By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
There’s something about playing on The Old White TPC in the morning that agrees with Gary Woodland.
Starting the third round of The Greenbrier Classic at 1-under-par, thus among the first 10 to tee off, Woodland made one of the day’s biggest charges. His 6-under 64 on Saturday left him at 7-under for the tournament.
Woodland, tournament leader Johnson Wagner and second-place Jimmy Walker all shot 64, the low round of the day.
“It was nice to get off early,” said Woodland, who teed off just after 8 a.m. with Nick Watney. “The greens were perfect this morning, so fortunately I hit it well and gave myself some chances.”
Woodland, a Topeka, Kan., native who played golf for the Jayhawks from 2005-07, nearly turned in a bogey-free round. He birdied hole Nos. 1, 5, 9 and 15, then eagled the 616-yard par-5 17th to join a crowd at 8-under.
But he gave one of those strokes back when he two-putted the 162-yard par-3 18th to finish a good day that could even have been slightly better.
“It was a tough number,” Woodland said of the final hole. “I was in between clubs and I tried to hit one hard and it kind of spun on me. I just hit a bad putt.”
The Old White TPC has been good to Woodland before. He did miss the cut in 2010, the Classic’s first year as a PGA TOUR event, and again last year. But in 2011, he finished tied for fourth at 9-under.
Earlier that year, Woodland posted his only TOUR win at the Transitions Championship. He finished in the top 30 at all four Majors that year, including a tie for 12th at the PGA Championship.
His top-five finish at the Classic vaulted him to a career-high 36th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
“The golf course suits me well,” said Woodland, who always marks his ball with a 1984 half dollar — the year he was born. “I’m playing well. Hopefully I’m within striking distance and I’ll get a low (score today).”
Woodland said his short game has “really kept me in it this week, especially when I’ve missed some shots.
“I had some good up-and-downs today. I chipped in once, so all in all I’m feeling pretty good.”
He’ll have his work cut out for him in today’s final round. There are 12 golfers ahead of Woodland, including Wagner, a former Virginia Tech Hokie who appeared to be as comfortable as anyone in shooting a 6-under of his own to get to 14-under for the tournament.
But after the round Woodland turned in Saturday, he is far from conceding.
“I played great (overall), so hopefully I’m not too far back going into (today) and make a run,” he said.
— E-mail: gfauber@