As the calendar turns to July, many of the best players have made the short trek from Congressional Country Club to White Sulphur Springs, W.V., for this week's Greenbrier Classic. Phil Mickelson headlines the field this week in an event that has seen high drama in each of its first three years of existence.
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Ted Potter, Jr., will return as defending champion, a title he won last year in a playoff over Troy Kelly. Here are 10 players to watch this week in West Virginia:
1. Webb Simpson: The former U.S. Open champion has two straight top-10s here, beginning the week with a 5-under 65 each time. Simpson led after both 36 and 54 holes last year before fading into a tie for seventh and enters off a tie for fifth in his most recent start in Hartford.
2. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson is making his first start since a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open. Though his history at Greenbrier isn't memorable (MC in both 2011 and 2012), his recent form overall certainly is. His tie for second at Merion was his third top-three finish in his last four starts, including a T-2 finish in Memphis and third-place result at Quail Hollow.
3. Graham DeLaet: The Canadian is playing the best golf of his career this summer and has the results to show for it. His tie for eighth at Congressional was his second straight top-10 finish, and DeLaet's worst result since the calendar hit May was a T-26 at The Players. It doesn't hurt that he also tied for 12th in this event a year ago.
4. Billy Horschel: Though his finish was disappointing, Horschel did lead after one round at Congressional. He's in the midst of a sensational season where he sits inside the top 10 in birdie average, total driving and the all-around ranking. Made the cut in each of his first two Greenbrier starts and was inside the top 25 after each of the first three rounds a year ago.
5. Bubba Watson: In his first start since nearly winning at TPC River Highlands, Watson heads to Greenbrier for the first time also looking to rebound from an unfortunate war of words with caddie Ted Scott two weeks ago. Though he's yet to win since the 2012 Masters, the southpaw is in the midst of a solid 2013 campaign, with six top-15 finishes in 13 starts.
6. Jimmy Walker: Though he missed the cut here last year, Walker tied for fourth in both 2010 and 2011. Though he's missed his first two cuts of 2013 in each of his last two starts, the Texan currently ranks ninth on Tour in birdie average and 18th in the all-around. His first PGA Tour win could come as soon as this week.
7. Bill Haas: Haas heads to West Virginia after emerging from a crowded leaderboard Sunday at Congressional for his fifth career PGA Tour victory. The former Wake Forest standout lost in a playoff here in 2011 and entered the final round inside the top 10 a year ago before fading to T-33. Six of his eight career rounds at Old White have been in the 60s.
8. Brendon de Jonge: Though he struggled a year ago, de Jonge notched top-five finishes at Old White in both 2010 (third place) and 2011 (T-4). Still in search of his first win, de Jonge has a stat line that shows another successful week may be in store, ranking inside the top 25 in GIR percentage (22nd), total driving (24th) and the all-around ranking (17th).
9. Roberto Castro: Known this year for fast starts, notably an opening 63 at TPC Sawgrass, Castro was able to keep it together over the weekend at Congressional for a career-best runner-up finish. It marked the fourth top-25 finish in his last six starts, and now Castro heads back to the site of his lone top-10 finish in 2012 (T-7).
10. David Hearn: Not to be outdone by fellow Canadian DeLaet, Hearn has made eight of his last nine cuts, with five resulting in T-26 finish or better. The Ontario native has had success at Greenbrier, tying for 12th last year after a T-18 finish the year prior, and ranks 20th on Tour in strokes gained putting.