CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- NOT TO be a worrywart, but I have noticed a few parallels to last year in regard to the Greenbrier Classic.
With five weeks until the fourth edition of this state's PGA Tour event, I don't see some things we were seeing at this time last year.
No Phil Mickelson commitment. No bracing for a visit from Tiger Woods. Two concerts instead of three. No advisories that ticket sales could be cut off in advance. No Tim McNeely as tournament director.
All minor details. OK, that McNeely thing was a substantial development, but that pales to previous obstacles.
A year ago, the resort staff, volunteers and fans picked themselves off the deck from that heinous derecho to roll out the welcome mat for the PGA Tour. We showed our resilience and did so in style.
One hopes this state can shine again in less taxing circumstances.
Monte Ortel, the Classic's new director, surely isn't worried. As McNeely's right-hand man for three years and director of the former Turning Stone Resort Championship before that, he was groomed for this moment.
With nearly two dozen commitments in the bag, Ortel is hitting the pedal even harder in recruiting. This week is a good one to do it - today, he begins a three-day visit to the Memorial Tournament, that always-stacked invitational north of Columbus. And with the Memorial hosting the President's Cup matches in October, no big-name Americans will skip it.
That could trigger a wave of good Classic commitments, with another coming two weeks later, after the U.S. Open. After that, there are roughly 12 days before the June 28 deadline for entry, and we saw some impressive late arrivals a year ago.
I like the list of 23 commitments recently released. There are some sneaky good players, such as:
"Webb Simpson's a standup guy, he's great in the community and he's a fantastic player," Ortel said. "The Greenbrier having him as an ambassador for them throughout the year is fantastic."
Simpson has dropped from fifth in the world a year ago to 16th, but that's still not shabby. He has three top-6 finishes, including a playoff loss to Graeme McDowell at the Heritage in South Carolina.
Here, the calendar may have favored the Classic.