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Concert aside: Will CCG become John Daly and Friends?

by Ogi Overman

If 2005 is to be the swan song of the Jaycees-run Chrysler Classic of Greensboro, the volunteer group is bound and determined to go out with a bang rather than a whimper. Before they turn operational control over to a PGA-mandated group of Greensboro movers and shakers, aka the Greensboro Jaycees Foundation, the group of future leaders is putting more spin on the tourney than Jesper Parnevik coming out of a sand trap with the pin placed four feet from the near edge of the green.

And, in truth, despite the uncertainty surrounding the 67-year-old showcase and the fact that only two of the top 10 money-winners ‘— Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott, at six and seven on the list, respectively ‘— will be in the field, there are a Cleveland bag full of positives.

For starters, top-10 status is not necessarily a measure of marquee value, and the 132-player field is peppered with household names. Given the choice of having one top-10 pro, other than Tiger, most tour organizers would likely pick Sergio. And he is only one of several who are guaranteed to draw a crowd. Leading the pack of contenders are such luminaries as John Daly, Davis Love III, Justin Rose, Rocco Mediate, Bernhard Langer, Joey Sindelar, Robert Gamez, Ben Curtis, Jeff Maggert, Tom Lehman, Trevor Dodds, John Huston, Jason Gore, Jesper Parnevik, Jay Haas, Lee Janzen, Mark O’Meara, Corey Pavin, Billy Andrade and defending champion Brent Geiberger.

Not exactly chopped liver, eh?

If the PGA is intent on treating the CCG as the redheaded stepchild of the tour, they can’t blame it on the purse, the course or the crowds. The tourney offers a total purse of a whopping $5 million, ranking it among the top five events in the US; the Davis Love-redesigned layout at Forest Oaks met with near-unanimous approval from the pros last year and has never been in better shape; and the crowds have consistently showed up, even when the field hasn’t.

Then, as any promoter knows, it’s often what goes on around the event, rather than the event itself, that determines success or failure. And this year the CCG promises some ancillary activities that will rival anything in years past. In fact, one event is unique ‘— a concert featuring a wildly popular PGA pro and two nationally known recording artists. After Wednesday’s Pro-Am, long-hitting John Daly will be joined by two of his musical pals, Edwin McCain and Johnny Lee (‘“Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places’”) onstage at Arizona Pete’s for an event billed as ‘“A Night with John Daly and Friends.’” Cover charge at the spacious, popular Gate City nightclub, located at the corner of Holden Road and Patterson Street, will be $30 and includes two good-any-day tickets to the Chrysler Classic. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. And, yes, word has it that Daly is quite an accomplished guitar slinger and has a mean set of pipes.

The first round of the tournament proper has been dubbed ‘Thirsty Thursday’ (hey, if they’re gonna call you the Pop Top Open, you might as will live up to it). Draft beer will be half-price all day, which is sure to create a buzz (ouch!) outside the ropes, and following the round fans will be treated to a concert by Greensboro’s own pop stars, Walrus and Evan Olson.

Also, the 19th Hole, between the Forest Oaks Clubhouse and the 9th green, will be available for all tourney patrons. It features high-speed internet access, digital phone service (cell phones are not allowed on the course) in a sports bar atmosphere replete with food, beverages, comfortable seating and numerous TVs.

For tickets call 379-1570 and for additional info go online to www.chryslerclassic.org.

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