Greenbrier owner says Woods will play in Classic

CHARLESTON (AP) — Tiger Woods will make his first appearance at The Greenbrier Classic this summer, giving him a rare chance to play twice on the PGA Tour before the British Open.

The Greenbrier Classic, which is only in its third year at The Old White TPC Course in White Sulphur Springs, is the second tournament this year that Woods had never played as a professional. He also played the Honda Classic in March and was runner-up to Rory McIlroy.

The announcement Monday was big boost for The Greenbrier and chairman Jim Justice, who will have Woods and Phil Mickelson at this tournament July 5-8.

“We’re tickled to death,” Justice said of Woods’ commitment. “To me, he’s the most recognizable name in sports.”

Woods, who missed three months last year recovering from leg injuries, contemplated making his return at The Greenbrier Classic. He ultimately decided to give his legs one more week and instead returned at Firestone.

Because of a change in the schedule — an extra week between the U.S. Open and British Open — The Greenbrier moved up one month. It follows the AT&T National at Congressional, which supports the Tiger Woods Foundation. This will be the first time since 2003 that Woods plays two tournaments before the British Open.

It also allows him to fulfill a pledge to add tournaments to his schedule that he did not previously play. This will make three new tournaments in nine months dating to the Frys.com Open last October at CordeValle.

“Tiger has heard good things from other players about the golf course and the resort and looks forward to playing for this first time this year,” said Mark Steinberg, his agent at Excel Sports Management. “He gave it a hard look last year, but health issues prevented him from playing.”

The Greenbrier Classic began in 2010 with Stuart Appleby closing with a 59 to win the tournament. Scott Stallings won last year in a playoff.

Justice said Woods loves of the history of The Greenbrier, and the fact Ben Hogan and Sam Snead once played there.

“I’m really happy that the people can come and see the biggest icon in sports,” Justice said. “And he’ll be here for six days.”

That assumes Woods makes the cut, of course. He missed the cut two weeks ago at Quail Hollow, and is in the worst three-tournament stretch of his career –a tie for 40th at the Masters, a missed cut at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 40th at The Players Championship.

Even so, he remains the biggest star in golf and attracts the largest galleries.

“It’s really meaningful, it’s a validation to me … that our state is what I think it ought to be and that is top tier,” Justice said.

Last week, Mickelson announced that he is returning to the Greenbrier Classic for the second straight year. The field also includes Sergio Garcia, Kenny Perry, and Tom Watson, who is the resort’s golf professional emeritus.

Woods also announced Monday he is playing in the Memorial, a tournament he has only missed because of injuries or when his father died in 2006. That means Woods is likely to play seven times in an 11-week stretch from the Memorial through the PGA Championship.

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