By JIM WORKMAN for the Daily Telegraph
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
While the first two editions of The Greenbrier Classic were smashing successes, the 2012 version is shaping up to be “major” in status.
Monday, Jim Justice, chairman of The Greenbrier, confirmed that Tiger Woods has committed to play in the third annual Greenbrier Classic scheduled for July 1-8 in White Sulphur Springs, his first appearance at the PGA Tour FedEx-Cup event.
“We’ve worked really hard for over two years to try and bring Tiger Woods here and he has now agreed,” Justice told The Register-Herald. “I’m really happy and I know all of the fans will be really happy to get a chance to watch Tiger play. We thought we had him last year.”
Woods is a 14-time major championship winner, 10-time PGA Tour Player of the Year and two-time FedExCup Champion.
The Greenbrier Classic was named “Best in Class Tournament on the PGA Tour” for 2011 at the PGA Tour’s Tournament Advisory Council meetings in February.
“Getting Tiger Woods, the biggest icon in sports, is almost the final validation that we are top-tier,” Justice added. “This is our moment.
“Tiger is intrigued by all of the history at the course and The Greenbrier,” Justice explained. “In his words, ‘How can I stay away? It’s the best event on the tour. I’m coming.’”
“It’s great for West Virginia,” Justice said. “To me, its about the people of West Virginia being able to hold their heads up a little higher and be a little prouder. It’s about people outside of the state being able to see how great West Virginia is.”
Last week, Phil Mickelson announced his commitment to return to The Greenbrier Classic. The 2012 field also includes defending champion Scott Stallings, Sergio Garcia, Kenny Perry and The Greenbrier pro emeritus Tom Watson.
“We’ve got the ‘Best in Class’ award and now with all of the top players here, there’s no bush to hide behind,” Justice added. “In other words, West Virginia is the best. I’m way more than happy. I’m proud of the accomplishment.”
Woods, 36, is the winningest player in professional golf over the past 16 years. Since turning pro in 1996, he has amassed 72 PGA Tour victories, third all-time and just one behind Jack Nicklaus and 10 behind former Greenbrier pro-emeritus Sam Snead.
Woods is one of only five players in the history of the game to win a career grand slam, joining Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen — all winners of the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, British Open and Masters Tournament.
TV ratings jump up significantly when Woods participates in a PGA Tour event.
The Greenbrier Classic will be broadcast on The Golf Channel and CBS Sports.
“I’ve said it over and over, (The Greenbrier Classic) has the greatest economic PR impact for our state,” Justice said. “And now, it will be off the chart. Everything changes now, when Tiger comes.
“The (Old White TPC) course is in tremendous shape,” Justice added. “Now all that it left is for the world to see how great we really are in West Virginia.”
Woods has two top-10 finishes in eight events this season, including a runner-up finish at The Honda Classic and a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard — his first PGA Tour victory since 2009. Woods is ranked No. 7 in the world, No. 15 in FedExCup points and No. 17 on the money list with more than $1.8 million.
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Music will play a big part of the festivities again this year as The Greenbrier Classic Concert Series will feature Toby Keith and special guest Lionel Richie on Wednesday, July 4, Rod Stewart with special guest The Frey on Friday, July 6, and Bon Jovi on Saturday, July 7.
Tickets to all concerts, three practice rounds and pro-ams, and four competition rounds are available for $189. Concert tickets are not sold separately.
Benefactor, Alumni and Clubhouse Badges, which include upgraded access to the golf tournament as well as tickets to all concerts, are also available. All badge levels are available for purchase at www.GreenbrierClassic.com, Ticketmaster and participating United Bank and Kroger locations.
Workman is the assistant managing editor of The Register-Herald.