Take me home, country roads: [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/19294911″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /] The annual Greenbrier Classic (or alternatively known as “The Jim Justice Show”) at the base of the Appalachian Mountains in Southern West Virginia is where you will find the top talent some golfers that you’ve heard of this holiday weekend. Get out your coonskin caps and your moonshine…. we’re going to West Virginia!
The Old White TPC
The Old White course (surprisingly, it is NOT named after Jim Justice) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and will be the site of this event through the 2021 season (pretty sure Kirk Ferentz will be halfway through his current contract at that point). The course was a certified Audubon bird sanctuary, as proven by Stuart Appleby’s 59* in 2010. (* – Have to throw an asterisk on this one. The course was a complete joke, and there were also scores of 60, 61, 62, and TEN 63’s, including one from a guy that missed the cut.) The course has since been lengthened to nearly 7,300 yards, and joined the TPC network. It still fits the bill as a scoring fest, just not in the record breaking fashion that we saw in the inaugural year. It’s signature hole is the simple 160 yard par-3 finishing hole, which has provided some drama in recent years, most notably being Appleby dropping a bird to break 60 and shoot 22 under par, and Scott Stallings snaking a bird in during the playoff in 2013. But when a playoff comes to this hole? It’s a bit of a snoozer (don’t mind Tron – he had Bill Haas at 60/1 a few years ago in the playoff vs. Stallings and Haas was between clubs on the hole).
Wild and wonderful West Virginia is the subject of a lot of jokes (and I havent even mentioned WVU’s Holgorsen era yet), particularly of the incestual nature, but it is also one of the most beautiful states in the entire nation. My great grandfather landed in Parkersburg, West Virginia nearly 100 years ago, and I was born in West By God Virginia and into diehard Mountaineer torturous fandom in the mid ’80’s. Since then, nearly all of my entire family and extended family has moved from the state, but the spirit of West Virginia still lives in us (incredibly cheesy, but true).
What The Mountain State lacks in education, industry, and teeth (I’m allowed to make these stereotypical jokes, you are not), it makes up for with a magnificent landscape, scenery, and old fashioned southern hospitality. West Virginians are a proud, proud people, as many have lived in that same state for their entire lives. The coal industry employs 30,000 West Virginians, although Obama’s “War on Coal” lead to a 40% decline in exports in 2013. While the rest of the country has grown up and adapted to the ever growing information age, West Virginia truly feels a generation or two behind.
As far as the crowd you can expect at The Classic, be prepared to see cut-off tees and awkwardly tall hats with the patented WVU logo on the top (most assuredly a gas station purchase). Mustaches and long hair will be a fixture, and these fans will flock to the Bubba Watson grouping in droves, immune to the reality of who Bubba truly is. While the Greenbrier resort itself is nice, there is NOTHING to do around the area. I mean, nothing. The resort literally brings in entertainment every year to prevent the players from blowing their brains out, as they practically are not allowed to leave the premises (more on this in The Fringe at the bottom).
It was a snooze fest last year, as Mickelson missed the cut for the second consecutive year (Can you blame him, though? Between here and his annual Abu Dhabi appearance, his falconry game is TIGHT!), and Blixt’s buttery flatstick won it’s first tour event nearly in the dark after an evening of rain delays. GIF courtesy of Adam Sarson, aka the GIF Factory. See his GIF collection from the 2013 Greenbrier here.
(all lines courtesy Ladbrokes.com, the Official Bookmaker of NoLayingUp.com)
Horses for Courses
Bill Haas (25/1) – Runner up in 2011 and T9 a year ago. He dropped all the way to T30 at Congressional last week, but played much better than that (a final round 77 was his undoing). We’ll ride with Bill again, he’s bound to break through soon.
Brendon de Jonge (33/1) – Top 5 here in 2011 and 2010, and coming off a T8 a week ago at the Quicken Loans. If he’s going to win a tour event (kind of surprised he hasn’t), it will be at a course like this that’s flat, and gives him a chance to take advantage of his delicious iron play.
Daniel Summerhays (50/1) – I was hoping to get longer odds, but he’s finished in the top 10 here each of the last two years, so the oddsmakers were on to him. He’s made his last six cuts, but with less than fantastic results. While I don’t love the odds, I do think he is worth a play here.
Chris Kirk (33/1) – I don’t love these odds, but I’ve got a hunch on Kirk this week. He’s gotta be sick of seeing his buddy Brendon Todd beat his ass (along with everyone else’s) week in and week out. No history here, but the dude hasn’t missed a cut this year!
Patrick Reed (40/1) – We’re gonna skip the usual jokes, and just point out that the dude was ballin out last week before a back nine collapse at Congressional. He had some awful struggles after the famous comments, but the guy can still play. I think he’s finally calmed down from the shit storm he caused, and ready to be a regular contender again.
Value Fliers (excuse us while we get LOOSE this week on long shots, there’s plenty of ’em!)
Tim Wilkinson (125/1) – I’ve been alerting people over the last several weeks that this guy needs to get on people’s radar. He’s finished in the top 32 in four of the last five weeks, all despite less than stellar results on Sundays. I’ve been waiting to make a play on this guy, and with a shorter course on tap this week, I think he’s worth your attention.
Steven Bowditch (125/1) – Aside from being one of the coolest dudes I met at the Memorial, he’s got a solid history at the Greenbrier with a T2 last year, and a T18 in2011. He had missed four straight cuts before finishing T21 a week ago. I don’t love Bowditch himself as much as I do the price. A true flier.
Richard H. Lee (200/1) – Dumb odds for a player who finished T11 last week (bookended 68’s with 74’s) and 2/2 in made cuts here the last two years. In eight rounds on TPC Old White he hasn’t carded anything higher than 70. I sense some comfort here and will lay the lumber (Richard also boasts great lettuce, which never hurts).
Spencer Levin (300/1) – Good history at this event. Super-sluggish 2014 thus far on the major medical exemption but made the cut last week and putting well of late. Spence is too good of a talent/gunslinger not to post some solid results and one has to think he’s got this portion of the calendar penciled in as the place to vault into the top 125 in FedEx Cup.
Honorable Mentions & Fantasy Fodder
Jimmy Walker absolutely needs to be in your fantasy lineup. He loves this place, and is the favorite, but we just can’t advise betting on him at 12/1. Brendon Todd also needs to be there, but he’s getting the Kuchar treatment, and he’s coming in at 20/1. Keep your eye on Todd as a potential Ryder Cup qualifier (something I could not have imagined saying four months ago, and to be honest, I’m rooting for him to be on the team at this point).
- Maroon 5 and Jimmy Buffet headline the concert series this year, in what has turned out to be main attraction of the event. Get ready for soooooo much white people dancing:
- We didn’t do a recap again this weekend, as none of us were really glued into the coverage. We were close again with a few of our picks (Leishman especially), and Tron’s hunch on Reed and Noh looked fantastic as they made it to the final pairing before melting under the hot D.C. sun.
- The John Deere looms next week. In NLU parlance it’s commonly referred to as the Fifth Major. It’s a gettable bird-sanctuary, and the domain of Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth, two of our favorite dudes. Expect NLU to come strong.
- SHAMELESS. One would also imagine allergy season is a killer in these parts, no?
- For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Greenbrier, and desiring of a bit more than the cursory mention on the broadcast, here’s some cool background on the government bunker built for during the Cold War.
- This is really our only legitimate chance for appearance fees on this side of the pond (kind of surprised the tour has turned such a blind eye the last few years with this event). But let’s not forget about the other side of the spectrum – the alternates. There’s a BOATLOAD of them and they’re mostly comical this week.
Enjoy the week and catch us on twitter during coverage @NoLayingUp.