Jim Justice has always cast the largest shadow in any room where he was holding court.
[cleeng_content id="329449406" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]As the owner of the Greenbrier Resort, Justice had the means and the persuasive personality to get what he wanted. But it was his 6-foot-7, 400-pound body that dominated any gathering. Justice was huge. In every way.
When he invented the Greenbrier Classic to replace the defunct Buick Classic on the Professional Golfers Association tour, Justice went about glad-handing and cajoling professional golf’s stars.
He brought Phil Mickelson to White Sulphur Springs. John Daly came when Justice issued him an exemption. Tom Watson was talked in to being the resort’s pro emeritus and he played in the early July tournament.
Last year, Tiger Woods came to West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic.
Daly and Woods tried the same cajoling methods in reverse on Justice. They wanted him to lose weight. There were even offers of a thousand dollars for every pound he would shed. He tried, but when he stepped on the scales not much had been lost.
And the high school basketball seasons started again at Greenbrier East High School. Justice now coaches both the girls and the boys varsity teams at the Class AAA school.
One of his recent girls teams was crowned the 2012 big school state champions.
Justice and his considerable weight remained companions.
Finally, he agreed to surgery that would place a band around his stomach and be the answer to his losing the desired weight.
With this year’s Greenbrier Classic starting July 4, Justice has made a full return to the persuasion business.
Mickelson and his family will return. Justice has done as much to make his tour event fun for everybody as he could. This country’s most famous and successful entertainers have come to the Greenbrier for performances when the various rounds of golf have been played.
Justice has brought in Kenny Chesney for a concert on July 4 and Aerosmith for another concert on July 6. Both those events will be staged at the State Fair of West Virginia’s amphitheater in Fairlea.
In his appearances in both 2011 and 2012, Mickelson missed the cut and didn’t even play on either final weekend. But he’s back for another stab at the Old White Course, saying: “I think I can play this course.”
The ever-popular Daly will be back this year. He needs a sponsor’s exemption in any tour event he wants to play and Justice saves a place for him.
Woods will not be back. He hosts a PGA tournament in Washington, D.C. just before the Greenbrier Classic and then has the British Open not too long after that.
Last year’s Greenbrier winner was rookie Ted Potter, Jr. who won in a playoff with Troy Kelly after both had finished 16-under par for 72 holes.
Stuart Appleby, a previous Greenbrier Classic champion, is also on the list to be in this year’s tournament.
A full field of 156 golfers should be on hand.
Some the more recognizable names are Ricky Barnes, Webb Simpson, Boo Weekley, Kenny Perry, Lucas Glover, and Charley Hoffman.
Also coming to White Sulphur Springs for the tournament stop are Steve Flesch, Charles Howell III, Scott Stallings, Freddie Jacobsen, and Justin Leonard.
The $6.3 million in purse money and the 500 FedEx Cup points lure many of the professionals. The winner’s share is nearly $1.2 million.
A number of the larger names don’t come because it’s the 4th of July holiday and because the tournament falls in between the U.S. Open and the British Open.
Mickelson is the biggest name. Justice is trying to be the biggest loser (in weight). And Daly, who has shed about 80 pounds himself, will be around to share laughs with Justice and his crowd-pleasing, on-course highs and lows with the large galleries that follow his rounds.
Justice will be closely watching some of the scores, hoping that both Mickelson and Daly can survive the cut and play the final rounds on the weekend.
The actual shadow cast by the tall Greenbrier Resort owner won’t be as wide. And that is by design.[/cleeng_content]