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PGA Tour coming to West Virginia

August 05, 2009

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) -- The PGA Tour is returning to the once-elite Greenbrier for the first time in 15 years, officials said Wednesday, just months after the resort's new owner promised to bring back a major tournament.

Owner Jim Justice made that pledge in May, and his wish came full-circle with the announcement from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem that The Greenbrier will hold a tournament over the next six years.

It marks the first large-scale event at The Greenbrier since the U.S. women beat Europe in the 1994 Solheim Cup.

The move was part of Justice's strategy to restore the shine to a resort and 721-room hotel that once hosted presidents and royalty. The Greenbrier lost its coveted five-star rating in 2000.

"It's an opportunity really and truly to introduce the world to our Norman Rockwell painting here," Justice said, noting the resort's scenic setting in the mountains of West Virginia.

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Under Justice, change has come at one speed -- fast.

Since buying the resort out of bankruptcy for $20.1 million, Justice announced a casino will be built at the site of a once-secret underground bunker built during the Cold War to house members of Congress.

Last month, he tapped good friend and NBA great Jerry West, who will lend his name and memorabilia for a steakhouse near the casino.

Now, golf. The inaugural Greenbrier Classic will be held from July 29 to Aug. 1, 2010, replacing the Buick Open on the Fed-Ex Cup schedule next year. The Greenbrier is the title sponsor, and Justice said the tournament will have a $6 million purse.

Dates at The Greenbrier after 2010 haven't been determined, Finchem said.

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