Hard to believe it, but the new PGA Tour season is already upon us! After just three weeks off, following the Tour Championship, the Tour will kick off the 2019-20 season with A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.
The event, which was moved from its traditional July date, will begin an 11-week fall stretch that will wind its way through annual stops in West Virginia, Mississippi and Las Vegas, while making first time stops in Tokyo and Bermuda.
Kevin Na heads into the week as your defending champion after a five-stroke victory over Kelly Kraft a year ago in West Virginia. The Old White TPC course is a bit of a rarity being a par 70 at almost 7,300 yards.
Despite a rather thin field, with Bryson Dechambeau the top ranked player at 12th in the OWGR, expect a shootout at the Greenbrier as length off the tee and accuracy into the greens will help fuel birdie runs. The ability to scramble will also be crucial in trying to keep up with the ultra-low scoring in Mountaineer country.
Nuts and bolts
Course: Old White TPC course (7,292 yards, Par 70)
Defending Champion: Kevin Na (-19, 261)
Weather Forecast: Partly sunny, temperatures in mid 80s with chance of thunderstorms Thursday through Saturday
Jason Kokrak (18/1, $11,500)
Kokrak provides the perfect blend of length and accuracy to contend at the Old White TPC course. He ranked 16th in Driving Distance and 32nd in GIR % this past season. He’s also coming off a fantastic finish to the 2018-19 season where he ran off four consecutive top 20 finishes, straight through the Tour Championship. That included a T-6 at the Wyndham and a T-12 at the Northern Trust. A T-3 at the Greenbrier last year has him primed for a win this week.
Joaquin Niemann (30/1, $11,000)
At just 20 years old, the Chilean’s first full season on the PGA Tour proved to be very fruitful. His $1.4 million in earnings was powered by four top 10s, including two top five finishes. Statistically, Niemann was equally impressive ranking 23rd in SG: Tee to Green and 25th in SG: Approach the Green. Niemann has shown he can go low at the Greenbrier firing rounds of 63 and 64 in 2018 en route to a T-5 finish.
Russell Henley (45/1, $10,700)
Yup, remember him? After reeling off three wins over his first five seasons on tour Henley went quiet the past two seasons with just four top 10 finishes. But the 30-year-old appeared to turn a corner toward the back end of last season. A final round 61 fueled a runner-up finish at the John Deere, which was backed up by a T-15 at the Barracuda. Henley ranked 35th in scrambling last season which should come in handy this week and was a solid 42nd in SG: Approach the Green. His Greenbrier track record is very impressive with three top 10 finishes in four career starts.
Robert Streb (70/1, $9,900)
Simple “horse for course” play here. Streb is a perfect five for five in cuts made at the Greenbrier over his career. He’s racked up three top 15’s including two runner-up finishes (2017, 2015). Streb missed out on the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs by just three spots and had a decent finish to the season capped off with a T-3 at the Barracuda in late July.
Bubba Watson (30/1, $11,400)
On the surface, this event screams for Bubba to perform well. He’s a member at the Greenbrier and even owns a home there. Maybe the role of pseudo-host is too distracting as Bubba has never cracked the top 10 at the event. His best finish was a T-13 a year ago and he’s coming off a 2018-19 season where he was winless with just three top 10’s. Statistically, Bubba is still very long, but he’ll have to improve his iron game as he hit just 66% of his GIR last season.