The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 3, 2012

‘A tribute to West Virginia’

Justice thrilled with efforts as Greenbrier Classic week begins

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Jim Justice was beaming with pride as he stepped off his golf cart Monday, readying himself for the beginning of the first pro-am tournament of The Greenbrier Classic this week.

With the various events looming through Wednesday, and the PGA TOUR FedExCup tournament teeing off Thursday, the weekend’s storm played havoc on The Old White TPC golf course, just like it did the rest of the region.

With dozens of trees and branches on the ground, debris and limbs scattered about and skyboxes that needed to be replaced, after damaging winds and fallen trees crashed into them, there hasn’t been any time to waste.

“It’s been a busy one, that’s for sure,” said Justice, chairman and CEO of The Greenbrier. “I have all of the respect and appreciation for all of the people that came to help. We had people coming from everywhere saying ‘What can we do?’ Everybody knows that it was a certifiable disaster area (after the Friday storm). Nobody slept a lot and people worked really hard. Now we’re ready. We’re really ready.

“It’s a tribute to West Virginia,” Justice added. “That’s what it’s all about. In this state, we don’t drop our heads. We just suck it up and pull our boots up and we did it. We’re ready.”

The Greenbrier itself was without power for much of the weekend.

“We were out until 4 a.m. Saturday morning,” said Justice. “It came back on and went back out at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. And then it came back up at about 5 p.m. Sunday evening.”

“There was a lot of people working. First and foremost, we had to take care of those in the outlying areas that are really hurting. That’s where our prayers really go out. But this is an important event for the state of West Virginia.

“There’s people that are hurting. I still don’t have power at my house. I don’t have water at my house. It’s tough for people to even get here, I understand. This storm was violent. There were plenty of 200-year old trees that survived all of the storms for 200 years but didn’t survive this one.”

Leaving a lasting impression is on Justice’s mind.

“I want people to walk away (from the Greenbrier Classic) and say ‘This was the best. The best of the best. That’s the way it has to be. I’m just as excited and just as passionate about it as the day we announced we had it.”

Justice always displayed strong leadership in the face of adversity.

At least publicly.

But he admitted that, behind the scenes, he had some times of worry and doubt.

“I’m not saying that when I get by myself, and it’s just me and the Good Lord, that he doesn’t really know how I feel,” he said with a smile.  “But there’s no one else that’s going to see me panic.”

Justice chose PGA TOUR pro Boo Weekley to play with in the pro-am, along with Jim’s son Jay Justice and Jeff Klemish of The Greenbrier Sporting Club.

“Boo likes to hunt and fish, and so do I,” Justice said. “I get to play a little golf with him too.”

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More practice rounds are on tap today, with gates opening at 8 a.m., and an afternoon youth clinic by The First Tee at 1:30 p.m.

 On Wednesday, gates open at 7 a.m. with a pro-am morning flight and an afternoon pro-am flight teeing off at 12:30 p.m.

That evening, The Greenbrier Classic will celebrate the Fourth of July with its season debut of the Greenbrier Classic Concert Series. Winners of The Greenbrier’s Got Country Class competition, The August, take the stage at the amphitheater near the fairgrounds in Fairlea at 7:30 p.m. Headliner Toby Keith with special guest Lionel Richie are scheduled to perform at 9 p.m. with fireworks following.

On Thursday and Friday, the competition heats up with the first two rounds of the PGA TOUR FedExCup tournament on The Golf Channel with Saturday’s and Sunday’s third- and fourth-round action broadcast on CBS.

Gates open at 7 a.m. for the first two rounds and 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The Greenbrier Classic Concert Series returns Friday with Rod Stewart and special guests The Fray beginning at 7:30 p.m. Bon Jovi is the concert attraction Saturday night, taking the stage at 8 p.m.

— E-mail: jworkman@register-herald.com

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