The long-lived line of the thunderstorms that prevented spectators from attending the third round of last year's AT&T National first took aim at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., site of The Greenbrier Classic. A number of manmade structures were damaged and The Old White TPC, but the tournament had a few days to eliminate the danger to those in attendance.
The derecho also toppled a few trees on the Charles Blair MacDonald creation (1914). This included an oak near the tee at the par-3 18th hole, one of only two one-shot finishers on the PGA TOUR. (East Lake boasts the other.) With the tree removed, a new angle at the green was built last fall. It's the only significant change on the course, a far cry from the near-total renovation following the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2010 when Stuart Appleby closed with the fifth (and most recent) 59 in TOUR history. Extended by 13 yards, the 18th can now play 175 yards. That translates to a new course length of 7,287 yards.
The Old White TPC is unique in that it's a par 70 with both par 5s on the inward side (holes 12 and 17). The front plays to a par of 34. Since the overhaul, field splits have remained steady pretty much across the board. The course ranks in the middle or just inside the easier half in accuracy off the tee (66.34 percent) and greens in regulation (66.31 percent), but played its easiest in scrambling a year ago at 61.71 percent (T41 on TOUR). This was reflected in the overall scoring average of 69.78. It averaged 70.59 in 2011 after surrendering 68.54 in its debut.
The Greenbrier Classic is the only tournament over the last two years at which a rookie won. After Scott Stallings broke through in 2011, Ted Potter Jr. turned the trick and defends this week. Both won in playoffs. A whopping nine of the 12 inside the top 10 at last week's AT&T National are non-winners. Three are rookies, so the converging trends favor another first-time winner this week.
A reasonable threat of rain and thunderstorms populates the forecast throughout the tournament. The greatest chance for now is for the opening round on Independence Day. Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid-80s by Sunday. Winds should be a non-factor during the action.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among all three winners of the Greenbrier Classic, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The Stats Report on Wednesday.
|Power Rankings: The Greenbrier Classic|