T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
2014 Greenbrier Classic | Five players to watch
Series: Golf Buzz
Published: Wednesday, July 02, 2014 | 9:04 a.m.
This week the PGA Tour is in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., to take on the Old White TPC in the Greenbrier Classic.
It's a course where low scores can be had. In fact, Stuart Appleby fired a 59 in the final round on his way to winning the tournament in 2010.
While scores can go low, we're not likely to see another 59. The Old White course opened in 1914, but joined the TPC network of courses in March 2011 and was lengthened to 7,287.
Here are five players to keep an eye on at Greenbrier, two weeks before the Open Championship tees off at Royal Liverpool.
5. Jonas Blixt
Best finish in 2013-14 season: T2 at the Masters
Reason to watch: Blixt has been in a bit of a rut lately, missing the cut in five of his last seven starts. However, there was one serious flash of brilliance in that stretch with his tie for second at the Masters. Blixt returns to Greenbrier this year as the defending champion. Based on his play lately, I wouldn't necessarily expect him to win. But, if he's going to snap out of this funk, Greenbrier could be the perfect place.
4. Scott Stallings
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Farmers Insurance Open
Reason to watch: There was a stretch recently where Stallings missed the cut in seven of eight starts. Believe it or not, that's no reason for alarm with Stallings, a three-time PGA Tour winner. For this 29-year-old, it truly is feast or famine. His lone top-25 finish this season was his win at Torrey Pines. When he plays well, he plays great and when it goes south, it's typically a missed cut. In fact, since joining the PGA Tour in 2011, Stallings hasn't had a single season with less than 14 missed cuts. In 2014, he's missed the cut 11 times through 20 events played. That said, he's never missed the cut at Greenbrier and actually won the tournament in his rookie season.
3. Webb Simpson
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: What's not to like about the 2012 U.S. Open champ? He's got six top-10 finishes in 16 starts this season, including a win and two third-place showings. He tied for seventh at Greenbrier in 2012 and tied for ninth in 2011. It's a place where he's comfortable. In his last eight competitive rounds, Simpson has yet to shoot 70 or better. We're going to cut him some slack though -- those eight rounds were made up of four at the U.S. Open and four at the Quicken Loans National last week, which was played at Congressional -- the course that hosted the 2011 U.S. Open.
2. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Frys.com Open, Sony Open in Hawaii and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Reason to watch: There has been no better player on the PGA Tour this season than Walker. Here we are in July and he's already got three wins to go along with five other top-10 finishes. That's just outstanding stuff. For that reason alone he's a factor whenever he tees it up now. But, in this case, I also like the fact that he was a runner-up at Greenbrier a year ago.
1. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Northern Trust Open and the Masters
Reason to watch: Like Walker, this has been an amazing season for Watson. Along with picking up his second major victory and that win at Riviera, Watson has also been a runner up twice and finished third once. And, if you follow him on Twitter, you know that he's been spending quite a bit of downtime with his family at the Greenbrier. It's practically a second home. On courses that he likes -- and Watson is very open about what he likes and doesn't like (see Pinehurst No. 2 where he missed the cut in the U.S. Open) -- Watson is a tough customer.
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