Commentary

Open hopefuls tee it up at Greenbrier

Updated: July 2, 2012, 8:26 PM ET
By Farrell Evans | ESPN.com

With a star-studded field that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Webb Simpson, the Greenbrier Classic promises this week to be an exciting warm-up for the Open Championship. But for those players not already headed to Royal Lytham and St. Annes in two weeks, the West Virginia event represents the last opportunity for them to capture one of the two spots up for grabs in the six-tournament mini money list.

Marc Leishman has a commanding lead in the race after his win at the Travelers. At the Greenbrier Resort, Leishman will be joined by three of the top four players in the standings: John Merrick, Charley Hoffman and Jhonattan Vegas. Michael Thompson, who is second in the standings after his tie for second at the U.S. Open, is not in the field.

With strong finishes at the AT&T National in 2011, Charles Howell III and Fredrik Jacobson earned the two spots off the mini money list into the field at Royal St. George's.

Leishman isn't in much danger of his losing a spot at Lytham, but that second position is anybody's to take. Leishman, a 28-year-old Australian, didn't try to qualify for the Open Championship because he didn't think he was going to be able to leave the country during his green card application process. But since his win at the Travelers, he says his lawyers are working out the issue with the proper authorities.

"I've been approved for an advanced parole to leave the country," Leishman said playfully at Congressional.

After a woeful start to his season, Vegas had top-10s at The Players and the AT&T National. Merrick's second in Memphis put him into contention for an Open Championship berth. And Hoffman had a tie for second at the Travelers.

Leishman and Hoffman are the only two players of the top five on this money list who have ever played in an Open Championship.