Zambos, Simpson pair up
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS,W.Va. -- Dr. Phil Zambos got the first bit of good news Tuesday night at the pairings party for The Greenbrier Classic pro-am event.
The former Huntington resident who now calls White Sulphur Springs home learned fellow Wake Forest University alum Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open winner, would be the pro in his Wednesday group for the second year in a row. Later in the evening Zambos informed his friends that former West Virginia University and NBA legend Jerry West also would be in the foursome.
Well all parties arrived at the Old White TPC course for their Wednesday, 7:10 a.m., starting time. That's when they learned Jerry West couldn't make it and his son, former WVU player Jonnie West, was taking his place.
Zambos and Simpson have become friends.
"What a guy, what a player," Zambos said. "You want to do all you can to make it a good day for the team."
For the second straight year, Zambos got upstaged a bit. Bubba Watson's group went off at 7 a.m. and had a nice gallery. Those numbers grew as the day went along. A year ago, the Zambos team played behind Tiger Woods and his team and that gallery was large from the outset. Crowds for the Zambos team stayed rather small.
"Oh well," Zambos said. "Bubba's quite a guy. We met him a few times while he's been here. It's been a wild week. Yes he's a character, but he's a player, too."
During the round, Simpson and Watson traded barbs with one another and the fans had more than one laugh at their exchanges.
Rick McCormick, the North American president for the Forge Group (Australia), rounded out the Zambos foursome. He splits time between Pittsburgh and White Sulphur Springs. He, too, met up with Watson several times during the week.
"He's the friendliest, most kind-hearted person I've been around," McCormick said. "We've had so much fun. Been doing this for four years. You come out and see the pros play, Bubba play. They mix it up with the fans. You can't help but be impressed."
Jonnie West, who works for the NBA's Golden State Warriors, said his dad didn't like pro-ams that much, so he stepped in.
"A chance to play with someone like Webb Simpson is awesome," West said. "You learn a lot and don't have to ask. I know Phil and Rick, too."
During the round, West signed some autographs. Jerry West showed up on No. 16 and followed the team in.
Jerry West, now an executive board member for the Golden State Warriors, drew a crowd and signed some autographs, too.
"They got a good deal," Jerry West said of having his son hit some booming tee shots. "I'm happy I can be here. The atmosphere is quite refreshing."
Ian Patrick of Huntington, the first-round leader in the West Virginia Open last month at Parkersburg Country Club, carried the bag for Zambos.
Simpson had the Greenbrier lead going into the final round last year, but dropped back and Ted Potter Jr. came from behind to win in a playoff with Troy Kelly.
For a huge basketball fan like himself, Simpson said getting to spend some time with Jerry West was cool.
"I met him before, but to walk with him and hang out and talk a little bit about some players," he said. "And we talked about Steph (Stephen) Curry (guard for the Warriors). I know him from Charlotte, we played golf together. It was fun just to be out there with him.
Jerry West is a good friend of Greenbrier Classic director and Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice. West and his family make many visits to the amenity-filled resort. West said he's not surprised the golf tournament has become one of the most popular on the circuit.
"Jim Justice is a man of vision," West said. "He's more than able to do things and he does."
The Zambos team played the final three holes 4-under-par and finished at 12-under 58.
In the afternoon, Andreas and Nick Zambos, Phil's sons, and John Zambros, his brother, filled out a foursome with pro Tom Gillis.
"We took the place over," Phil said with a smile.