Power trio fires up crowd
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- On Thursday, the featured group of Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and 2012 Greenbrier Classic champion Ted Potter, Jr., didn't necessarily fire up the scoreboard.
Despite the rather mundane performances by each, the crowd on the grounds of The Greenbrier Resort was certainly fired up for their performances all afternoon.
Fans from all over surrounded the fairways and greens nearly four and five people deep in some places to catch a glimpse of their favorite golfers.
Tournament marshals repeatedly had to warn fans about the PGA Tour "no cell phone or camera" policy, but that didn't keep spectators from leaving with memories of seeing a trio that also provided the statistical oddity of being an all-lefty threesome for the first two days.
"The whole three being lefty is pretty awesome to see and they are playing some similar shots, so they will be feeding off of each other," said John Spinelli of Huntington. "I think Bubba will challenge Phil all weekend and push him."
Derek Gwinn, former Marshall University associate athletic director for compliance who now holds an assistant athletic director post in the same capacity at Virginia Tech, grew up in nearby Lewisburg, W.Va., and said he looks forward to the tournament each year because of the unique opportunities it brings his hometown.
"This group is a big reason you will have a draw here today," Gwinn said. "I think it's nice to give people in this area -- I grew up around here -- a chance to see Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson in their backyard."
Even though the scores might not be indicative, there were plenty of memorable shots made throughout the day.
Watson led the threesome with a 2-under-par 68 while Potter fired a 69. Mickelson's bad finish included a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 17th and a bogey on the par-3 18th for a 4-over 74.
On the first hole, Watson's drive went off to the right, but he bent a shot back around the fairway and onto the back portion of the green.
Then, on No. 7, Watson bombed a 326-yard drive before sticking an iron shot to within 7-feet. He calmly sunk the birdie putt.
Also on No. 7, Mickelson's drive went well right and into the gallery of fans. Sitting on a severe upslope, Mickelson towered a wedge over top of a large pine tree in front before using the slope of the green to allow the ball to trickle within 10 feet before also making a birdie putt.
Mickelson chipped in for birdie on No. 9 after running long on his second shot.
Potter was solid during the early portion of the round, catching birdies on Nos. 1 and 4.
The defending Greenbrier Classic champion started off the tournament the way he ended last year.
His second shot on No. 1 landed within 4-feet for a tap-in birdie and he nearly carbon-copied the feat on No. 4 when his second landed 3-feet from the hole to give him early momentum.
Spinelli said it was a day of great shots and great times, but he was more excited to be able to share it with friends from throughout the state.
"I've seen so many people here from town who have all migrated here this way for the weekend," Spinelli said. "It's really cool to see all the green and the Marshall gear. Even for those I don't know, I see a lot of kelly green out there.
"This is something we won't forget. I'm looking forward to Friday."
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