5 Things: Wagner back in lead at Greenbrier
Saturday, July 6, 2013
The last time Johnson Wagner won a PGA Tour event he had a mustache.
More than a year-and-a-half after his victory at the Sony Open, the mustache is gone – yet Wagner is in position to snap his winless streak.
After a third-round, 6-under 64 on Saturday at The Old White TPC, Wagner is 14 under and leads Jimmy Walker by two shots.
Jonas Blixt is another two shots back at 10 under, while Jordan Spieth is part of a group at 9 under. Second-round leader Matt Every and Daniel Summerhays shot 4 over and 3 over, respectively, to fall out of the top 25.
Here are 5 Things to Know from Saturday's third-round action in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.:
• • •
1. NO MUSTACHE, NO PROBLEM: Johnson Wagner's last victory came at last year's Sony Open.
That was more than a year and a half ago, and much has changed since then for Wagner.
He has finished in the top 10 just once since he began the 2012 season with three straight top-10 finishes, including a victory at the Sony Open. Making matters worse, Wagner entered the Greenbrier Classic having missed the cut or withdrawn in his last seven Tour starts.
He's also made some changes to his game. Two weeks ago after a missed cut at the Travelers Championship, he worked on getting more on top of the ball and tightening up his starting lines.
Most noticeably, however, Wagner is missing the signature mustache that grabbed people's attention last year during his victory in Hawaii.
Wagner said he shaved the facial hair last Friday as an anniversary gift to his wife.
"She hated it so much," he said.
The mustache might be gone, but Wagner's game has returned. He shot an 8-under 62 Friday, couldn't gain ground with a second-round 70 and then retook the lead with Saturday's 64.
"The way it's been going lately I'm just happy to be in the 60s," Wagner said.
Wagner said the thing that has really clicked for him this week is the ability to hit pull-cuts. "I'm actually able to shape the ball left to right a little, which is nice," Wagner said.
Now just one round stands between Wagner and a fourth PGA Tour victory. After his round, Wagner cited some advice he received from Gary Koch at last year's Deustche Bank Championship.
"When you're playing good, you never think you're going to play bad again; and when you're playing bad, you never think you're going to play good again," Wagner said. "Both statements are false and luckily I'm having a nice week this week."
After a long stretch of playing bad, it's safe to say Wagner is finally playing good again.
• • •
2. IN REVERSE: Matt Every and Daniel Summerhays were the last two players to tee off Saturday. Every had a one-shot lead while Summerhays was in a five-way tie for second.
But by the time both players wrapped up their third round, they found themselves nine shots back of leader Johnson Wagner. Every carded a 4-over 74 and made two double bogeys while Summerhays shot 73.
Every has finished inside the top 25 just twice this season and has missed the cut in half of his 20 starts, including three straight entering the week. Summerhays has just one top-10 finish in 2013 and has missed nine cuts in 18 starts.
• • •
3. TURNING THE CORNER: Gary Woodland's game is starting to turn around.
Woodland, who shot 6-under 64 Saturday to move to 7 under, is searching for his fourth top-20 finish in his last five starts on Tour. In 15 starts prior to that, he had managed just one such finish. He hasn't won since he won his first Tour event at the 2011 Transitions Championship, battling a left-hand injury and making some swing changes during that time.
"It was as frustrating probably as I've ever been in my career," Woodland said, "and then it's satisfying right now because I'm starting to play good and we're starting to see more and more results."
He added, "This game's tough enough when you're healthy let alone when you're battling injuries for that long. You add the swing changes and that in there, it was a tough year and a half, but we've turned the corner and we're working upwards now."
Woodland has missed two cuts at the Greenbrier, but did finish T-4 at the event in 2011. He made five birdies and an eagle Saturday and despite a bogey at No. 18, he recorded his lowest score at The Old White TPC.
After making the cut on the number at 1 under Friday, Woodland stands seven shots off the lead entering Sunday's final round.
"The golf course suits me well (and) I'm playing well," Woodland said. "So hopefully I'm within striking distance and I'll get a low one tomorrow."
• • •
4. SICK STALLINGS: Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. But it had an adverse effect on Scott Stallings on Saturday.
"Right in the middle of eating breakfast, I don't know if I ate something funny or this and that, but I felt fine when I woke up," Stallings said. "After breakfast I kind of got on the range and started feeling kind of funny. It's starting to go away, so hopefully it will pass and I'll be ready for (Sunday)."
The 2011 Greenbrier champion, Stallings battled through the stomach illness to shoot a second straight 3-under 67. At 6 under, he's still eight shots back of the lead, but all things considered, Saturday's performance left Stallings pleased – even if his morning meal didn't sit well.
Stallings has missed 10 cuts in 19 Tour starts this season, but he had a stretch of three finishes of T-4 or better before finishing T-53 at the U.S. Open and missing the cut at the AT&T National.
• • •
5. SHORT SHOTS: Jordan Spieth continues to put himself in position to notch his first PGA Tour victory. Spieth shot 3-under 67 for the third straight day to move to 9 under, five shots back of Johnson Wagner. . . . After hurting his right wrist hitting out of a bunker on Friday, Nick Watney shot a 5-under 65 Saturday to move to 6 under. Looks like the wrist is just fine. . . . Last week's winner at the AT&T National, Bill Haas, fired a third-round 67 and enters Sunday at 8 under. "This week I've tried to do a good job of staying in the moment and telling myself that last week you did it, you never know what will happen," Haas said. . . . Of the 36 rounds carded by the top 12 on the leaderboard this week, more than half (23) have been 67 or better.
Information from PGA Tour was used in this report.