The Mountain state.
West “by God” Virginia.
The 2012 Greenbrier Classic.
Virginia Tech Hokie Brendon de Jonge, 2010 Greenbrier Classic bronze medalist and 2011 fourth place finisher is in the field. Also set to play in the 2012 Classic field is fellow Hokie Johnson Wagner, 2011 Mayakoba Golf Classic winner, 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii winner and 2012 Human Challenge first runner-up. All that and somebody named “Tiger”…
So let’s hit from the blue tees for a change.
The Old White Course is of a moderate if not shallow length as tee to green yardage goes. Although it has been modified or lengthened to 7,274 yards -or 56 yards longer this year than last- with accompanying faster greens for the 2012 Greenbrier Classic. Its fairways are still generically among the widest on Tour and generally flat in lateral terms from rough to rough. This puts a premium on playing a long-range game as the longer hitters will enjoy the luxury of swinging a mid to short-iron stick after crushing a moon-shot drive on a track that is relative dry (or waterless) by modern golf course design standards. The Old White Course itself was built in 1914, making it the oldest P.G.A. tour stop on the professional circuit.
Last year a sizzling 48 players finished -1 or better. To make matters all the more striking, a whopping 25, yes that’s two-five, finished -5 or better with Scott Stallings winning a sudden death play-off on the signature ridged 18th green via only two swings in OT.
Hold onto your scorecard; this one is made to order as low digits go.
Or at least it was.
80 downed trees and 200 other damaged trees later– thanks to a downright gutting weekend of electrical thunder storms with 80 mph winds will do that to even a made for TV golf course. And this savage storm system also did that to nearly 700,000 West Virginians who were left marooned without power, drinking water or any other necessity of life. God Bless on that!
Out in 34
In in 36
Total=70 strokes to par
Here are your 2012 hometown Hokies and their odds on winning:
- Driving Distance: 111th (286.3)
- Greens in Regulation: 18th (67.1%)
- Putting: 59th (1.711 per hole)
- loves to fish the New River
- surname pronounced: “Dee-Yong”
- favorite Blacksburg hang-out: “Big Al’s”
Brendon is a big ole husky looking kid; which belies his shorter than expected tee-to-fairway game. More parts putting and course management than raw parts power. That said; name me someone else who has improved a staggering 90 spots in greens in regulation, which is paramount up at the Greenbrier Classic? Thought so — me neither, as Brendon sure has steeled his iron game as approach shots from the fairway go this season and than some. Such would make him a sleeper pick for most improved on Tour if not for his putter which has backed up a little bit on the balance; although he has been rolling them well enough on the short-cut in the past couple of weeks.
De Jonge and his somewhat generously proportioned stature should be in no way shape or form be interpreted as being soft. As he played in the entire 2002 NCAA regional’s with a broken rib. He has however been a tad penalty prone this season although his recent game was rounding into form –well at least until he tried the grab a certain Tiger by the tail. More on that below, though a quick recap of just how good Mr de Jonge has been in recent weeks is in order…
Accordingly, Mr. De Jonge has made an impressive 11 cuts in a row which has kept him proverbially: “in the money” since the tail side of March. In addition to that he has made 85% of his cuts during the 2012 campaign. Brendon however is coming off of a nifty top-10 (eighth) two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship, and yet he is also coming off of a rather forgettable 77 in the final round after leading by one stroke in the clubhouse at the AT&T last week after the close of business on Saturday. Said 77 snapped six straight rounds which saw Brendon post an average tally of 67.16 strokes or nearly 4 and change under par per round. Sources on-course at the Congressional last Sunday said that Brendon had remarked that he (de Jonge) doesn’t see how Tiger does it playing golf with that many (10-20,000 people) following him all over the course all day long. Such gives birth to the moniker of the Tiger Effect which is really just a play-on-words borrow on the textbook Hawthorne Effect as people do act differently when they are aware they are being watched. I’d call 20,000 people following the final pairing of Tiger Woods, Bo Van Pelt and Brendon de Jonge around a sporting version of voyeurism taking to the unprecedented extreme. All the more so if that is new to you –as it was to Brendon- last Sunday at Congressional. Such is a forgivable first offense as the experience curve goes and nothing less than a most candid admission is sporting sea drowning in its very own ocean of recycled clichés. Here is hoping that Brendon grows from it and learns from it alike; as it is nobodies secret that he “has an eye” for the Old White Course up at the Greenbrier. Let’s all hope that Mr. de Jonge shakes himself and comes correct in time for the opening round of play on Thursday and that he puts last Sunday behind him pronto.
- Driving Distance: 146th (282)
- Greens in Regulation: 16th (67.2%)
- Putting: 87th (1.783 strokes per hole)
- Eagles 21st
- has been seen sporting a Thomas Magnum mustache this season
Seventh in FedEx Cup points does not suck. Nor does two tour wins in as many years for the former down-state NY caddy and hockey team captain. Ditto the fact that Mr. Wagner is in serious danger of making the globally prestigious Ryder Cup team if he is not careful.
Johnson has been yo-yo’ing ever since his fourth place finish in the Arnold Palmer Classic in early march where he posted a smart looking fourth place finish. In the meantime he has missed the cut fifty-percent of the time and finished competitively enough between 29th best and 65th best the five times he did make the cut. Johnson is having the best season of his career thus far –to be sure. Though he has been up and down for weeks. So go ahead and either expect a mid to upper scoreboard Johnson Wager … or a Johnson Wager who plays 36 holes and then enjoys 2 days vacation in one of America’s truly elite ***** (five-star) resorts. Johnson only has three rounds south of 70 strokes in his last three weeks. However, he is a grinder and he is not afraid to mix it up. Though I would not call him nor his game temperamental (ä lä say a Craig Stadler) or outright gruff, his style of play does come with an edge to it and that double-edged sword cuts both ways indeed.
Overall, Johnson Wagner has improved almost every single element of his game since this time last year. I know this as I just backspaced the key metrics above working off of last year’s Greenbrier Classic TSL word press template to save power and time here in the shorted-out 3o4. Johnson has always enjoyed a very strong fairway to green iron based game. Thus said, his driving, putting and scoring in general are all trending in the right direction this year. Only caveat is his play is a bit uneven. He’s either in contention, decent enough, or nowhere near. Take thy pick, though I’m expecting him to be decent enough as he appears due to scuffle his way into a 30th to 40th best finish in my book.
- Driving Distance: 34th (295.1)
- Greens in Regulation: 10th (68%)
- Putting: 74th (1.77)
- Birdies: 27th (3.54 per round)
- Tont is a traditional Thai name
- “Tiger” is a tribute nickname to his late father’s friend, one Colone Vuong Dang Phong
- 11-1 all-time in P.G.A. play-offs!
- swing speed=135 mph!
Yes, this is a Virginia Tech website. Is that true? Yes. Do we deny this? No.
However, there is some dood who goes by the moniker “Tiger” who at the very least merits mention if only in passing.
TIGER IS BACK!
Or is he?
Well, I may only have 36 hours of calc and stats to my credit -praise be to McBryde Hall- however even I realize that two wins in his last three tournaments is a step in the right direction, and maybe even the nearly 43 year old “…one giant leap.” Think about that for a moment folks, Tiger has won two of his last three starts. How many Tour pros get and stay *that* smokin’ hot for that dang long? Now mix in a win at the Arnold Palmer Classic at the end of March and Eldrick has won 50% of his last six tournaments when he has played on the weekend; less one missed cut at the Wells Fargo to begin the month of May. I don’t know about you, though I’d say that three wins, two fortieth place finishes and a twenty-first is some damn mean golf. To put it another way, there are 474 different P.G.A. Tour money winners thus far this season, and only one of ‘em has three wins. That means Tiger Woods is back at #1 in terms of 2012 P.G.A. Tour prize money winnings which puts him right back on course to finish #1 again for the tenth time in his professional golfing career.
That said there have been some bumps along the way and let’s not even sully things by mentioning all of the off-course business in his personal life. Among other issues, Tiger has already endured the following significant or outright major injuries during his Touring career: eye(s) (with naturally poor vision –a twice laser surgery recipient), knee (4 surgeries, including one complete A.C.L reconstruction and a cruciate ligament tear), wrist, Achilles (torn once, hurt again already this season), leg (broken), neck (facet joint), and numerous recurring lumbar or back issues to compound (fracture) all of that. So riddle me this … how in the wide wide world of sport is this dood second all-time with 74 career Tour wins?!? How many tour wins would a 100% locked, cocked and ready to rock Tiger have? Geez! This dood’s medical jacket really does read like a 12 year N.F.L.vet’ who is beat all to hell and on his way outta the League, with a limp and a whole lotta bio-feedback stem to stern on top of that. Think this kid might just have some moxie? Think he has some grit, guile and outright determination? To put it another way, how many Tour pros would have already retired to their host Country Club happy hour on the 19th green and gone totally Caddyshack with Ty Webb and the after hours crowd at Bushwood by now?
Tiger is also on a heretofore forth major (golf) swing renovation, he has had the 1992 large arc original swing, the 2000 three-quarters (Butch Harmon) swing, the 2009 Hank Hanley linebacker swing, and now the newly revamped Sean Foley swing which is realigned and more efficacious as club head speed goes. Please note as well that said Sean Foley swing is still said to be something of a work in progress
Nobody had done and or overcome all of that before. Although nobody has just passed Jack Nicklaus for second place on the all-time tour win list either.
The (recent) book on Tiger now reads that this is a guy whose putting and lag-putting in particular have enjoyed some smart improvements of late, which really only leaves his all-out nothing left in the bag full fledged driver to sort out. As he has been want to scorch a lower, boring and more controllable 3-wood off the blue-tees in recent weeks. Here in the 3o4 we have a idiom that reads … “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.” Tiger Woods has indeed broken outta his 2+ year slump and with his golf game rounding into shape we appear to be on par for another truly classic Greenbrier Classic this Forth of July weekend here in the Dub.Vee.
Interesting opening day(s) to put it midly folks; as Brendon de Jonge rallied, Johnson Wagner stayed an altogether decent enough course; and some chaps named “Tiger” and Phil both got cut together for the first time since 1995. To put it mildly again folks, this is very bad news for the localized and regional economies alike. Gas prices in and around Greenbrier County were 40¢ higher per gallon and everything else was at Tiger Effect profit margin max. Sucks for the 3o4 as this area could have sure could have used a cash infusion after such a destructive set of thunderstorms put the pinch on the area in general a mere 6 days ago.
Tiger himself admitted that he never got the speed of the greens down and that the fact that the Greenbrier is played at altitude -about 500` short of a mile above seal-level- caused him to erroneously fly the ball too far repeatedly during his rather average set of opening rounds –at least by Faustian or Tiger Woods standards. Phil has yet to do much of anything at the Greenbrier in two visits to the same in as many years. Having been cut each time after 4 uninspired rounds of golf combined; likewise the fact that Phil has been slumped a bit of late with seven consecutive rounds of play over par and in a bit of a tête-à-tête with the galley over their unsolicited and annoying use of cell-phones. Such is understandable to a point every bit as much as such is a touch to extrinsic as a foci of control goes as well. As the greatest First Lady of the mall (Eleanor Roosevelt) once said:“nobody can make you feel anything without your consent”; ergo, always control your environment – neverlet it control you.
In orange a maroon terms, Brendon de Jonge was doing no better than scuffling, until his unconditionally dead center prefect drive on no.11 on Friday; which suddenly and in a most redeeming way flipped the proverbial switch and restored his: “eye for the course” after no better than 27 consecutive holes spread over two adjoining tournaments of nothing better than a grappling version of play. After that swing Brendon went on to birdie 5 of his opening nine holes of play and suddenly he was flying high and feeling no pain at all. Brendon de Jonge will now play the weekend and finish in the money. The only question is just how much will he rake? Here’s hoping he posts another 64 as the amiable and downright likeable Zimbabwean is nothing less than a good egg.
Johnson Wagenr has been nothing short of: steady, consistent, and downright reliable after two days up play up at the Greenbrier Classic. Note that he played the last 16 holes at a nearly leveled -1 under par. His play has been solid, if not spectacular, even overall, and never less than average. Mr. Wagner (now) appears to be a bit tempered after an additional year on Tour, as some of his rough(er) edges appear to have been rounded out a bit. Neither fellow Hokie is quite within striking range of winning the whole shebang; although they appear to be collectively poised to pocket $40,000.oo give or take and how often to you get to say that after a visit to one of the 82 authentically ***** (five-start) resorts in North America?