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      Power Rankings: The Greenbrier Classic

    • Bubba Watson is No. 2 in the FedExCup standings entering The Greenbrier Classic. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Bubba Watson is No. 2 in the FedExCup standings entering The Greenbrier Classic. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

    As we are slowly beginning to understand that the number of strokes a golfer saves from tee to green are potentially more valuable than the number saved while putting, there are still real, extreme examples to test the theory.

    Case in point, Jonas Blixt. En route to a two-stroke victory at The Greenbrier Classic last year, he ranked outside the top 40 in distance off the tee, fairways hit and greens in regulation. No one else inside the top 10 of the final leaderboard matched that inefficiency. Instead, the Swede went 20-for-48 in birdie chances and added another from just off one green to lead the field in par breakers with 21. Not surprisingly, he also finished first in one-putt percentage, ranked second in strokes gained-putting and T3 in scrambling. In short, his ball-striking applied pressure to his short game, which met the challenge and proved that there are exceptions to conventional wisdom.

    The Old White TPC at The Greenbrier Resort played similarly as it has since the major overhaul following the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2010. At -0.132 strokes to par last year, it scored as the third-easiest par 70 all season. (Both par 5s are on the inward half, so it reads 34-36 on the card.) The only modification in advance was a new tee at the par-3 18th -- just one of two finishing one-shotters on the PGA TOUR -- where a derecho the week before the 2012 edition serendipitously cleared way for it, but the new yardage (maximum of 175 yards) mattered not. Greenbrier's aggregate measurement of 7,287 yards remains untouched for this week.

    Just as the Quicken Loans National awarded the top four inside the top 12 and ties not otherwise exempt into The Open Championship berths in the major, so will The Greenbrier Classic. The field of 156 may battle inclement weather early in the tournament as a system plows through. Once it's gone, primarily sunny and dry conditions will take hold. Temperatures should reach 80 degrees every day. Wind is not forecast to be a factor, but that is always subject to change.

    POWER RANKINGS: THE GREENBRIER CLASSIC

    RANK

    PLAYER

    COMMENT

    1 Jimmy Walker Jimmy Walker

    First start since a T9 at Pinehurst. Top 10s in both majors; three wins on the season. Co-runner-up here last year; T4s in 2010 and 2011.

    First start since a T9 at Pinehurst. Top 10s in both majors; three wins on the season. Co-runner-up here last year; T4s in 2010 and 2011.

    2 Brendon Todd Brendon Todd

    As in tune as anyone playing golf for a living right now. Last five starts: breakthrough win, two T5s, T8 and a T17 (U.S. Open).

    As in tune as anyone playing golf for a living right now. Last five starts: breakthrough win, two T5s, T8 and a T17 (U.S. Open).

    3 Kevin Na Kevin Na

    First start since T12 at U.S. Open. P2 at Memorial a month ago. T7 at Greenbrier in last appearance in 2012. Sits 13th in adjusted scoring.

    First start since T12 at U.S. Open. P2 at Memorial a month ago. T7 at Greenbrier in last appearance in 2012. Sits 13th in adjusted scoring.

    4 Bubba Watson Bubba Watson

    Second appearance (T30, 2013), but has tweeted photos and video of visits this year. Two wins, two seconds and a third in 2014.

    Second appearance (T30, 2013), but has tweeted photos and video of visits this year. Two wins, two seconds and a third in 2014.

    5 Marc Leishman Marc Leishman

    Motoring along. Top 25s in five of last six starts; T8 at Congressional where he shared the 36-hole lead. Ranks 23rd in adjusted scoring.

    Motoring along. Top 25s in five of last six starts; T8 at Congressional where he shared the 36-hole lead. Ranks 23rd in adjusted scoring.

    6 Brendan Steele Brendan Steele

    Seriously surging. T5s in the last two tournaments during which he's ranked ninth (Travelers) and T12 (Quicken Loans) in proximity.

    Seriously surging. T5s in the last two tournaments during which he's ranked ninth (Travelers) and T12 (Quicken Loans) in proximity.

    7 Patrick Reed Patrick Reed

    Turned the page on his recent slump with a T11 at Congressional. Co-led at the midpoint and held the outright advantage after 54 holes.

    Turned the page on his recent slump with a T11 at Congressional. Co-led at the midpoint and held the outright advantage after 54 holes.

    8 Bill Haas Bill Haas

    Beat up in his title defense at Congressional, but he's 3-for-3 at Greenbrier with a playoff loss in 2011 and a T9 last year.

    Beat up in his title defense at Congressional, but he's 3-for-3 at Greenbrier with a playoff loss in 2011 and a T9 last year.

    9 Webb Simpson Webb Simpson

    A bit all or nothing for months as he awaited the birth of his third child. Two top 10s at Greenbrier. Opened last year's T41 with a 64.

    A bit all or nothing for months as he awaited the birth of his third child. Two top 10s at Greenbrier. Opened last year's T41 with a 64.

    10 Brendon de Jonge Brendon de Jonge

    The road warrior is fresh off a T8 at Congressional. Eight consecutive cuts made. Also 4-for-4 at Greenbrier, including a T17 last year.

    The road warrior is fresh off a T8 at Congressional. Eight consecutive cuts made. Also 4-for-4 at Greenbrier, including a T17 last year.

    11 Ben Martin Ben Martin

    Officially at the next level following a T3 at Congressional, his third third-place finish of the season and seventh consecutive cut made.

    Officially at the next level following a T3 at Congressional, his third third-place finish of the season and seventh consecutive cut made.

    12 Daniel Summerhays Daniel Summerhays

    Making cuts, but not quite crashing leaderboards. Not the case at Greenbrier where he's placed fifth (2012) and T9 (2013).

    Making cuts, but not quite crashing leaderboards. Not the case at Greenbrier where he's placed fifth (2012) and T9 (2013).

    13 Steve Stricker Steve Stricker

    First return since debut in 2012 (T22). Continues to prosper despite abbreviated schedule. Top 25s in last three starts; T21 at Pinehurst.

    First return since debut in 2012 (T22). Continues to prosper despite abbreviated schedule. Top 25s in last three starts; T21 at Pinehurst.

    14 Chris Kirk Chris Kirk

    T28 at the U.S. Open was 21st consecutive cut made. Three top 10s, another six top 25s in 2013-14. Tenth in average distance of putts made.

    T28 at the U.S. Open was 21st consecutive cut made. Three top 10s, another six top 25s in 2013-14. Tenth in average distance of putts made.

    15 Scott Langley Scott Langley

    Grinding through the learning curve of being in contention at Memorial (T28 while in the final group) and Travelers (T11; 36-hole leader).

    Grinding through the learning curve of being in contention at Memorial (T28 while in the final group) and Travelers (T11; 36-hole leader).

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