The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 3, 2014

Stakes are high for some at The Greenbrier Classic

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo. All names that’s draw large galleries and are easily recognized by golf fans worldwide.

Roaming around on the other holes of the golf course looking to make a name for themselves are less noted players — players that are grinding to make the cut and earn a much needed paycheck as well as players that are trying to earn a permanent place on the PGA Tour.

Such is the case for five players who earned their way into the Greenbrier Classic via pre-qualifying events. Doug Labelle II, Jeff Curl, Brian Agee and Mikey Moyers were the low qualifiers this past Monday on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs. The fifth player, amateur Brian Anania, earned his spot by winning this year’s West Virginia Amateur Tournament.

While this is a much-needed opportunity, it is also an uphill battle, due to limited practice time and limited golf course knowledge of The Old White TPC. PGA Tour professionals typically have Monday through Wednesday to hone their skills on the course, while the qualifiers often have just one practice day. Many tour members have played The Greenbrier Classic in years past, while the most qualifiers are seeing the course for the first time. Anania played two rounds on The Old White TPC in the West Virginia Amateur and has played the course in past amateur events.

Doug Labelle II played The Greenbrier Classic last year, missing the cut after shooting an opening-round 74 and a second-round 71. He has played most of the season on the Tour and used provisional starts to play limited PGA Tour events.

Labelle’s opening round Thursday included one birdie, a bogey and a double-bogey for a 2-over par 72.

“I played good tee to green, didn’t hit ‘em as close as I would like. I just didn’t make the putts. I had a tough time with the reads and the speed of the greens,” said Labelle.

Knowing the leaders are at 6-under-par, Labelle knows he is not out of the tournament, but a low round today is a must.

“Anytime you shoot over par out here, you are going to get lapped. I gave myself some opportunities, and I was just not able to take advantage of them. I am hitting enough good shots, I just need to get them a little closer,” explained Labelle.

The mountain for Agee, Moyers, Curl and Anania is a bit higher than that for Labelle.

The day for Agee was a tough one. He started on the back nine holes and made the turn at a respectable 1-over-par after a nice birdie on the par-3 18th hole.

Agee however, lost the momentum quickly with a bogey on the first hole and another on the third. After a couple of pars, he made bogey on No. 6 and a double-bogey on No. 7 to finish at 76, putting him in a tough spot for day two.

Moyers also failed to have the opening round he would have liked. He could manage only three birdies on the first nine holes and carded six bogeys to make the turn at 40. The back nine provided one birdie for Moyers, but a double-bogey pushed his score to 77.

Curl had a rough start at 4-over-par after nine holes, but birdies at 10 and 12 put the momentum back in Curl’s favor.

The good work he had done was erased quickly when Curl found trouble off the tee on the par-4 13th hole, leading to a double-bogey sending him back to 4-over-par.

Curl would not fade down the stretch and bounced back with a birdie on No. 17 to finish with 73.

Anania, a former member of the Marshall University golf team, opened up with a 1-over-par 35 on the first nine holes, then made bogey on holes 11 and 15 under windy conditions.

The young amateur showed his metal by staking an approach on No. 16 to within two feet for a birdie, but he closed with a bogey on 18 for a round of 73.

Labelle, Anania and Curl will likely need a round in the mid 60’s on the par-70 layout today to make the cut and keep their dream alive of playing on the weekend. Agee and Moyers will need a spectacular round to play the weekend.

Curl, Anania and Moyers all have early tee times, where the conditions will likely be softer and has yielded more scoring opportunities. Labelle and Agee will have to earn their spot in the afternoon session.


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