WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - When Tom Watson laid eyes on the Old White TPC course, he couldn't believe what he didn't see.
The Greenbrier's pro emeritus arrived Sunday, about 48 hours after the "derecho" storm hacked up the resort's three courses. Old White suffered the brunt of 52 fallen trees, to say nothing of wayward branches and crushed sections of seating.
"Hill [Herrick, the resort's head pro] took me around the entire 18 holes of the Old White," Watson said. "It didn't look like anything had happened."
Many of the players who came from the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md., echoed the sentiment, having had a frame of reference. Workers at Congressional Country Club labored hurriedly to get the course playable after Friday's storm, but large uprooted trees were visible to TV viewers and the course was closed to spectators for the third round.
Billy Hurley's assessment: "You would have no idea they lost trees out here. I mean, you wouldn't know a storm went through here. They've done a great job cleaning it up from whatever they lost or whatever damage they had. I couldn't see any of it [while] playing today."
Watson did notice one particular absence. The first hole features one of the most scenic vistas in golf, but that has been altered.
"The saddest one knocked down, to me, was the oak on No. 1 off the tee, just an absolutely majestic oak on the left side in the rough there that really beautifully framed the hole, and it's gone."
Tee times were released for the first two rounds, Thursday and Friday. As expected, there are plenty of good threesomes to follow, both in the morning and afternoon.
At 8 a.m. Thursday, Watson tees off at No. 10 with Keegan Bradley and Jim Furyk, the 2010 FedExCup champ. Furyk is 17th in the those standings; Bradley is 24th.
Following is the biggie, with Woods, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and Steve Stricker. They run 1-9-25 in the FedExCup, 4-5-13 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Off the No. 1 tee at 1:10 p.m. will be Johnson Wagner (13th FedExCup), Dustin Johnson (21) and defending FedExCup champ Bill Haas (22). Ten minutes later, Phil Mickelson (8) will begin with Classic champions Stuart Appleby and Scott Stallings.
All groups will reverse time frames (i.e., morning or afternoon sessions) on Friday. Those teeing off at No. 1 Thursday will go off from No. 10 Friday, and vice versa.
Many of the big names take the course today in the pro-am tournament, with one pro playing with amateurs - major sponsors, celebrities, etc. Get up early if you want to see Woods or Simpson - they tee off at 7 a.m., from No. 1 and 10, respectively.
Today's Tiger trivia: