The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

July 7, 2013

Johnson Wagner leads a tight group of top contenders

Former Virginia Tech golfer is 14-under-par

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Several favorable pin positions and some sunny weather led to some good rounds Saturday at The Greenbrier Classic, but it did little to break up a field grouped tighter than billiard balls before the break.

Former Virginia Tech golfer Johnson Wagner continued his strong play, shooting a 64 to match the low round of the day and hold the outright lead at 14-under-par for the tournament entering today’s final round.

Jimmy Walker, though, wouldn’t let Wagner get too much breathing room. He used a run of four birdies in five holes to card a bogey-free round of 64. He’s two strokes back at 12-under.

“I like the golf course; I’ve always liked it,” said Walker, who already has two top 10 finishes at The Greenbrier Classic. “The first time we came here, we really enjoyed it, just the whole atmosphere. Everybody’s so nice, and everybody’s so accommodating. The hotel is amazing, and I just really enjoyed being here and the golf course really seems to fit my eye.

“I like the tee shots. I like the second shots, and I feel comfortable. So when you feel comfortable at places, you tend to play well.”

Fifteen others sit within seven strokes of the lead, including Jonas Blixt, alone in third at 10-under, and a group of three at 9-under that includes rising star Jordan Spieth, who’s done everything but win on the PGA TOUR.

“I felt a lot better out there today, really felt calm the whole day,” said the 19-year-old, who’s still just a temporary member on the PGA TOUR. “I think (Sunday) I should be in the last three groups. I think I’ll have a good idea of what’s going on around me, and I think I’ll handle it a little better. If I don’t win, it doesn’t really do much for me, because I have to win to be in the (FedEx Cup) playoffs. I’m just going out there free swinging, and that’s a great place to be, I think.”

Matt Jones — who began Saturday’s round with a birdie to run his streak to seven straight, after six straight birdies to end the second round on Friday — is also at 9-under. He was in danger of missing the cut before Friday’s spectacular run.

“The rules officials have done a great job setting up the course and making it playable, especially with the conditions we’ve had,” said Jones, who admitted he didn’t even realize how special the run he had Friday was, thinking it was five birdies instead of six. “It will be interesting to see what they do (Sunday). The greens are definitely firming up with the sun out there, and they’re not sticking as much as they were.”

Last week’s winner, Bill Haas, is well within striking distance at 8-under, part of a group of six golfers at that number, while defending Greenbrier Classic champion Ted Potter Jr. is at 6-under after a 69 Saturday.

Bubba Watson, the most recognizable name left in the field, is 10 strokes back at 4-under.

Not everybody took advantage of the favorable conditions. Matt Every held the lead after Friday’s round at 9-under but got off to an awful start Saturday, carding bogeys on four of his first seven holes. He started to recover with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, but double bogeys on 13 and 14 ruined his chances of taking a place among the leaders. He’ll enter today’s round at 5-under for the tournament.

Eighty-one players took the course Saturday, but 10 were cut after the third round. D.J. Trahan, Scott Brown, Dicky Pride, Allstair Presnell, Neal Lancaster, Fabian Gomez, Gary Christian, Ben Crane, Erik Compton and Brad Adamonis will not be around for the final 18 holes.

Wagner, though, was in no danger of an early exit. The Charlotte, N.C., native continued to please the maroon and white-clad Hokie fans who lined the fairways just 75 miles from the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va. Wagner’s round included seven birdies, with the only blemish a bogey on the par-4 seventh hole.

Six of those birdies came within the first 11 holes, and after a run of five straight pars, he birdied the par-3 18th to take some confidence into the final 18 holes.

“It was a very good round,” said Wagner, a three-time PGA TOUR winner, who hadn’t made a cut in his last seven starts. “I felt comfortable starting out. I got rolling with a birdie early, and they just kept dropping. So the bogey on 7 didn’t bother me.

“I had a bunch of good looks on the back nine. I made one nice par putt on 13, but other than that, it was a fairly stress-free round.”

The final round will begin today with tee times at 8:30 a.m. The final pairing of Wagner and Walker will tee off at 2 p.m.

“That’s the reason we all play golf, to have a chance to win on Sunday,” said Wagner, who hopes to be a part of the awards ceremony scheduled for approximately 6 p.m. on the 18th green. “And there’s no better place to do that than from the final group with the lead.”

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • rock VIdeo: Experts dislodge precariously perched remnant of a rockslide

    A highly-trained crew in climbing gear hoisted chainsaws and other specialized equipment high above the road in Hinton Tuesday morning to remove a boulder that hung precariously above a busy intersection.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Preliminary hearing set for Bluefield ‘warlock’

    A Bluefield man who police say used a promise of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him remains incarcerated at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver on multiple sexual assault and sexual abuse charges.

    April 23, 2014

  • New River Gorge fire still burning

    Firefighters are still trying to control the fire at Fern Creek along the Endless Wall area of the New River Gorge, according to a press release from the National Park Service on Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • fff Experts help growing entrepreneurs

    John Yates wants to grow potatoes to supply Monroe County schools.
    He’s got a business plan, he can get the equipment and 3 tons of seed potatoes. The land for lease in Sweet Springs is farther from his Ballard home than he’d like, but with a little help, the active duty Army staff sergeant and his sister Rebecca are ready to begin.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rahall calls meeting on W.Va.’s drug problem

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says he has arranged a roundtable discussion with federal and West Virginia officials on the state’s prescription drug abuse and trafficking problems.

    April 23, 2014

  • Arch Coal reports wider 1Q loss

    Arch Coal Inc. said Tuesday that its first-quarter loss widened as weaker prices and demand cut into its margins, prompting the mine operator to shave its outlook for shipments of coal used in making steel.

    April 22, 2014

  • Former Concord University police officer sentenced on sex charge involving juvenile

    A former Concord University police officer was sentenced Tuesday to a term of 10 to 20 years in prison on a single count of sexual abuse by a parent or custodian.

    April 22, 2014

  • Bly6bH3CYAA6Xdl.jpg-large.jpeg UPDATE: Ill. crew helps fight New River Gorge fire

    An Illinois-based firefighting crew has joined the effort to contain a wildfire in the New River Gorge National River.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thunderstorms, showers heading our way

    Today’s forecast lurches us a little further toward real spring weather, with scattered showers and thunderstorms possible after 2 p.m.

    April 22, 2014

  • State spring gobbler season to open next week

    The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources says spring gobbler season will open Monday and run through May 24.

    April 22, 2014