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A rainbow at Classic's end for hardcore fans

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Of all the brilliant writers of the past, perhaps it was Dr. Suess who best captured Sunday at the Greenbrier Classic.

"The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day."

OK, so maybe it wasn't cold. But we sat and we sat, like that Cat in the Hat. The rain was supposed to pass quickly, but it trudged along here for three hours.

The hope was we were in for another spectacular Sunday - ending around 6 p.m., with CBS beaming this beautiful West Virginia spot to the world. Each of the first three years such endings, before terrific galleries, saved the tournament storyline. Two playoffs and a carded 59.

And this Classic, perhaps more than the others, needed such an ending.

There were no Tiger Woods sightings. He skipped after invigorating ticket sales last year.

As in the past three years, Phil Mickelson, the runaway star sans Woods, the 12-1 favorite this year, failed to make the cut.

Also, perhaps expectedly, the crowds seemed thinner.

There were nice groupings around Mickelson, while he was here, and Bubba Watson, who finished 5 under. Some hearty souls stayed after the rains Sunday and were rewarded by a rainbow.

But the Classic needed a lightning strike. And not the kind it received.

The leaderboard was uninspiring. Johnson Wagner, Jimmy Walker and Jonas Blixt - the eventual winner - were your top three when the players were sent off the course at 1:50 p.m. because of "dangerous conditions."

Wagner had missed seven straight cuts. He'd had three birdies in his last two tournaments. And, in football-proud West Virginia, the Virginia Tech grad was decked out in Hokie colors of maroon and orange.

Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old with five top 10 finishes, was a breath of fresh air. He began Sunday in a tie for fourth before failing to record a birdie on Sunday. Davis Love III was hanging around.

Otherwise, though, there was little to propel goose bumps. Blixt, Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Wagner and Jimmy Walker were your final top five, decided at almost 9 p.m.

Perhaps the neatest story was that of Greenbrier pro emeritus Tom Watson.

The 63-year-old performed well, finishing at minus 4, the same as 19-year-old amateur Michael Kim. Fans were able to watch Watson's classic swing for four days. Afterward, autograph seekers lined up behind No. 18 for a signature. As always, he was gracious, saying the Greenbrier "pulled out all the stops to spoil us."

Then there was the story of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, toting the bag for Ryan Palmer. When does a caddy ever steal the show?

Just that kind of a tournament. There seemed to be more golf stars - Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Els, Ian Polter and Rory McIlroy - spotted watching tennis at Wimbledon.

Even the Classic's annual curiosity - John Daly - withdrew after three holes Friday because of elbow problems. There went the star-spangled pants.

Of course, you can't always have a classic Classic. You can't always have a 59 recorded or a playoff staged.

We sat and we sat, like those at other tournaments through the season. Fourteen of the 28 PGA Tour tournaments, including this one, had weather delays. Jim Nantz and CBS tap-danced for two hours awaiting the restart.

It wasn't until 5:08 p.m. when starter Paul Moran announced the name of Wagner to start his round. CBS bailed for "60 Minutes" 52 minutes later. Back to the Golf Channel.

The masses watched a "60 Minutes" report on James Bond. Hopefully, the hardcore golf fans stayed tuned.

They saw Sweden's Blixt take control on No. 16, while the wheels fell off of Wagner. They saw tears of happiness from the winner. "One week," he said, "and the whole year turns around."

It was a rainbow for those hardcore fans. In a tournament that turned out tailored for them.


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