The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 29, 2013

Several Haskins Award winners to play Greenbrier Classic

University of California golfer Michael Kim will be a part of this week’s Greenbrier Classic field, thanks to an exemption given for winning the 2013 Haskins Award, but the 19-year-old certainly won’t be the only player in the field who has captured golf’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.

Winning the award, selected by writers, golf coaches and collegiate golfers, is usually just the start for the golfers. Haskins Award winners have competed in 42 Ryder Cups, won 28 Major Championships and won more than 250 PGA TOUR events.

Joining Kim at The Greenbrier Classic, which will be contested July 4-7 on the Old White TPC Course in White Sulphur Springs, will be Russell Henley (Georgia, 2010), Kevin Chappell (UCLA, 2008), Bill Haas (Wake Forest, 2004), Bryce Molder (Georgia Tech, 2001), Charles Howell III (Oklahoma State, 2000), Justin Leonard (Texas, 1994), Phil Mickelson (Arizona State (1990, 1991, 1992), Bob Estes (Texas, 1988), Billy Mayfair (Arizona State, 1987) and Scott Verplank (1986).

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Most are aware of the big names coming to The Greenbrier Classic next week including a baker’s dozen who have won Major Championships — Ben Curtis, John Daly, Lucas Glover, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leondard, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Webb Simpson, Vijay Singh, Bubba Watson, Tom Watson and Mike Weir. Keegan Bradley was committed but decided to withdraw.

But there are some other interesting players in the field who might not yet be household names.

Take Erik Compton, for example.

The Miami, Fla., native was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy when he was 9 years old. As a result, he had to undergo two heart transplants, the first in 1992 when he was 12 and the second in 2008. He received the Ben Hogan Award, given to a golfer who stays active despite a physical handicap or serious illness, in 2009.

Still looking for his first PGA TOUR victory — he won the Mexico Open on the Nationwide Tour in 2011 — the former Georgia Bulldog actually led after the opening round of the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.

Then there’s 48-year-old Jesper Parnevik, who’s known for changing outfits during a round and eating volcanic dust as a dietary supplement. He’s playing on a medical extension after nearly severing his right index finger during an accident that occurred when trying to bring his boat out of the water.

Parnevik’s sense of style, though, will certainly be challenged by  Daly, who is likely to bring out his stars and stripes pants for the opening round on Independence Day.

Daly last won on the PGA TOUR in 2004, but he’s still a fan favorite and will draw large galleries throughout the week.

At the 2012 Greenbrier Classic, Daly offered to give $100 to charity for every pound Greenbrier owner and CEO Jim Justice lost between then and this year’s event. The money would go to a charity of Justice’s choosing.

Asked at a media day event earlier this month if he had made any progress, Justice joked, “Let’s just say he’s not going to go broke.”

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The fourth year of The Greenbrier Classic, West Virginia’s only PGA TOUR FedEx Cup event, will begin Monday with practice rounds beginning at 8 a.m. and a Pro-Am beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets — which are good for three practice rounds (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday), four rounds of competition (Thursday through Sunday) and two major concerts (Kenny Chesney and Aerosmith) — are available for $159. Visit www.greenrbrierclassic.com for more information.

— E-mail: chuffman

@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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