Power Rankings: A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier
September 09, 2019
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Jason Kokrak ended the 2018-19 season with four straight top-20 finishes. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Ready or not, here it comes!
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier launches the 2019-20 PGA TOUR season. The first of 49 tournaments sat out last season to accommodate the shift of the FedExCup Playoffs to August. This is the ninth edition of the tournament, all of which have been contested at The Old White TPC at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
There are only nine days between the conclusion of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and the first round at Greenbrier. While some graduates may be weary after long seasons and the pressure of the series, all should be encouraged that numerous golfers just like them over the years have sustained form when the light turns green on the PGA TOUR. As of midday Monday, all 50 are committed to the tournament, including all 21 rookies.
For what the entire field of 156 is getting in The Old White TPC and more, scroll past the projected contenders.
Tuesday's Fantasy Insider will include Jimmy Walker, Scott Piercy, Cameron Smith, Byeong Hun An and Doc Redman among other notables.
No matter one's position in the overall pecking order, The Old White TPC is a proper opener. It's fair and fun.
Checking in as a par 70 with both par 5s on the inward side (Nos. 12 and 17), the course is one of the longest of its kind at 7,292 yards. For the record, that reflects an increase of six yards from the 2018 edition, and 15 holes are listed at a different yardage this week, but none more than the reduction of nine yards at the 484-yard, par-4 11th.
The Old White TPC also boasts the only par-3 finisher on the PGA TOUR. Defending champion Kevin Na parred the 179-yard 18th hole in all four rounds last time, but he could afford to, having prevailed by five strokes at 19-under 261. That's the second-lowest aggregate since Stuart Appleby's 22-under 258 in the inaugural edition of 2010 and before the course was fitted with some teeth.
Na's path to the title was unconventional, but it proved the worth of the equity of the track.
Hitting greens and sinking putts is the standard objective on a scorable course with average-sized greens (6,500 square feet of bentgrass) rolling upwards of 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter. However, of the 10 golfers who finished inside the top 10 of the 2018 edition of A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, Na tied for hitting the fewest (53). His percentage (73.61) was nearly three clicks higher than the field average, but in a shootout, that puts pressure on the short game and putter.
On cue, Na finished second in both Strokes Gained: Putting and scrambling, and he led the field converting GIR into par breakers with the flat stick. He also paced it in par-4 scoring, which is to say that he capitalized on an occasional weakness of the course. The set of 12 par 4s never plays harder than TOUR average, but the field scored just 3.97 on them in 2018, fourth-easiest of 51 courses all season.
The absence of impactful wind will contribute to another good week of scoring, but looming rain and boomers figure to challenge the more inexperienced touring professionals who aren't as familiar with stopping and starting on this stage. Warm, juicy air with daytime highs in the mid-to-high 80s will remind everyone that the autumnal equinox still is a couple of weeks out in the Northern Hemisphere.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
THURSDAY: Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.