Insider: Look for a skilled putter to excel at Greenbrier

July 04, 2012
Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

How do you feel about conspiracy theories?


Do you believe in the "Golf Gods?" Do you believe in retribution?

Here's the theory for you conspirators.

If you are so bold to shoot 59 the "Golf Gods" will take their revenge. You will be smote with horrendous scores. Fortune does not allow the game to be mocked.

Ask Stuart Appleby. Or you could consult Al Geiberger, Chip Beck or David Duval. Ask Paul Goydos about shooting 59.

Each of those players has broken 60 and every one of them has suffered following their mockery. Geiberger had health issues. Beck struggled so badly he left the game for a while. Duval lost his exempt status and Goydos is injured. He won't play again this year.

Which brings us to Appleby.

Since shooting 59 at The Greenbrier in 2010, Appleby has struggled. He has played in 45 tournaments since that magical Sunday and has a single top 10, and that came in February of last year.

It's great stuff if you believe in conspiracy theories.

Of course, the nonbelievers point out Annika Sorenstam shot 59 and had a healthy career as the greatest player in LPGA history.

If you don't believe in fate, how about mathematics? Regression to the mean. A bad score follows a good one. And there are a thousands of PGA TOUR players who have struggled with health and playing status who never shot 59.

It's a hard game that can beat you up. Whether you shoot 59 or 99 there will be bad days. The good news is there will also be great days. It's just the nature of the game, not a curse.

So take heart, Stuart. Play the game hard enough and persevere long enough and the good times will return.

The "Golf Gods" have both good and bad in store for us.

However, just to be on the safe side, I am not going to tempt fate.

I have vowed to never shoot 59.

Now let's talk about this year's version of The Greenbrier Classic.

Changes: This is not close to the same course Appleby torched in shooting 59 two years ago. Changes were made to the greens following that tournament in 2010 and those putting surfaces are now mature bentgrass. There are thunderstorms in the forecast but without rain, these greens will require a high fade to hold the surfaces and a deft putting touch to score. Check the Strokes Gained-Putting stats this week. Those are the players who should excel.

Host with the most: If you are wondering how The Greenbrier Classic convinced such a strong field to attend this week's tournament, there's a simple answer. Tournament officials killed players with kindness. You want trout fishing this week? It can be arranged. A little skeet shooting? They'll provide the shotgun. Like music? Why Rod Stewart, Toby Keith and Bon Jovi are here to entertain. Tournament officials turned the week into a family affair. Players take their families to The Greenbrier, which turns the week into a working vacation.

The Slammer: Everyone has a Sam Snead story. Here's my favorite. You can sort out the fact from fiction. Snead had a long time association with the resort and would frequently be seen around the pro shop as guests arrived for their tee times. Sam would ask if he could play a couple holes with them and the groups were always happy to accommodate. Upon check out, they discovered they had been charged for a three hole playing lesson with Sam Snead.

Winner, winner: We all know the smart money goes to Tiger again this week. You can argue he's the best player in the world. However, this course seems to spit out surprise winners and I like Cameron Tringale. I keep expecting a breakthough for Tringale. He is a long hitter who finds greens and converts putts. Tringale is 17th on TOUR in Strokes Gained-Putting and third in total birdies. He is going to be a winner on the PGA TOUR. I think it happens this week.