by Bill Turner
Wild Bill concluded his week-long run at The Greenbrier Classic Sunday afternoon as two virtual unknowns battled through a three-hole playoff for the $ 1.098 million winner’s purse.
It was a strange week from start to finish. The historic storm that wreaked havoc on the Roanoke Valley two Fridays ago, left similar damage across the Greenbrier Valley. Consideration was made to postpone the tournament to a future date, but player commitments, a blockbuster musical lineup and a pre-tournament sellout of tickets, gave Greenbrier Classic officials little choice but to go on with the show.
Greenbrier owner Jim Justice made pleas to all volunteers to help with the monumental cleanup of downed trees and debris that had brought The Old White TPC to its knees. The cleanup crews answered the call, and by Monday’s opening day, less than 72 hours after the storm, The Old White showed little effects to the casual observer.
By Thursday’s opening round of the 72-hole event, The Greenbrier was abuzz with excitement as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Tom Watson joined former Classic champions, Stuart Appleby and Scott Stallings in the chase for the Springhouse Trophy.
Woods, Mickelson and Appleby were never a factor as all three failed to make the 36-hole cut. Friday’s second-round saw record crowds line the fairways, with spectators often fifteen deep hoping to catch a glimpse of Woods.
Webb Simpson, winner of the 2002 Scott Robertson Memorial at Roanoke Country Club, and 2012 U.S. Open in June, looked to be the clearcut favorite after holding a two shot lead going into Sunday’s final round.
But, a funny thing happened on the way to the clubhouse. Simpson, who had made only one bogey in his first 65 holes of the tournament, suddenly found himself making 4 in the last seven holes.
Meanwhile, Ted Potter, Jr,, who started the week ranked # 218 in the world, and Troy Kelly, who began at # 464, fought to a 72-hole draw at sixteen-under par, forcing the sudden death playoff.
Give Potter credit for perseverance. He had to finish regulation with eagle-birdie on the par-5 seventeenth and par-3 eighteenth just to make the playoff. Then, Potter seemed ready for a slam-dunk win by default on the second playoff hole when he waited patiently for his five-foot birdie putt while Kelly made a scenic tour of the hole with a flubbed sand shot, and worse chip from the rough, before sinking a do-or-die putt from 25 feet that stunned Potter into a miss, sending the players back to the 18th tee for the third time in less than an hour.
This time, Kelly’s good fortunes ran out. His tee shot fell short on the lower tier, while Potter put his shot to within five feet. Kelly made a good effort on his 40-footer that rose, broke and fell down the mound to within 18 inches. Potter followed by finding the jar from five feet to secure the championship.
The tournament, despite missing the big names at the finish, was still a huge success. And, the musical appearances of Toby Keith, Lionel Richie, Rod Stewart and Bon Jovi were world-class. During the week it was announced The Classic has been extended to 2021 and is in the running to be a U.S. Open site.
Finally, we close with a Wild Bill Five-Star late-night product update that seems appropriate after our recent widespread power outages left many readers in the dark. We will therefore review the “Olde Brooklyn Lantern,” a truly miraculous device available for $ 12.99. I’m going to comment that I get suspicious when I see the letter ‘e’ added to the word ‘old’, but you make the call on this one.
The Olde Brooklyn Lantern is pitched as a luminary device that can light up an entire room, outperforming any group of flashlights assembled in one’s drawer. Conveniently, all the flashlights in the commercial have dead batteries. But, the Olde Brooklyn Lantern is quite the tool when it comes to longevity. The ad says the battery will last for 100,000 hours. (No typo here, that’s 100,000 hours.)
It’s time to go inside the numbers. If this is accurate, the Olde Brooklyn will stay lit continuously for nearly 11 1/2 years . . . but, wait . . . If you call now you get a second Olde Brooklyn for free. Now, you’ve got uninterupted illumination, even if your next power outage lasts for 23 years. Gives AEP plenty of leeway to get the juice back on. Sometimes they seem to need it.
In the meantime, I’m considering changing my column name to Wilde Bill; I’m sorta getting hooked on the extra ‘e’.
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