The PGA Tour kicks off of its 2019/20 season with the Greenbrier Classic this week. Since it has been a short two-week break from the Tour Championship, the majority of the top-ranked golfers in the world have chosen to sit this one out. Bryson DeChambeau headlines the field, with some exciting young talent in Viktor Hovland, Sungjae Im, and Joaquin Niemann teeing it up. The past three winners of the event are: Kevin Na, Xander Schauffele, and Danny Lee.
The Greenbrier Classic will be played at the Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The course has played host to the tournament since 2010, so there is plenty of course history to look at. Old White TPC is a par 70, 286 yard-long course that has massive fairways. Players hit fairways here at a much higher percentage than the Tour average. The course is naturally 2,000 feet above sea level, so expect some extra carry on drives.
- Course: Old White TPC
- Par 70
- 7, 286 yards-long
- Bentgrass Greens
Known as a second-shot course, strong approach play will be critical this week. Wedge play, in particular, will need to be sharp among golfers, as the majority of approaches come from the 125-150 yard mark. There are twelve par 4s on the scorecard that are relatively short in length. Birdie-or-better rates on par 4s will be a stat to focus in on. The challenging holes are three of the par 3s, as they measure over 200 yards. Golfers will be more than happy to walk away with a par on these. The Greens are very difficult here, and the event has turned into putting contests throughout its history.
- Strokes gained: approach
- Par 4 scoring
- Performance on bentgrass greens
Best Bets to Win
Sungjae Im (+3000 on DraftKings Sportsbook)
Sungjae Im is coming off of a phenomenal 2018/19 season that saw him finish in the top-30 of FedEx Cup Points and qualify for the Tour Championship. The talented South Korean had sixteen top-25 performances on Tour in his rookie campaign but is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory.
This course sets up very well for him, as he has been one of the hottest golfers in both approach and putting. In my custom model, over the last 10 weeks, Sungjae is top-10 in both strokes gained: approach, and strokes gained: putting. He is 22nd in birdie-or-better, 23rd in Par 4 scoring, and he finished 17th in strokes gained total in his rookie season!
Joaquin Niemann (+3000 on DraftKings Sportsbook)
Another young golfer in excellent form, Niemann seems poised for his first PGA victory. Over his last 10 events in the 2018/19 season, Niemann had three top-10 finishes. He has been heating up with the putter, which is usually his downfall. In fact, according to my model, Niemann is the 14th best in strokes gained: putting in the field. This is great news for the Chilean, as he does his best on bentgrass surfaces.
Niemann has always been known for his elite ball-striking and approach play. He finished 25th last year in strokes gained: approach and 33rd in strokes gained: tee-to-green. Eighth in par 4 scoring, Niemann should be able to make plenty of birdies this week to put himself in contention. Not to mention, he finished fifth at this course last year.