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A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier: Preview & DFS Picks

The PGA Tour heads to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia this week for A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, previously known as The Greenbrier Classic which began in 2010. The beautiful resort property has an immense amount of history and culture, and the plethora of elite golf courses in the area have hosted Ryder Cups, Solheim Cups, and multiple professional tournaments over the past 50 years. The story of The Greenbrier dates back to the origins of the United States, when in the late 1700s visitors began to come to the Allegheny Mountains for medicinal benefits. Years later, the Grand Hotel was built and since has hosted 26 sitting US Presidents, most notably Dwight D. Eisenhower who played the Old White course several times, including once with Sam Snead just 6 months after the President had a heart attack (he shot a 93 that day). Along with Snead, the course has also had Tom Watson serve as the local PGA professional, and the current professional emeritus is hall of famer Lee Trevino. In 2014 the Old White Course, which became a TPC course several years prior, celebrated it’s 100th anniversary. It is currently the oldest course to host an event on the annual PGA Tour circuit. This year’s course will set up as one of the longest events on Tour this year at 7,286 yards (nearly 1,000 yards longer than it’s original layout a century ago). The 34/36 set-up will force players to be long off the tee and make putts, with some greens featuring tricky undulations and changing speeds throughout the day.

Out of all the tournaments on Tour, your favorite TWN golf writer actually knows the course pretty well. In 2016, when abysmal flooding devastated the state and much of the property, I actually stayed at The Greenbrier with my family and had the opportunity to play the 3 main courses on the property before they closed down completely for the season. The 1st hole on the Old White TPC Course is arguably one of the best shots and views in all of golf. In fact, in 1938 world renowned golf architect Robert Trent Jones was asked by Town & Country Magazine to hand pick his own 18-hole course, and he chose #1 from the Old White course (as well as #10 from The Greenbrier course). The course is a simple but elegant layout featuring great views of the mountains and fast greens. If you’re someone like me who like to swing for the fences every drive, you can get rewarded for finding the fairway. Still, amateur golfers will see that the greens as anything but simple- even caddies who have worked there for a long time know they can be difficult. This past tournament in 2017 I had the ability to visit the course again, this time as a spectator. I got to see Phil Mickelson go on a great birdie run, as well as see studs like Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed dominate the course with long drives. We’re in for a great week as some of the best on Tour attempt to make strides in the FedEx Cup race heading into the Open Championship.

Las Vegas Odds

Tony Finau 12-1
Bubba Watson 14-1
Phil Mickelson 16-1
Webb Simpson 16-1
Russell Henley 16-1
Xander Schauffele 20-1
Joaquin Niemann 25-1
Jimmy Walker 25-1
Brian Harman 25-1
J.B. Holmes 25-1
Charles Howell III 28-1
Ryan Moore 33-1
Kevin Na 40-1
Kevin Streelman 40-1
Danny Lee 40-1
Brandt Snedeker 40-1
Keegan Bradley 50-1
Kevin Kisner 50-1

Power Rankings

5. Russell Henley

At 16-1 odds he’s not really a darkhorse this week but Henley is the real deal, especially at this course. In his 3 trips to the tournament, he has finished T30, 5th and T5 with 9 of his 12 rounds in the 60s. His 67.67 scoring average at Old White is one of the best on Tour this week, and he’s also riding the coattails of a T6 finish 2 weeks ago at The Travelers Championship (as well as a solid T25 finish at the US Open in Southampton, NY). Tee to green he has been of the best ball strikers on Tour this season- he ranks 10th in driving accuracy and 22nd in greens in regulation percentage. He struggles to scramble well but has been solid enough with the putter this year (70th SG: putting) that he has a legitimate chance to make a run this weekend. As the 46th best player in the world but  80th in FedEx Cup points in 2018, Henley has something to prove heading into Open Championship preparations.

4. Phil Mickelson

Speaking of British Open prep, the man of the people will begin his 3 week journey to Carnoustie this week in WV. He has taken a few weeks off since Shinnecock and should be motivated to erase the memory of a Saturday 81 with a strong performance this week. Lefty does have a lot to build on from this season already with a win in Mexico and 6 top-10s. He is 2nd in strokes gained: putting this year and 4th in birdie average. As usual he has struggled with the driver but he’s been long enough where it shouldn’t be too much trouble this week on a course with typical rough. He doesn’t have much success to build off of at The Greenbrier besides his T20 finish last season, but overall these next few weeks are some of his favorite on Tour and the Greenbrier Ambassador will have a lot of motivation from the roaring mid-Atlantic crowds. Expect Phil to put on a show throughout the week and make a run once again.

3. Webb Simpson

Simpson is the definition of a high risk high reward player this week- on the one hand he has missed the cuts at 2 of his last 3 events (Ft. Worth Invitational & The Travelers) but in between those came in a tie for 10th at the US Open. His last tournament before that wacky stretch? A win at golf’s 5th major- The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Perhaps he will regain some of his momentum this week at a course that he knows pretty well- he’s played in every FedEx Cup tournament at Old White TPC and is 5 for 7 on cuts made, including 3 top-10s and a T14 finish in 2017. He’s 6th in scoring average this season and ranks 32nd in strokes gained: approaching the green, 25th in strokes gained: around the green and 8th in putting. A solid ball striker despite not being the most accurate off the tee, Simpson will have a chance to play great this week with some longer hitters around him.

2. Tony Finau

In the 2 tournaments he has played here (2015 & 2017) Finau has shot better than par in all 8 competitive rounds with a staggering 67.50 scoring average- resulting in T13 and T7 finishes. With 6 top 10s and 16 of 19 cuts made in 2018, Finau is having a career year and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, especially after a gruesome injury at The Masters where he still managed to finish T10. The 31st ranked golfer in the world is 11th in FedEc Cup points this season and has been bombing it off the tee lately. He ranks 3rd in driving distance at 315 yards and is in the top 25 in scoring, birdie and eagle averages this year. For a long ball hitter, he is still 32nd in greens in regulations. His middle of the road putting (104th SG: putting)  is the difference between him breaking through as one of the top all around players on Tour right now. There is arguably not a single golfer (besides maybe Dustin Johnson and the #1 in the Power Rankings) that set up better to dominate the course. With his prior success here and his steady performances on Tour in 2018, Finau is a rightful favorite to win it all this week in White Sulphur Springs.

1. Bubba Watson

Watson has close ties to the Greenbrier as he is a member of the Sporting Club and has played the tournament in it’s past 4 years. Though he struggled last year with a T70 finish, he has finished in the top 30 in his 3 other starts at Old White TPC, with an overall scoring average of 68.81 yet no round better than 3-under-par. The only 3-time winner on Tour this year is coming off an exciting victory 2 weeks ago at The Travelers Championship where he shot a Sunday 63. This year the 39-year-old ranks 7th in driving distance and 7th in greens in regulation percentage, resulting in a strokes gained: off the tee rank of 3rd this year. He has improved his putting (75th in SG: putting) well enough that he can take advantage of his length off the tee. For Bubba it will come down his ability to put up a low number, which thus far he hasn’t done in 16 competitive rounds at The Greenbrier. He still is the hottest player coming into this tournament and should be considered the betting favorite to win again on Tour this season.

DFS Picks

Russel Henley -> 10,400

Brian Harman -> $9,500

Ryan Armour -> $7,700

Kevin Chappell -> $7,700

Wesley Bryan -> $7,500

Bill Haas -> $7,200

Remaining Salary -> $0

Viewing Schedule (courtesy of The Greenbrier PR Team)

 

Follow The Wrightway Network for LIVE Saturday & Sunday Coverage from the Greenbrier Resort for the PGA Tour’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier. To follow us and check out our 3-day trip at the Quicken Loans National in Potomac, MD from last week, head to Instagram and follow @thewrightwaysportsnetwork as well as our Facebook page.

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