Golf Odds and Predictions: Greenbrier Classic
by Alan Matthews - 7/3/2013
Thank you, Bill Haas; thank you for winning last week's AT&T National at Congressional. The PGA Tour would have been saddled with another no-name first time winner last week if not for you.
The three guys who finished behind Haas were Roberto Castro, Jason Kokrak and D.H. Lee (who led the field in driving accuracy and strokes gained-putting). Not exactly Woods, McIlroy and Mickelson there. Don't get me wrong, it's great that all these new faces are winning, but it's sure hard on the prediction business!
Haas joins Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose as the only players with at least one PGA Tour win in each of the past four years, which is sort of hard to believe that there are so few. Just tells you how deep these fields really are nowadays. Technology has really brought the lesser talented players closer to the stars. It was the fifth career win for Haas, the 2011 FedEx Cup champion. He nearly won the Northern Trust Open in February but threw away a three-shot lead with a final-round 73. Haas is really hit or miss right now. Past six tournaments: three top-four finishes (includes this win and the T2 in the non-official CVS Caremark Charity Classic that was early last week) and three missed cuts.
Alas, I didn't recommend Haas, who credited a putting tip from Brad Faxon for his victory. I liked Jason Day the most at 12/1, but he finished T21. I also obviously liked Day for a Top 10 as well as Adam Scott and Bo Van Pelt and non delivered. Frankly, it was a lost weekend all around. Let's move on.
This week the Tour moves to the Greenbrier Classic at The Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. This is a pretty new event, only around since 2010. That year, it played incredibly easy with Stuart Appleby closing with the fifth and most recent 59 in PGA Tour history to finish at 258. The course was changed after that blitzkrieg and the past two winners have finished at 264 and 270. The 7,287-yard course is a par 70 that's unusual because both par 5s are on the back nine (12 and 17).
Expect another first-time winner this year. Why? A rookie has won it the past two years, Ted Potter Jr. in 2012 and Scott Stallings in 2011 -- both in playoffs. Potter was four back with four to play a year ago but birdied No. 15, eagled No. 17 and birdied No. 18 to force the playoff against Troy Kelly, who missed birdie putts on his final two holes.
The British Open is in two weeks and anyone who finishes in the top five here who wouldn't automatically be exempt as in the Top 20 on the FedEx Cup points list following the tournament will get an invite to Muirfield. Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Haas, Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen headline this field. All three prior winners also are playing. As is Tom Watson, the club's golf pro emeritus (Sam Snead was also a former golf pro here) and 2014 Ryder Cup captain. If you watch this tournament in the first two rounds, check out the grouping of Mickelson, Watson and Potter Jr. -- all southpaws (at least on the golf course).
Golf Odds: The Greenbrier Classic Favorites
Mickelson is the 12/1 favorite at Bovada pretty much solely on name alone. First off, I'm not sure he's over his record sixth second-place finish at the U.S. Open. Second, he has missed the cut in his two previous starts at the Old White TPC.
Webb Simpson is next at 14/1, and he really should be the favorite. He has had one-shot leads on the back nine of this tournament the past two years but hasn't been able to finish. He is one of three players to have two Top-10 finishes in the first three go-rounds in this tournament. Simpson also played well last time out at the Travelers with a T5.
Haas and Watson are 18/1. I'll never pick Haas to win since it's nearly impossible to win in consecutive weeks. Watson is here for the first time -- he strangely has four Top 4 finishes on Tour this year and seems close to winning.
Graham DeLaet rounds out the Top 5 at 22/1. He's now clearly the best Canadian on Tour and looking for his first win. He has finished in the Top 10 in each of the past two weeks. He was T12 here last year.
Golf Odds: The Greenbrier Classic Picks
On the Top-10 props, I like Simpson (+120), Billy Horschel (+210) and Jimmy Walker (+425). Head-to-head, I lean Walker (-120) over Charles Howell III (-110), Simpson (-110) over Mickelson (-120) and Stallings (-115) over Scott Piercy (-115).
Clearly I like Walker quite a bit and he's awfully good value to win at 55/1. He missed the cut at this tournament a year ago but was fourth the previous two years. Walker is looking for his first win, so it'd be fitting. Have you seen how well 19-year-old Jordan Spieth is playing? Last week was his fifth Top 10 of the season. He's 33/1 to win.
My choice is Brendon de Jonge (40/1) to get his first win. Yes, he missed the cut last year and is struggling a bit this year but was T4 here in 2011 and third in 2010.
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