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The Field

The field for this week’s event remains at a full 156 golfers.  It’s going to feature a similar field as you saw last week in that there is some high level talents in the top end of the field but the bottom end of the field includes many lessor known players.  The cut will still take place on Friday and include the top 70 plus ties.  Some big names who will be competing include, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and JB Holmes.

The Course

The Old White Course (TPC) at the Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Par 70, 7200-7300 yards

The Old White Course is one of the oldest courses on tour but one that has under gone some extensive renovations of late.  In 2012 the course underwent renovations which included reseeding the greens to Bentgrass and lengthening/toughening many of the holes.  This renovation has seemed to have the desired effect as scores have been much tamer since the changes and last year’s winning tally of -16 was actually the highest since the redesign, expect a score in the low teens or thereabouts to win.  Unlike last week there’s not a ton of easy birdie holes and the players will face some challenging and long par 4’s and par 3’s.  While accuracy isn’t hugely important this week staying out of the rough is pretty vital as it can make the course a whole lot longer and tougher than it already is.  The Old White Course has truly turned into a decent all-around test of golf and a player with good ball striking and decent all-around skills should prosper.

Last 5 winnersUSATSI_8660285_168381090_lowres

Angel Cabrera—2014
Jonas Blixt—2013
Ted Potter Jr.—2012
Scott Stallings—2011
Stuart Appleby—2010

What will it take to succeed at the Old White Course?

There’s a lot of different skills that will be put to test this week.  Hitting the ball straight will have its advantages as playing from the rough at this course can be tough.  However Angel Cabrera has never been known for his accuracy and still had success last year by hitting a ton of greens in regulation.  The year before Jonas Blixt won by being a wizard on and around the putting greens.  The truth is there’s a lot of different ways to succeed at this course, and in the end I don’t think there’s really no one style to favour over the other.  The players who have their games in top form should have success and I’d recommend looking for players who are coming in playing well and ready for a tough week.  Weather may play a factor and the softer the course gets the more I would favour good ball strikers and long hitters, over shorter hitters who tend to thrive around and on the green.

What statistics are important?

Given that there’s no real one style of game that seems to have an advantage here we don’t have a ton of stats to go off of.  As the course is a par 70, par 4 scoring again becomes very important.  Players have to score well for the week on par 4’s and there is some tough ones that will challenge the players this week.  Additionally as the course plays tough all around and the conditions may possibly be wet for the week (slowing down the greens) I think strokes gained: tee to green is likely a good stat to include in any research.  Players who are striking it solidly appeared to do well here last year in wet conditions and I expect that trend to continue.  As much as putting and scrambling is important I expect a player who is striking it solidly throughout their bag to have a leg up this week and would be inclined to put more emphasis on tee to green stats than putting or short play this week.

Who has had success at this event?

The golf course was significantly renovated after the 2010 event and made quite a bit tougher so looking at results from before that year may not provide much help.
  • Webb Simpson has really shown an affinity for the new design of the Old White Course. In four attempts since the reno’s he’s only finished outside the top ten once and was 3rd last year.
  • Pat Perez has been playing solidly of late and is another whose prospered here since 2010. He has a 6th and a 27th in his last three starts here.
  • Bill Haas has played here each of the last four years and never missed the cut. He’s also put up 9th and 2nd place finishes in that span.
  • Keegan Bradley appears to like the new design. He’s made 3 of 3 cuts since 2011 and finished 4th last year
  • Brendon de Jonge has made 5 of 5 cuts at this course since 2010 and recorded two top 5 finishes.
Who has struggled here?
  • Kevin Kisner has played here three times since 2011 and never made the cut. He’s actually never shot better than 70 since the renovations.
  • Colt Knost has a similar record. He’s missed three of three cuts at this event and really struggled with the new layout.
  • William McGirt has now played the new course 4 times and only made the weekend once. He’s never finished inside the top 60 here.
  • Eric Compton has played this course three times since the renewal but never finished inside the top 70.
My Recommendation?

This course plays tougher than people realize.  The weather this week is supposed to include some rain and the course will likely be softened somewhat because of it.  I’d really look for players who are striking it well from the tee and fairway and who will be able to give themselves some easy looks at birdie while avoiding the big numbers.  I think similar to last year when Cabrera caught fire on the weekend, the player who strikes the ball the best this week will eventually come out on top and should be aided by softer than normal conditions.

My Pick to Win: Paul Casey

There’s a ton of guys I could put here but Casey was hitting it extremely well last week and looks like he is in good enough form to finally break through and land himself another victory.  The soft conditions should help him and he certainly has the length, accuracy and experience to capitalize.