PGA Tour Golf Odds and Predictions: The Greenbrier Classic
by Alan Matthews - 7/5/2012
While I didn’t have Tiger Woods winning his Tour-leading third PGA tournament of the season last week at his AT&T National event at Congressional, there were some good results in Top-10 picks. I had Woods (-250), Hunter Mahan (even-money) and Bo Van Pelt (+275) to all finish inside the Top 10 and they did. Van Pelt finished runner-up to Tiger by two shots. I also took Dustin Johnson (-175) to finish outside the Top 10 and he did. I did miss on Jim Furyk finishing in the Top 10 and Nick Watney and Adam Scott finishing outside it. My pick to win was Martin Laird, who was a solid 11th.
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So now the Tour moves to the Greenbrier Classic at the Old White TPC Course (which hosted the 1979 Ryder Cup) in Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. It’s probably the only big sports event in the state outside of college sports. That I can’t say for sure, but I can say with certainty that it’s currently the youngest event on Tour as this will be its third season.
Even though the tournament itself doesn’t have much tradition and the prize money is mediocre, there’s a surprisingly good field this week (reports are that the course owner gives out personal-service fees to the stars). Tiger, rather shockingly in my opinion, is playing here for the first time. Phil Mickelson is back for the second year in a row. U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (who, again isn’t planning on playing the British Open due to his wife’s pregnancy), Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, reigning FedEx Cup winner Bill Haas and Dustin Johnson are some of the other marquee players in the field.
Last week’s victory was Tiger’s 74th all-time, moving him past Jack Nicklaus and into second on the career list. Woods still has nine to go to pass Sam Snead’s record, so that’s likely at least a few years away. Ironically, Snead became head pro at the Old White TPC Course in 1944. Trivia question: Do you remember where Tiger’s first win was? It was in 1996 in Las Vegas.
Mickelson is the only other active player on the all-time Top-10 wins list with 40. Incidentally, Tiger took over the top spot in the current FedEx Cup points list with last week’s victory. Woods probably DOESN’T want to win this week. Why? He won in his final start before the Masters and U.S. Open earlier this year and didn’t finish in the Top 20 in either major. So maybe that’s why he’s playing this week – to not win as he did last week??
This tournament has had very noteworthy moments already. In 2010, champion Stuart Appleby closed with a 59 to tie the all-time TOUR single round record. Last year, rookie unknown Scott Stallings made a birdie on No. 18 (one of six back-nine birdies on Sunday) to qualify for a three-man playoff and then sank a seven-footer for birdie on the 168-yard hole to beat Bob Estes and Bill Haas. Tournament officials made the course much tougher last year as Stallings won at 10-under (the lowest round of the tournament was 64) compared to Appleby’s 22-under in 2010.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: The Greenbrier Classic Favorites
Of course, Tiger is the favorite at 7/2, but we don’t know how he will play this course for the first time. But it’s hard enough to win any tournament, much less go back-to-back. Woods last did so in August 2009, but that was when he was still king of the world.
Simpson is the second-favorite at 16/1. He has played here both years, finishing T9 a season ago and missing the cut in 2010. I still think Simpson is a bad play after his U.S. Open high and with impending fatherhood on his mind.
Johnson and Mickelson are both at 20/1. Lefty missed the cut here last year at three-over and hasn’t really contended in a tournament since the Masters. Johnson is playing here for the first time, and he did win playing in Memphis for the first time last month.
Furyk and Stricker close out the favorites at 22/1. Furyk finished T9 here two years ago and skipped last year, while Stricker is playing for the first time. I’m not sure Furyk is over his blown chance at the U.S. Open. Stricker, meanwhile, is probably more focused on next week when he looks to win the John Deere Classic for the fourth year in a row.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: The Greenbrier Classic Predictions
I do have to go with Tiger at -300 to finish in the Top 10 as well as Johnson (+185). But no on Simpson (-200), Mickelson (-250) and Stricker (-275). Here’s my sleeper Top-10 finisher: Brandon De Jonge at +350. He was fourth here last year and third in 2010. I am frankly tempted to pick him to win at 35/1.
Haas at 40/1 seems like great value after how he played here a year ago. But he has missed cuts in his past two tournaments and four of his past six. Haas hasn’t been the same since winning the Northern Trust Open in February.
But I’m going to go off the grid a bit this week and take Jimmy Walker at 50/1 to win his first tournament. He has finished fourth in both installments of this tournament and played very well in the first two rounds last week at Congressional before fading.