5 Things: With 59 on his mind, Wagner shoots 62
PHOTOS: Greenbrier Classic, Round 1
From John Daly's patriotic pants to Phil Mickelson's first round at Greenbrier, a look at Day 1 in West Virginia.
Fireworks almost happened a bit early at The Old White TPC on Thursday during the first round of the Greenbrier Classic. Johnson Wagner, who was 8 under through 12 holes on Thursday, wanted to put a 59 on the board early, instead settled for 8-under 62. Tommy Gainey shot the same score, and went bogey-free for the first time this year.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
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1. WAGNER'S HOT START: Johnson Wagner had 59 in his sights Thursday at The Old White TPC. But despite being 8 under through 12 holes on the par-70 layout, Wagner couldn't manage better than a 62.
Wagner birdied five holes on his front nine, including three straight at Nos. 3-5. He then birdied the par-4 11th before an eagle at the par-5 12th. A stretch of six pars to close his round, though, ended Wagner's chances at the sixth 59 in PGA Tour history.
"(The thought of shooting 59) crept in there at the turn and I kind of put it out of my mind, but when I made that eagle on (No.) 13 I definitely was thinking 59 the rest of the way," Wagner said. (I) hit a lot of good shots coming in (and) hit a lot of good putts. I think I wanted them a little too badly and they just didn't drop."
The last 59 on Tour came at the 2010 Greenbrier, when Stuart Appleby shot 28-31 in the final round to win the tournament.
Wagner has missed 11 cuts in 18 PGA Tour starts this season and hasn't played a weekend on Tour since finishing T-18 at the RBC Heritage in April.
"I've been struggling pretty bad and after missing the cut in Hartford (at the Travelers Championship) by 30 shots or something I went and had a little boot camp with my coach and really got into a good position," said Wagner, who worked on getting more on top of the golf ball and tightening up his starting lines.
Wagner is searching for his fourth PGA Tour victory, but first since last year's Sony Open. An opening-round 62 is a good start to ending his winless drought, even if it's not quite what Wagner had in mind through 12 holes Thursday.
"It's nice to be disappointed with 62," Wagner said, "as opposed to disappointed with 76 like I have been lately."
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2. ZERO BOGEYS FOR TWO GLOVES: Like Johnson Wagner, Tommy Gainey hasn't had the best of seasons so far in 2013.
Gainey entered the Greenbrier Classic having missed 13 cuts in 22 events with just one top-10. He also hadn't recorded a bogey-free round this season, either.
That was before Thursday, though. Gainey made eight birdies and no bogeys to shoot 8-under 62 and grab a share of the first-round lead with Johnson Wagner.
"No bogeys for me," said Gainey, who hasn't won on Tour since last year's McGladrey Classic. "Anytime I can make eight birdies and have a bogey-free round, I'm definitely happy with it."
Gainey was 4 under at the turn, but he birdied Nos. 10-11 to complete a stretch of four straight birdies, and then birdied Nos. 16-17 to finish strong. More importantly for Gainey, though, is he only missed one fairway after adding a new driver, the Callaway FT OptiForce, to his bag.
"When I can hit the driver that many times and miss one fairway, I'm going to be tough to beat; tough to handle," Gainey said.
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3. ROUGH FINISH: Phil Mickelson is making his first start since his devastating runner-up finish – for the sixth time – at the U.S. Open at Merion. Mickelson finished the day at The Greenbrier Classic with a 4-over 74.
His scorecard was colorful on Thursday. On Nos. 6-12, he made four birdies and three bogeys after making a bogey on the par-4 second. He was even through 12. Mickelson made pars on Nos. 13-16, but after going into the water on the par-5 17 th, he made a triple bogey to derail his round from a decent score. He then made another bogey at the par-3 finishing hole. He is 12 shots back of the lead.
Mickelson has only seen Old White TPC a couple of times in his career, but never on the weekend.
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4. PICKING UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF: The top-six players from last week’s AT&T National at Congressional are continuing their strong play this week at the Greenbrier Classic. Bill Haas, last week’s winner, finished his first round at The Old White TPC with a 2-under 68. Haas picked up his first win since the 2012 Northern Trust Open.
Roberto Castro shot an even-par 70. The Georgia Tech graduate had his best finish on the PGA Tour last week with a runner-up finish to Haas.
Jason Kokrak and D.H. Lee both tied for third last week and both fired 4-under 66s on Thursday. Kokrak also had his best finish on tour at the AT&T National. Lee, who struggled mightily on June 29 with a 75 and flipped off the crowd, finished with a strong 7-under 64 on Sunday.
19-year-old Jordan Spieth couldn’t get his first victory last week, but he surpassed the $1 million dollar mark in earnings over his first six months on Tour. Spieth finished in sixth place, and backed up his tournament finish with a 3-under 67 during the first-round.
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5. SHORT SHOTS:Nick Watney, who shot 2-over 72 Thursday, entered this week having missed three cuts in four starts since he recorded three straight finishes of T-15 or better. He finished T-61 in his last start, at the AT&T National, and hasn't broken 70 since shooting 67 in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship, 15 rounds ago. . . . A week after withdrawing from the AT&T National due to a hip injury, Davis Love III opened the Greenbrier with a 3-under 67 . . . . California junior Michael Kim finished his first round with an even-par 70 which consisted of three birdies and three bogeys. . Kim won the 2013 Haskins Award. By winning the award, the amateur earned an exemption into the tournament this week.