Preview: A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier


Xander Schauffele looks for repeat win in West Virginia

Decisions by most of the world's elite golfers to skip the PGA Tour's stop in West Virginia have been a boost for younger players like Xander Schauffele.

Schauffele had a one-stroke victory over Robert Streb at The Greenbrier resort last season, which ended with the 24-year-old from San Diego winning the Tour Championship and earning Rookie of the Year honors.

This year, nearly all of the two dozen rookies on the tour are in the field at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, which starts Thursday on the Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Chances are good that one or more of them could be near the top of the leaderboard. Four of the tournament's seven champions have been first-time winners, including three rookies.

Schauffele likes his chances, too.

He is part of the successful high school class of 2011 that includes Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger. Schauffele pointed out that Spieth won the John Deere Classic in 2013 and 2015, Thomas won in Malaysia in 2015 and 2016, and Berger at the St. Jude Classic in 2016 and 2017.

''I feel like I want to join that group,'' Schauffele said Wednesday.

But Schauffele has missed the cut in three of his last four tournaments after finishing tied for second at The Players Championship.

At No. 24 in the world, he's among five players ranked in the top 30 at The Greenbrier. The others are Bubba Watson (No. 13), Phil Mickelson (No. 20), Webb Simpson (No. 21) and Brian Harman (No. 26). Five from the top 15 in the FedEx Cup are competing.

Watson, a three-time winner this season, and Mickelson own vacation homes at The Greenbrier Sporting Club. The Greenbrier Classic, typically held around Independence Day, was renamed last month in honor of the nation's active and past members of the military, who are being given free admission.

''It would be a huge accomplishment to win here in front of my home crowd,'' Watson said. ''What a dream that would be, my dad was in the military so now we've got the name of the tournament. It just would mean a lot for my family to honor my late dad.''

It's the first tournament for Mickelson since the U.S. Open, when he intentionally violated golf rules by hitting a moving ball on the 13th green in the third round. He later apologized, saying his anger and frustration got the best of him.

The West Virginia stop could see a change when the PGA Tour reveals its full schedule this month for the next FedEx Cup season. The tournament at Sam Snead's former playground in White Sulphur Springs is under contract through 2021.

Watson, for one, wouldn't mind seeing a schedule change. From a business standpoint, he said the Fourth of July holiday always is a hectic time at The Greenbrier, so moving the tournament to later in the year, especially with the area's spectacular fall foliage on display, would give the resort yet another busy week.

''I've always thought that the fall would be great,'' he said.

Up for grabs this week are four spots in the British Open at Carnoustie starting July 19. Those will go to players not already exempt among the top 12 finishers in West Virginia.

All past winners are in the field. So is Abraham Ancer, who was tied for the lead entering the final round of last week's Quicken Loans National. He finished tied for fourth.

Nineteen-year-old Norman Xiong is playing in his first tournament as a professional. He won the Haskins Award as the nation's top college golfer during his sophomore year at Oregon, earning him an exemption at The Greenbrier.

''It's pretty low-key here, so my mind's pretty settled and I'm just trying to prepare the best I can for the upcoming week,'' Xiong said. ''It's a different stage. It's kind of a new beginning. I don't know too many guys out here. Hopefully soon I can make some friends.''

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The Greenbrier field
Robert AllenbyAbraham AncerStuart Appleby
Ryan ArmourMatt AtkinsBlayne Barber
Ricky BarnesZac BlairRyan Blaum
Jonas BlixtSteven BowditchDominic Bozzelli
Keegan BradleyDavid BradshawScott Brown
Wesley BryanBronson BurgoonJonathan Byrd
Chad CampbellAlex CejkaKevin Chappell
Will ClaxtonCorey ConnersAustin Cook
Chris CouchBen CraneJon Curran
Joel DahmenJohn DalyBrian Davis
Roberto DiazZecheng DouKen Duke
Tyler DuncanHarris EnglishBob Estes
Matt EveryDerek FathauerTony Finau
Martin FloresJim FurykTommy Gainey
Brice GarnettRobert GarrigusBrian Gay
Devin GeeFabian GomezTalor Gooch
Jason GoreCody GribbleLanto Griffin
Bill HaasJames HahnBrandon Harkins
Brian HarmanDavid HearnRussell Henley
J.J. HenryTim HerronTom Hoge
J.B. HolmesWes HomanCharles Howell III
Mackenzie HughesJohn HuhBilly Hurley III
Stephan JaegerMatt JonesDavey Jude
Smylie KaufmanMichael KimWhee Kim
Kevin KisnerPatton KizzireJason Kokrak
Kelly KraftLogan LagodichAnirban Lahiri
Danny LeeNicholas LindheimDavid Lingmerth
Tom LoveladyJamie LovemarkPeter Malnati
Steve MarinoTroy MattesonDenny McCarthy
William McGirtParker McLachlinGeorge McNeill
John MerrickPhil MickelsonKeith Mitchell
Ryan MooreTrey MullinaxKevin Na
Joaquin NiemannSam O'DellSean O'Hair
Geoff OgilvyRob OppenheimC.T. Pan
Cameron PercyJohn PetersonScott Piercy
Martin PillerJ.T. PostonTed Potter, Jr.
Seamus PowerDicky PrideAndrew Putnam
Jonathan RandolphPatrick RodgersSam Ryder
Rory SabbatiniSam SaundersXander Schauffele
Adam SchenkOllie SchniederjansChase Seiffert
Conrad ShindlerBen SilvermanWebb Simpson
Vijay SinghBrandt SnedekerJ.J. Spaun
Scott StallingsShawn StefaniBrett Stegmaier
Robert StrebKevin StreelmanChris Stroud
Daniel SummerhaysHudson SwaffordBlake Taylor
Nick TaylorVaughn TaylorKyle Thompson
Michael ThompsonEthan TracyCameron Tringale
Omar UrestiTyrone Van AswegenHarold Varner III
T.J. VogelJohnson WagnerJimmy Walker
Nick WatneyBubba WatsonRichy Werenski
Steve WheatcroftAaron WiseNorman Xiong
Andrew YunXinjun ZhangBrendon de Jonge
Strength of field
World RankPlayersNo. in Field
TOP 10None0
TOP 25Bubba Watson (14),Webb Simpson (16),Tony Finau (17),Xander Schauffele (18),Phil Mickelson (24)5
TOP 50Kevin Kisner (28),Keegan Bradley (31),Brian Harman (38),Kevin Na (42),Aaron Wise (50)5
TOP 100Brandt Snedeker (51),Kevin Chappell (60),Russell Henley (66),Ryan Moore (71),Jimmy Walker (72),Andrew Putnam (78),Charles Howell III (79),J.B. Holmes (88),Patton Kizzire (89),Ted Potter, Jr. (98),C.T. Pan (100)11
Course: The Old White TPC, Par 70 | Yardage: 7066