The PGA Tour’s new season begins this week when the Military Tribute at the Greenbrier gets underway at the Old White TPC at White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia.
The opening event of any PGA Tour season often carries more interest than any other event of similar standing as it offers hope for those looking to rebuild their careers or those who have gained the right to play the game’s most prestigious golf tour for the first time.
Amongst those are twelve Australasians, all of whom either have or have have had PGA Tour cards previously but no doubt keen to get their seasons off to a good start for a range of reasons.
The list is headed in terms of world ranking by Marc Leishman who has generally struggled in this event having missed three of his last four cuts at the Greenbrier and has a best of 16th in five starts.
Leishman comes off the back of a 20th place finish at the Tour Championship but just to have made it to that event suggests he is playing well enough to do well this week provided he can find a way to play this layout a little better than has been the case previously.
Cameron Smith will play this event for the first occasion and while his most recent form has hardly been spectacular it has not been bad either and he could do well.
Stuart Appleby achieved world fame when a final round of 59 saw him win this event in 2010 but he has missed all six cuts in the event since. Appleby does not enjoy PGA Tour status now but gets a start courtesy of the generosity of the sponsors as a previous winner.
Appleby has played only four events this year as a result of injury and three of those were on the Korn Ferry Tour. He is however a nine-time PGA Tour winner and so his return to the PGA Tour albeit briefly will be of interest.
New Zealand’s Danny Lee won his only PGA Tour title at the Greenbrier Classic in 2015 and was also 9th two years ago but he, too, is in the middle of a slump having a best of 81st in his last five starts. He will need to rely on some of the great memories he has of this layout to rekindle his form.
Matt Jones’ results at Greenbrier have been a roller coaster to say the least. In 2013 he finished runner-up to Jonas Blixt but that aside he has missed four of five other cuts in the event. His most recent results have been a bit of a lottery also having finished 4th at the Barbasol but missing four of five other recent cuts.
Cameron Davis, Rhein Gibson, Cameron Percy and New Zealander Tim Wilkinson return to the PGA Tour courtesy of their efforts in Korn Ferry Tour events in 2019, only Wilkinson having played the event previously.
Davis and Gibson play the event for the first time, but Percy has has made four of six cuts in the event and has played well on occasions.
John Senden and Rod Pampling are both looking to resurrect their PGA Tour career, Senden fighting his way back after attending to family illness while for Pampling, having missed 16 of 19 cuts on the PGA Tour in 2019 it is a long way back for the 49 year old who is no doubt eying a career on the PGA Tour Champions if he can get there.
The final Australasian into the field in Victorian and former Australian Open winner, Steve Allan, who led the Monday qualifiers.
Allan, who was a regular on the PGA Tour for several seasons, has played just two events on the PGA Tour this season, Monday qualifying each time to get a start and he has managed to do so again.
The tournament carries a purse of US$7.5 million with a first prize of US$1.35 million.
Photo shows Stuart Appleby holing out for 59 to win in 2010