Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 3, 2014

Day’s wife key in decision to play in Classic

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — When it came to convincing Jason Day to play in next month’s Greenbrier Classic, all it took was a little coaxing from under his own roof.

“I think one of the big things is my wife has been kind of pushing me to come here and play,” Day said. “She really wanted to get into the spa and I have heard a lot of great things about that as well. You can thank my wife for that when she comes.”

Currently ranked No. 7 in the world, Day — who just recently returned after a three-month hiatus due to a left thumb injury — will take part in The Greenbrier Classic for the first time when it is held on July 3-6.

Day, who did interrupt his recuperation to play in the Masters and finish in a tie for 20th, made his first visit to the historic resort for a press conference on Tuesday morning.

“It is amazing, really, I live in Columbus, it is only a 30-minute flight from there. It is very easy for me to get on a plane and get spoiled for a weekend and get away from it all,” said Day, a native of Australia, but now a resident of Columbus, Ohio. “In going through and talking to the other players as well and their wives, they just can’t speak enough of this place.”

Day was one of three players who will highlight the field for the fifth annual event, along with defending (and two-time) Masters champion Bubba Watson and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.

Both Watson and Simpson are among a collection of golfers that represent The Greenbrier on the PGA Tour.

Expect more names to be released in the near future, with the opening day of the week-long Greenbrier Classic activities just 25 days away.

“It is amazing, I am looking to seeing the final field come out in a few weeks,” Day said. “I am looking forward to competing against the best players in the world and hopefully I can hold the trophy on Sunday.”

In addition to seven days of golf — four competitive and three practice rounds, including a pro-am — the Greenbrier will also offer its usual array of concerts, including Jimmy Buffet and Maroon 5. Lady Antebellum and Lionel Richie will also perform for sponsors of the event.

All of which has made this particular week the biggest event in West Virginia on an annual basis.

“I want it to be a great time, really and truly, I want it to be a great time for everybody that comes and I want the concerts to be unbelievable,” said Jim Justice, the chairman and owner of The Greenbrier. “I think, honestly, this lineup of the concerts, I think it is the best of the best.

“I think the 4th of July thing with Maroon 5 will be rocking, that is all there is to it, and Jimmy Buffet will be unbelievable too.”

The combination of golf and music has been a hit since the event first began in 2010, with Stuart Appleby winning that inaugural tournament with a final round 59. Other winners have included Scott Stallings, Ted Potter, Jr. and Jonas Blixt, all of whom have finished ahead of much ‘bigger’ names, including Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, neither of whom have survived a cut and played through the weekend.

“The field, every year is tough, the course is tough, I know when Stuart shot that 59, they wanted to come in and toughen the course up a little bit and they certainly achieved that the next year, I think the winning score was 10-under,” Day said. “You just look at the fields in the past, and they have had phenomenal fields with big names headlining the fields.

“I am really looking forward to coming and competing against the best players in the world. Jim Justice has really wanted to turn this tournament into one of the best tournaments on Tour and he is certainly trying his best and I am pretty certain he is going to get there.”

Day, who won the Accenture Match Play Championships earlier this year, is excited to play the historic Old White TPC, which is celebrating its 100th year of existence.

“We typically don’t get to play too many old-school golf courses, obviously that is a big congratulations on reaching 100 years this year...” said Day,  who plans to participate in the U.S. Open next week in Pinehurst, N.C. “Nothing is as pretty as this, you want to come up here and really enjoy your time here, get to play on an old-school golf course, it is very tree-lined, kind of a tight golf course.

“There is nothing better, especially for how old the course is, to be able to play a tournament here with the amount of room you have to expand here if you need to. It is definitely exciting.”

Efforts are continuing to entice more ‘big’ names to the field, although  Tiger Woods (recovering from back surgery), Phil Mickelson (defending his Scottish Open title) and Rory McIlroy (committed to the Irish Open) aren’t expected to attend.

“We are sure working the phones, that is for sure, we are working with the absolute top players in the world, that is for daggum sure...,” Justice said. “There is a lot of issues out there.

“We have surely talked to Tiger and he is injured and nobody knows when Tiger will be back. A lot of notables are not as kind as Jason and they want to delay and see how they do and see how the U.S. Open goes, we will continue to get announcements coming in pretty quickly now...

“There is no question the field will be unbelievable, this is a popular spot and the field will be unbelievable, that is for sure.”

While Day’s visit in July will be a business trip, he does expect to try out many of the amenities offered by The Greenbrier, which has been blamed for Mickelson’s failure to make the cut in three appearances at the event.

“There are endless possibilities here,” said Day, who has finished in the top 3 in four majors since 2011. “I think I will have to allow myself to do some sort of things here during the week, it is just something you cannot pass up...

“Usually during a tournament week normally I am down to business and I really want to do well and play well, but I definitely have to explore a few options that are offered down here.”

Justice, who estimated the overall budget for The Greenbrier Classic is $23.5 million, admits the event has an annual shortfall, but refuses to raise the price for a badge, which is $60 for seven days of golf and both concerts.

“If you look at it purely from economics, you would want to charge people $500 to come instead of $60. Lowering the price to $60 probably is a detriment to the bottom line, but that is not what it is all about,” Justice said. “What it is all about to me is exposure, exposure to our state, a great time for our people, goodness for our people and we are going to pull it off.”

There are other enticements. During each of the four days of the actual tournament, a car will be given away to a fan. In addition, beginning with Wednesday’s pro-am and continuing through Sunday, all fans watching when a hole-in-one is recorded will receive a monetary prize.

Justice said it will be $100 for the first hole-in-one, $500 for the second, and even more for a third. It is all part of Justice’s plan to make this event truly memorable for those who attend.

 “On the third hole-in-one, everybody in the crowd gets a thousands bucks, it will be fun,” said Justice, who has 29 holes-in-one in his playing career, compared to three for the 26-year-old Day. “What I want it to be is just exactly that, I want it to be a great, fun time, see the greatest golf on the planet, but I want it to be fun, I want it to be special.

“It will be a great week, a lot of fun.”

— Contact Brian Woodson at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

 / Twitter @bdtwoodson.

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