The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 1, 2014

Bucket list complete: 4 golfers qualify for Classic

Labelle, Curl, Agee, Moyers will get their shot at storied Old White TPC

DANIELS — Charlie Bucket in the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” sang, “I’ve got a golden ticket; I’ve got a golden chance to make my way.”

Doug Labelle, Jeff Curl, Brian Agee and Mikey Moyers all can now sing the same tune after shooting the four low rounds in the Greenbrier Classic Open Qualifier played Monday on the Cobb Course at the Resort at Glade Springs.

The top four finishers were awarded a ticket into The Greenbrier Classic being played Thursday through Sunday on the Old White TPC course at The Greenbrier Resort. It's a ticket that could take a player from relative obscurity to instant millions, as well as a trip overseas to play in the British Open and to Augusta National to play in the Masters, the rewards that will go to the Greenbrier Classic winner.

There were 65 players that teed it up Monday on the Cobb Course — modified slightly after the pre-qualifier on Thursday — with the same dream. The course played as a par-71 layout instead of the normal 72.

The field had some names known to the casual golf fan like former U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen and Frank Lickliter a two-time winner on the PGA Tour. However, the field mainly consisted of names known only by those who follow the Tour and collegiate golf.

Agee had to make it through the pre-qualifier held last Thursday just to play in Monday’s qualifier. Teeing off on the back nine, he posted the first low score of the day with a 5-under par 66 after a rocky star. Agee recorded birdies on 11, 14 and 17 but negated them with three bogies to make the turn at even par.

Agee caught fire as he headed to the front nine holes as he recorded six birdies against just one bogey for a 30 on the front.

“I was hitting well, hitting it close and giving myself good looks. On these greens, as large as they are, if your are striking well you have a chance to score,” said Agee.

Labelle was one of only two players to best Agee’s round, firing a 65 that included a 31 on the front nine and a 34 on the back side.

Labelle, who finished tied for 19th last week in the Midwest Classic on the Tour, had not stepped foot on the golf course before Monday and was working on only about four hours of sleep.

“Today was the first time I had seen the course. My caddie did some work online using Google Earth; we got a good look at (the course) that way. That is how we went around the golf course,” said Labelle.

When Curl walked up onto the patio where the scores were being recorded, he was clearly excited that his round of 65 had tied him with Labelle and secured a spot in the Greenbrier Classic.

“I took a calculated risk today,” said Curl. “We were supposed to go on a family vacation to the Bahamas, but I had been hitting it so good, I thought let’s go to the qualifier and see how it goes. If I get in it will be a great week at the Greenbrier. If not we will go to the Bahamas.” said Curl.

Curl started on the back nine, firing a 2-under-par 34 that, by his own admission, could have been much better.

“I hit so many good shots,” lamented Curl. “I had seven putts inside 10 feet and a couple inside five, and just could not find the hole. I hit good putts, just not the right line.”

Those allusive birdies were found on the front nine as Curl birdied holes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7, before a bogey on the last hole gave him a nine hole score of 31 and 65 overall.

The last player to secure a spot for the Greenbrier Classic may have been one of the most unlikely, even in his mind.

Moyers, a recent graduate of Virginia Tech in December and just 23 years old, just turned pro about one month ago and had only played in the U.S Open qualifier so far this year.

Moyers did have competitive experience, however, earning first-team All-ACC honors this past season and playing his way into the qualifier last Thursday in the pre-qualifier event.

Having no real expectation and just taking it one shot at a time, Moyers quietly went about his business, recording three birdies on the front nine and four on the back nine, making only two bogeys for a round of 66.

“I literally took it one shot at a time today; I had got out of rhythm and had no expectations today. Sometimes you just play your best with no expectations,” said Moyers.

Now comes the big chance for these four players with big dreams. Only Labelle has played the Old White TPC, but that fact has not dimmed the hopes of Curl, Agee and Moyers, who all will head to White Sulphur Springs to get a feel for the course in tomorrow’s practice round.

Each one will be hoping, just as Charlie Bucket did, that if they make the right choices and get a few breaks, their golden ticket will lead to a permanent place on the PGA Tour.

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