Winner’s Share – $1,170,000
Course – The Old White TPC (7,287 yards Par 70)
Our 2014 Picks – Webb Simpson (3rd), Brendon De Jonge (T64), Chris Stroud (T4), Morgan Hoffman (MC), Andres Romero (T45)
Love him or hate him, Bubba Watson is good. He’s now racked up 8 career PGA Tour titles, the last of which came over the weekend, sealing his 2nd Travelers title. And he will have certainly been in contention for ‘Thug-life’ video of the week after pitching one to 4 feet when one patron suggested a punch shot would be better. Have a look:
Paul Casey’s re-emergence overseas continued with his 2nd play-off defeat in 2015. Both tee it up again this week in West Virginia and head the way in the betting.
It’s been a tough few weeks, months even, when it comes to picking winners at DownThe18th. So perhaps a tournament renowned for outsiders doing well is where our luck will change. The last few winners have been thus: Angel Cabrera (100/1), Jonas Blixt (125/1), Ted Potter Jnr (500/1) and Scott Stallings (175/1). Significantly, the last three winners have also been first-timers at the course. All of which suggests nightmare for punters.
What we do know is that the course is a track for all players. The trends are pretty solid though – people with extra distance off the tee thrive. From there, you need to find plenty of birdies (Stuart Appleby banged in a 59 round here in 2010) and be adept and doing so on par 4’s! We always like to follow these roughly but by no means take these trends as gospel.
As ever with flat tracks, putting is essential. Angel Cabrera was dominant tee to green in 2014 but it was much the same on the green – he ranked 3rd in putting for the week. 2013 winner Blixt ranked 1st in putting for the week when he won.
Also worth noting both Cabrera and Blixt had a top 15 finish in one of their three previous events leading up to the Greenbrier.
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Daniel Berger (70/1 Stan James)
Every sentence we added to our preview, Daniel Berger’s named just screamed at us. This event is perfect for someone to grab their first PGA win and properly announce themselves on the world stage. We could have made a similarly strong case for Tony Finau but at 40’s we felt it marginally short – not writing him off by no means though.
Berger’s season has been up and down as you would expect for a rookie but 5 top 10’s including a play-off defeat at the Honda shows this guy has a big future. When you think of some of the rookies down the years who have won in their first year, Berger’s potential far outweighs most of them. He deserves a win and this is the perfect course for it.
He’ll be looking to rekindle the form that saw him finish T10 two starts ago at the Byron Nelson. For the season his relevant stats read: 16th driving distance, 22nd GIR, 29th birdie average and 22nd par 4’s.
Kevin Chappell (66/1 Paddy Power)
Although it seems any prior form around this course gets written off, two top 20’s here for the American shows he can get it going on this track. We’ve seen a completely different attitude from him of late, becoming a father has matured him no end. With this new-found maturity, he has made the cut in each of his last 5 events.
On his day, he is one of the best ‘total drivers’ around and his length off the tee will help around this course. Naturally after a bleak campaign his stats are nothing to write home about but on his last start he ranked T19 GIR and T16 putting. In other words, things are getting back to where they once were.
Seung-Yul Noh (70/1 Stan James)
The Korean is definitely one of our less backed players but the more we looked into him the more we like the look of his chances this week.
Firstly, his last 2 starts have seen a vast improvement from a mid-season slump he was enduring. He followed up a 3rd at the St.Jude Classic with a T20 last week. Both events he looked very tasty. The stats back this up – 1st GIR, 13th putting (St.Jude) and T6 GIR, 22nd putting (Travelers). If he can continue these trends this week he is going to make a ton of birdies. Incidentally, he ranks 45th in birdie % on Tour this season.
He also finished a respectable 27th 3 years ago on this track. He started like a train too, with 3 rounds in the 60’s on his first ever look at the course.
Jon Curran (125/1 Coral)
Another rookie that could use the Greenbrier to catapult himself into world recognition. It’s been a pretty rapid rise for the American who’s jumped up over 1000 places in the world rankings, now #168.
He comes to the Greenbrier in decent form with two top 10’s in his last three starts. He particularly caught our eye when he finished T6 at the Byron Nelson, ranking 2nd in GIR. For the season his relative stats are healthy – 25th in fairways hit, 56th in GIR and 29th in scrambling. Also T6 in proximity to the hole and 16th in bogey avoidance.
It also seems Curran has the taste for winning right now, having won the CVS Health Charity Classic alongside Keegan Bradley on Tuesday, taking home $150,000 each in the process. That has to be a good omen, right?
Danny Lee (150/1 Coral)
We’ll finish with another outsider and definitely the most ‘stat-motivated’ pick of the week.
Has actually been really solid of late with three top 25’s in his last 6 starts, the best of which coming at the Crowne Plaza, T10. Then we delve deeper and find out he’s one of the best putters on tour, 35th strokes gained putting. With quality like that on the greens it’s no wonder he also ranks 36th in birdie %.
To accompany his recent form, the New Zealander, born in Korea, finished 16th in this event last year. Not bad value in this field.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1.50 e/w on Daniel Berger at 70/1 (Stan James)
£1.25 e/w on Kevin Chappell at 66/1 (Paddy Power)
£1.00 e/w on Seung-Yul Noh at 70/1 (Stan James)
£0.75 e/w on Jon Curran 125/1 (Coral)
£0.50 e/w on Danny Lee 150/1 (Coral)
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish unless stated otherwise.
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
European Tour: £55.50
PGA Tour: £-9.00
European Tour: £-90.62