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Greenbrier Classic director wanted to spread his wings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Greenbrier owner Jim Justice has no plans of being the PGA Tour's Jerry Jones and taking on multiple roles for the Greenbrier Classic.

"I'll be involved from the standpoint of interest, passion and trying to get the key players along the way," Justice said. "I'll let my people do their jobs."

That's why an intensive search has begun for a new tournament director after Tim McNeely, who served in that role for the first three years of the event, accepted the position of athletic director at Fairmont State University.

The fourth annual edition of the tournament begins on July 4, with practice rounds set for earlier in the week and the Pro-Am scheduled for July 3.

McNeely has been in charge of the Greenbrier Classic since its inception in 2010. He also served as the tournament director of the Nationwide Tour's Pete Dye West Virginia Classic during its six-year run in Bridgeport.

The Pete Dye event evolved into the Nationwide Tour Players Cup in 2009, when it became the first $1 million event on the Tour with $108,000 going to the winner, who was Tom Gillis.

McNeely is a Logan County native who was a four-year letterman basketball player under Gale Catlett at West Virginia University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in sports management in 1992.

He earned a law degree from WVU in 1995.

"It's an exciting move for me professionally and my family personally," said McNeely, who has family in the Bridgeport and Morgantown areas. "Being tournament director of the Greenbrier Classic has been a dream job, but I have other professional ambitions and I want to spread my wings a little bit professionally.

"I feel like I hit a ceiling as a tournament director. It was fantastic working for the Greenbrier, but I want to jump the tracks so to speak."

The first Greenbrier Classic featured Stuart Appleby shooting the fifth single-round score of 59 in the history of the PGA Tour.

In 2011, Scott Stallings won his first PGA Tour event at the Greenbrier Classic with a win on the first playoff hole against Bob Estes and Bill Haas. Stallings became the sixth rookie that year to win his first PGA Tour event. Last year, Ted Potter Jr. defeated Troy Kelly on the third playoff hole in the tour's first event in which Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson missed the cut.

McNeely also was in charge in 2012 when the event had its contract with the PGA Tour extended six years through 2021.

McNeely's last day at the Greenbrier is Friday. He starts his new job at Fairmont State on Monday.

"We're going to miss him like crazy," Justice said. "I've gotten to be really good friends with Tim. (His decision) surprised me in some ways, but the way Tim described it to me, it was just a great opportunity for him.

"I think Tim always wanted to get to being an athletic director, he loves sports, he's good at administration. This is something Tim wanted to do."

Although the tournament is in less than four months, Justice said they're not going to rush the process.

"We'll have something on that pretty soon," he said. "We're talking with several people and working with the PGA. That's something we'll take our time about."

An announcement on the tournament's new director could come as soon as Monday.

*  *  *

JUSTICE SAID there is no news regarding the concert series that already has country music star Kenny Chesney performing on Independence Day.

Chesney will highlight the concert series.

He has won numerous awards, beginning with being named New Male Vocalist of the Year in 1997. Since then, his honors include earning Academy of Country Music Awards Entertainer of the Year in 2004-06 and 2008.

"We're still working on it," Justice said. "We're trying to knock it out of the park if we can."

Other names that have been brought up as possibilities for other slots during the week were Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Bruce Springsteen. Justice has indicated that the concert series might be limited to two events this year.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.


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