The Old White TPC, a historical golf course that has welcomed athletes onto its property since 1914, will be the host once again for the Greenbrier Classic. The PGA Tour will head to West Virginia to pay respect to the brave men and women who defend America and preserve its freedom.
With the Open Championship at Carnoustie a mere two weeks away, players will be looking to get their game into shape before they head overseas to compete for the Claret Jug. The Greenbrier provides that opportunity, promising to provide fans with great entertainment. Let’s take a look at some contenders for this week.
Xander Schauffele Eyeing Repeat Win
Last year at the Greenbrier, American youngster Xander Schauffele won the tournament by one stroke over his country counterpart, Robert Streb. Schauffele is a part of the next wave of young golfers, eager to break in and be in the conversation as the world’s best.
Xander has continued that success from last year, where he won the season-ending Tour Championship in addition to the Greenbrier. This season, he was tied for 2nd at The Players Championship, a tournament that many golf experts deem as the Tour’s fifth major. He also finished tied for 6th at the U.S. Open this year at Shinnecock Hills.
But in three of the last four tournaments he has played, Schauffele has missed the cut. These are not the performances the American phenom wants to have leading up to the Open Championship.
But Xander is optimistic that repeating at the Greenbrier can be done. In the eight-year history of the event, there has never been a golfer to win back-to-back championships. Four of the seven Greenbrier winners were first-time champions on the PGA Tour.
If Schauffele were to win, he would join his peers Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger as winning a tournament twice.
“I feel like I want to join that group,” Schauffele said.
If the American wants to repeat, he will need to have better luck finding the green and making more putts. This season, his Greens in Regulation is 64th on the tour (64.5%) and his Putting Average is 130th on the tour (1.78).
If Xander can put his approach shots within makable putting range, expect him to be up in the leaderboard come Sunday.
Bubba Watson Seeking Fourth Victory
Schauffele will have the superb competition to contend with at this Greenbrier. One of those contenders is Bubba Watson, who is seeking his fourth win this season.
Watson has previously won at the Genesis Open, the WGC- Match Play and last week two weeks ago at the Travellers Championship in Connecticut, where he shot a 63 in the final round to win.
Not only is Bubba knowledgeable of this course but he has a connection to the theme of the tournament. The American’s Father served in the military, giving extra meaning for playing up to his ferocious form on the course.
“It would be a huge accomplishment to win here in front of my home crowd,” Watson said. ”What a dream that would be, my dad was in the military so now we’ve got the name of the tournament. It just would mean a lot for my family to honor my late dad.”
Tony Finau Achieving Consistency
One of the golfers who has made an impressive move up the FedEx Cup standings has been Utah citizen Tony Finau. From one year ago to now, Finau has moved up 20 spots in the FedEx Cup rankings.
This season, the quiet-mannered American has six top tens, including two at the Masters and U.S. Open this year. His game has demonstrated that he can hit the ball consistently in the fairway and is reliable on crafting different shots to get the green.
“It’s been a great season for me,” said Finau, who is coming off a fifth-place U.S. Open finish in which he had a chance to win late Sunday. “Really solid season, and my best season thus far. I’ve played some really nice golf and I’ve learned a lot about myself both mentally and physically. I’ve been working really hard on my game, and I think it’s starting to show this year.”
Old and New, the Greenbrier Has It All
The Greenbrier is a favourite amongst golf fans. It is not just the golf course or the endearing military message it exclaims with pride, but also that the tournament welcomes legends of the game as well as rookies.
This week, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson will be trying to get his first win of the season. In a different grouping, college golfer Norman Xiong will be lacing up the shoes to play his first tournament as a professional, fresh off his Haskins Award honour.
With a golf course filled with birdie opportunities, expect to see low scores as the golfers will flex their muscles for not just their PGA Tour resume but for the American military at home and abroad.
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