The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 2, 2013

Notes: Collinsworth impressed on 1st visit

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Sightings of famous athletes are nothing out of the ordinary at The Greenbrier Classic, but usually those sports stars are known for sinking birdies instead of scoring touchdowns.

During Monday’s Pro-Am, though, a former gridiron star made his way to the links.

Three-time Pro Bowler Cris Collinsworth — an All-American wide receiver at the University of Florida before becoming a Pro Bowl selection with the Cincinnati Bengals — played in a group with PGA TOUR golfer Steven Bowditch and two other amateurs during the first official event of the 2013 tournament.

“Katie, my daughter, won a sales event for The Golf Channel, and she didn’t want to play and gave me her place,” said Collinsworth, who grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and currently lives in Fort Thomas, Ky. “It’s a beautiful place. It’s the first time I’ve been here. I’ve been to a lot of places, but not many places look like this with the creeks and the mountains. It’s like going back in time a little bit.”

Now a commentator on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, Collinsworth will call his first game of the 2013 season on Aug. 4 when the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins face off in a preseason contest at the annual Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

“I feel like football’s already begun with some of these crazy off-the-field stories we have going on,” said Collinsworth, who admitted he’s starting to get that itch for the season to begin again. “But it’s really an interesting year. It feels like the power has shifted a little bit West with Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. I think you have to start out there, with all the things that happened with Baltimore sort of dismantling.

“There’s so many interesting stories. (Robert Griffin III’s) return (to the Redskins) is going to be interesting to follow. What Chip Kelly does in Philadelphia now (will be interesting), and with Sean Payton coming back, you know the Saints are going to be right back in play, too. There’s a lot of things going on in the league, but it’s like this every year. Anybody that thinks they know what’s going on with the NFL is out of their mind. Until they start, nobody knows.”

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Fans hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the best players in the field at Wednesday’s Pro-Am are going to have to set their alarms that morning.

Tee times for the morning session begin at 7 a.m., and some of the top names are among the first to take the tee. Bubba Watson, in fact, will begin the day with a 7 a.m. tee time on the first tee. Webb Simpson will follow at 7:10, with Tom Watson going off at 7:20.

The afternoon session will provide some star power for those who would rather wait. Phil Mickelson will begin the afternoon session with a noon tee time on No. 1. AT&T National winner Bill Haas will go off of No. 10 at 12:30 p.m., and John Daly will begin on No. 10 at 1:20.

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Haas won’t be the only golfer in this week’s field coming off a big victory.

The Greenbrier’s own Kenny Perry — with The Greenbrier logo on his shirt and visor — won the Senior Players Championship Sunday in Pittsburgh, his first major title.

The Franklin, Ky., resident has won 14 times on the PGA TOUR and three times on the Champions Tour. He finished second in the 2009 Masters and the 1996 PGA Championship and third in the 2003 U.S. Open but had never won one of the big ones until Sunday.

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Of the players in this year’s tournament, nobody has played The Greenbrier’s Old White TPC any better than Charlie Wi.

The 41-year-old from Seoul, South Korea, has never won on the PGA TOUR, but in eight rounds at The Greenbrier Classic, he has a stroke average of 67.25, better than any other player in the field. Wi finished third last year, two shots out of the playoff between champion Ted Potter Jr. and Troy Kelly.

Pat Perez, who won his only PGA TOUR event at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic, has also played the course well, averaging a score of 67.38 through eight rounds.

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This year’s field includes 68 PGA TOUR winners, who have won 313 events. Thirteen have won Major Championships, and six have won World Golf Championship events. Four players are currently in the top 10 in FedEx Cup points, and two are in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Players in the field hail from 10 different countries.

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Today’s main attraction will be Greenbrier Classic Youth Day, presented by Polo Golf and Med Express. A junior clinic will begin at 1:30 p.m. on the first fairway of the Meadows course. The clinic will feature the Greenbrier’s Billy Winters performing trick shots and a special guest appearance by PGA TOUR professional Scott Langley.

Youth Day will conclude with The First Tee Scramble, presented by Polo Golf at 3 p.m. The event features PGA TOUR players Morgan Hoffman and Billy Horschel playing golf with four First Tee kids, three from The First Tee of West Virginia and one from the First Tee of Roanoke Valley. It will be a three-hole scramble exhibition starting on the first hole of The Old White TPC Course.

— E-mail: chuffman@ and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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