By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
If you haven’t bought your badge for admission to the 2012 Greenbrier Classic, you are too late. Sales for admission to the third annual PGA event at the historic resort were closed Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. The week-long event with golf play, concerts and more begins Monday in Greenbrier County.
At a recent news conference resort owner Jim Justice indicated that sales at some point would close, that point was Wednesday.
Last year 217,000 people attended the event and Justice said the grounds could accommodate as many as 30,000 more.
“The course is set up where it can handle a lot of people,” Justice said. “Even though we’ve had great crowds, I don’t think we’ve had anyone come up to me and say there are so many people here I can’t enjoy myself, or I can’t see the action. We will hypothetically have to cut it off, just pick a number, that’s what we will do.”
Stuart Appleby, champion of the inaugural Classic in 2010, recently spoke before the media at The Greenbrier. He talked about his win there in 2010 when he shot a 59.
“I did get a few guys ask, ‘How did you shoot that score?’ And I was the very first to quickly let them know, look, guys, the course was nothing like this,” Appleby said. “It was shorter, it was receptive. The greens were sticking in, balls banging in.”
After the first Greenbrier Classic, the course was changed and made tougher, so the likelihood of someone shooting a 59 is very remote.
“If you want to make a golf course hard, you should add the length,” Appleby said. “But if you can get the greens firm, and firm is actually the one that is really tricky. Whenever the ball is moving, as in rolling around, that becomes hard. When that time between landing and stopping gets longer than a couple of seconds, gravity starts to really move the ball around.”
The 2010 victory in the Classic was huge for Appleby’s career and he is hoping to again replicate the success he had two years ago and parlay it into a strong finish on the tour this season. In order to do that, he is studying.
“I have asked the PGA Tour to give me a video of The Greenbrier because it was telecast pretty much, most of the shots that I had were telecast,” Appleby said. “I’m looking for good fodder, good food for thought and I have not received the DVD yet. I have an old VHS tape from my wins at Kapalua, so I am pulling all the great shots, and I had over 100 really good shots on there.”
Appleby recalled some things about the final day of the tournament two years ago.
“I do remember the crowd, I remember 18. I remember making it. I said, ‘Holy cow, that just happened,’” Appleby recounted.
“But you know, out of all that pressure that should have been there, I didn’t feel any of it and I have gone through some patches since then that I’ve felt overwhelmed and daunted, physically and emotionally, together, over incidences that should have been nothing to miss.”
When Appleby finished the course on that Sunday, he did not celebrate his finish.
“I went to the range, hit some balls, hit them beautifully, hit a ball like every minute. I didn’t want to sort of rush through the bag hitting balls, I was really warmed up. I didn’t want to water down the success that I had that previous five hours.”
Appleby and a strong field of golfers including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Tom Watson will be in the field next week on The Old White course.