After severe flooding cancelled last year’s edition, the Greenbrier Classic returns to its usual place on the PGA Tour schedule this week.
As the tour’s best head to White Sulphur Springs, West Virigina, many of the tour’s bright young stars are looking to build on recent success while others are looking to use this week as an opportunity to qualify the Open Championship.
After another surprise winner at the Quicken Loans National, it’s starting to look like the year of the underdog on the PGA Tour. The question is, will the trend continue this week at the Greenbrier?
There are certainly a number of candidates that suggest that will be the case, but you can’t count out the big names like Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson.
With as many as four spots available for the Open Championship and many of the hottest players on tour skipping the event, it’s a near-certainty that someone you haven’t heard of — or heard from in quite some time — breaks through for PGA Tour glory.
Here’s a look at those you can count on — and where to cut your losses:
Patrick Reed — Really? You’re going to pick against Patrick Reed on the week of the Fourth of July? Ok, so that’s not really a good enough reason to take Reed I supposed. What is, however, is that he’s been playing some quality golf as of late though he hasn’t really put it all together. With a field that could easily be perceived as weak, it could be out-right domination for the best players in town.
Kevin Kisner — He’s already pulled into victory lane this year and there’s no doubt he has the ability to do it again — Kevin Kisner is a star in the making on Tour and 2017 is his breakout campaign. Again, with a field lacking serious star power, Kisner could easily rise to the top and collect career win No. 3 this week at the Greenbrier.
Webb Simpson — Yes, that Webb Simpson. Do you know any other Webb Simpsons? I didn’t think so. Sure, he hasn’t won on Tour since the 2013 Shriners Hospitals for Children, but he has been playing some really solid golf as of late and — you’re sensing a theme, right? — with a weaker field in White Sulphur Springs, it could be just the right time for Simpson to get his next win.
David Lingmerth — Another streaky player carrying some momentum into West Virginia is David Lingmerth. The best news about Lingmerth is that you should be able to pick him late or cheap in almost any format and, if recent history is any sort of tell, then you can expect some solid back-end points at worst and a win a best. Lingmerth hasn’t missed a cut since the RBC Heritage in April and collected a T-5 last week at the Quicken Loans National. Lingmerth should be on everyone’s radar this week.
J.B. Holmes — Granted, they all came before the re-build, J.B. Holmes is a guy with a great track record at the Old White TPC. Because of that, I think he has a great chance to break out of the mini slump he’s found himself in since finishing T-35 or better in his first seven starts of the year. Holmes has had four such finishes at this place in the past and makes good fantasy sense this week thanks in part to that and — you guessed it — the weaker field.
Bubba Watson — Normally, I’d like to give Bubba Watson the benefit of the doubt and list him as a “player” at a place he plays often and is spokesman for, but his recent form has been nothing short of pitiful and thus, he makes this list. Keep in mind, Watson was getting near favorite money at the Travelers Championship two weeks ago and he ended up missing the cut. If Bubba is going to miss cuts at tracks he’s flat-owned in recent years, you’ve got to believe there’s more going on than meets the eye. In a fantasy sense, he’s kryptonite this week.
Vijay Singh — Many have been tempted to take a flyer on Vijay Singh this week, but I’m here to tell you — that would be a fool’s errand. Singh is to be avoided. Sure, he recorded a T-16 at the PLAYERS — and that could’ve been better, too — but the rest of the season has been a hodge-podge of missed cuts and weekend struggles. Despite the name recognition, there’s no real reason to give Singh any attention this week.
Boo Weekley — There aren’t too many players on the planet I root for more than Boo Weekley. Sure, he’s passed his prime and his 15 minutes of fame have faded, but Boo is still the same guy he was before he burst into the nation’s conscious during the Ryder Cup in 2008 and still a guy who can go low from time-to-time. I want to list him as a player this week, but his WD from the Quicken Loans due to elbow tendinitis tells me there might be more trouble here than he’s worth.
Curtis Luck — I was seriously torn about which list Curtis Luck would land on this week, but ultimately, I think he’s a poser at the Greenbrier. Why? Inexperience. Plain and simple. I’ve heard arguments about Luck, who finished T-5 last week in our Nation’s Capital, that say he could be a force the next couple weeks since his consistent play and T-5 finish all but guarantee he will keep his card for 2017-18, but I still think his youth and inexperience will keep him from doing anything spectacular this week in West Virginia. I won’t try any harder to talk you out of starting Luck, but I’m a little more apprehensive than most, I suppose.