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David Walsh: Marshall leaders become golf fans

Jul. 06, 2013 @ 12:06 AM

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Marshall University football coach Doc Holliday, men's basketball coach Tom Herrion and athletic director Mike Hamrick fielded their share of questions about the Thundering Herd on Friday.

The setting, though, wasn't quite as demanding as usual.

Instead of a football news conference for Holliday, a men's basketball post-game chat for Herrion or an office interview for Hamrick about the new soccer complex/indoor facilities building, the threesome pulled up chairs in the Marshall Alumni Tent on the grounds of the Old White TPC golf course at The Greenbrier Resort and talked in more civil terms with fans about Thundering Herd athletics.

In between questions, the Marshall athletic department representatives could turn around and watch some of the top players on the PGA Tour show their skills in The Greenbrier Classic.

"This is a great event, not only for the state of West Virginia, not only for Marshall University, not only for West Virginia University, but for everyone," Hamrick said. "All athletic fans come together and take pride in our state. Mr. (Jim) Justice (Greenbrier owner and tournament chairman) is a former Marshall athlete, a former golfer and one of our biggest, if not biggest, financial supporters.

"We support him for what he's done for us. We get to enjoy the day with Marshall fans in a different atmosphere. We'll see green in and out of here all day. It's a casual, informal setting to visit with fans who support us and Mr. Justice."

For Holliday and his coaching staff, preseason camp starts in less than a month. Players are on campus working out and doing school work if necessary. The Herd is coming off a 5-7 season (4-4 Conference USA). It ended with a 65-59 double-overtime loss at East Carolina that assured Marshall a bowl-less year for the second time in three seasons under Holliday.

"We get back to work on Monday," Holliday said. "We work every day to become a better football team. We should be better this year. I'm excited as a coach. I like our team right now."

Holliday enjoyed seeing all the green and white in the tent showing their support for pro golf as well.

"It's great to be here," he said. "It's a great event and a chance to showcase the entire state of West Virginia."

For Herrion, the heat's more intense. The Herd wound 13-19 overall last season and was 6-10 in C-USA (ninth). Marshall lost to Tulane in the first round of the C-USA Tournament. Then there were some player defections, and Herrion has worked to make additions who can restore the program to prominence.

"What happened is not acceptable," Herrion said. "Everyone in the program understands that. The fan base has to understand that. We went sideways for a reason, whatever the reason. That has to be the exception, not the norm. I think my track record shows that. We're all very frustrated with the way things went last season. We've tried to put in corrective measures to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"I'm excited about the new group. All the fresh faces, new blood, the energy. We had a great summer. The attitude is unbelievable, the work ethic tremendous. I don't know if I've been this energized in a long time."

Herrion welcomed input from Herd supporters.

"It's good to see so many fans," he said. "There's a lot of kelly green out there. They ask who's on the roster, who's on the schedule. Both are coming along incredibly well. We'll add a guy here or there. The schedule's falling into place. It'll be a terrific schedule, one fans will like and can get excited about."

Finally it came time for Herrion to talk golf.

"It's an unbelievable event," he said. "When you come off the interstate (64), pull into this area and see the thousands of people, that says what this event is all about. It speaks volumes. Credit Mr. Justice.

"The exposure for the state. Golf Channel, national TV (CBS) educates people outside the area how special this place is. We're proud to be one of the flagship universities of this great state."

DALY PAINS: John Daly withdrew Friday because of an elbow injury, then tweeted he would need surgery next week.

Daly played three holes in the second round and made two bogeys. He shot 75 in the first round and was 7-over-par for the tournament prior to his withdrawal.

Following his withdrawal, Daly announced on his Twitter account that he had torn a tendon in his elbow and that he expects to have surgery next week and be out 3-4 months.

TWO IN A ROW?: Kenny Perry won the Senior Players Championship last week at Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh for his first major win. Fox Chapel is a Seth Raynor design as is Old White TPC (along with C.B. McDonald). He's at 135 after two rounds, four behind leader Matt Every. "I won on a Seth Raynor golf course last week, so I'm playing another one this week," he said. "A lot of good memories, a lot of good vibes. I enjoy being out here."

STATS: Kyle Stanley had the longest drive in round one. He belted one 356 yards on the fourth hole, a 428-yard par 4. Michael Letzig had 12 one-putt greens Thursday, tops for the day. No. 6, 471-yard par 4, played the hardest (4.250 stroke average). No. 17, a 616-yard par 5, played the easiest (4.74).

David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or dwalsh@herald-dispatch.com.

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