month to build some tournament rust.

The Korn Ferry Krew ™ had about 10 days of offseason so they should be the most tournament ready of the bunch. Usually this event is late in the calendar and gamers have a feel on the “graduates” but not this year. I’d take a look at the last few Safeway Opens, the old starting event, for those angles. The KFK has played 1092 straight events on Bentgrass as well so that adjustment won’t need to be made.

This track and event has provided plenty of first-time winners, rookie winner and international winners as resort course golf welcomes most styles. It’s not overly long but the Par-3 holes are some of the most difficult on TOUR.

The greens, all of which were rebuild after the 2016 flood, are still firm, but this will be Year No. 3 of growing in. Of the eight winners, seven have finished in the top six in SG: Putting so avoiding three putts, and bogeys in general, are keys to victory here.

 

Chalk

In order of preference for this week and this tournament; LTO= LAST TIME OUT; LW= Last week; LY= Last year this event. I’m tired of typing all that out!

Jason Kokrak: Cut-making machine closed the season T6, T12, T19 and T9 the final four events. He was the last guy who wanted the offseason to begin as he was as hot as the weather in the desert. Gamers have been waiting for almost a decade for him to bust out and win. No reason it can’t start this week after a career-best five top 10s last “year”.

Sungjae Im: Fascinating story about how he lives on the road. He eats, sleeps and plays golf and it has shown up in results. He has no home base. When a tournament ends, he sticks where he’s at or heads to the next event. Hasn’t shown up in the win column yet but he’s also not burned out. He ranked in the top 40 in too many categories to count and collected seven top-10 paydays.

Viktor Hovland: Too much class, pedigree and talent to ignore for any reason. His worst finish across both TOURS in his last six starts is T16. WORST START. Closed T11 and T2 in the KFT playoffs before skipping the finale. #Rested.

Bryson DeChambeau: Fought through a slow-play controversy at the BMW to cash T7 at The TOUR Championship for his third top 10 in seven. Last time he played in an “off-week” event, T2 3M Open. I’ll point out the top players in this event rarely do the business but this is DEFINITELY a different breed of cat.

Joaquin Niemann: Plenty of talk about the new group of young kids but Niemann is younger than all of them! His short game needs a bit of fine tuning but from tee-to-green he’s more than solid. His final round here in 2017 was 64 and then opened with 63 and closed with 64 last summer for T5.

Scottie Scheffler: Became the first player since Chesson Hadley to win “both ways” on the KFT (regular season and playoffs) so he’s fully exempt all season long. Began the playoffs with a win in Columbus and backed it up with T11 and T7. He’s hot and has plenty of pedigree to handle this test.

Scott Piercy: Top 35 in fairways, greens and scoring resulted in missing only three cuts last season.

Harold Varner, III: 54-hole leader last year closed with 72 for T5. Was in the mix late at TNT before T3. He’s won the Australian Open but hasn’t collected on TOUR yet. Also had T6 at resort track at Mayakoba.

Robert Streb: I could make the argument, as I do annually, that he should have won in 2015. He was forced to use his sand wedge to putt the last nine greens after bending his putter and still got into a playoff. He was second in 2017 and T11 last year. His solo third at Barracuda pushed me over the edge.

Russell Henley: Followed up 61 and solo second at JDC with T15 at Barracuda plus was 12-under at Wyndham. His worst finish in his last three here is 10th. In his last 10 rounds he’s posted 63 twice and 64 once.

Bubba Watson: Resident of The Greenbrier annually flirts with the top 10 but has never broken through. Super lag putter always helps here and I’m always looking at him when his GAS tank is full.

Sebastian Munoz: Played some of his best golf from May forward as he cashed in eight of 10 plus had four, T11 or better finishes. Unfinished business here after the 18, 36 and 54-hole solo lead in 2017. DNS 2018.

Ben An: Summer form has been solid with T38 or better in seven of his last eight, highlighted by solo third at Wyndham. As usual, it will depend on the cooperation of his putter if he’s going to breakthrough.

 

Next Tier

Just missed the list above because of a wart or two; order isn’t important.

Brian Harman: Turned his season around nicely after T8 at Travelers and added T7 at 3M and T6 at Wyndham after.

Kramer Hickok: Rolls out of the KFT playoffs with finishes of T19, T5 and T3 in the final three playoff events. I’d bring up that he was 184th in SG: Putting last year on TOUR but he needs one good week, not a good season.

Kristoffer Ventura: All he did in his last eight starts of the KFT season was win twice and grab a third. The former OSU Cowboy won’t be bothered by any of this.

Anirban Lahiri: Salvaged a garbage TOUR season with a pair of top-10 paychecks in the KFT finals. He posted 61 here last year in only his second tournament round. Doesn’t take long to figure it out here.

Bud Cauley: Those of you who are new here, I’m #TeamBudCauley annually.

David Hearn: T4 at the KFT championship LTO and a course horse at Greenbrier. I’m not sure if Hearn has ever fulfilled any expectations I’ve had for him.

J.B. Holmes: Smash it find it, smash it again and hope the putter is hot. Of his 24 rounds 20 are in the red.

Brendon Todd: Six straight across both TOURS to finish last season included four inside the top 25 plus a T2. In his previous life he’s cashed T4 and T5 here.

Adam Schenk: Wrapped up his 2019 with T6, T18, MC and T24 at TNT. Top 40 in both GIR and SG: Putting.

Long Shots, Red Herrings, Course Horses, Etc.

Probably should read HORSES FOR COURSES for more dudes.

Martin Laird: Tell him this is the Barracuda of the East! Last time he was in this region he was 21-under at Barbasol. Ended 2019 14th GIR.

Ryan Armour: Fits the “old” guy profile as he’ll hit all of the fairways and will enjoy aiming at the larger greens. With a pair of top 25s in his last three trips he’s comfortable here.

Ryan Blaum: Anybody named Ryan goes in here. Too bad Moore isn’t playing. Blaum was T7 last year but arrives on zero form.

Alex Cejka: T13 and T9 the last two years will tempt course historians. T18 at Barracuda and four rounds in the 60s at Wyndham in his last two might validate that temptation.

David Lingmerth: Super long shot! Never MC in five, four top 25s and T11 last year.

 

Fades:

Players returning from injury: Plenty of guys in this field have been playing and playing a lot recently.

Kevin Na: Left a FedExCup Playoff event for the birth of his second child so I’m guessing he wouldn’t be playing this week if he wasn’t the DC.

Tom Lewis: His win, as convincing as it was, came off of WD and T59 in Europe the two previous weeks. I’m still trying to process that victory!

Cameron Tringale: Sizzled this summer before crashing out MC at TNT. We’ll see if the wedding magic carries over to the new season but he arrives at Greenbrier MC-MC after the renovations.

Austin Cook: His T5 last year was on the back of #NappyFactor. 2019 was a rough one as he didn’t keep full playing privileges (No. 130).

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out @MikeGlasscott or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

 

 

One thought on “2019-2020 Greenbrier Preview

  1. Pingback: OAD: A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier | Glass Houses

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