Bubba Watson embarrassed about billing with West
By Doug Smock
Bubba Watson has seen the billboard for the Greenbrier Sporting Club: “Live Where the Legends Live.”
There’s a picture of Watson alongside a picture of Jerry West. Watson is a bit embarrassed by that billing.
“It’s pretty funny,” he said Tuesday. “You’re talking about ‘The Logo.’ You’re talking about Jerry West. You’re talking about a legend in his sport, and there is me. Basically, it’s like I won the Lotto and they put my picture up next to his.
“But my picture up there, I should be on the other side of the street facing the other way where nobody sees it. But it’s very neat. It’s very exciting.”
The Greenbrier Sporting Club is the group of homeowners who live in pricey houses near the resort, and Watson has joined the club. Locations of celebrity homes are usually well-guarded, but word has it Watson’s place has a higher elevation than that of Nick Faldo on the same mountain.
Whatever and wherever, Watson’s part-time residence is ready to live in, and it’s his headquarters for this week’s Greenbrier Classic.
“Been living here for about a month, off and on,” he said. “It’s nice being here, nice being able to sleep in your own bed, so it’s pretty cool. I’m excited about the week.”
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As winner of two Masters in three years, Watson has no worries about playing in the British Open in two weeks. But there are many in this week’s field seeking a golden ticket to Royal Liverpool.
One hundred thirty, give or take, for four spots.
The odds are even tougher than in Monday’s Classic open qualifier.
The top four finishers who haven’t already qualified for the Open will receive a spot in the field, as long as they finish in the top 12 and ties overall. Any ties will be broken by the Official World Golf Ranking.
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Speaking of the world rankings, the Classic’s top three players were unchanged (Watson third, Jimmy Walker 17th, Steve Stricker 18th). Keegan Bradley slipped from 24th to 25th, Patrick Reed held steady at 29th and Webb Simpson dropped from 30th to 31st.
Brendon Todd cracked the top 50, an important level to make major fields, at 48th. Gary Woodland hung onto 50th place, down from 49th.
Also, those rankings are used to compute a tournament’s strength of field. The Greenbrier’s Classic strength index is 235, slightly up from 229 last year and second among the five Classics behind the Tiger Woods-led field of 2012. The field is tougher than the Open de France on the European Tour (188).
As with last year, the Classic winner receives 42 rating points. That would have been 44 if not for Jason Day’s withdrawal with a thumb injury.
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Tee times came out Tuesday, with the usual handful of attractive threesomes. Star players and event champions are grouped together for such a purpose.
With 156 golfers in the field, No. 1 and No. 10 tees are used to begin rounds. Notable threesomes:
n 12:50 p.m. Thursday from No. 1; 7:50 a.m. Friday from No. 10: Brendon Todd, J.B. Holmes, Bubba Watson.
n 1 p.m. Thursday from No. 1; 8 a.m. Friday from No. 10: Tom Watson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley.
n 7:50 a.m. Thursday from No. 10; 12:50 p.m. Friday from No. 1: Patrick Reed, Bill Haas, Steve Stricker.
n 8 a.m. Thursday from No. 10; 1 p.m. Friday from No. 1: Jimmy Walker, Scott Stallings, Jonas Blixt
West Virginia Amateur champion Brian Anania tees off at 2 p.m. Thursday from No. 1 and 9 a.m. Friday from No. 1. He is grouped with Miguel Angel Carballo and Kevin Tway.
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Today is the pro-am, the event in which top players mix it up with sponsors, invited guests and celebrities.
Well-known celebs set to play include Willie and Jase Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin, Marshall head coaches Doc Holliday and Dan D'Antoni, among others.
State youngsters Cole Hand and Alston Spears are also scheduled to play. Hand is the reigning Class AAA high school and West Virginia Junior Amateur champion; Spears is a Roane County grad who will play collegiately at West Liberty.
It was unknown by most who Hand and Spears will play with until this morning. There was a draw party Tuesday night.
To reach Doug Smock, call 348-5130, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.