BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — The PGA Tour canceled the Greenbrier Classic, scheduled for July 7-10, on Saturday because of devastating flooding in West Virginia.
The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs has been was inundated with floodwater after heavy storms rolled into the state Thursday. Tour officials say the Old White TPC, the host course, suffered extensive damage and “is beyond reasonable repair to conduct the tournament.”
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said officials were heartbroken by the devastation in West Virginia and offered their thoughts and prayers.
“Canceling the Greenbrier Classic is certainly the most prudent course of action as our foremost concern is the well-being of those who are having to live through this tragic situation,” Finchem said.
Greenbrier County had 15 of the 23 deaths attributed to the flooding.
This is the first time a PGA Tour event has been washed out since the Viking Classic in Madison, Mississippi, in 2009. Unplayable conditions also led to the cancellation of the 1996 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
More than 150 players had committed to playing the Greenbrier, which was set to follow the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational. The PGA Tour is at Congressional this weekend for Tiger Woods’ Quicken Loans National, where the West Virginia floods are a topic of much conversation.
“I was saying on the range, and a lot of players (were saying) we’re not really worried about the golf tournament,” Erik Compton said. “We’re more worried about the community. First-most, you’ve got to get the community back. There’s plenty of time for golf.”
Harold Varner III was set to be in the field at the Greenbrier but said the cancellation paled in comparison what’s going on to the people of West Virginia.
“People are dying there,” Varner said. “When people start losing their lives, golf’s kind of thrown on the backburner.”
The Greenbrier was supposed to be the final chance to qualify for the British Open at Royal Troon on July 14-17, with one spot available to the highest finisher who was not already eligible. Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief of operations, said the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, which runs the British Open, was deciding what to do with that spot.
One possibility is to award it to the Barracuda Championship, to be played next week opposite the WGC-Bridgestone.
At the Greenbrier, owner Jim Justice said the focus is on helping the people of West Virginia.
“So many have lost loved ones, their homes, and have no place to go,” Justice said. “All of us are united with only one common goal: to help the people through this terrible time.”
The Greenbrier Classic began in 2010. The PGA Tour is committed to holding the event through 2021.
“We know we will have the opportunity to return again next year, and we look forward to that time,” Finchem said. “But for now, that is of secondary concern. The priority is safety of the residents and their recovery from this disaster.”
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.