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Fans stake out prime spots near Greenbrier Classic holes

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- By noon Friday, Jay Rees had claimed a stretch of lawn alongside the 13th hole, and he didn't plan on moving his folding chair for the rest of the day.

Although Rees, from Racine, Ohio, commented on how hot it was sitting directly in the sun, he said his spot let him see the players -- and the action -- up close.

"I sat here last year, and it was one of the toughest holes of the course," Rees said.

Before the thunderstorm delay Friday, people at the tournament had opted to sit and watch despite the day's heat - once again over 90 degrees. As they waited for players to come by, fans talked about the benefits of having the tournament in West Virginia and how much they liked being at the Classic.

Rees had his wife, Tina, with him, who was fanning herself and trying to be a good sport.

"I came along for the ride," she said. "Yesterday, I fell asleep at the eighth hole."

Jay said at last year's tournament he chased after the big-name players, but he decided it was easier to stay in one place.

"It's no fun when you have to run and fight the mob," he said.

Nearby, Mike McClung, of Ravenswood, had parked himself along the 12th hole and made friends with the man sitting next to him, Aaron Daniels of Beckley.

Like the Rees family, McClung's spot was in the sun, too.

"Shade's for wimps," he said.

McClung rested his bare feet in the grass and settled back into his Mountaineers chair. His first day at the tournament was Thursday, but he didn't think he'd keep coming if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson didn't make the cut, he said.

McClung has attended the tournament every year, and is surprised at how it's so "first class."

The Greenbrier Classic is invaluable for the state, he said, because it portrays West Virginia in a positive light.

"Everyone's behaving themselves," he said with a smile.

While they were camped out at hole 17, Sam and Charlene Litteral, of Barboursville, also talked about the impact the tournament had, bringing tourism and a favorable image to the state.

Charlene said she'd run into several people she knew and also met people from other states who loved West Virginia.

Sam had been to the tournament three times, but this year was Charlene's first.

"Oh, I love it," she said, with a smile spreading across her face. "I like the relaxed atmosphere of it."

A couple tournament volunteers from Wheeling Jesuit University also managed to catch a break on Friday -- but theirs was in the shade.  

Emily Robinson, a sophomore from Circleville, Ohio, and Wheeling Jesuit junior Bailey Warfield of Barnesville, Ohio, were enjoying the breeze under a clump of trees while they could.

The two had been at the Greenbrier since 7 a.m. and were spending the afternoon roping off the pathway leading from the 12th to the 13th hole, so golfers and their caddies would walk through.  

Robinson and Warfield arrived Monday with other members of the school's women's basketball team and men's golf team. Although they'd all gone home for the summer, the trip had been planned long before the teammates left school, and they'd all looked forward to driving down together.

As they talked, Warfield said the tournament was impressive, and Robinson agreed.

"This is my first time here," Robinson said, "and I'm loving it."

Reach Alison Matas at Alison.matas@wvgazette.com

 


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