DeChambeau headlines PGA Tour opener in West Virginia

U.S. Presidents Cup team members were told to get out and play, and Bryson DeChambeau is eager to please.

DeChambeau is heeding captain Tiger Woods’ call for his eight players to stay sharp heading into the December matches.

At No. 10, DeChambeau is the highest-ranked player in the world entered in A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, the kickoff event for the PGA Tour’s fall schedule that starts Thursday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

DeChambeau, who won the first tournament he played in last season at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in November, is planning to play four tournaments this fall before the Presidents Cup.

“You want to get off to a good start, right?” DeChambeau said Wednesday after a pro-am round at The Greenbrier. “That’s the whole key.”

DeChambeau is joined in the field by Zach Johnson, an assistant captain to Woods who wants to do more than see how DeChambeau is faring. Johnson missed the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time, had one top 10 finish last season and hasn’t won since the 2015 British Open.

The tournament also is an opportunity for players like Bubba Watson, who wants to make an impression this fall and become one of Woods’ four captain’s picks. Watson (25) and Marc Leishman (24) are the only other top 25 players in the Greenbrier field.

On the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Watson was among those attending a ceremony at The Greenbrier honoring the victims. His late father, Gerry, was a Green Beret who fought in the Vietnam War.

“What an honor and a privilege to be able to pay respects in a small way,” Watson said. “I tear up every time. Anytime I hear the national anthem, anytime I hear ‘God Bless America.’ It’s for joy, just thankfulness and how blessed we are.”

Ten players at The Greenbrier won on tour last season, including Kevin Na. The last time the tournament was played in 2018, Na halted a winless streak of nearly seven years, making birdies on six of his first 10 holes on the Old White TPC to beat Kelly Kraft by five strokes.

The tournament is a chance for redemption for players like Harold Varner III, who was the third-round co-leader with Kraft and finished tied for 12th. No third-round leader has gone on to win the tournament since its debut in 2010.

A large group of rookies will get the chance for a fast start to their PGA Tour careers, including 2019 Korn Ferry Tour points leader Scottie Scheffler.

There’s also former U.S. Amateur champion Viktor Hovland, who finished fourth at the Wyndham Championship and secured his 2019-20 tour card through the Korn Ferry Finals. He was part of Oklahoma State’s winning team in the Big 12 tournament at The Greenbrier in April.

Four of the Greenbrier’s eight champions have been first-time winners, including three rookies.

DIVOTS: The tournament honors the nation’s first responders and military members. Air Force Capt. Kyle Westmoreland, who played on the Korn Ferry Tour, received a sponsor’s exemption. … Steve Allan, a 45-year-old Australian who was the runner-up in the 2003 Greater Milwaukee Open and 2004 Barracuda Championship, is among four Monday qualifiers. It will be Allan’s ninth PGA Tour event since 2010. … To lure local fans who otherwise might be interested in home games Saturday for college football teams at West Virginia, Marshall and Virginia Tech, the tournament is giving away 30,000 admission tickets and offering prize giveaways valued at $1,000 or more throughout the week. … The Greenbrier is owned by Jim Justice, the governor of West Virginia.


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