PGA Tour cancels Greenbrier Classic after West Virginia flooding

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

The PGA Tour has canceled the Greenbrier Classic due to the flooding in West Virginia that has caused extensive damage to The Old White TPC course.

A severe storm hit southeast West Virginia on Thursday, and 15 of the reported 23 deaths statewide occurred in Greenbrier County. Early reports indicate that about 9 inches of rain damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes and knocked out power to tens of thousands of others, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said.

"We are heartbroken by the devastation that the residents of West Virginia are experiencing at this time and the reports of lives lost due to the terrible flooding," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. "Cancelling the The Greenbrier Classic is certainly the most prudent course of action as our foremost concern is the well-being of those who are having to live through this tragic situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with them."

The Greenbrier Classic was scheduled for July 7-10 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Tour officials said the course is "beyond reasonable repair."

More than 150 players had committed to playing the Greenbrier, which was set to follow the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational. The PGA Tour is at Congressional this weekend for Tiger Woods' Quicken Loans National.

According to the PGA Tour, the last time one of its events was canceled was in 2009, when heavy rains resulted in unplayable conditions at the Sanderson Farms Championship.Unplayable conditions also led to the cancellation of the 1996 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Bubba Watson, who was visiting the Greenbrier Resort, posted pictures of the damage Friday on Twitter. The Greenbrier also tweeted out pre- and post-flood pictures of the first tee.

The Greenbrier was supposed to be the final chance to qualify for the Open Championship at Royal Troon on July 14-17, with one spot available to the highest finisher who was not already eligible. Andy Pazder, the tour's chief of operations, said the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, which runs the Open Championship, was deciding what to do with that spot.

One possibility is to award it to the Barracuda Championship, to be played next week opposite the WGC-Bridgestone.

At the Greenbrier, owner Jim Justice said the focus is on helping the people of West Virginia.

"So many have lost loved ones, their homes, and have no place to go," Justice said. "All of us are united with only one common goal: to help the people through this terrible time."

Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill on Friday described his county, one of the hardest hit, as being in "complete chaos."

"Roads destroyed, bridges out, homes burned down, washed off foundations," he said. "Multiple sections of highway just missing. Pavement just peeled off like a banana. I've never seen anything like that."

The Greenbrier Resort is closed to guests until further notice.

The Greenbrier Classic began in 2010. The PGA Tour is committed to holding the event through 2021.

"We know we will have the opportunity to return again next year, and we look forward to that time," Finchem said. "But for now, that is of secondary concern. The priority is safety of the residents and their recovery from this disaster."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.