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Handicapping

The Greenbrier Classic Predictions

Event: The Greenbrier Classic
When: July 6-9, 2017
Where:The Old White TPC – White Sulphur Springs, WV
TV:The Golf Channel/CBS
by: Evergreen of Predictem.com

Redemption stories make for some of the best theater that sports can create. Almost everyone loves a player coming back from injury or a team that can erase a lingering defeat from a season past. Those kinds of stories feature an athlete or team so the triumph may seem to be shared by just a few but the inspiration travels through the fandom of sports and has a much greater impact.

The redemption story this week is much bigger and highlights the work done by an entire community. The PGA Tour is in West Virginia this week for the Greenbrier Classic. Just over a year ago, unimaginable rains fell in the area around White Sulphur Springs with the subsequent flooding consuming over 1,000 area homes, over 50 businesses and more than 20 lives. Most of the economic activity in the area is tied to the Greenbrier so there was little else to do other than rebuild. The work has gone on 24/7 since and just this week, the Old White will again open her doors to the public.

Golf, like many other sports, has image problems but the Tour, its players and sponsoring partners made this particular reclamation effort easier and showed the potential of their charitable purpose. This week will be the first “normal” week for the area since last June, although I suppose it will never be the same. Patrons will play the Greenbrier for the very first time after the PGA exits this weekend and I hope all the hard work done by so many to get the community back on its feet is on full display this week.

The course itself had to be redone. The Old White TPC will follow the same paths as before the flood but the 7,287 yard. Par-70 course needed every green to be rebuilt and essentially every square inch of turf replaced. Phil Mickelson was part of the redesign team that also trimmed a selection of trees to allow some different views for the players. No one, including Mickelson and summer local Bubba Watson, will have been able to play the Old White prior to the Greenbrier week. This tournament has been relatively high scoring since debuting in 2010 but we will all find out together if low scores will rule the day after the remodel.

Mickelson and Watson will highlight the field this week and are pretty strong favorites alongside the likes of Patrick Reed and Bill Haas. The Greenbrier is part of the Open Qualifying Series, which makes for a tournament within a tournament this week as several players will gain exemptions to Royal Birkdale. The tournament is relatively light on big names, especially from the Euro side but that has not stopped international players from having a major impact on this event. Danny Lee, Angel Cabrera and Jonas Blixt have all won as international players with Stuart Appleby winning the inaugural Greenbrier in 2010, making four non-American winners in just six years.

Each week, we take a look at the lines at Bovada Sportsbook (50% bonus up to $250 FREE and your credit card will work there!) and highlight our favorites to win. We will be skipping the head-to-head match picks this week as the July 4th schedule has us ahead of the game and most online sportsbooks do not have their pairing announced as of Monday morning. Here are our picks to win the 2017 Greenbrier Classic.

Kevin Kisner (18 to 1 odds to win)

Kisner is one of those guys that you hardly notice during the week, yet, there he is on Sunday, cashing another nice check. Kevin has missed just two cuts in eighteen starts this season, while winning the Dean and Deluca just a few weeks back and adding two more runner-up finishes. He was 2nd here in 2015 as part of four-man playoff eventually won by Danny Lee so there are few in the field that have his success rate in the short time the Old White has been part of the rotation. Kisner is 10th in fairways, 48th in greens hit and is good enough on the greens to make both birdie putts and par saves. That accuracy off the tee should play well this week as this course is reportedly running firm and fast. Wayward drives are made worse by those conditions but accurate players wind up gaining a big advantage as their drives benefit from extra roll out in the short stuff. Kevin is a solid overall player and has a tendency to hit it close when he is on and that will help him keep up if the scoring returns to the traditional pace from years past.

Tony Finau (25 to 1)

Tony is on the short list of highly talented players on Tour that just haven’t quite nailed down what it takes to regularly contend. His distance stats are elite and he enters the week 6th in greens hit and 3rd in total birdies. Those are numbers you just cannot argue with if you need someone to keep pace in a shootout but Finau’s inability to limit the mistakes often keeps him a few strokes off the first page of the leaderboard. He ranks outside the top-100 in scrambling but he hits so many greens each week that you can call for a winning type of performance if he can save a few keys pars here or there. Tony is top-20 in scoring average and is 21st in strokes gained overall to make for one of the highest ceilings in the field. A good week with the up-and-down chances should have him in contention.

Charles Howell III (40 to 1)

He really should have won last week but a putt on 18 went begging by less than a half inch and another missed putt on the 18th in the playoff sent him home with a fourth career playoff loss on his record. Howell was playing for the first time after a two-plus month hiatus due to a rib injury and seeing him come out with that kind of effort should mean plenty of good things for the rest of his season. Howell has to be the most talented player on Tour to currently not have exempt status based on a recent win. It has been ten years since Chuck hoisted a trophy but he has been in the top-10 nearly 50 times since that last win so he is the definition of overdue. Howell is 12th in greens hit, 14th in scoring, 2nd in actual scoring, 26th in approach proximity and 1st on Tour in scrambling. There isn’t much he doesn’t do well and a win cannot be far off.

Good luck and good golf.

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