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The Greenbrier Classic Preview: Looking Like a Winner

Greg Vara

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Sean O'Hair, you remember that guy, right? He's the one with the overbearing father whom he disassociated with and soon after won his first PGA tournament. His second and third wins came in relative proximity to his first, as well, and, suddenly, the sky was the limit. Even without the benefit of a victory in 2010, he still managed a top-50 spot on the year-end money list. Everything appeared to be on track, and just like that, it all fell apart. It didn't happen right away; O'Hair managed to pull out a win at the WGC Match-play event and a top-25 at the Honda Classic, but soon after the wheels came off. Five missed cuts followed the top-25 at the Honda, and a brief trip into the top-20 at the Players and the Crowne Plaza were followed again by several missed cuts. To be exact, four additional missed cuts in five tries. His victory last Sunday was not only a surprise to the golfing world, but to O'Hair himself who didn't play well on the Wednesday preceding the first round. Just like that, though, O'Hair is back. This isn't baseball - one week isn't going to change the fortunes of the Seattle Mariners, their season is over. Golf is different, however. You can struggle all year and turn everything around with one win. The question now is whether O'Hair is really back on track, is he ready to get lumped back in with the best the United States has to offer?

What the Canadian Open means:

Sean O'Hair: If nothing else, O'Hair's win allows him to relax for the rest of the season. It's possible that we've yet to see his best golf this year. It's amazing what a release of pressure can do for a golfer.

Kris Blanks: Entering last week, Blanks had made the cut in only 50 percent of his starts in 2011. His play has improved the last couple months, though, as he's made five of his last six cuts. Blanks will likely continue this run for another couple weeks, so get him now if you can.

Geoff Ogilvy: Ogilvy's rut wasn't quite as bad as O'Hair's entering last week, but it was getting there. Entering last week, Ogilvy hadn't cracked the top-50 since mid-April. Perhaps he's starting to figure out how to play late in the season. The true test will come the next four weeks, though.

This week:
The Greenbrier Classic

Last Year:
Stuart Appleby shot a final-round 59 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Jeff Overton.

Players to Consider:

1. Jeff Overton

Overton nearly won here last year and comes in with some momentum. Overton finished third in his most recent start on U.S. soil at the AT&T National.

2. Phil Mickelson

Conventional wisdom says that if Mickelson can play well at the Open Championship, then his game must be in pretty good shape. Who am I to argue?

3. Webb Simpson

It's getting pretty late in the season, but I still think Simpson will get a win this year, and this week looks like the perfect spot.

4. J.B. Holmes

Holmes finished in the top-20 here last year, and although he's in the midst of a mini-slump, few players have been as consistent as Holmes this year.

5. Sergio Garcia

Amazingly, Garcia has only missed one cut in 10 tries on the PGA TOUR this season. He enters this week off of consecutive top-10 finishes and a trip back to the winner's circle seems inevitable.

Players to Avoid:

1. Stuart Appleby

Appleby's win last year took everyone by surprise. A win this year would be even more shocking. Appleby has played the weekend only once since mid-March. That is one cut made in his last 12 starts.

2. Matt Jones

Jones is in a serious rut. He enters this week on a streak of six consecutive missed cuts. O'Hair proved last week that you can break out of a funk like that in a big way, but it doesn't happen often.

3. Camilo Villegas

At his current pace, Villegas is in danger of missing the FedEx Cup playoffs altogether. Amazing for a player who was considered among the best young players on the PGA TOUR entering this season. Villegas will get it figured out at some point, but it might not happen this year.

4. Scott Verplank

At year's end, Verplank's numbers will probably look OK, but that will be due to his runner-up finish in Houston. Other than that week, the 2011 season has been very tough for Verplank. His most recent top-50 finish was in late-April.

5. Ben Curtis

Not only did he miss the cut in his return to Royal St. Georges a couple weeks back, he's also miss the cut in eight of his 15 tries on the PGA TOUR this season.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week:
The Greenbrier Classic

Group A

1. Phil Mickelson

2. Ricky Barnes

It's Mickelson and flip a coin in Group A this week. I tried to find another player who looked good from this group, but I could not do it. The Barnes pick is just a hunch. Look at the top-10 from last year at this event, it's filled with a bunch of players you'd never think of taking. So in that way, Barnes fits the bill.

Group B

1. Webb Simpson

2. Jeff Overton

3. Bill Haas

4. Andres Romero

Group B has plenty of good options, but Simpson and Overton should be on every team this week. As for the other two, Haas hasn't reached the level of play he showed earlier this year in the last couple months, but he's still showing consistency. Romero has two top-10s in his last four PGA TOUR events, including a third-place finish at the Canadian Open last week.

Group C

1. J.B. Holmes

2. Sergio Garcia

I have a sneaking suspicion that this week's winner comes out of Group C. Holmes has played very well all year, but he's still a little under the radar entering this week, which is always a good thing. Garcia is rarely under the radar, but that doesn't seem to bother him. He's gaining momentum each week that he plays, and his next win is not that far off.

Starters Round One

1. Phil Mickelson

2. Jeff Overton

3. Webb Simpson

4. Sergio Garcia

The only difficult call this week was the starter in Group C. As you can see, I went with Garcia over Holmes. I have a feeling both players will start well this week, so you can't lose with either. Mickelson was an easy choice in Group A because he's the only player I like from that bunch. Simpson and Overton look like the best options from Group B for the entire week, so it makes sense that I'm starting with them out of the gate.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Safe to say, of the major sports golf is the hardest to predict on a weekly basis. But I am pretty comfortable saying that the starters in Groups A and B likely will get the bulk of the action this week. Mickelson needs to play well this week. Sure, I'm not going to gain any ground by starting him all four rounds, but I won't lose any either. Overton and Simpson both have a strong hold on their starting spots in Group B. Haas and Romero are certainly capable of playing their way into the line-up, but I'll have to see it first. Group C is going to be tough all week as either player could go low during any given round. Holmes will likely get the start in round two, but again, that depends on how they play in round one. It would be wise to get a start from each player before the weekend.