Australians have hopes at Greenbrier
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 Greenbrier Classic | Preview | 01 Jul 2014
The PGA Tour heads to White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia this week for the Greenbrier Classic where despite being considerably below the world number three, Bubba Watson, in ranking, Jimmy Walker is likely to start favourite because of his recent form and his great record over the Old White Course.
Walker has finished runner-up and twice 4th in three of his four starts in the event and combined with his brilliant season in 2014 it makes him the obvious favourite in may people’s view.
Walker has won three times in season 2014 and although they were all earlier in the season he has also played well of late when finishing 9th at the US Open, 10th at the Crowne Invitational at Colonial and 6th at the Players Championship.
Suffice to say he has, on appear at least, all the credentials to again play well at this venue.
Bubba Watson missed the cut at the US Open and was then only 31st at one of his favourite venues at the Travelers but prior to that his form was outstanding. He has played this event only once that coming last year when 30th which was neither good nor bad. At his best he could handle this field but whether he is there at present is an unknown.
Jonas Blixt was the winner in 2013 in his only start in the event and he proved that was no fluke by finishing runner-up at Augusta National this year. The concern for those who might fancy his chances given his 100% record at the venue is that he has struggled with his form since the Masters. This might be the opportunity to get things back on track.
Brendon De Jonge enjoys a good record in this event and despite a busy schedule of twenty events already this season, he has continued to play solidly. De Jonge finished a very respectable 8th at last week’s Quicken Loans event and with top four finishes in two of his three outings at the Old White he is a good chance it would seem to again do well.
Steve Stricker is certainly one of the class players in the field and has snuck along under the radar this season putting together a good number of solid tournaments. Stricker has played this event just once but did well enough when 22nd in 2012. He is too good of a player not to factor into calculations this week and, with many of the elite timing their run into Royal Liverpool elsewhere, he stands a good chance of being in the thick of things.
The tournament has been good to Australians in its relatively short history. Stuart Appleby recorded a final round of 59 when winning in 2010 and Steve Bowditch and Matt Jones finished joint runners-up last year.
Bowditch had a good week last week when 21st at Congressional a performance good enough to see him being a genuine possibility for a victory to follow that he recorded in San Antonio earlier in the season.
Matt Jones, too, won earlier this year when successful in Houston. He has however been rather ordinary since.
Marc Leishman played well in the first year he teed it up in this event but has not been so good since although his 8th place finish last week was very impressive and he appears to be peaking having had other good weeks in Hartford and Dallas.
Other Australians in the field include Robert Allenby, Scott Gardiner, Greg Chalmers, Oliver Goss and Bronson La Cassie. Both Goss and Chalmers led early last week in Washington, Goss no doubt better for the experience he had in just his second outing in the professional ranks.
New Zealanders Danny Lee and Tim Wilkinson will also tee it up.