Greenbrier Classic: Wagner takes two-stroke lead into final round
Johnson Wagner got it going on Saturday on the 7,287-yard Old White TPC, and even when he didn't, the former Virginia Tech golfer made up for it.
Wagner sandwiched his second bogey of the Greenbrier Classic with seven birdies, finishing with one on No. 18, to move to 14-under par and take the lead entering the final round of the fourth annual Classic.
Three birdies in the first six holes were followed by a bogey on No. 7. However, he birdied three of the next four holes to hold a two-stroke head on Jimmy Walker, whose 6-under 64 moved him into second place. Jonas Blixt had a third consecutive 67 or better round and is the only other player at least 10 under through 54 holes.
Wagner's birdie on No. 9 helped him string together 11 consecutive holes of par or better.
"It was a little bit of a right-to-left breaker, I think I pulled it a little bit," Wagner said. "It hung in straight and caught the left edge and went in. I was excited that putt went in because I was in a nasty divot in the fairway and I always love making birdies out of a divot. It's like a challenge I have of making with myself not to get upset that I ball went into a divot."
Wagner was also happy to get the stroke back that he lost on No. 7.
"I hit a really nice shot into 8 and left it short," he said. "I was disappointed I didn't bounce back immediately with a birdie. It was nice to recover from that one bogey going into the back nine."
Walker had a bogey-free round, extending his consecutive holes of par or better to 19 - including three straight birdies (No. 12, No. 13, No. 14) and a 5-under back nine.
The Oklahoma City native was ill, but had a 31 on the final nine holes.
"I was a little under the weather starting yesterday and today but kind of battled through it," he said. "I hit some good shots coming in, had some good looks and some good putts."
There are three players tied for fourth at 9-under with 19-year-old Jordan Spieth, Steven Bowditch and Matt Jones.
The next six spots are six strokes back with Pat Perez, Bill Haas, Rory Sabbatini, D.H. Lee, Tag Ridings and Tommy Gainey.
Second-round leader Matt Every struggled mightily on Saturday, with back-to-back double bogeys on No. 13 and No. 14, and bogeys on No. 1, No. 2, No. 6, and No. 7. He had a bogey-free round on Friday, but shot a 4-over 74.
Among the players to miss the second cut - the field is cut to the low 70 scores and ties again after Saturday - was Monday qualifier Brad Adamonis and Ben Crane. Crane shot a 4-under 66 in the first round and a 70 on Friday. However, on Saturday he had seven bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.
Ryan Palmer, whose caddie this week is New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton, is tied for 62nd at 1-under par. Scott Stallings, the winner in 2011, is tied for 16th with 10 others, including 2012 winner Ted Potter Jr.
Bubba Watson is tied for 41st at 4-under and Tom Watson, the Greenbrier's Pro Emeritus, is at 1-under par, making the second cut by two strokes.
The tournament concludes today with the final group - Wagner and Walker - teeing off at 2 p.m.
The first group - William McGirt and Jim Herman - tee off at 8:30 a.m.
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Gary Woodland likes the Old White TPC, and although he has two missed cuts in four years, the former Washburn University basketball player and University of Kansas golfer appears to be playing the best golf of his career.
Woodland had an eagle on No. 17 and, although his only bogey came on the last hole of the day, shot a 6-under 64 Saturday to move into contention for the title at the fourth annual Greenbrier Classic.
It was early and the leaders weren't set to tee off until after 1 p.m., but Woodland benefited from smooth greens with few bumps and cleat marks.
"It was nice to get off early," said Woodland, who has three top 20 finishes and one withdrawal in his last four tournaments. "The greens were perfect. Fortunately, I hit it well and gave myself some chances."
He followed his eagle with a bogey on the final hole in which he came up short of the green and failed to get up and down.
"It was a tough number, I was in between clubs and I tried to hit one hard and it spun on me," Woodland said. "I hit a bad putt. I'm playing good."
Woodland's 2011 appearance at the Greenbrier Classic resulted in a tie for fourth, four months after his first PGA Tour victory. He had 21 cuts in 25 events that season, with 15 top 25 finishes.
"I missed by a shot then too," said Woodland, speaking of the 2011 Classic. "The golf course suits me well. I'm playing well. Hopefully I'm within striking distance and hopefully I can get a low one tomorrow."