Tomorrow will mark the return of a star at The Greenbrier Classic. No, Tiger Woods isn’t coming back after re-injuring his elbow at the U.S. Open. His comeback will be in a couple of weeks at The Open Championship. The fan-favorite that is coming back this week is Phil Mickelson, who finished 2nd at the U.S. Open for a record sixth time.
Mickelson hasn’t had any success at this week’s event the past two years. He’s missed the cut both times, combining to shoot five-over. Another reason not to bet on him this week is the last two times he’s finished runner-up at the U.S. Open, he’s followed it up with a missed cut at his next tournament. But Lefty should never be counted out. In three of his last four starts, he’s finished inside the top three. He’s also won and had another third place finish earlier this year. So if he can get into the weekend for the first time at The Greenbrier, watch out.
But Phil isn’t the only one to look out for. Here are some of the other notables:
John Daly- He’s known more for his multiple marriages and his relaxed attitude on the course, but he is a two-time major champion. Yes they came back in the twentieth century, but winning a major takes a certain mindset and skill. If he can find his game again, especially with how long he hits it off the tee, don’t be surprised to see Daly lurking on Sunday.
Ken Duke- The 44-year-old won his first PGA Tour tournament two weeks ago. He followed it up with a T52 last week at the AT&T National, but he was in it come Sunday. When he’s made the cut this year, he’s done pretty well. In the ten cuts he’s made, he has four top-twenty finishes. His worst finish came last week when he’s made a cut. He also played well at The Greenbrier last year, finishing T7 at eleven-under.
Bill Haas- The 2011 FedEx Cup champion and last week’s winner at the AT&T National looks to follow it up with more of the same. He’s had seven top-ten finishes, including a T4 at last month’s Memorial. With the chip off his shoulder, look for Haas to be in the mix on the weekend, especially if he finds fairways.
Webb Simpson- He hasn’t won on tour since last year’s U.S. Open. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been playing well. He has six top-ten finishes since the victory last June. The most recent came in his last start two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship. He finished T5 after a final-round 65. Also, he hasn’t finished outside the top-nine at The Greenbrier the last two years. Could this be the week that he finally gets over the hump in 2013?
Bubba Watson- Last, but certainly not least, the 2012 Masters champion comes into this week winless in 2013. But it’s not like he hasn’t been in contention. Watson’s best chance came two weeks ago at the Travelers when he had a one-shot lead going into the sixteenth hole on Sunday. He went on to hit his tee shot into the water at the par-three and made a triple-bogey six. He finished T4, so not a win but still a great finish. If he can carry that momentum into this week then don’t be surprised if he comes out on top.
The Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, WV is the host of this week’s Greenbrier Classic as many fan-favorites and other unknowns compete to do what Ted Potter, Jr. did last year. Take home the trophy on Sunday.