Quick look at a Military Tribute at The Greenbrier
July 04, 2018
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
All-time moments from the Greenbrier
From Tony Finau’s perspective, it’s not a matter of it. Just when.
It’s been more than two years since the big-hitting Finau broke through with his first PGA TOUR win, beating Steve Marino in a playoff at the Puerto Rico Open. Given his length off the tee and the continued development of other parts of his game, it seemed only a matter of time until his second win.
This week’s event, a Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, will be his 65th start since that first victory. Finau has 15 top-10 finishes, including a pair of runner-ups this season, but he’s still waiting for that second victory. No need to press the urgency button, though.
“It has been a couple season and I feel like I’m ready to do it again, you know, if I’m being honest,” Finau said. “It’s a process. Being a multiple-time winner on TOUR is a big deal, and I look forward to when that time comes again.”
He seems to be building to that next win. He comes off his career-best result in a major, a solo fifth at the U.S. Open in which he posted a third-round 66 that moved him into the final group on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills. His consistency can be found in his current FedExCup ranking – 11th, the highest of any player without a victory.
Asked this week whether he’s lived up to his expectations after that 2016 win, Finau replied, “I expected to play well. As far as living up to the expectation, you know, I think I look at it a little differently.
“After I won, it almost kind of takes pressure off myself. I’ve done it before. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and it will continue to happen.”
Maybe it happens this week. He tied for seventh a year ago at the Greenbrier and was T-13 in his first start in 2015. The Old White TPC seems to fit his eye, and his advantage off the tee is even more pronounced – last year, he averaged 310.2 yards in driving distance, nearly 20 yards longer than the field average.
In his eight career rounds at the par-70 Greenbrier, every score has been in the 60s. And after two weeks off – including a three-day family reunion in which he actually canceled a tee time – he’s ready to get back into competitive mode.
“I feel really fresh, which is great, coming to a golf course that I really enjoy,” Finau said.
Sounds like a recipe for a second win.
THREE PLAYERS TO PONDER
A win this week gives him four this season – and moves him to the top of Player of the Year contenders.
Defending champ has been hit-or-miss lately – two top-10s, three missed cuts in last five starts.
Says The Old White TPC is one of seven courses on TOUR in which he should usually contend.
At 616 yards, the par-5 17th is the longest hole at The Old White TPC but it remains tantalizingly reachable for the longer hitters. Last year, nearly 60 percent of all second shots went for the green in two, although just 12 were successful. Howard’s Creek, several bunkers and the “Dragon’s Teeth” offer potential for danger.
The Old White TPC - Hole No. 17
The 415-yard 16th was the easiest par 4 on the course last season, playing to a stroke average of 3.927. Yet it also produced 13 double bogeys and three others, thanks to Swan Lake that protects the front/right side of the fairway. Here’s a look at where all tee shots landed last year.
From PGA TOUR meteorologist Stewart Williams: “High pressure will weaken and shift west on Thursday, allowing showers and thunderstorm chances to increase for the afternoon. Showers and t-storms will be likely on Friday as a cold front slowly moves south through the region. The front is expected to push far enough south away from the area to allow cooler and less humid conditions to return this weekend with highs in the 70s each day.”
For the latest weather news from White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, check out PGATOUR.COM's Weather Hub.
SOUND CHECKIt’s a golf course where you hit every club in the bag.
BY THE NUMBERS
59 feet, 6 inches – Eagle putt made by Xander Schauffele at the 12th hole in the third round last year. It was the longest putt made by any tournament winner in 2016-17.
68.15 – Final-round scoring average for Phil Mickelson, the lowest of any player on TOUR this season.
2,073 – Number of drives 330-plus yards by Bubba Watson since 2006 – most of any player in that span.
Based on tournament history, the winner of this week’s event will likely rank among the top 10 in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting. Six of the seven Greenbrier winners have finished the week inside the top 10 in that category. The only exception is Scott Stallings, who won in 2011 despite ranking 44th in putting.
Bubba Watson said the 205-yard par-3 third is actually two different holes, depending on pin placement. “It’s kind of a birdie hole when the pin’s in the front,” Watson said. “The pins in the back, you’re just hanging on for dear life trying to make par.” Last year, the pin was in the front for rounds 1 and 3 (29 total birdies) and in the back for rounds 2 and 4 (18 total birdies).
Norman Xiong is making his debut as a professional this season. Xiong utilized The First Tee program to hone his game as a youth, and then became a standout player at the University of Oregon, where he won both the Haskins and Nicklaus Awards as the top Division I male golfer in 2017-18.