Justice: 'It's just what I hoped it would be'
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - The Old White Course will be a bit more difficult for next year's Greenbrier Classic, Greenbrier owner Jim Justice said Sunday.
Not that Justice disapproved of the birdie barrage at the inaugural event, which concluded Sunday.
"In my world,'' said Justice, "the fans love to see birdies. I mean, they love to see birdies. It adds a lot of excitement to it.''
Justice prefers low scores to the tedium of the U.S. Open, where par is sometimes good enough.
"Really and truly,'' he said, "I don't want to see the players chipping it back into the fairways out of the rough, U.S. Open-style, and with the greens hard as a brick bat.''
Nevertheless, Justice said The Greenbrier probably will lengthen the 7,031-yard Old White, and the fairways likely will be somewhat tighter.
"We added a couple hundred yards of length this year,'' he said. "There's probably a real good chance that we'll add another two, three hundred yards to the length. We may pinch the fairways in just a little bit.''
All in all, the first-year PGA Tour event went well and, in fact, may have exceeded expectations.
"For the first crack out of the box,'' said Justice, "I think the players have been really pleased with the condition of the course and the architecture and all that. And I love to see birdies. I honestly don't see how in the world anything could have gone much better. The crowds are off the chart; the players are loving the course. You talk about everyone paddling the boat. Everybody's done wonderful. It's just what I hoped it would be. I sure don't want to sound egotistical or braggadocios because that's not me. But the whole thing has gone as well or better than I ever could have dreamed it would have gone.''
He also believes next year's field will include more prominent players, largely because of the success of the inaugural event.
"I'll promise you to the Lord above that there are players sitting at home saying, 'Why in the world did we not go to this event?' I mean, look at the people,'' said the owner. "Not to take anything away from other events that are going on, but you've seen events where there's nine people walking around the course. And these players love the fans, and they have to be talking. Next year, I think it'll get better and better.''
And not having crowd-favorites Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson this year probably worked out for the best, he said.
"I would say from the get-go that it's better this way,'' he said. "If we had had Phil and Tiger, what could we look forward to? Let's walk before we run.''
At a Sunday afternoon press conference not far from the 18th green, Justice commented on other subjects:
Reach Mike Whiteford at 304-348-7948 or mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.