The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

The Greenbrier Classic

August 18, 2011

Stallings recalls Classic win

Rookie’s victory has had major impact on his life

Scott Stallings sank a 7-foot putt for birdie to win The Greenbrier Classic last month, beating Bob Estes and Bill Haas in a playoff.

His life will never be the same.

Besides cashing in his first $1 million dollar tournament check and claiming his first PGA TOUR FedExCup championship, the victory vaulted him significantly in the points standings. Stallings is currently No. 30, but was No. 88 going into the second-year West Virginia event.

“My life has definitely changed,” Stallings said in an telephone interview Wednesday. “It’s been pretty hectic over the last couple of weeks, but it’s been nice.

“We wanted to play well enough in 2011 to secure a spot in the 2012 Masters. By doing that, I felt like we’d have a successful year. It’s funny. You set all of these goals, and it’s amazing how fast you can reach them in one week.

“I sat back and looked once The Greenbrier Classic was over, and I had to kind of reassess and start over. All of my goals were done, and the playoffs hadn’t even begun yet.”

The excitement of a rookie took over during the final round at The Greenbrier Classic. Upon making a birdie to secure a spot in the playoff, Stallings took off running back toward the tee from the green on No. 18; some called it a sprint.

“It was more of a light jog than a sprint,” he said laughing. “The final round (at The Greenbrier Classic) was kind of how my year has gone. I started off terrible and finished strong. I’ll never forget making the birdie putt on the 72nd hole to get into the playoffs, the feeling of going back to the tee. I felt like a lot of people were cheering for good golf in general, but I also felt like the whole, entire crowd was cheering for me. It was awesome to have those people behind me.

“West Virginia was a great crowd and an unbelievable host for the week of The Greenbrier Classic,” he added. “It was pretty incredible to be there. Obviously, the money and all that stuff is great, but having an opportunity to win golf tournaments is what it’s about. All that other stuff will take care of itself.

“For me the best part when it was all said and done was having the opportunity to play in Akron the next week and having the best of the best of the best (golfers) in the world coming up and congratulating me. To be considered a champion is something I’ll never forget.”

 Winning The Greenbrier Classic has its advantages, sending Stallings to the playoffs where one of the events he’ll play takes place in his home state of Massachusetts — the Deutsche Bank Championship Sept. 2-5.

Being a self-described die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, there’s other reasons to look toward that event as well.

“Once I won (The Greenbrier), I knew that I was secure and would have an opportunity to play there,” Stallings said. “That’s something that I was ecstatic about. I love Boston. I like the golf course (TPC Boston). I like the fact that the Yankees are going to be in town that week. I’ll be able to play in front of a bunch of family that don’t get to see me play very often. I’m looking forward to it.” 

Being a rookie, Stallings has had his share of peaks and valleys. But a third-place finish at the Transitions Championship in March in just his seventh tournament — after receiving a sponsor exemption to even get in — started him down the right path, he said.

“I got off to a terrible start,” he recalled. “I missed my first five cuts. I hated golf. I hated life. I just wasn’t having any fun.

“That was the week that turned it around. I had fun and learned a lot and had an opportunity to win, so it spurred things in the right direction for me.”

For now, Stallings is living the dream, one that got much better in White Sulphur Springs, he admitted.

“Being a member of the PGA TOUR is a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to play golf for a living for as long as I can remember,” he said. “To win, to have an opportunity to win and be successful and to be considered a champion on the PGA TOUR is something that you have to take a step back and think about.

“It’s been a huge blessing. I had a tremendous amount of support everywhere I’ve gone — both at Akron (World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational) and at the PGA (Championship). It was incredible — the amount of people that keep up with golf and were supportive of me at both tournaments.”

An invitation for Stallings to return to The Greenbrier Classic next year will be a mere formality.

Will he be back?

“No doubt,” he replied. “It will be an incredible event. I’m sure Mr. (Jim) Justice will make sure it’s even better than it was the year before. I’ll never forget my first win. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to win many more, but The Greenbrier is an incredible place. The resort is awesome. The golf course got better every single day that the tournament went on.

“It’s definitely something that I’ll be a part in for a while.”

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