WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Bud Cauley’s fanbase expanded greatly on Sunday.
The Daytona Beach, Fla., resident and University of Alabama grad converted a hole-in-one — the day’s second — on No. 18. And every fan sitting in the hole’s stands were given $100, courtesy of a tournament promotion.
“I’m happy to help everybody out,” Cauley said, “including me.”
Cauley hit a 7-iron the 176 yards. Because of the aces, he and George McNeill, who made one minutes earlier at No. 8, will receive $25,000 to be given to a charity. Also, two fans who signed up with Quicken Loans via PGATour.com will have their mortgage payments made for a year.
“That’s cool,” Cauley said. “It’s a great way to finish. That’s a pretty good club for me. I didn’t think it was going in at first, but I could tell it did by the crowd.”
After the ace, the stands were closed off and $100 bills were passed out by Greenbrier owner Jim Justice.
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Early Sunday morning, Charlie Beljan was the tournament’s early-round story. He was the man making a charge, which made many in the PGA community smile. See, it wasn’t long ago that Beljan was finishing a round in an ambulance.
In 2012, Beljan had symptoms that mirrored a heart attack. He left the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic via ambulance and was treated for a panic attack.
Ever since, Beljan has been an advocate for those suffering from anxiety. He said after finishing the Greenbrier Classic at 8 under that he’s still approached by folks with the affliction.
“It’s still a daily thing,” Beljan said. “Two years later, it’s still a daily thing. People come up and say I’m an inspiration and ask how I did it. I always take a few minutes and talk to them because it was the scariest time of my life. Now, luckily, I have it under control. If I have [a panic attack] come on now I just close my eyes, take a few breaths and realize I’m going to be OK.
“But it’s a very scary thing and millions of people suffer from it.”
Beljan praised the Old White after his round.
“It’s good,” he said. “When the wind swirls it’s difficult. … But the course is in great shape. The greens are beautiful. The rough in spots is very deep and difficult. But the course is great.”
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Michael Putnam finished tied for 35th after his even-par 70, but probably led the field in clubs thrown and what could be described as “sanitized F-bombs.”
Putnam was playing the seventh hole, which was moved from 430 to 389 yards to entice players to drive it long, maybe going for the gusto with a good roll. Putnam played it conservatively, driving 269 yards down the middle.
His second shot landed on the irregularly shaped green, for certain. But the ball rolled well past the front-right hole placement, up and over the ridge and onto the far back right. He was 86 feet away, and any putting line would have gone through a patch of rough.
He wasn’t exactly blaming himself. He fired the club into the fairway, yelling, “FRICKIN’ green!” After he picked up the club and slammed it back in the back, he repeated himself.
And he did it again and again and again, in varying volumes. As he putted himself into a 31-foot par putt, he said to his caddie, “That’s the best I can do!
The thing is, he nearly hit the par putt. He lightened up a bit and said, “Frickin’ lip-out.”
And went back to criticizing the green. The count on his fumin’ phrases topped 18, for those trying to count.
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Players are often asked why they chose coming to the Greenbrier, and many answers relate to their admiration of the 100-year-old Old White TPC course.
The resort always wins high praise for its comfort and amenities, not to mention the players don’t have to search for a place to stay for a week. The Classic has a reputation as being one of the most laid-back stops on the PGA Tour.
This was new champion Angel Cabrera’s first trip to the Classic, and he was posed the question.
“I had been told by my friends that this was a great place, a great golf course,” he said. “And the other fact is I needed to play, to win.”
Simple as that.
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Stats and such:
n From the Department of Every Stroke Counts: Jason Bohn’s careless missed tap-in Saturday on the 13th hole was extremely costly. How much? It cost him $90,000, give or take.
But that’s not all. He finished 8 under, one shot behind five players vying for British Open berths. In short, Bohn would have taken the spot that went to Billy Hurley III. Bohn will have to fight for the last berth next week, at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
n Jimmy Walker, who missed the cut, retains the FedExCup points lead, as Bubba Watson’s tie for 16th netted him just 52 points. Walker now leads second-place Watson by 187.
n Cabrera led the field in greens in regulation (57 of 72), and first in putting distance distance (6.0 per make). He was 52 of 52 from 5 feet and in, and hit four of more than 25 feet.
n Tom Watson finished tied for 35th at 4 under. The 64-year-old made his 515th cut in 633 PGA Tour events.
n Webb Simpson sneaked into third at 10 under, his third top-10 finish in five Classics. Brendon Todd finished fourth, giving him six top-20s in a row.
n The Old White course yielded two 61s, but other numbers were in line with that of recent years. The scoring average was 70.101, slightly over the par-70, and there were eight players posting all four rounds in the 60s. The par-4 13th was the hardest again, averaging 4.207. The par-5 12th was the easiest at 4.616.