And then there were 149
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two more top-50 players in the world rankings were added in the latest - and largest - release of commitments to next week's Greenbrier Classic.
A total of 149 names were listed as of Tuesday afternoon. Throw in the four survivors of the open qualifier Monday, and that is very close to the ultimate field of 156 that will start in the first round on the Fourth of July.
Scott Piercy and Carl Pettersson, two players who broke into the top 30 of the final FedExCup standings last fall, were among the many new players listed. They could be two of 29 players to participate in all four Classics on the Old White TPC.
Both have won events and shot up the charts since the inaugural Classic in 2010. Piercy owns two Tour victories, the last being the 2012 Canadian Open, and has risen to 40th in the world. He finished 27th in the FedExCup playoffs and is in the top 50 in the current standings.
Petterson, the 35-year-old jokingly called the "Redneck Swede," is 42nd in the world and owns five Tour victories, including the 2012 Heritage in South Carolina. He finished 24th in the FedExCup last year, raking in more than $3.5 million.
Another top commitment is Russell Henley, a rookie who won his first professional start, closing with five straight birdies to win the Sony Open in Hawaii. Ranked 16th in the points standings, his purpose here is twofold - qualify for the British Open and move up one spot to the world top 50.
The field listed Tuesday remains "for information purposes only." The official field will be announced at 5 p.m. Friday.
But if this field stands, the Classic will have nine of the world's top 50, 25 of the top 100 and 44 of the top 150. Twenty-five of the top 52 of the FedExCup standings are expected.
"It's great. The field is great," said tournament director Monte Ortel. "I've been saying all along, top to bottom, this is the best field we've ever had."
Other notable new commitments, in world ranking order:
He had a childhood battle with scoliosis, and once had a surgery to attach a 16-inch rod to his spine. He finally won in his 187th tour start.
"I can't be more happy with Ken Duke, if you know about his story and what he's had to go through, physically," Ortel said. "It was great TV."
Resting a strained elbow, Tiger Woods isn't playing the next three weeks before the British Open, including the Greenbrier Classic. He is not even playing at the AT&T National this weekend, a generally high-powered tournament he hosts.
One national golf writer, Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press, told Golf Channel on Tuesday he thinks Woods might have taken a second shot at Old White.
Expect Bubba Watson to be on his best behavior at the Greenbrier, particularly to his caddie.
As Watson muffed his way to a triple-bogey 6 late in the final round of the Travelers Championship, CBS microphones caught his scolding of Ted Scott, who suggested a 9-iron on the tee shot that went short and in the water.
After Watson's third shot ran through the green, he turned to Scott and said, "So you're telling me that's the right yardage?"
Scott publicly took responsibility and Watson eventually called it a team error. The caddie received more sympathy than the otherwise popular Watson, by far.
Said Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Times: "Let's be honest: Bubba Watson looked like a jerk on Sunday. There's no other way to say it."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
The following 149 players were listed on the Greenbrier Classic's website as the field of competitors as of Tuesday:
Brendon de Jonge
Paul Haley II
Charles Howell III
Doug LaBelle II
Richard H. Lee
Ted Potter, Jr.
Wes Short, Jr.
Joey Snyder III