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Monday, August 1, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 Greenbrier Classic

Winner: Scott Stallings

Around the wider world of golf: Yani Tseng defended her title at the Women's British Open to nail 4 of the last 8 majors and become the youngest player, male or female, ever to win 5 majors; Olin Browne got his first major ever at the U.S. Senior Open on the Champions Tour; Simon Dyson won the ET's Irish Open, which got him into next week's WGC-Bridgestone; Kathleen Ekey won the Alliance Bank Golf Classic on the LPGA Futures Tour; and J.J. Killeen won the Utah Championship on the Nationwide Tour.

Scott Stallings wins GreenbrierScott Stallings looks to be slightly happy, doesn't he? That's because him making (and winning) the Greenbrier's 3-way playoff wasn't nearly as big a surprise as Bob Estes making the playoff... or Anthony Kim not making it. After blistering the course with a 62 Saturday, Kim struggled in with a birdie-free 74 and vanished from the scene. Still, Kim's showing signs that he's healed from his thumb surgery and could factor in the rest of the season.

Instead, here was your playoff: Estes hadn't won since 2002; Bill Haas had won twice in 2010 and had a couple of Top 5s this year; and the rookie Scott Stallings had one Top 5 and about $74K in winnings. Haas was certainly the favorite, but Stallings put any question of his nerves to rest by knocking the ball to 6 feet on the par-3 18th -- way inside both of the other two shots -- and dropping the birdie for the win. Making the WGC-Bridgestone, the Masters, and the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii next January with a single stroke will get your sap running big time. (Hey, we're talking West Virginia and the Allegheny Mountains here -- that's a fair analogy. Besides, you can't deny that Stallings won it with a syrupy-smooth swing...)

In winning, Stallings continued a major storyline of this season -- not just first-time winners, but rookie winners. Stallings joined the following rookies who have nabbed their first wins this season:
  • Charl Schwartzel
  • Chris Kirk
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Jhonattan Vegas
  • Brendan Steele
Some may question whether Schwartzel should be considered a rookie given his ET experience, but he's still a PGA Tour rookie. At any rate, it's a pretty impressive showing by the rookies this year.

Tiger Woods may steal the show this coming week at the WGC-Bridgestone, but there will be six rookies there looking to steal the show from him. These rookies all have something Tiger doesn't have -- a win in 2011. So this week's Limerick Summary salutes the newest rookie winner -- and, indirectly, the whole crop of rookie winners looking to add a Tiger pelt to their trophy case:
Tour experience failed at the end
And Scott Stallings walked off with the win.
Now he joins the first five
Keeping young hopes alive
As the rookie class does it again.
The photo came from this story.

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