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PGA Tour 2019: A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier Preview

Golfer lines up iron shot

Well, that wasn’t much of a break.  In fact, this will be the earliest turnover ever for the resumption of festivities on the PGA Tour.  This will be the first time that this event, charmingly known as A Military Tribute at Greenbrier, will kick-start the tour.  

US PGA Tour | A Military Tribute at Greenbrier
The Old White TPC Course at Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Thursday 12 September – Sunday 15 September 2019

This event started as recently as 2010, originally known as Greenbrier Classic. Stuart Appleby won the inaugural event, shooting a 59 in the final round to win in a preposterous 22 under par. The Greenbrier has undergone various alterations since, mostly in an attempt to ensure that the Appleby score did not become the norm around this course. Memorably, the event was cancelled three years ago due to extreme waterlogging.

The Greenbrier is one of the oldest resorts in America, dating back to 1778. Tourists would flock to the hot springs that defined the area. It has entertained the rich and famous ever since. The course was designed by Charles Blair McDonald and Seth Raynor, originally opening in 1914. It underwent various renovations in 2006 under Lester George. But the Appleby score prompted a drastic 2012 renovation, with all the greens changed to bentgrass. The course was also lengthened by nearly 300 yards. The move seemed to work, with Kevin Na’s winning score of – 19 last year a slight aberration.  The statistical analysis seems to suggest that putting could prove critical this week.

Only Bryson DeChambeau will compete from inside the world’s top 20 this week. It’s not surprising, giving the short turnaround since Rory McIlroy’s heroics at East Lake. Viktor Hovland has got many tongues wagging while Jason Kokrak and Sungjae Im are coming off excellent seasons. Bubba Watson is certainly one who will command a strong gallery while Joaquin Niemann and Mark Leishmann underline the strength of the international presence this week.

Past Winners
2018: Kevin Na (-19)
2017: Xander Schauffele (-14)
2016: waterlogged 
2015: Danny Lee (-13)*playoff
2014: Angel Cabrera (-16)

Outright Betting (To Win)
Bryson DeChambeau (12/1)
Viktor Hovland (16/1)
Jason Kokrak (16/1)
Sungjae Im (20/1)
Joaquin Niemann (22/1)

Value Bets

Robert Streb
To Win (50/1), To Place (11/1)

The old ‘horses for courses’ choice. Though this event has shown a remarkable capacity to reward first-time participants, Streb’s record here is certainly formidable. The former PGA Tour winner has finished runner-up twice at the Greenbrier, in 2015 and as recently as 2017. He also finished in a tie for 11th last year, highlighting his ease in this event. He hasn’t been in the greatest of form, though a recent tie for 5th on the Korn Ferry Tour is perhaps an indicator that he could once again perform well at this favoured venue.

Kramer Hickock
To Win (80/1), To Place (17/1)

As this event always throws up a surprise, Korn Ferry Tour graduates often offer great value around the Greenbrier. They have been consistently playing golf while the regular tour players have been sipping pina coladas. Hickock recently finished 3rd at the Korn Ferry Championship, the cherry on the top in what has been an excellent late season surge. He reclaimed his tour card for the 2nd consecutive year and will be looking to be more clinical this campaign. He was 36th in shots gained around the green last season, which should put him in a decent position on a course that now demands precision on the greens.

The Man to Beat

Jason Kokrak
To Win (16/1), To Place (7/2)

Bryson DeChambeau is an extremely dicey prospect, especially since he was outed for his sloth-like pace of play. Jason Kokrak is an excellent compromise, coming off of a real breakthrough season. Though he is yet to win a PGA Tour event, he came within a whisker last year at both this event and the Valspar. He shot opening rounds of 65 and 64 last season here, showcasing his fit for this layout. He is in great form, with four consecutive top 20 finishes. That included a tie for 9th at the season-ending Tour Championship. This field may represent the perfect opportunity for Kokrak to break his PGA Tour duck.

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