By not entering the Classic, Michael Thompson may lose a shot at the British Open. That's a big carrot this week for many golfers, with two specific chances to win a trip across the pond.
The first is a bit convoluted: The top two (not already exempt) on a special money list enveloping six tournaments. Those are the Players Championship, the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship two weeks ago, the AT&T National last week and the Greenbrier Classic.
Marc Leishman, who won the Travelers and is in the Classic field, leads that list with $1,150,675, followed by Thompson at $718,412. The next three are John Merrick ($616,440), Charley Hoffman ($586,593) and Jhonattan Vegas ($552,021).
After those two spots are determined, the top player in the Classic - again, not otherwise exempt - goes to the British Open, provided he finishes in the top five overall.
Watson and Stallings have both overcome injuries to play here.
Watson played in the Champions Tour's Senior Players Championship, his first competitive tournament since the Masters. He injured his hand and it took two-plus months to recover.
"I'm getting my legs now," said the 62-year-old Watson. "I'm not playing very consistently, but I'm driving the ball pretty well. The iron play is a little sketchy."
Stallings herniated a low disk in his back in early June, continuing an injury-marred year. In January, he tore cartilage in five ribs, but didn't get the injury properly diagnosed or treated for several weeks.
Having learned from that, he immediately withdrew from the Travelers Championship near Hartford, Conn., and got it checked. He had less than two weeks before coming to White Sulphur Springs.
Mission accomplished, he said Tuesday.
"I withdrew from Hartford, came home, had an MRI, saw a spine specialist, just made sure there wasn't going to be anything serious to deal with," he said. "We had, I think, 13 or 14 therapy sessions in seven days, so a couple times a day trying to get back. We didn't have to do cortisone or anything like that."
The field features players from 17 different countries, with eight from Australia and five from Korea. There are 41 players under age 30, 38 over age 40.
That was nearly even before Tuesday, when 45-year-old Michael Bradley withdrew. He was replaced in the 156-man field by 25-year-old Billy Horschel.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.