Getting their Phil
The 11th-hour wait for Tiger Woods didn't pan out, but fans should like the look of the field for the Greenbrier Classic just the same.
The $6 million PGA Tour event, which begins its second go-round next week at the White Sulphur Springs resort, finally found out Friday who's joining this year's party with the release of the official entry list.
Leading that list, of course, is four-time major winner Phil Mickelson, the highest-profile golfer in the Greenbrier field at No. 6 in the World Golf Ranking.
He'll be joined by two others from the top 40 of those rankings - Retief Goosen of South Africa (No. 21) and Gary Woodland of Topeka, Kan. (No. 40).
Other names sure to attract a lot of attention next week at the 72-hole, four-day event on the par-70 Old White TPC are fan favorites Tom Watson, pro emeritus at The Greenbrier, and two-time major winner John Daly, along with Ryder Cup captains Davis Love III (United States) and Jose Maria Olazabal (Europe) and other international standouts such as Sergio Garcia, Angel Cabrera, Camilo Villegas and defending champion Stuart Appleby.
There were a few defections of note, including a couple players who had just been announced as Greenbrier commitments earlier this month.
Vijay Singh, a three-time major tournament winner who has captured 34 all-time Tour victories, opted not to come, just like Australian Aaron Baddeley, who's No. 17 on the PGA Tour money list.
Several other golfers among a group of 30-plus who had committed by mid-June also backed out. Among them were Lucas Glover, Jhonattan Vegas, Boo Weekley, Charlie Wi and Mark Wilson, the latter already a two-time Tour winner this year.
"That's typical for a Friday commitment day,'' said tournament director Tim McNeely. "You get some withdrawals and you get some additions, and that's what we saw today. While I'm disappointed in some of the withdrawals, I certainly understand. But we also got some excellent additions today.''
Three more top-50 names in the World Golf Rankings gave a thumb's up to the Greenbrier Friday, including No. 45 Brandt Snedeker (who's also 12th on the FedExCup points list), No. 48 Bill Haas and No. 50 Ryan Palmer.
McNeely was also smiling about the additions of Swede Carl Pettersson, the defending champion of the Canadian Open (this week's PGA event) and Steve Elkington, the 1995 PGA Tournament champion and a 10-time Tour winner. It's the first Greenbrier trip for the Elkington, a congenial Aussie who was one of the alternates for last year's event but didn't play.
"They're joining a field we're already excited about,'' McNeely said.
The official field, which included 151 names, was released by the PGA shortly after 5:30 p.m. Friday, five players shy of a full field.
One spot was being held, McNeely said, to ensure the addition of Lee Janzen, the eight-time Tour winner and two-time U.S. Open champion. Janzen originally received a sponsor's exemption to the field but now has earned a spot because of his current status on the money list.
"We're protecting him,'' McNeely said Friday. "Things could happen in Canada - someone gets a top-10 or a win and gets in [the Greenbrier Classic] and bumps Lee out. Who we'll give the other exemption to [if Janzen holds his current spot], well, we'll protect him for a couple days until we see what happens.''
The other four spots will be filled Monday during a Greenbrier Open qualifier at the Glade Springs Cobb Course in Daniels. Competition begins at 8 a.m.
Among the 48 golfers vying for spots in the qualifier are six-time West Virginia Open champion David Bradshaw of Bakerton, five-time Open champ Brad Westfall of Grafton, former Concord standout and now Mountain Lions assistant coach Darcy Donaldson and 2005 State Open champion Craig Berner of Scott Depot.
They could help add more of a West Virginia flavor to a field that already includes Charleston's Christian Brand, who earned an exemption by winning the State Amateur at The Greenbrier earlier this month.
Mike Weir was another name that also came off the list of mid-June commitments, but his departure was expected as he pulled out of this week's Canadian Open with an elbow injury. In addition, rookie Brendan Steele, winner of the Valero Texas Open, told the Gazette he was coming to the Greenbrier Classic during the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, last month, but changed his mind.
However, some of the recent commitments did wind up sticking.
Last week, it was Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open titlist, and three-time PGA Tour winner Anthony Kim from Los Angeles. Two weeks ago, additions included the Ryder Cup captains, Love (a 20-time Tour winner) and Olazabal (a two-time major winner).
Among the other noteworthy additions to Friday's official list:
Practice rounds are scheduled to begin Monday, and the tournament starts Thursday, with the first players teeing off at 7 a.m. The winner earns $1.08 million.
Appleby won last year's tournament with a final-round 59, becoming just the fifth PGA player to post a score that low in an official event.
A total of 90 Greenbrier Classic entrants and seven alternates are currently toiling in the Canadian Open. Last year, 108 played in both.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.