Tony Finau, whose lone win on the PGA Tour came in 2016 at the Peurto Rico Open and who currently sits in 31st place on the World Rankings list, is the bookmakers top choice to win this week's Greenbrier Classic which now goes under the name The Military Tribute at The Greenbrier.
At 12/1 he heads major winners Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson (both at 16/1), Webb Simpson (18/1), Russel Henley (20/1) and this week's defending champion, Xander Schauffele (22/1). And this for at least two reasons
Reason No 1 is clearly due to the absence from the field of the bulk of the World's big guns. Perhaps because they are lying low and gearing up ahead of the Open Championship at Carnoustie in three week's time, it includes only two of the current top 20 on the World Ranking list - Watson at No 12 and Mickelson at No 20.
Reason No 2, on the other hand, might have something to do with the rising stature of the 28-year-old, 6ft 4in Finau who only a few week's back impressed greatly with his 5th place finish, his highest in a major, at the US Open.
The fact that he spends a fair amount of time on top 10 leaderboards because of his ability to adapt well to different courses could be a third reason for his lofty perch this week, but to my mind, Watson is the best bet to win at The Old White TPC at White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, if only because he is the only man in the field to have already won three times this year - at the Genesis Open, the WGC-Dell Tech Match Play and the Travlers Championship just a few weeks back.
Old White which, at 7,286 yards, is ranked among the longest par 70s on the PGA Tour, should certainly suit the 39-year-old biggest of the big bangers from Bagdad in Florida who willl alo be aiming at making the American team for this year's Ryder Cup in France.
Old White, meanwhile, also has the reputation for giving up a lot of birdies.
Stuart Appleby shot a record 59 there when he won the inaugural Greenbrier Classic with a 22-under 258 in 2010, and even though Schauffele came down from those heights when he triumphed last year with a 14-under 266 total on a course that had had to undergo major repairs after the severe flooding that saw the 2016 Greenbrier cancelled, we should once again see some low-60s scoring this week, perhaps even a birdie blitz.
And this especially by players like Watson, Mickelson and Schauffele and yes, Finau, Simpson and Henley too who along with their power and accuracy off the tee, are also good at finding greens in regulation or better and then making the putts that really matter.
Mickelson at 48, has been doing it better than he has in a good few years, so be careful of underestimating him on the grounds of his age. He has already won once this year - and this in the top-level WGC event in Mexico City. He could quite easily do it again.
The weather might cause some delays because of predicted midday storms on Thursday and Friday, but the weekend will be calm and fair with lots of sun on Sunday and it should not really have any major impact on who wins and who loses.
(Tuesday a.m. July 3, 2018)
Tony Finau 12/1
Phil Mickelson 16/1
Bubba Watson 16/1
Webb Simpson 18/1
Russell Henley 20/1
Xander Schauffele 22/1
Joaquin Niemann 28/1
Brian Harman 30/1
Charles Howell III 30/1
Jimmy Walker 30/1
JB Holmes 33/1
Ryan Moore 33/1
Kevin Na 40/1
Danny Lee 40/1
Kevin Streelman 45/1
Brandt Snedeker 50/1
Keegan Bradley 55/1
Andrew Putnam 60/1
Kevin Kisner 66/1.
NOTE: For all the latest results go to www.oddschecker.com/golf/greenbrier-classic/winner.
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