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PGA Golf

Holes-in-one during first day of Greenbrier Classic nets patrons $192,400

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Not only was it likely an enjoyable Thursday watching some of professional golf’s best players patrol the grounds of The Old White TPC during the first round of the Greenbrier Classic. It was extremely profitable … at least for some.

The PGA Tour’s stop in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., features one of the coolest fan promotions in all of sport: Cold hard cash is handed out to any patron seated around the green of the 175-yard, par-3 18th for each ace on the final hole, up to the first three holes-in-one of the tournament.

The policy goes as follows: For the first hole-in-one, patrons with a ticket who station themselves around the 18th green receives $100 cash. For the second hole-in-one? That’s $500. And a third nets those lucky fans a whopping $1,000. Greenbrier resort owner Jim Justice does the honors of doling out the dough.

On Thursday, there were two aces. George McNeill had the first hole-in-one of the day, netting spectators $18,900.

“A lot of new friends on 18,” a laughing McNeill, who carded a 3-under 67, said afterward, via ESPN Senior Golf Writer Jason Sobel. “They were all thanking me as I walked off.”

And when Justin Thomas carded an ace later in the day, the fans in the bleachers went bonkers … which makes a lot of sense, given his pitching wedge prowess prompted Justice to hand out a whopping $173,500.

“I guess there aren’t too many places that can get into the position to do what Mr. Justice is doing,” Thomas, who also carded a 3-under 67 like his fellow hole-in-one hero, said. “It’s really cool that he does that. It just gives everyone more reason to come here and watch.”

Patrons became downright greedy after Thomas’ ace, chanting “Hole-in-one! Hole-in-one!” each and every time a golfer approached the tee box. It makes sense, though. As noted above, another ace would have meant another cool grand for each spectator surrounding the 18th green.

But all is not lost. Given the profitable promotion runs throughout the duration of the tournament — or at least until the third hole-in-one is recorded — there is always tomorrow. And Saturday. And Sunday. It pays to show up early and stake one’s spot on the finishing hole, that’s for sure.