Congressional provided a quality backdrop for stellar golf for last week’s AT&T National. At the end of the week Bill Haas stood atop the rest of field as the champion. Now the PGA Tour leaves the city and heads to West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic at The Old White TPC. This week spectators can expect to see a field with seven of the top-30 in the official world rankings. Players will include Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, who is making his first start since finishing second at the US Open.
Ted Potter Jr is the defending champion after getting into a playoff via an exhilarating eagle-birdie finish and closing out a victory with a birdie on the first playoff hole.The record 72-hole finish in this short history event is Stuart Appleby’s 258 in 2010. The low 18-hole round also belongs to Appleby when he fires a final round 59 in 2010. Do you remember his 59? Do not worry, here are some highlights in this video for your pleasure.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
What will The Old White have in store for us this year? Let’s take a look at the venue a bit closer.The course was originally designed by Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor in 1914.The Old White got its name from the Old White Hotel that was present on the property until 1922. However since the PGA Tour officially added The Old White Course to the Tournament Players Club network it has seen modifications. Most notably are the reconstruction of all 18 greens (with all changes not being major) including a change to Tyee Creeping Bentgrass, a narrowing of fairways, expansion of the lake on the 16th hole and what changes would be complete with a lengthening of the course. This weekend The Old White TPC will play to a par of 70 over 7,274 yards.
Of the 18 holes on the card some will have greater significance than others but the question is which ones? The sixth hole is a 471 yard par 4 that will present itself as one of the hardest holes on the course come Sunday. This hole will have players teeing off to an undulating fairway that slopes right to left with a deep bunker just waiting for an errant tee shot. If players hit the fairway they will play an uphill second shot to an average size green. Players will guard against hitting it left into the two deep bunkers waiting to catch a poor approach. Aim for the middle, two putt and move on.
The 11th hole is a par 4 that plays to a challenging 493 yards. It is a dogleg left with bunkers on each side of the fairway in the landing area. As players line up their second shots they could be fooled by a bunker that appears to be next to the green when in fact it is 30 yards short. A player or two will make that mistake this week. The green itself is divided by a ridge which could make putting from the wrong location a bit of a challenge. The length and visual trickery could be voided but expect a few doubles here this week.
The 492 yard par 4 13th will prove demanding for the players all week. In fact the final round of the 2011 edition only saw four birdies here all day. When players are teeing off they will have to pay attention to avoiding the deep rough and trees to the right which are sure to crush any hope of par. A mid to long iron approach will be made more challenging by the back to front sloping green. If players can hit the green a two put is manageable but if they go long a chip back down this green will be challenging to say the least.
The 215 yard par 3 15th hole will be a greater challenge than the scorecard might let you believe. This hole was built to embrace the elements and that is exactly what it does. There is not much to block any environmental issues as players attempt to navigate the stream and the bunkers carefully located in the front and rear of the putting surface. The green here will slope back to front just like the 13th which will make getting a bunker shot or chip close to the hole a challenge.
If players are in striking distance after the 15th they can take solace in the fast approaching 17th and 18th holes. Unlike most courses the closing holes at The Old White TPC are not challenging but still breed drama. Just ask Ted Potter Jr who finished eagle-birdie to force a playoff here last year. While 616 yards and 162 yards respectfully they are ripe for the picking and expect a lot of leaderboard jostling at the end of each round here. As an example here are some of the highlights from Round four of last year’s Greenbrier Classic.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
But who might set the course a blaze this week? Who is going to come from behind or take the event wire-to-wire? Will Phil be ready to rebound after the US Open? Will there be yet another first time winner on tour at the Greenbrier Classic? Let’s take a look at some logical choices.
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