The British Open is in two weeks, meaning that many players on the PGA Tour will play their final warm-up event in the USA this week and then head across the pond to start preparing for the year’s third major. The professionals head to West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic. Here’s a look at the Sports Interaction golf favourites as well as odds on the Canadians in the field.
Old White TPC Course Restored
As many as four berths in the British Open at Royal Birkdale are up for grabs this week for players among the Top 12 finishers not already qualified for the Open. Then there’s just one spot left next week at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic.
The Greenbrier Classic is one of the newer events on Tour as it has only been staged since 2010 at the Old White TPC course at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Unfortunately, the tournament had to be canceled last year because of severe flooding in that area which led to several deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. The resort was used to house and feed around 700 flood victims. The golf course’s entire back nine had to be rebuilt along with all 18 greens replaced, among other things. The Old White is a par 70 measuring 7,287 yards. One of the handful of 59s in Tour history was shot here in 2010 by Stuart Appleby, who won the first Greenbrier Classic. He also set a tournament record total of 258.
Greenbrier Classic Favourites
The defending champion is technically New Zealand’s Danny Lee, who beat David Hearn, Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb in a playoff two years ago. All four were tied at 13 under after four rounds. It marked the third playoff in the tournament’s six-year history.
American Patrick Reed is the +1200 betting favourite. He comes off a 17th-place finish last week at the Quicken Loans National. Reed hasn’t finished better than 26th in three trips to this tournament. Bill Haas is +1400. He was my pick to win last week but finished 13th. He has two Top 10s in this tournament, including a runner-up in 2011 when he and Bob Estes lost in a playoff to Scott Stallings.
Kisner and Phil Mickelson (both +1800) round out the favourites. Kisner hasn’t teed it up since the U.S. Open. Before that runner-up finish at the 2015 Greenbrier, Kisner had missed the cut three straight trips to this event.
It will be Mickelson’s first tournament since shocking the golf world by parting ways with long-time caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay. They were one of the most-recognized duos in golf, combining for 41 PGA Tour wins, including five majors. Mickelson, who hasn’t won anywhere since the 2013 British Open, simply felt it was time for a change and will use his brother as caddie. Tim Mickelson is a former golf coach at Arizona State but had quit to become the agent for rising star Jon Rahm.
Canadian Golfer Odds
Graham DeLaet is +5100 to win and Hearn is +6800. DeLaet missed the cut last week following rounds of 71-75. It was his seventh missed cut in 19 events this season. DeLaet’s best result here was 12th in 2012. Hearn’s runner-up in 2015 was the best result for a Canadian ever in this tournament. On the second playoff hole, the par-5 17th, Hearn drove behind a tree and made bogey to be eliminated. He was also 12th at this tournament in 2012. Hearn finished 73rd last week.
Nick Taylor is +10900, Mackenzie Hughes +12700 and Brad Fritsch +27500. Taylor was 29th last week and missed the cut in 2015 at this tournament in his debut. Hughes was 51st last week and is playing here for the first time. Fritsch last played at the Travelers Championship and was 43rd. He has a missed cut and 41st-place finish in West Virginia.
Greenbrier Classic Predictions
With just four of the world’s Top 30 in action, this looks completely wide open. It has been under-the-radar guys who have won the previous six Greenbrier Classics. I like Haas for a Top 10 but will go with longer-shot Jimmy Walker at +5100 to win. He’s not playing great golf the past few tournaments but has a strong track history at the Old White TPC with one runner-up and two fourth-place finishes.