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July 26, 2011

Jim Justice


JIM JUSTICE: I hope everybody's enjoying themselves, and if you're not, then you need to get with me, because we'll have a good time, I promise you that. I'll open it up and let you ask whatever you choose.

Q. Last year on 18, the hole-in-one -- is that going on again this year?
JIM JUSTICE: We really ran into a little SNAFU on that. Probably not. But we may very well bring that back to life, at least on Saturday or Sunday. But right now, you know, we just couldn't get it together, because we went through one of the insurance companies that insured the whole thing last year. Cost $1 million to insure but we just couldn't get it worked out this year.
There's a lot of hole-in-ones being made and I was rooting for them to be made like rainfall last year, but we couldn't get it all put together.

Q. What's the player's reaction to the course changes thus far?
JIM JUSTICE: You know, I'm sure you're asking a lot of them, but everything I'm hearing is phenomenal. You know, yesterday, John Daly is walking along and look the at fairways and he's saying, "I don't know that I've ever played on a place that had fairways like this." And he said, "This looks like Augusta." And the greens, everybody says the greens are putting great, they are absolutely firmer.
The fairways, you know, you are not going to get any roll-out in the rough at all. The biggest thing, mark this down, the biggest determining factor of the higher score is going to be the rough. The lushness of the rough, even though we are going to keep it at 3, maybe 3 1/2, the lushness of the rough is absolutely tough. It's tough. Especially if you're flying it out of the rough hitting a firm green, it makes it even more tough. But the greens are going to roll at about 11 and a half, it may be 12 by Sunday, and you know, it's ready to go. It's really ready to go.
I had another discussion this morning, and this is just so preliminary, it's unbelievable, but Andy Pazder and I, we asked as far as where they stand with the 2017 Presidents Cup, and they have not done any work on it thus far, but I continue to put ourselves in front of them, and they really, really like what we have done with the course.
You know, only other thing I can tell you, John Daly on the No. 2 tee, No. 2 last year was just a drive and sand wedge for a lot of them. You know, he hits it pretty good, and he's walking up to it there and he says, man, I'm telling you -- so Stuart Appleby on 12, he told me, he said, well, you'll never see another 59 out here. And he said, "I really believe that low teen," and his playing partner, I forget the pro, he said, "If somebody gets to 10-under, we are going to be in contention."
You don't really know. Because we want them to make birdies. If somebody gets hot, who knows, may shoot 22-under again. But I can tell you, this course is much, much, much tougher. I played a lot of rounds here as an amateur, as a Junior Amateur, and I go out there now, and gosh, I'm not that old. Jiminy Christmas, this is tough for me. So anyway. Anyway. It's going to be fun.

Q. Can you talk about your relationship with Tom Watson and what it means for him to be playing this year?
JIM JUSTICE: Tom is a super-class guy. We all know that. And Tom goes back along long ways. When he played in The Ryder Cup here, Tom was having his first child, he and his wife, and of all things, you know, this is really bizarre, because we had an airplane, but we had a co-ownership with another company. Now, it's not a fancy plane, it's a propeller plain, and in some way, Tom met my dad here and it was an emergency to get Tom back to Kansas City with his wife, and Dad flew him back to Kansas City.
And Tom, I never really met Tom. Tom didn't know me from Adam. But I played a junior tournament a long time ago with Tom and thought I played the round of my life and if my memory is right, I thought I shot 71 and played unbelievable, and this little freckle-faced, chunky little thing with me, shoots 66, and I'm absolutely certain that it was Tom, and you know, I know it was.
But he surely wouldn't remember me. But he called and said, "You know, your dad flew me back to Kansas City when I was having my first child and we really got to know one another." And from that, we hit it off.
To me it means volumes for Tom to be here. It is really terrific. You know, this event -- this is home to Tom in some ways, and you know, it would not surprise me, and I'm not going to make any ironclad prediction but don't be surprised, he can win, he knows this course better than anybody knows this course. And who knows what will happen. But I'm telling you, Tom Watson can win this thing. But I can also tell you this, as soon as he won the Senior PGA, I called Tom and I said, listen, Tom, if there's any part of you that wants to go to the U.S. Seniors, you go, because I would surely understand.
And Tom Watson, he was that quick, no hesitation, that quick, he said, "I've already made my decision. I've told you we are going to be at the Greenbrier Classic. We'll be there." That was it. You get players all the time changing they are game for what they think is best, and Tom Watson told us he would be here and that was the end of that. I offered, and I surely did, and I will continue, if he wanted to go today, I would tell him to go.

Q. Has it been easier to put everything together, this being the second year of the event?
JIM JUSTICE: Let me pass the proper accolades to the proper people. There are so many people that make this happen. Now, I'm on it and I work it every day, and I'm not like an absentee owner that just checks in. I mean, I am involved. But there are so many people that really, really make this happen, and they do an incredible job.
Now, I'm sure for them, the learning curve, surely benefitted last year, but I'm going to tell you this it, you know, if you think about last year's event, with the exception of the traffic on Saturday night at the Carrie Underwood deal, and what happens there, so many people showed up that didn't have a badge, that thought they could just come right in without a badge; with that exception, the people that ran the tournament for us, I mean, the people that are out there in the trenches every day, I don't see how they could have done any better last year.
So you know, I'm telling you, they make me look so much better than I am every day. They really do.

Q. Your comment on Phil Mickelson playing here, as well as the Black Eyed Peas, two pretty big time names.
JIM JUSTICE: Well, we wouldn't have it any other way. But the Black Eyed Peas were a lot, lot tougher than Phil. We worked a long, long time with the Black Eyed Peas.
Phil, the whole thing, Phil, I guess his right-hand guy, his name is Steve Lloyd, and he said, "You know your attraction to us is one thing, and one thing alone, but it's three things."
You know my dad said, you know how you build a road, son? You build a road with three things, that's drainage, drainage, drainage. Well, Phil's agent, right-hand guy said, "The reason we come, and the reason we are coming is three things. Family, family, family." And that's it. And that's just it.
And they said, "We have heard so much about this tournament and the Greenbrier and all of the stuff there is to do for kids and everything else, we are coming." And so that was the end of story. That worked out great.

Q. Talk about the importance of youth day and what that means to the tournament?
JIM JUSTICE: Well, I told the people at the first tee this morning, you know, every time I visit my grandparents on my mom's side, they never had indoor plumbing. My dad grew up a single child in a little company-owned house -- think about where I am. You talk about the American dream; well, I'm it. And it all started with a lot of values at home, and I can never be more thankful to to my parents.
But we are a family of workers. In my life, my dad, you know, he would have looked right at me and said, son, if you can't get it done in 24 hours, you'll have to work at night. But I can also tell you that I was introduced to the game of golf as a nine- or 10-year-old. And my dad was really addicted and loved golf and started playing golf probably when he was 35, and my grandfather started playing when he was probably 60. And of all things, my grandfather, he was 88 years old, and the day before he died, he played golf, and the day that he died, he was going to play golf that afternoon. Sat down in a chair and said, I'm going to take a little nap and then I'm going to play and never woke up.
Now, you know, what a phenomenal way to go. But in all of that, just think about this, as a ten--year-old, you start playing a game that's just -- honor and respect and the value of what we are supposed to be celebrating, this game and this sport all about. We all know, you know, you round third and you don't touch the bag and you slide home and the umpire calls you safe, and you celebrate. Or you dribble the ball and step out the bounds and nobody sees it, you celebrate. And in this game, when you round third and you don't touch the bag? What do you do? You stop the game. You call yourself out. And that's the difference.
And really and truly, if you are trying to measure my value of Youth Day, this game, and for crying out loud, I drive in that front gate and I look around all the time and I say to myself, gosh, I own this place. And just think about that. And so in this game, I owe so much to it. So as involved as I am and as much as I think about this game and what it has instilled in values in me and what it has helped me to get to where I am in my life, this day is terrific. Sorry for the long answer.

Q. I guess you had a little input with the threesome of Appleby, Mickelson and Tom?
JIM JUSTICE: I think so. But I think that's changing. You know, the last I heard was Mickelson, Watson and Anthony Kim. Anyway, I think it would be great. But that's somebody else's choice if Tom and Phil and Stuart, Stuart's standpoint of winning it last year; to me, if I would pick a threesome, that's who I would pick.

Q. Just watching the clubhouse earlier, you were signing more autographs than the players out there, how do you take your celebrity status?
JIM JUSTICE: I'm rock star, guys. (Laughing). Good Lord, it's ridiculous, totally ridiculous.
I mean, why do they want my autograph? I mean, really and truly, be real. I love people. And you know, you can walk the halls of the Greenbrier or walk into my of my businesses. The young lady that was just here a second ago was one of my ex-basketball players just last year. I really do put my heart and soul in everything that I do, and I love people, and I appreciate people. And they will fight an absolute gorilla for me.
And they will, because they know that I'll fight for them. And you know, I tell people all the time, it's so simple, it's just so simple. It's really hard for people to do. But I tell people all the time, that how it works is the president or the coach has got to care for you. That's pretty much given. In a lot of businesses, the owner doesn't give a hoot about the employees, but the coach has got to care for the players. And then the players have to really genuinely have to buy into caring back, because the coach needs them.
And then what the coach has got to do is make it mandatory that the players care for one another. If you apply that same concept in business and everything else, you can have the most successful businesses in the world. And I'm very proud that I'm able to pull that off and have that done. That's why when you go out there, and I go out there, everybody comes from everywhere, because they do care about me, and they know I'm passionate about them.
It's so important, I've got to say this, I just told a group of our politicians from our state, to come and get in the golf cart with me and ride around. What you'll see is this, and this is the very driver of the whole tournament to me, and that is: If you drive around out there, you have thousands of people that will come up to you that have actually been West Virginians their entire life and they will they have felt maybe a little back seated or maybe even a little beat down. And they come up to me and they say, thank you so much for making us feel good.
I'm telling you, you can't do anything better than this. I want the world to see just how great that we are, West Virginians, and the beauty of this state and I want more than anything for our people to feel just a little bit more proud of themselves.

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