DANIELS - A longtime Mercer County resident, John Ross is itching, more than most, to get into the Greenbrier Classic. He was so, so close last year.
"To play in [the Classic] at age 60, it would be just like playing in a major," he said. "I don't know how many PGA Tour events I've played in my career, maybe 50, 55. I'd like to get another crack at it - I know the Old White course pretty well."
Ross was one of 90 players who took a swing at The Greenbrier Classic pre-qualifying tournament Thursday at Glade Springs. He shot a 3-over-par 75, making the top 50 right on the number.
That wasn't exactly the best round of the day - two players blitzed the course for a 66 - but he did advance to Monday's open qualifier, where the top four finishers will earn spots in next week's PGA Tour event.
As a one-time Tour member who has also played some Champions Tour events, Ross has seen it all when it comes to getting into a field.
"I know this golf course pretty well. I used to represent Glade," he said. "So I feel like that equalizes things out. Today, sure, I would have loved to have shot 66, but 75 still accomplishes the same thing. Last year, I was in the playoffs in the [Monday] qualifier, so I'd like to get some redemption.
"If I get my putting ironed out, I'll be ready to go."
The stakes weren't nearly as high Thursday as they will be on Monday - after all, 52 made this cut - but players had to navigate the Cobb Course in good enough shape to advance.
There was a wide cross-section of golfers chasing their long-odds dream of making next weeks' classic. Those included:
He wants more, obviously.
"I want to be [at the Classic]. I want to represent the state of West Virginia," Bradshaw said. "You can't think about it; you've just got to play golf."
With Poca teen Grant Humphrey serving as his caddy, Hess had one of the better rounds of his career.
"I had a great caddy," Hess said. "He clubbed me right all day. I just came out and had fun; that's all I was doing. And the putts dropped."
"Literally, three or four days ago," said Bartlett, who made the 36-hole Classic cut in 2010. "I'm getting ready for 'Q School'. It means a lot to me. I'll give it a year and a half, two years. I'm not going to chase it for 10. There came a point where either I was going to do it, or not do it and forget about it."