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Justice knows Classic headline

JIM JUSTICE is like most of us.

OK, so financially, he's like few of us.

But when it comes to the just-completed Greenbrier Classic, he sees the story like most of us: overcoming the damage of the derecho deserved the banner headline.

"You've got to lay aside any level of disappointment of Tiger [Woods] and Phil [Mickelson] not making the cut," Justice said on Monday. "You have to lay aside the issue of the heat. Nobody can control that. You have to have a sense of pride by what was accomplished."

Indeed, it was wondrous the way the Old White TPC course was cleaned up in a few days to look as if it was spit-polished.

"Kelly Shumate, our director of grounds, did a wonderful job," said Justice, The Greenbrier's owner. "I knew I could count on him and his guys. All our courses are in spectacular condition.

"Yesterday, I remember [golfer] Webb Simpson   

was on the 14th hole. And over on the 11th, Kelly had the sprinklers going on the hot spots. I know he was worn out, but he was out there working it."

Still, there were those subplots. Not only did Woods and Mickelson not make the cut, there were reports Justice paid Woods $1.8 million and Mickelson $1 million to liven up the event.

"You can't pay players to come to an event," Justice said. "But we have umpteen relationships with players to do work for us. We ask them to make off-season appearances for us, put on clinics and speak. . . . Ken Perry wears our name [on his shirts]. You know what Tom Watson [golf emeritus] does for us.

"We have a big company that entertains guests using Charles Barkley and Shaq [O'Neil], for instance. It's not at all correct to say we paid for [Woods and Mickelson] to play. They have no ties whatsoever to playing. We have one player [being paid] that hasn't been here yet."

Justice wouldn't deny or confirm the numbers. ("I probably shouldn't comment on that," he said.) But it's clear there are personal contract agreements in place. Aside from that, Justice said, the golfers involved seem to enjoy the Classic.

"Tiger lives in Jupiter, Fla.," Justice said. "And he said so many people there are so pompous. They talk about how much their house costs or how much their cars cost. He said, 'I ask them: But are you happy?'

"He said that's why he liked it here: Everyone was so nice. And he loved the course."

The owner said approximately 200,000 visited the Greenbrier throughout the week. He said last year it was 217,000. Certainly, the drop had to do with power outages, heat and the cut of Woods and Mickelson.

Of the latter, Justice said, "They just didn't make the cut. Two young kids [Ted Potter Jr. and Troy Kelly] beat everyone else."

As always, he looked at the bright side, especially in regard to Greenbrier County.

"The people in our area were really blessed the golf tournament was here at that time," Justice said. "We at The Greenbrier would have been taken care of anyway. We have two tiers of generators. One is for the bunker and the other is because of the casino. The Lottery Commission insists on that.

"But Beckley and Lewisburg power came up faster than those in Charleston because it was an important state event."

Justice said The Greenbrier is still trying to help those in need by delivering fresh vegetables, etc.

But of the concluded tournament?

"The story was how much grit it took to put on," he said.

Most of us agree.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.   

 


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