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.