With just 15 days before the start of another Greenbrier Classic, golf fans around the state are itching for some news about which players will be hitting the fairways of The Old White TPC for the fourth-year PGA Tour event in White Sulphur Springs.
Tournament director Monte Ortel is just as anxious. One of his main job duties is player recruitment, and he can’t wait to show off the list he has assembled.
There’s just one problem. With the U.S. Open taking center stage this week, the attention of all of the golf world is on one place — The Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Penn.
“The timing is a little tough,” said Ortel. “With the U.S. Open going on, it sort of puts a pause on the golf world. There’s not much movement. But we expect next week to be a big one.”
Ortel said his group has received several “big name” verbal commitments in recent days, but those players won’t make it official until the U.S. Open is complete.
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any movement. Ten recent commitments have Ortel excited about what is coming together.
• Robert Allenby — The Australian has won 13 times on the PGA Tour of Australasia and has captured four PGA TOUR events. He’s finished in the top 10 in the U.S. Open (2004), British Open (2008) and PGA Championship (2004).
• Chad Campbell — The Andrews, Tex., native has won four times on the PGA TOUR and finished second at both the 2009 Masters and the 2003 PGA Championship.
• Brendon de Jonge — The former Virginia Tech Hokie turned professional in 2003. He’s still looking for his first PGA TOUR win but has played well at past Greenbrier Classics.
• Billy Horschel — The former Florida Gator was the 2006 U.S. Amateur medalist. He has won PGA TOUR win under his belt and has made big news this week at the U.S. Open. He’s currently tied for fifth at 1-over for the tournament heading into today’s final round.
• Michael Kim — The Haskins Award winner as the top player in college golf received a sponsor’s exemption from The Greenbrier Classic. His face should be familiar to the galleries in White Sulphur Springs. The California University sophomore has received some major face time this week and is 10th at 4-over for the tournament heading into today’s final round at the U.S. Open.
• Jeff Maggert — The former Texas A&M star has three PGA TOUR victories and has placed in the top five at all four Majors. His came in third at the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2004 and was third at the PGA Championship in 1995 and 1996. He was fifth at the 2003 Masters and fifth at The British Open.
• Pat Perez — The former Arizona State golfer turned professional in 1997 and has one PGA TOUR victory. He finished tied for sixth at the 2005 PGA Championship.
• John Senden — The 42-year-old Australian has one PGA TOUR victory but he’s making some noise at Merion, currently tied for 11th heading into the final round. Good showings at Majors are nothing new for Senden. He placed fourth at the 2007 PGA Championship and 10th at the 2012 U.S. Open.
• Vijay Singh — “The Big Fijan” ranks 14th all-time with 34 PGA TOUR victories. He’s won three Majors — the 1998 and 2004 PGA Championships and the 2000 Masters. The 50-year-old turned back the clock at last year’s Greenbrier Classic, shooting a 63 on the opening round to lead after the first 18 holes.
• Jimmy Walker — The former Baylor Bear is still looking for his first PGA TOUR victory, but he was the Nationwide Tour’s leading money winner in 2004.
These 10 most recent commitments join an already impressive list that includes the likes of John Daly, Lucas Glover, Justin Leonard, Rory Sabbatini, Webb Simpson, Tom Watson, Boo Weekley and four-time Major winner and U.S. Open leader Phil Mickelson.
The three past champions — Stuart Appleby, Scott Stallings and Ted Potter Jr. — will also be participating.
Greenbrier chairman and CEO Jim Justice has said he’s still holding out hope of landing Tiger Woods for the second straight year.
“He still hasn’t told us no,” said Justice. “So that’s good.”
E-mail: email@example.com. Cam Huffman is sports editor of The Register-Herald.