Greenbrier notebook: Attractions a nice surprise to players
"It's like being back in summer camp as a kid,'' Lerner said Friday morning. "When you run into somebody, whether it's a player or someone on our crew, the conversation is not so much, 'How's your golf?' but 'Hey, did you go kayaking? Have you played any tennis? What sorts of things have you done? Have you gone to the gun club?' I think people have begun to soak it all up. Sometimes you forget that you have to work.''
Lerner, an Allentown, Pa., native and 1983 Temple graduate, played a couple of sets of tennis early Friday morning and did some weightlifting in a workout room not far from the 18th green.
He and his Golf Channel counterparts were on the air for what he called a pregame show at 2:30 p.m. Friday, leading up to their Greenbrier Classic coverage from 3 to 6 p.m. The Golf Channel will air early-round coverage from 1 to 2:30 p.m. today and Sunday and a half-hour update show at 2:30 p.m. as a prelude to CBS coverage from 3 to 6 p.m. today and Sunday.
The Greenbrier's attractions, he said, probably came as a pleasant surprise to the Tour players.
"I don't know that the people in the traveling carnival that is the PGA Tour fully understood what they were going to experience here,'' said the Golf Channel host. "They'd heard about it and maybe they thought it was that old resort in West Virginia. But now that they're here, it's 'wow!' And I think people got word that it's a good place to bring their families, and I don't think they've been disappointed in any way.
"As far as the golf goes,'' he added, "it's different than what they see week to week. They don't play C.B. Macdonald-Seth Raynor golf courses every single week. I think the players that have an interest in architecture and golf-course design try to absorb what they're seeing and what they're playing and maybe study the history.''
When players make their next stop on the PGA Tour and chat with players who chose not to compete in the inaugural Greenbrier Classic, what will they likely be saying?
"I think what they'll likely say is [it's a] fun golf course, you can make a lot of birdies and bring your family,'' said Lerner. "Yes, you should come [next year] if you can fit it in, give it a shot, give it a look. Word of mouth is important.''
His first visit to the West Virginia resort came in 1997 and conjures up memories of the late Sam Snead, who served as The Greenbrier's pro emeritus. Lerner and his three brothers had arranged a golf outing for their father's 70th birthday and convinced the 85-year-old Snead to make a surprise appearance and play a few holes with them.
"Sam was funny, and he hit it great,'' Lerner recalled. "We have a nice picture. My dad still has it at home.''
Weekley hunting trips
Earlier in his golf career, Boo Weekley might have spent a week at The Greenbrier in pursuit of more than just PGA prize money.
The Florida native favors West Virginia's best-known outdoors diversions - hunting, fishing and shooting - and once combined them with his chosen profession, sometimes following a round of tournament golf with a visit to a nearby fishing hole. He still fits in some occasional fishing but generally tries to focus on golf.
"I put all my stuff up when I come to tournaments now,'' Weekley said Friday after shooting a 63 for a two-day total of 10-under 130. "Back in the day, I traveled around a lot and did a lot of fishing and hunting and whatever. When I got back on the Tour in '07, I'd actually put everything away. I might fish a little bit, but it's not like I'm going to go out every afternoon like I used to.''
In addition, a shoulder still tender from an old injury eliminates any chance of shooting clay pigeons.
"I know I'm not going to go shoot clay pigeons or any of that stuff right now,'' he said. "I'm just getting my shoulder healthy. I don't want to take the chance of maybe doing something and maybe tearing it up again. When I was on the Nationwide Tour is when I did most of my hunting and fishing.''
The Justice connection
There's only one group of people at the Greenbrier Classic with unlimited access to Jerry West, Arnold Palmer, Gov. Manchin and Da'Sean Butler: the Greenbrier East High School girls basketball team.
The team, coached by Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, was told that he wanted the girls to work. Justice revealed Tuesday that they'd be the official bearers of the "QUIET" signs on the 18th green during the Classic.
The girls have mixed feelings about their job. Some got bored after 10 minutes. Some signed autographs because spectators couldn't get anything else. Some just liked getting a good tan.
The money question, though - no pun intended - was whether or not they'd be included in the cash payout if there's a hole-in-one on No. 18. Justice says no. Tayler Dowdy of the girls team thinks otherwise.
"They'll probably give it to us anyways," she said, "because we're so pretty."
Another sport, anyone?
Sergio Garcia took advantage of The Greenbrier's tennis facilities as a break from golf this week - and made the Greenbrier Classic cut with a respectable 5-under 68-67-135.
The 30-year-old Spaniard needs a victory, or at least a strong finish, this weekend to help work his way back toward the lofty heights he once enjoyed and to improve his prospects for a spot on the European Ryder Cup team.
In 2008, he rose to No. 3 in the world but stumbled to No. 38 last year. He has achieved just one top-10 finish this year and ranks No. 96.
Word has it that earlier in his golfing career he handled himself admirably hitting tennis balls with Martina Hingis, who once held the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings.
Of those minus-2 finishers beginning at No. 10, Brendan Pappas bogeyed the ninth, no doubt giving him a few hours of heartburn.
Of the 85 starting play today, not everybody will be around for Sunday. Under a controversial third-year rule instituted by the PGA Tour, the field will be pared to the number closest to 70 after today. Those cut today do receive a paycheck and pension credit, but also an "MDF" designation - Missed the cut, Did not Finish.
The most painful dive? That has to go to George McNeil, who followed up his 64 with a painful 76, knocking him out of the weekend.
"Not a lot of people followed me, but I've seen a lot of people out,'' said Piercy, who shot a two-day total of 7-under 133. "I was a bit surprised. It's a good thing. I heard they sold maybe 200,000 tickets this week. That's awesome. I don't know a lot about West Virginia, being from the West Coast, and I think a lot of us didn't know what to expect. I think the tournament exceeded our expectations.''
Sowards went 1-under and missed by a stroke. Hamilton finished at even, sinking himself with bogeys on Nos. 5, 6 and 8 (he teed off from the 10th). Morland was 3-over and Dick Mast, winner of the Monday qualifier, was 155th and last at 12-over.
Mike Whiteford, Doug Smock and Mike Balducci contributed to this report.