The buzz will start to build Monday as players trickle into White Sulphur Springs for the second PGA Greenbrier Classic.
Practice rounds are scheduled for all day Monday at the par-70 Old White TPC, site of the four-day, 72-hole event that begins Thursday. Gates will open at 8 a.m. Monday, and a pro-am is set to start at 1:30 p.m.
Some PGA players and their families will get to Lewisburg late tonight on a charter flight from Vancouver, site of this week's PGA Canadian Open.
"There will be about 100 people,'' said tournament director Tim McNeely, "including players, families, kids and caddies. They'll be boarding about 7:30 p.m. Vancouver time and arriving in the wee hours of the morning.''
Vancouver, in the Pacific Time Zone, is a few thousand miles farther than Toronto, where The Greenbrier charter originated following last year's Canadian Open. That also arrived in the wee hours, but not by design. It was scheduled to get to Lewisburg at 8:55 p.m. Sunday but was delayed so long in Canada it didn't touch down until 1:30 a.m. Monday.
The weather forecast for Monday's practice rounds calls for 85 degrees with a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms. The long-range outlook for White Sulphur Springs has highs hovering near 90 every day of the tournament.
Thus, The Greenbrier may get a chance to check its weather preparedness system, which came into play for the first time during last year's tournament.
"As do all the PGA Tour events, we have an evacuation plan,'' McNeely said, "and we may try to do a dry run Monday morning to test that out - make sure all the wheels are right, so to speak. This time of year, all tournaments have to be ready in a heartbeat. I thought our evacuation process went well last year.''
Four of the final spots in the 156-player field will be filled today at a Greenbrier Classic qualifier at the Glade Springs Cobb Course in Daniels, teeing off at 8 a.m. Among the 48 competitors trying to get into the field are six-time West Virginia Open champion David Bradshaw of Bakerton and five-time State Open champ Brad Westfall of Grafton.
Most of the field was finalized at Friday's 5 p.m. deadline. One player who was rumored to have an interest in playing at the $6 million Greenbrier Classic, but ultimately didn't, was none other than Tiger Woods, the world's most recognizable golfer, who is recovering from multiple injuries.
The rumor took off last week when Alan Shipnuck, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, sent a message on Twitter that Woods would begin his comeback at The Greenbrier. Tournament officials like McNeely and Greenbrier owner Jim Justice were forced to field dozens of Tiger inquiries, but nothing panned out.
"We were hopeful when we began [of a Woods appearance],'' McNeely said, "and even as the weeks went on, we remained hopeful. One of the main things is we'll continue to be hopeful he plays next year. The main thing is that he comes back healthy with his knee and his Achilles, and all the physical things he has going on. We're rooting for him. While we wish we had him, we understand and we'll work on him for next year, hopefully.''
Practice rounds are also set for all day Tuesday, with gates opening at 8 a.m. A youth clinic is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. that day.
Gates open at 7 a.m. Wednesday for the pro-am, which has morning and afternoon flights. For the first two days of the tournament on Thursday and Friday, gates open at 7. That changes to 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday after the field is cut.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.