Greenbrier Classic notebook
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - The Old White TPC was fairly stingy for the first two rounds of the Greenbrier Classic, and scores reflected that.
But on moving day, many of the early starters moved in the same direction - lower.
Taking advantage of a course that was playing 6,940 yards - 334 yards shorter than the scorecard length - early players posted red numbers, some deep into the red, Greenbrier Classic 2010-style.
Jimmy Walker, who made the cut on the 1-over number Friday, fired the first of two 8-under 62s to jump all the way to fifth. A bit later, Anthony Kim matched that 62 to go to 10 under for the tournament, which stood as the lead after the last 16 twosomes finished.
Players averaged 71.045 strokes in the first two rounds, but that fell to 69.347 for round three (bear in mind, only the top 75 from Friday played Saturday).
Walker said the course was there for the taking Saturday, for several reasons.
"They moved a bunch of tees up and I think it was there," Walker said. "We saw that the pin on [hole No.] 2 was way up front and the greens have been really firmed. I don't know if they watered them at all last night but I think they did, because they felt a lot softer and the greens were a lot more receptive."
But Kelly Shumate, the director of golf course maintenance at The Greenbrier, said there was no difference concerning the greens.
"We measure the firmness of the greens every day and they haven't changed," Shumate said.
He pointed to easier pin placements and shortened tees as the main causes of the day's low rounds. Several holes played markedly different, including:
But change began to blow later in the day, and Kim took notice.
"When I teed off, there was hardly any wind," Kim said. "So I think the first time we actually started thinking about the wind was on 14. That was late in the round and I already had built some momentum."
After Kim's round, fortunes took a turn as winds picked up and swirled, with clouds enveloping the area and occasional thunder trying to rumble.
The first 43 golfers, finishing with Kim and Spencer Levin, combined to go 53 under par. The final 32 golfers stumbled for a combined 2 over.
"It was a struggle all day," said second-round co-leader Webb Simpson, who managed a 69 and sits in third. "Really didn't feel like I played that badly; it was a really trick day for us on the last group with the wind."
His twosome partner Brendon de Jonge, who shared the lead heading into Saturday's round, shot a 72.
A hidden gem
When Kenny Perry and Scott Verplank stepped to the first tee at noon, they represented two former Tour winners.
But there was a third blending in with a small crowd in the grandstand.
Jim Jamieson, former PGA Tour member, director of golf at The Greenbrier, current golf instructor at Glade Springs and University of Charleston women's golf coach, watched as several players smashed tee shots down the picturesque first fairway.
"This was always my favorite golf course of the three," Jamieson said about the Old White TPC. "This is an elegant place. I've traveled all over the world and I've never seen anything as nice as The Greenbrier."
Jamieson won the 1972 Western Open and chaired the Ryder Cup when it was played at The Greenbrier in 1979. He talked about playing practice rounds on the Old White TPC with the late Seve Ballesteros.
"He never could drive the golf ball," Jamieson laughed. "But he was able to get up and down better than anyone."
While Jamieson has plenty of stories about past days on the course, one thing still vexes him about modern-day pro golf.
"They're playing for $6 million this year," Jamieson said. "That's more money than one of my final years for the total of all of our tournaments - $6 million for one event and we didn't play for $6 million in all 40 events."
He also offered a final prediction: "I look for Webb Simpson to be a real threat. He's due to win."