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Greenbrier Classic delayed by rains for several hours

By Charles Young

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS -- Inclement weather forced multiple delays during the final day of the 2013 Greenbrier Classic Sunday afternoon.

Many spectators packed up the their folding chairs and headed home at the first signs of rain, but the diehard fans waited out the three-hour-10-minute delay for the chance to see their favorite players tee off for the last time.

At 1:50 p.m., just before the final two groups were set to begin play, dark ominous clouds began rolling over the mountains, bringing with them bursts of cool rain.

With the first flashes of thunder and rumblings of lightning officials and volunteers began ordering spectators to seek shelter. As neon signs along the course walkways flashed a warning message, clusters of disappointed fans began to leave the green. Players and caddies were brought off the course and forced to wait in the locker rooms.

With each clap of thunder or flash of lightning, officials were forced to call an additional 45-minute delay.

Of the fans that chose to stay, some headed for the canopy-covered stands, while others donned ponchos and huddled under umbrellas.

The drizzle didn't bother Terry and Marlene Hammerick, who where attending the tournament as part of their 45th wedding anniversary celebration. 

"I'm glad that this weather came," said Terry as he held an umbrella for his wife. "They'll postpone it until tomorrow and we'll be able to walk down from the resort and get to see another day."

Terry had attended the Classic twice before, but it was Marlene's first time.

"Really, we're just killing time," she said. "Normally, we'd love this weather but not today."

The Deal family, who sought shelter under a nearby tree, said they were willing to wait out the storm for as long as it took.

"We'll be out here until they tell us that we have to go home," said Todd Deal as he crouched under the tree's branches in an effort to stay dry.

His wife Melody Deal agreed. She said it would take more than a little rain to make them head inside.

At 4:40 p.m., just as things were beginning to look hopeless, officials announced that although it was still sprinkling, the danger had cleared and play would soon resume.

After 5 p.m., an air horn signaling the restart of play sounded from across the green as cheers and applause erupted from those loyal fans still crouched under their umbrellas.

"I'm just delighted that they're going to play on," said Will Gandy who had ridden out the storm by browsing through the offerings in the merchandise tent.

"I think that the rain sent a lot of folks home, but the people who stayed, they're the real fans."

William Lane, who stood near the 17th hole sipping a beer as play resumed, said that although the delay was tedious, he hadn't really minded.

"If it rains, it rains," he said pulling the brim of his hat down to shield his eyes from the light mist. "I'm going to be out here either way, no matter what the weather is."

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