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Greenbrier Classic: Watson addition adds to strong field for event

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bubba Watson joined an exclusive group last season when he emerged from a sudden-death playoff to win the Masters.

As he slipped on that famous green jacket at Augusta National, he had reached the echelon of major champions.

When Watson tees off at the Greenbrier Classic in the first week of July, he'll join a growing group of former major winners who will try to tame the Old White TPC.

The Classic announced Watson's commitment to playing in this year's even earlier this week.

As of Wednesday, nine former major winners holding a total of 22 individual major titles were in the 2013 Classic field. Along with Watson are eight-time major champion Tom Watson, four-time major champion Phil Mickelson, three-time winner Vijay Singh, two-time winner John Daly and four players holding one major title each - Ben Curtis, Lucas Glover, Justin Leonard and Webb Simpson.

Tournament Director Monte Ortel said he believes this will be the strongest field yet as the Classic enters its fourth edition. He said that the Greenbrier Classic is working hard to make the tournament a must-see, must-play event every year.

"We are a young event," Ortel said. "What we're doing is building a tradition here where it's a must-attend event, and that doesn't happen overnight. That's what we're trying to strive for, is trying to build a great base of players year in, year out."

Among those major winners not in the 2013 Greenbrier Classic field is Tiger Woods. The owner of 14 major titles and part of the 2012 Classic lineup, Woods said on his website Wednesday that doctors found a strain in his left elbow and advised him to take a few weeks off to heal.

He's targeting the British Open on July 18-21 at Muirfield for his return.

Bubba Watson's Masters win, his fourth career Tour championship and first major, came on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Louis Oosthuizen. The 34-year-old Windermere, Fla., resident finished 2012 with seven top-10 finishes in 19 starts and a career-best $4,644,997 in earnings.

Watson had a rougher time of it at this year's Masters, finishing tied for 50th shooting 6-over for the weekend.

He tied for 32nd at the U.S. Open last weekend at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., shooting 13-over in tough conditions. He was 19th in the latest World Golf Rankings.

"We're extremely excited," Ortel said of Watson's commitment. "Having Bubba attend the event is good all around. He likes what he's heard about the property and the family atmosphere the Greenbrier represents. It enhances the already good player field we already have."

The deadline for entering this year's Classic is 5 p.m. Friday, June 28. Now that the U.S. Open has concluded, Ortel said fans should see more golfers of the caliber of Watson, Mickelson and Glover throw their hats into the Greenbrier ring.

"During a major, it's like everything gets put on pause," he said. "This week during the Travelers and next week during the AT&T National, you'll start to see notable names filling up that list. You'll see more of that over the next nine days."

The Classic will be held July 1-7 on the Old White TPC at the Greenbrier Resort. Tickets to the concerts, three practice rounds and pro-ams and four competition rounds are available for $159. Benefactor, Alumni and Clubhouse badges also are available. For more information and to buy badges, go to www.greenbrierclassic.com.


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