Mickelson heads Greenbrier field
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2011 Greenbrier Classic | Preview | 28 Jul 2011
The Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia is the next event for the PGA Tour and give its scheduling ahead of next week’s World Golf Championship event in Ohio and the following week’s PGA Championship then it becomes a ‘must play’ or a ‘must miss’ dependant on the preparation a player likes to give himself for such events.
The event has however been lucky enough to attract one of the game’s most charismatic figures in Phil Mickelson. Not only does Mickelson head the list of world ranked players in the field, just his presence alone will ensure the event gets a much wider level of interest and coverage than otherwise would have been the case.
Mickelson comes off his best ever finish in an Open Championship and stated today that he felt he had made a significant find at the Open. “I felt like I kind of turned a corner for me and I’m starting to put things together slowly, be a little bit more patient and enjoy my time on the course and be more creative hitting shots again,” he said during a media scrum on Wednesday.
The Old White TPC layout at Greenbrier was originally established back in 1914 but Seth Raynor did major modifications ten years later and in the past twelve months the greens have been reseeded and another 240 or so yards have been added to the length.
The addition of length was in some measure to defend the layout against the onslaught it suffered last year although Mickelson was philosophical about that aspect. “I don’t know what it was like before or what the changes have been since, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with guys scoring low,” he said. “We’re supposed to be the best at what we do, so I don’t think it’s an issue. But it is supposed to be a little bit more difficult, so we’ll see.”
Mickelson will start the favourite despite this being his first time at the venue. He is by some way the leading world ranked player in the field as you need to go down to # 20, Retief Goosen, to find the next highest ranked.
Goosen withdrew from the recent Open Championship with a back injury but provided he is fit he could do very well. Just when he looked like he might have a good Open Championship he was out of the event after round one but in the weeks leading up he was playing well. He could easily return to his post Open Championship form this week.
There is hardly a golf fan alive who does not wish for Sergio Garcia’s return to the winner’s circle. He is certainly playing as if that is not far off. He finished 7th at the US Open, runner-up in Germany at the BMW International and then a very solid 9th at the Open Championship. He is playing very consistently generally in 2011 and I expect that to continue this week.
Jeff Overton finished runner-up to Appleby last year after the Australian need a 59 to beat him in the final round. His third at the recent AT&T was impressive enough to be convinced of his chances this week.
Webb Simpson is developing into an outstanding player and although yet to win this could well be a good week to do just that. He has not missed a cut in his last tens tarts and has been twice second in season 2011. He surprisingly missed the cut in 2010 but is a much improved player of late.
The Australians in the field are; John Senden, Stuart Appleby, Michael Sim, Marc Leishman, Steven Bowditch, Jarrod Lyle, Aron Price, Matt Jones, Nathan Green, Cameron Percy, Greg Chalmers, Nick O’Hern, Steve Elkington, Rod Pampling Andre Stolz and Steve Allan.
Stolz, Pampling and Allan each gained a spot via Monday qualifying which is an achievement in itself as only four players got through.
Senden heads the Aussies in terms of world ranking but there will be a lot of interest as to whether Appleby can pull a rabbit out of the hat as he did last year with his final round of 59 to defeat Jeff Overton producing an eight shot turnaround on the American to do so.
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