5 Things: Slocum, Langley share Wyndham lead

Heath Slocum shares the 36-hole lead at the Wyndham Championship with Scott Langley.
Heath Slocum shares the 36-hole lead at the Wyndham Championship with Scott Langley. ( Associated Press )

Friday, August 15, 2014

GREENSBORO, N.C.–– Heath Slocum and Scott Langley have each opened the Wyndham Championship with consecutive 65s and share the lead at 10-under 130 through two rounds at Sedgefield Country Club.

They finished Friday one stroke ahead of the foursome of Nick Watney, Martin Laird, Brian Stuard and rookie Anthony Svoboda, and two up on eight more players, including 2008 champion Carl Pettersson, Freddie Jacobson, Bo Van Pelt, Camilo Villegas and Ryo Ishikawa.

Here are 5 Things you need to know from Friday's second-round action:

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1. SLOCUM FINDS MOMENTUM: Heath Slocum, 40, a four-time PGA Tour winner, arrived here ranked 158th in FedEx Cup points and likely needing a third-place finish or better to get into next week’s playoffs. Out of nowhere, he’s on track.

Slocum has missed the cut in half of his 22 previous Tour starts this season and hasn’t finished better than 30th since January. That was a continuation of the last two seasons, when he dropped to 142nd and 206th in earnings. It was to the point someone asked him Friday if he was hurt last year.

“I wish I could say yes, but, no, I wasn’t,” Slocum said after making seven birdies Friday, including four consecutive on Nos. 13-16. “Kind of played that way.”

Slocum came here seeking momentum but realistically thinking about going to the Web.com Tour Finals. On Friday, he missed only two fairways, left 13 of his 18 approach shots under the hole and putted well for the second day in a row.

Why the sudden turnaround?

“Maybe I just finally have let go and that’s been one of the biggest things,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just getting out of my own way, just stop trying to do too much. That’s been a big part of the last few years where I haven’t played as well.

“I’ll get out of my own way, then I’ll continue to try different things or try to find the secret or the magic when sometimes you just have to take a step back and just go have fun with it. Go play.”

Slocum has played well before when faced with an 11th-hour uphill climb. He entered the 2009 playoffs ranked No. 124, but then won the first event, The Barclays.

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2. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Martin Laird entered August in a frustrating slump. He hadn’t finished better than 20th all season and was far down the lists for money and FedEx Cup points.

This was something new, for the three-time Tour winner had finished between 23rd and 65th in earnings in each of the past five seasons.

But then he tied for sixth two weeks ago at the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nev., and is one shot back here at the halfway point. He entered this week needing a projected 11th-place finish or better to crack the top 125 and make the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Laird, at 9 under despite two three-putt bogeys Friday, said he’s focused on winning here, not on getting into the playoffs. “I don’t think anything good comes out of looking backward to see what I have to do,” he said.

Laird, who likes to fade the ball, was missing too many shots left this year. He credits his improved play this month to a return to his former swing coach, Mark McCann, about five weeks ago. He said his swing felt better in one day and made him wonder what made him change in the first place.

“I’m excited to be playing good golf again,” the Scot said. “This year has not been much fun on the golf course. Every day I’ve come home from the golf course I’m in a bad mood and frustrated. I forgot how much fun golf can be when you go for a spell like that, for 6-7 months where you’re playing bad. It’s fun to be out there and feel like you can go for shots. It’s been a long time since I really felt like that.”

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3. THE CAMILO QUOTE: The quote of the day might have come from Camilo Villegas after he posted 63-69. The interesting Q&A went like this:

  • Question: “Seven under yesterday. What do you take from today, the good or the bad, that you can build on on the weekend?”
  • Answer: “It’s funny, (I) shoot 7 under yesterday and I shoot 1 under today, and they ask me what good or bad I take out of it with the emphasis on the bad. I’m fine. The golf course is not easy. Seven under out here was pretty good yesterday. One under out here today wasn’t bad. I’ll take that and keep going.”

As if he has a choice.

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4. LANGLEY CLOSES BIRDIE-BIRDIE: Scott Langley shot 65 because he hit a lot of shots close and finished birdie-birdie. It helped that he made a positive putting grip change earlier in the week.

“I had a bunch of looks inside 15 feet and anytime you can do that, I’m confident I’m going to make my share,” said the second-year Tour player, 81st in points.

Langley hit all but two greens in regulation.

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5. SHORT SHOTS: Bill Haas, alumnus of nearby Wake Forest, was two strokes off the lead until he got a bad break and double-bogeyed the last hole. His drive to the right hit a spectator’s foot and bounced out of bounds; Haas ended up making an 8-footer for double. “It was a horrible shot,” he said of the shoved tee shot. “I hit some horrible shots on the back nine and it caught up with me.” ... Rookie Andrew Svoboda was tied for the lead but bogeyed his last hole. ... John Daly again wore SpongeBob SquarePants pants in the second round. But he won’t stand out on the weekend, for he shot 69-71 and missed the cut by two shots. ... Watney is looking for only his second top-10 finish of the season. He tied for eighth at the Barracuda two weeks ago. ... Defending champion Patrick Reed is tied for 61st at 71-67. ... Brandt Snedeker keeps trending upward. He’s tied for 16th at 68-65. He had just 16 rounds in the 60s in his first 19 starts this season but has 12 such rounds in his last four starts, including the Wyndham.