If questions remained about Tiger Woods importance to the game of golf, they were certainly answered last week at the Quicken Loans event. No, Tiger did not resemble the Tiger of old, or even the Tiger of last year, but his presence still changes the entire scene. His peers were all happy to have him back, at least they said they were, and the reason is simple -- when Tiger's on the grounds, excitement increases. It didn't matter that his game is still miles away from where he wants it to be or where we expect it to be, all that matters is he's ready to compete once again.
I often take heat for evoking Woods' name even when he's a non-factor in the event I am writing about, but Tiger is and always will be bigger than the game. I know, I know, sacrilege, right? Well, let's be honest. To hardcore fans, the game is fine without Tiger, but if they are completely honest, most would admit that even though they don't care when he isn't around, it sure makes it more exciting when he is. And those are the hardcore fans. To the fair-weather or even non-golf fans, it makes all the difference in the world. Whether you root for or against Tiger, he's always been good for the game and will continue to be for as long as he can walk -- and stand up straight.
This week: Greenbrier Classic - The Old White Course, White Sulfer Springs, W.V.
Last Year: Jonas Blixt shot a final-round 67 on his way to a two-stroke victory over three players.
PLAYERS TO CONSIDER
Just a few short months ago, Walker was the hottest player on the planet. He's cooled in the months since, but he's still a threat any given week -- especially when he has three top-5s in four years at a given event, which he has this week at the Greenbrier.
This is going to be an atypical week in that many big names are absent, so the top-5 list may be lacking some firepower. Haas, however, is a big name and has a strong track record here, which is why he's near the top of the list this week.
Two top-10s in his last three starts here, and considering the lack of fire-power in the field this week, Simpson's track record ranks among the best. His game has been all over the map recently, but this looks like a good place to start a positive trend.
Ted Potter Jr.
Potter Jr. hasn't exactly been the model of consistency the last few years, but for whatever reason, he's been very reliable at this event. Granted, he's only played here twice, but he's finished inside the top 10 both times, a T6 last year and a win in 2012.
From the outhouse to the penthouse? Maybe. Watney has taken his share of criticism this year, mainly from me, but it looks like he might be on his way back. I don't want to get too excited, but there have been signs the last couple weeks that he might be finding his old form.
PLAYERS TO AVOID
Anyone with Bradley on his team is probably getting tired of hearing about his potential. Is it possible that Bradley peaked early? It's tough to say, he won a major early in his career and backed that up with some solid play, but his play this year has left much to be desired.
Gay is one of the more streaky players on the PGA Tour, which is why it's a bit strange how consistent he's been here -- consistently bad. Four starts for Gay at the Greenbrier and zero cuts made.
Chalmers garnered some attention last week when he got off to a quick start at the Quicken Loans event, but he faded to a T30 finish. Although his game appears to be fairly sharp right now, his track record here is not.
Yang doesn't have a poor track record here, he has no track record. Maybe that's a good thing, though, as he enters this week on a streak of six consecutive missed cuts. If nothing else, he'll have two rounds to work things out.
Charles Howell III
Some weeks it's difficult to find five players to consider and some weeks the opposite is true. For whatever reason, there weren't many good options to put on this list this week, so Howell III finds a spot here because of his consecutive MCs here.
ONE AND DONE GOLFER
Last week: Brendon Todd (T5) - $237,250; Season - $3,073,207
This week: Nick Watney - Call me crazy, but there's something about the two 69s he posted last week on a tough track that has me thinking he's about to find his old form. If he is on his way back, this might be the perfect time to use him, if not, then there's no need for him the rest of the season anyway.
Group A: Gary Woodland, Bubba Watson
Group B: Bill Haas, Webb Simpson, Brendon de Jonge, Ted Potter Jr.
Group C: Jimmy Walker, Nick Watney
Last week: Hunter Mahan; Streak - 3
This week: Brendon de Jonge - Taking a bit of a risk this week, but de Jonge has never missed a cut here and more often than not, plays well on the weekends. He definitely has a feel for this course.