By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Scott Stallings couldn't believe his eyes.
The rookie, who had just tied for 22nd at the RBC Canadian Open, was on the charter plane from Vancouver that landed at Greenbrier Valley Airport at about 4 o'clock on Monday morning. The sun was still about two hours from rising over the West Virginia hills but even so, about 30 people were on hand to greet the players who had come to play in The Greenbrier Classic.
"It's one of those things like, man, they definitely care about the players and they want 'em to have a good experience and they want 'em to come back," said Stallings, who has also enjoyed the nightly concerts and other amenities at the resort. "I have no complaints whatsoever. I've had an absolute blast, and I can't wait to come back."
Of course, Stallings would like nothing better than to come back as the defending champion -- and the 26-year-old who lives in Knoxville has given himself that chance after Saturday's bogey-free round of 66. Stallings, who trails Anthony Kim by one stroke, will play in the final group on Sunday for the first time in his career.
"I played within myself," Stallings said. "I guess I did all the
things that you're suppose to do: I kept the ball play; I kept the
ball below the hole; I hit it to the fat part of the greens when I
didn't have a good angle, even though I really didn't want to.
"Hats off to my caddie. He did an unbelievable job as far as just keeping me patient. You see all the low scores and, definitely when I had opportunities to make birdies, he did a great job as far as kind of pulling me back a little and making me play a little smarter. It was really good day."
Stallings was in the hunt earlier this year at the Transitions Championship. He finished a career-best solo third there -- three strokes behind the champion, Gary Woodland, and two behind Webb Simpson, his playing partner in the penultimate group in that final round. Ironically, Woodland and Simpson will be playing a group ahead of Stallings on Sunday
"So it's kind of funny to see all those names on the leaderboard," Stallings said. "Kind of eerily similar to Tampa with all the names that were up there."
Stallings said the final round of the Transitions Championship was a learning experience. Simpson grabbed the lead early, and Stallings felt like he got caught up in chasing him. On Sunday, he hopes to play within himself and let things happen.
"That's all stuff that takes care of itself," Stallings said. "I
mean, you could play really good and not win. In Tampa I felt like
I played great and I didn't win. Gary and Webb both played
awesome and I felt like I got beat.
"At the end of the day, you just do as you possibly can. If it's good enough, that's awesome. But I was telling the guys outside, as a little kid watching the PGA TOUR and stuff like that, I mean, I was that guy that Sundays, that's all I did.
“To have an opportunity to play out here with the best players in the world is a dream come true every single day. It's my rookie year. I am kind of three-fourths of the way through, and I'm sitting there and just kind of pinching myself every single day to have the opportunity to play out here. I love it."