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Mickelson & Watson ready for Greenbrier Classic

July 05, 2018

The 2018 Greenbrier Classic doesn't boast a big-name field but it should still pack a punch with lefty stars Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson enjoying bounce-back seasons.

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Two-time Masters champion Watson has won three times this year, and has had success at the Old White TPC in Sulphur Springs in the past. Mickelson is trying to earn enough points to automatically qualify for the fall Ryder Cup tournament.

Watson, who won the Travelers Championship last month, has made the cut in four out of five appearances and his best finish was a tie for 13th three years ago.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge," he said. "Hopefully I can make some putts like I did at the Travelers, and that's the key to anybody's game.

"We can all hit the ball. So it's just making the putts at the right time to keep the momentum going."

Mickelson is coming off a bizarre putting kerfuffle at the Shinnecock Hills US Open, where he intentionally hit a putt before his ball stopped rolling. He was slapped with a two-shot penalty, but some thought he should have been disqualified.

This year tournament organizers decided to go with a military theme which they are dubbing A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. They held a private dinner on Tuesday night that was attended by embattled American President Donald Trump.

"These are unbelievably talented people. They're talented in their mind and in their body. Their muscles are strong but their mind has to be stronger. It's tough. And these are tough people," said avid golfer Trump, who has been accused several times of cheating on the golf course.

Xander Schauffele is back after breaking through with his first USPGA Tour win following a battle with Robert Streb and Sebastian Munoz.

Schauffele went on to earn rookie of the year honours after capturing the Tour Championship at East Lake. Since last summer, Schauffele's ranking has soared to 24th from 352nd.

Reigning Players Championship winner Webb Simpson tied for 10th at the US Open. He should feel at home playing near his home state of North Carolina.

Other prominent players include Jim Furyk, Tony Finau, Vijay Singh and John Daly.

"It's been a great season for me and my best season thus far.

"I've played some really nice golf and I've learned a lot about myself both mentally and physically," said Finau, who has had 12 top 25 finishes in 19 tournaments this season.

The Greenbrier, one of America's most iconic old courses, was devastated by a massive storm weeks before the 2016 tournament, but the course has recovered.

It's now in its second century of use and is named for the Old White Hotel that stood on the property for more than six decades.

Stuart Appleby shot a 59 in 2010 to break the single-round scoring record.