Brendon De Jonge has the best course form of the entire field for the Greenbrier Classic on the US PGA Tour. Many of the better players are honing their game for the British Open away from the competitive arena so this week provides opportunities for players who normally would not be leading contenders and De Jonge has the profile to take advantage.
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The week marks the midpoint between the US Open and British version. The players in the top 50 in the world rankings can plan their seasons around the majors. Probably all of the top 20 in the standings would swap ten regular tournaments for one major. Money is not an issue and a true mark of a players standing in the game is the number of majors won.
Nicklaus and Woods
The two best players in the history of the game are Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods and they are at the top of the all-time list of major winners. Woods is playing this week but he has now become a caricature of the player that dominated the game at the start of the millennium. He is the only player to hold all four majors at the same time but was never able to achieve the calendar year Grand Slam.
Indeed no player has won the four male professional majors in the same season so Jordan Spieth is half way to making history. In 1953 Ben Hogan won the Masters and US Open but had to choose between the Open and US PGA due to the time taken to travel. He played in the former which he won so is still the player who has come closest to achieving the ultimate in golf. Spieth has won the first two majors this season and it would be appropriate if he took the next step at the home of golf.
De Jonge’s Profile
De Jonge has never won a tournament on the main Tour and has only played in one Open. He missed the cut last year at Hoylake and as it stands is not qualified to play at St Andrews. For a number of years he’s looked like a winner about to happen but not got the job done. He was the 2008 Nationwide Tour Player of the Year but never quite realised that potential when he moved up a level. Winning this week would not only break his duck but he would get a place in the Open.
The player from Zimbabwe has a game ideally suited to the White Sulphur Springs course in West Virginia that has hosted this tournament since it was first introduced to the schedule in 2010. It is one of the easiest par 70s on Tour and is more about accuracy than distance. When Angel Cabrera won the tournament last year he was fourth for fairways hit and first in greens in regulation. The last two champions were both in the top four for birdies.
Other Leading Contenders
De Jonge is the only player in the field in the top 40 for driving accuracy, greens in regulation and total birdies. He combines excellent course form with solid current form and has an outstanding skill’s profile. The only negative is that he has wasted winning chances in the past but this week could be his window as other players are focused on the Open Championship. Bubba Watson and Paul Casey head the betting on the back of contesting a play-off for the Travelers Championship which Watson won at the second extra-hole.
Watson has never taken to links golf and in six Open appearances he has missed three cuts and his best finish is tied 23rd in 2012. He missed the cut at St Andrews in 2010 and will be travelling to Scotland more in hope than anticipation. Casey is the more likely contender as he has some form on the Old Course where he was third behind Louis Oosthuizen in 2010. That player was second in the US Open so will be returning to the scene of his greatest week in golf full of confidence. Oosthuizen is a player to oppose this week as his game is not a good fit for While Sulphur Springs unlike that of De Jonge.
Last week’s golf preview and our winning pick.
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