Former Hokie de Jonge hoping to continue hot streak
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - If you plan on attending the Greenbrier Classic, you may be looking for a player to follow.
If so, you could do worse than follow Brendon de Jonge.
Sure, there are more familiar names entered in the Classic. There's Sergio Garcia, John Daly, Davis Love III and Kenny Perry.
If, however, you're seeking favorites, try Jim Furyk, ranked fifth in the world. Try Carl Pettersson, who won his fourth PGA title this past Sunday at the Canadian Open. Try Matt Kuchar, seventh on the PGA Tour's money list.
And certainly try de Jonge.
Put simply, de Jonge is one of the hottest golfers on the PGA Tour. Currently 34th in the FedEx Cup standings, de Jonge has finished among the top 13 four times in his last six starts.
Need more convincing? Try this: In 12 of his last 15 rounds, de Jonge has scored in the 60s. Also, he's familiar with West Virginia courses, most recently finishing tied for 14th in the Nationwide Tour Players Cup event.
"It's been fun,'' de Jonge said Tuesday of his run. "Had a good stretch. Just trying to keep it going this week.''
A Virginia Tech graduate, de Jonge said he feels comfortable in West Virginia's hills. He played a practice round Tuesday with fellow Hokie alums Johnson Wagner and Drew Wayne.
"It's great for us,'' de Jonge said. "We get so much fan support. Everywhere we looked we saw Hokie hats and shirts. It's a lot of fun getting cheered all the time. Virginia Tech has always been a pretty tight-knit community that travels well. It's going to make for an exciting week for us.''
As long, de Jonge clarified, as birdies are flying.
"I think it's definitely going to be one of those weeks where it's going to be a necessity to make a bunch of birdies,'' he said. "The golf course is fairly soft at the moment. I think we're going to get a lot of wedges in our hands and it might turn into a bit of a putting contest.''
As for which golfers the Old White Course best suits, de Jonge shrugged.
"I think it's going to be fairly even for everybody,'' he said. "There are a lot of holes where, if you can drive it far, you can drive it over all the cross bunkers, which will make it a lot easier.
"I think it's not going to favor any one kind of player. The fairways are fairly narrow, so you have to drive it straight as well.''
The golfer said accuracy will especially prove key on the par-3 18th hole.
"We don't see a whole lot of that,'' de Jonge said. "I'm thinking maybe a couple other events. I know the Tour Championship is like that. It's going to be an exciting finish.''
De Jonge said he enjoys the fact that the Greenbrier has such a close tie to golf legend Sam Snead, who was pro emeritus until his death.
"Any time there's history at a venue, it's definitely going to attract a stronger field,'' said the golfer. "A lot of guys have studied the history of golf. I know how beloved Sam Snead was in this area, having gone to school close by. It's pretty cool we can come to a place like this.''
It's a place that may set up well for de Jonge. He tied for third in the Puerto Rico Open, tied for fourth in the Quail Hollow Championship, tied for seventh in the John Deere Classic and tied for ninth in both the Honda Classic and Travelers Championship.
The 6-foot, 230-pound pro is tied for 22nd on the PGA Tour in scoring average.
"I've been hitting the ball good for the last couple months,'' said the Zimbabwe native who just turned 30. "I've been hitting a lot of greens. Obviously, if you keep doing that and finally make a couple putts, you can shoot some good scores.
"I'm hoping for more of the same this week. Keeping the same frame of mind. Trying to keep knocking on the door.''
And perhaps walking through this week.