WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - Pat Carter is no stranger to the Old White TPC course at the Greenbrier. The 13-time West Virginia Amateur champion figures he's played it about 20 times since it was lengthened in 2010, and dozens of times before that renovation.
But there's a difference in how the course normally plays and how it will play this week at the Greenbrier Classic.
"We don't play the length we just played it today," Carter said. "We just tipped out on every single hole on the golf course."
It's not the length of the holes that makes things tough for a golfer like Carter - accurate at shorter distances, but not as long of a hitter as others. It's the length of the tee shot.
"I don't expect to compete with the way these guys hit the ball," he said. "Ultimately, at the end, you've just got to add up your score. I know that my short game has to be primo and I have to make a few birdies. If I do that, I can shoot somewhere close to par."
Carter plans on a conservative approach when he tees off Thursday at 9 a.m. with Scott Gardiner and Paul Haley II. Going on the attack, he said, would send his ball sailing to places he'd rather they not. But conservative is fine with him.
"I've always played a conservative game and if I get wedges or short irons in my hands, I'll hit it at the flags," he said. "Everything else will be hitting away from trouble."
Even though this will be Carter's first experience on the Old White during the Greenbrier Classic, the Huntington native gets plenty of requests for pointers from other golfers, no surprise considering his overall experience at the Greenbrier.
"I'd be a good caddie," Carter said. "There's no doubt about that."
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THE GREENBRIER CLASSIC has featured a pair of first-time PGA Tour winners, with Scott Stallings victorious in 2011 and Ted Potter Jr. winning last year. What it hasn't had is a major championship winner standing in first place after the final hole. Stuart Appleby won the inaugural Classic in 2010, and his best major finish is a tie for second in the 2002 British Open.
There's more of a chance of that happening this year than any other in the Classic's short history. Thirteen former major winners holding a total of 27 major championships are in this year's field. Greenbrier owner and Classic chairman Jim Justice said it's been nice for two golfers to notch their first career Tour wins, but major winner taking the crown would be great, too.
"I mean, we've had great champions ... and great storylines from the standpoint of young men on their way, starting," Justice said. "If one of those superstars, one of the real, true champions that have been out there through countless licks and everything, have earned their stripes to win or be in the running coming down the stretch, that would be great."
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