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Groups to Watch at Greenbrier Classic: A Fan's View

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Greenbrier Classic is set to begin on July 5, and the tournament figures to be a good one. With Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both in action, the tournament has a very different feel this year. The tee times have been released and golf fans can see which players the two stars are playing with in the first two rounds. Tiger and Phil fall into two of the more intriguing groups, but there are some other strong ones as well.

Here is a look at the groups to watch in the first two rounds of the Greenbrier Classic:

Tiger Woods, Webb Simpson, and Steve Stricker

Tiger might not have any major titles this year, but he is the only golfer with three PGA titles. Woods was strong at the AT&T National, hitting just five bogeys in his four rounds on the way to a title. He ranks in the top 10 in both greens hit and driving accuracy. Clearly, it wouldn't be a shock if he adds a fourth title this year. Meanwhile, Simpson is still glowing from his U.S. Open win and ranks first in birdie average. Stricker hasn't played since finishing in 15th place at the U.S. Open and that rest might end up helping him.

Keegan Bradley, Tom Watson, and Jim Furyk

It's a short week for Bradley. He is playing in this event just a few days after competing overseas at the Irish Open. It will be interesting to see if he gets off to a strong start in the first round. If he does, it could be a good weekend for him. Furyk is still trying to recover from letting the U.S. Open slip away and finishing 34th at the AT&T National. He needs a big performance. Watson represents the old guard. The 62-year-old legend will easily draw one of the biggest crowds of the tournament.

Phil Mickelson, Stuart Appleby, and Scott Stallings

Stallings picked up his first career win at this event in 2011, so you have to like his chances of competing well in 2012. Still, he might be overmatched in this group. Mickelson missed the cut at this event last year but ranks pretty high in most statistical categories. Don't be surprised to see him earn his second title of the year. It's been a tough year for Appleby, who hasn't finished better than 18th yet this year.

Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, and Johnson Wagner

Johnson is healthy and already has a title in 2012, despite missing time due to injury. There is no reason to think that he won't play well in his first time at this event. Haas lost in a playoff at this event in 2011 but has struggled in 2012. He hasn't finished better than 25th since winning the Northern Trust Open in February. Wagner is another 2012 winner that has had issues lately. He's finished outside of the top 20 in 10 straight events.

* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played the game since high school.

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