The Greenbrier serving as shelter for flood victims

By Associated PressJune 29, 2016, 5:58 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – It could be a month or two until an iconic West Virginia resort reopens after deadly, damaging floods, but its maimed championship golf course may not be ready for play much before the PGA Tour rolls through next July, resort owner Jim Justice said.

The floods that swept through West Virginia last week and killed at least 23 people statewide carved a path of destruction unseen in generations at the historic Greenbrier.

Running through the Old White TPC golf course, Howard's Creek raged over its banks during the pounding storms Thursday. When the worst of it was over, Greenbrier employees came upon two bodies on the resort grounds and are draining a lake on the 16th fairway to search for more.

Dating back to 1778, the 700-room resort with an iconic white facade has long been one of the jewels of West Virginia's tourism industry, hosting presidents and royalty and holding a once-secret underground bunker built for Congress in case of nuclear attack during the Cold War.

But on Tuesday, 300 of the neediest victims from the flood-ravaged area occupied the rooms, and the hotel was closed for business while it fed and sheltered the disaster refugees.

''West Virginians are tough, loving, prideful, good people. They'll bond together, and I've said this many times, they'll get through this,'' said Justice, the billionaire owner who threw open the place for use as a shelter.

''We won't forget it, and we're not supposed to forget it. And we'll be scarred with it forever, but we'll survive it, and we'll figure it out.''

Fifteen people died in the resort's namesake county, where many were swept away by swift, mucky floodwaters. A dead 14-year-old boy washed up against a maintenance shed at the resort, and the body of an elderly man was pulled from a lake on the grounds.

On Tuesday, grandstands set up for a PGA Tour event that was supposed to start the week of July Fourth now look out on a muddy, gouged-out golf course strewn with trash, tires, refrigerators and severed trees.

The Old White had been manicured to host some of golf's biggest names at a tournament starting July 7. The event was going to be free for the first time, and about 300,000 fans were expected. But then the rains began, and the water rose and kept rising.

On Thursday evening, Bubba Watson, who has a home at the resort, tweeted a video that showed the course had become a flowing river of brown water.

After the rain stopped, Justice checked out a high-water mark on the 15th hole, a record set in 1915. This flood topped it by 5 feet.

The tournament has been canceled.

The Greenbrier's newly built chapel was filled with 4 feet of mud. At the tennis complex, mud coated a few levels of seats around the year-old center court. Water spilled into several areas of the resort's main building.

The golf course suffered extensive damage.

''In all honesty, the course will probably have to be completely redone,'' Justice said.

The Greenbrier is also set to host the New Orleans Saints' training camp starting in late July. The NFL team said it is still coming.

Justice, a coal and agriculture magnate who is the Democratic nominee for governor in November, has put the campaign on hold for at least two weeks.

''Honest to Pete, that's the last thing that I need to be doing today,'' he said.

Instead of campaign checks, money to help the victims is starting to roll in. Justice's flood-relief charity, Neighbors Loving Neighbors, has received $600,000 in commitments in just a few days, include five-figure pledges from former NBA star and West Virginia native Jerry West, Rite Aid and a FirstEnergy executive, he said.

As they grabbed a free lunch Tuesday, flood victims staying at the Greenbrier said they were grateful.

Kenneth Hoke, 45, fled his home Thursday in Monroe County to stay at the Greenbrier with his wife, Melanie. By the time he left, water had crept up to the bottom of the stairs and was rising quickly. He hasn't been home since.

''We were hit pretty hard in the hollow,'' Hoke said. ''We lost everything we had.''

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DJ, McIlroy, Spieth listed as PGA betting favorites

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 1:38 pm

Three majors are in the books, but there's still one more trophy up for grabs in two weeks' time.

While next year The Open will signal the end of the 2019 major season amid a revamped calendar, this is the final year that the PGA Championship will be held in August. The tournament returns next month to Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis, which last hosted the PGA when Nick Price won in 1992 and hasn't hosted a PGA Tour event since Camilo Villegas won the 2008 BMW Championship.

Oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published PGA betting odds shortly after the final putt dropped at Carnoustie and Francesco Molinari left with the claret jug. Topping the board are a trio of major champions: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, all listed at 12/1.

McIlroy won the PGA in both 2012 and 2014, while Spieth needs only the Wanamaker Trophy to round out the career Grand Slam. Johnson has recorded four top-10s in the PGA, notably a T-5 finish at Whistling Straits in 2010 when a few grains of sand kept him out of a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.

Fresh off a T-6 finish in Scotland, Tiger Woods headlines the group listed at 16/1, behind only the three co-favorites as he looks to win a 15th career major.

Here's a look at the betting odds for a number of contenders, with the opening round of the PGA just 17 days away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth

16/1: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

18/1: Justin Rose

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day

30/1: Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Paul Casey

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson

80/1: Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner

100/1: Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters, Tyrrell Hatton, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman

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Molinari moves to No. 6 in world with Open win

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:31 pm

After breaking through for his first career major title, Francesco Molinari reached some rarified air in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Rankings.

The Italian's two-shot win at Carnoustie moved him up nine spots to No. 6 in the world, not surprisingly a new career high. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago.

A share of second place helped Xander Schauffele jump from No. 24 to No. 18 in the updated standings, while the same result meant Kevin Kisner went from No. 33 to No. 25. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.

The drama in the rankings unfolded at No. 50, as Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots to exactly No. 50 following his T-6 finish. While some projections had him moving to 51st, Woods was able to sneak into the top 50 just in time to qualify for a return to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the top 50 in the rankings both this week and next qualify for Akron.

That includes Zach Johnson, last year's runner-up who was not yet qualified but moved from No. 52 to No. 49 this week. It also includes Kevin Chappell, who went from 61st to 47th with a T-6 finish in Scotland.

Despite missing the cut at Carnoustie, Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for another week followed by Rose, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Molinari is now at No. 6, with McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day rounding out the top 10.

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Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood

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Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.