Power Rankings: The Greenbrier ClassicJuly 01, 2013
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 Rank Player Comment Webb SIMPSON Had last week off following a T5 at the Travelers Championship, his fourth top 10 of the season. Two top 10s at The Old White TPC -- T9 (2011) and T7 (2012). Currently T30 in greens in regulation and 16th in adjusted scoring. Bill HAAS Surged to victory at the AT&T National with a 66 on Sunday; only golfer under par in every round. Co-leads the PGA TOUR with seven top 10s. Ranks ninth in greens hit and T1 in par-4 scoring. Tied for second place at The Greenbrier in 2011. Graham DeLAET Shared eighth place at the AT&T National for his second straight top 10 and fifth of the season. Placed T12 at Greenbrier last year; all eight of his scores on The Old White TPC are par or better. Leads the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation. Scott STALLINGS The 2011 champ has cooled since connecting three top-four finishes in late May and early June. Still, The Greenbrier has to provide good vibes. He's also risen 70 spots to 51st in strokes gained-putting over the last two months. Phil MICKELSON Didn't survive the cut in either of his two previous appearances, but he'll strike without notice. Took two weeks off since sharing runner-up honors at the U.S. Open, his fifth top-three finish of the season. Ninth in adjusted scoring. Billy HORSCHEL Settled for a T61 at the AT&T National where he was over par in each of the last three rounds for the first time since the 2011 Valero Texas Open. He's 2-for-2 at Greenbrier but hasn't logged a top 30. Ranks ninth in the all-around. Bubba WATSON First appearance at The Old White TPC. Took a break last week after a T4 at the Travelers Championship where he held at least a piece of the 36- and 54-hole leads. Fourth on TOUR in greens in regulation and 37th in adjusted scoring. Jordan SPIETH Making his debut at The Greenbrier. Fresh off a solo sixth at Congressional, his fifth top 10 of the year; he has one in each of the last four months. Sits 13th in total driving, 56th in greens hit and 27th in adjusted scoring. Brian DAVIS Enjoying a rare sustained run. Survived 11 of his last 12 cuts, three of which going for a top 10. Tied for eighth at Congressional, ranking fourth in proximity and 11th in strokes gained-putting. Posted a T18 at Greenbrier in 2011. Roberto CASTRO Held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds of the AT&T National before finishing alone in second place. In his debut at The Old White TPC a year ago, carded a field-low 63 in the final round en route to a T7. Charlie WI Season-best solo seventh at last week's AT&T National. Under par in all eight rounds at The Old White TPC. Tied for third last year when he ranked sixth in proximity to the hole and didn't miss on 54 attempts from five feet and in. Gary WOODLAND After being forced to withdraw from the Travelers Championship due to a sore back sustained during a cross-country flight, tied for 16th at the AT&T National, his third top 20 in four starts. Shared fourth place at The Greenbrier in 2011. Morgan HOFFMANN One of two golfers (Graham DeLaet) with top 10s in each of the last two events. As a result, since the U.S. Open, Hoffmann has climbed 65 spots in strokes gained-putting (80th) and 48 spots in adjusted scoring (57th). Boo WEEKLEY Hasn't played since missing the cut at the U.S. Open, but he's only five weeks removed from his victory at Colonial. Tied for ninth at Greenbrier in 2010. Ranks 19th in fairways hit, fifth in GIR and 47th in adjusted scoring. Andres ROMERO Arrives having registered top 25s in the last two events, the first time he's done that in two seasons. Shared the 54-hole lead at Congressional before fading to T13 with a 75. Tied for fourth at The Greenbrier in 2011.