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Greenbrier Classic Preview: A New Game in Town

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.

Hey! Canadian Open! 2006 called, they want their golfers back. A trip north of the border last week brought us back in time as two players, Carl Pettersson and Dean Wilson, both of whom recorded career-high earnings in 2006, battled down the stretch at the Canadian Open. Wilson entered with the final-round lead, but true to his form the last couple years, he fell flat on Sunday. Pettersson, on the other hand, continued a charge that started early Saturday morning when he blistered the course on his way to a career-best round of 60. True to his form since he first turned pro, Pettersson again proved he is among the streakiest players on the PGA TOUR. Pettersson finished sixth at the AT&T National three weeks back and just as streaky players do, he missed the cut the following week at, of all places, the John Deere Classic. Entering this week, off that missed cut, Pettersson was not on many radars, but true to form, he caught fire midway through round three and carried that momentum all the way through to the end. In a year where the unexpected has become the expected, a win from Dean Wilson would have been a shock, but a win from a player like Pettersson was about what I expected.

What the Canadian Open means:

Carl Pettersson: Before last week's Canadian Open, Pettersson was having a decent year with three top-10s to his credit, but his win last week gives him a chance at an career high in earnings, which is quite a feat considering he topped $2.6 million in 2006.

Dean Wilson: Wilson had a great chance to put the past two seasons of disappointment behind him last week, but when you've been out of the winner's circle for so long, it's hard to find that killer instinct.

Trevor Immelman: Immelman struggled down the stretch last week, but it was refreshing to see his name on the first page of a leaderboard, even if it was only Saturday. Perhaps he's finally on his way back.

This week: The Greenbrier Classic

Last Year: New event in 2010

Players to Consider:

  1. Carl Pettersson

    Like last week, there is no course history to fall back on this week. But unlike last week there's no event history, either. This means that recent form is all we can go on, and who looks better right now than Pettersson?

  2. Trevor Immelman

    He still needs to prove that he can go the distance, but he's getting close, and we're all aware of his upside. He just might surprise everyone this week.

  3. Jim Furyk

    On paper, this event is Furyk's to lose, but for some reason, Furyk hasn't performed well in these spots the last couple years. That said, his name is too big to pass up this week.

  4. Ricky Barnes

    Barnes is really rounding into from this season, and a PGA TOUR win is not far away. He reminds me of Hunter Mahan from a couple years back. Full of talent, but a late bloomer.

  5. Kenny Perry

    It's a proven fact that when properly motivated, Perry is tough to beat. Well, motivation will not be an issue this week as he pledged to donate $2,000 for every birdie he makes this week to a cause close to his heart.

Players to Avoid:

  1. Sergio Garcia

    Garcia's name sure sticks out this week, but he's done nothing lately to warrant a selection here. Sure, he's capable of winning any given week, but we haven't seen that form in quite a while.

  2. Stephen Ames

    If he couldn't get it done last week, in his own backyard, he's not getting it done here. Ames was in the mix for a minute last week, but a poor third round ended any hope of winning on his home soil.

  3. Stuart Appleby

    Appleby just can't seem to get any momentum going. He plays well one week and fails to back it up the next week. He's given me no reason to back him this week.

  4. Brian Davis

    Credit Davis for keeping a good attitude after his disappointing playoff loss at the Verizon earlier this year. He actually captured another runner-up finish at Colonial just a month later, but it's been all downhill since that event. Added to his recent troubles, he withdrew from the Canadian Open last week.

  5. Alex Prugh

    Early in the 2010 season, Prugh looked like a lock to become rookie of the year, but recent troubles have put that designation in question. Prugh has missed three consecutive cuts and hasn't cracked the top-30 since late April.

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Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week: The Greenbrier Classic

Group A

  1. Kenny Perry
  2. Steve Marino

It's not often that there are no "sure bets" in Group A, but that's the case this week. While Perry looks like an easy pick from my point of view, he's by no means a must-have. Marino appears to be the best of the rest.

Group B

  1. Jim Furyk
  2. Nick Watney
  3. Jeff Overton
  4. J.B. Holmes

It may be one of those weeks where nothing seems easy. Perhaps the lack of course history gives me that feeling, but I get the sense that I'm simply stockpiling the biggest names from this group. Considering that the four players listed are all among the top-five in Yahoo! points from this group, I am OK with that feeling. Furyk is an easy choice, as well as Watney, but the other two could be debated. Overton is having a solid season, 12th on the FedEx rankings, and Holmes is actually the highest scoring available player from Group B entering this week.

Group C

  1. Carl Pettersson
  2. Ricky Barnes

Group C contains a few good options, but Barnes and Pettersson look like the best pair. If Pettersson continues his hot streak, he could go back-to-back this week, and Barnes is right on the cusp of picking up his first PGA TOUR victory. This field is ripe for the picking, and Barnes should take advantage.

Starters Round One

  1. Kenny Perry
  2. Jim Furyk
  3. Nick Watney
  4. Carl Pettersson

Considering there is no course history this week, I am simply going with the best players in each group to start round one with the thought that the best golfers will adjust more quickly to a new track. As mentioned, Perry is motivated by charity this week, so let's hope that brings out the best in his game. Furyk and Watney are paired together for the first two rounds, so hopefully they get into one of those grooves where the entire group plays well. It does happen, believe it or not - great golf is sometimes contagious. I feel obligated to start Pettersson after his most recent two rounds. He's on fire, hopefully a couple days off doesn't spoil it.

Round Two and Going Forward:

If my assumption of Perry holds true, he should be a good candidate to start all four rounds this week. I'm not sure what to expect from Marino his week, he's been an enigma the entire year, so I guess we'll have to wait and see. Furyk and Watney get the starting spots in Group B, and though they are the big guns from this group, Holmes and Overton are right there waiting to steal a spot. I have no set plan with this group yet; I'll have to evaluate on a daily basis. Although Pettersson seems to have an edge in Group C, I won't hesitate to get Barnes into the line-up if he starts well on Thursday.