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The leaderboard for the tournament in White Sulpher Springs, W.Va., is littered with pros who really need to win.
Johnson Wagner hits out of the trap on the 17th hole during the second round of the Greenbrier Classic PGA tour golf tournament at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Friday. The former Hokie is tied for second, one shot behind leader Matt Every.
Matt Every watches his tee shot on the ninth hole during the second round of the Greenbrier Classic PGA tour golf tournament at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Friday. Every shot a 62 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend.
Matt Every watches his birdie putt roll past the hole on the eighth green in Friday’s second round of the Greenbrier Classic. Every shot a 62 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend.
Bubba Watson twirls his club after his tee shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the Greenbrier Classic PGA golf tournament in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Friday. Watson carded rounds of 68 and 69 and is six strokes behind leader Matt Every.
Steven Bowditch watches his tee shot on the third hole during the second round of the Greenbrier Classic PGA golf tournament in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Friday. Steven Bowditch watches his tee shot on the third hole in Friday’s second round. Bowditch is tied for second.
Friday, July 5, 2013
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — At the halfway point, the 2013 Greenbrier Classic looks like a refuge for the wayward and those recently missing in action.
A horde of lesser-known players who have been struggling to make cuts and are desperately attempting solidify their spot on the PGA Tour own the top 10 spots on a tightly packed leaderboard through 36 holes.
“It’s crunch time,” said Johnson Wagner, who is among five players tied for second behind leader Matt Every. “We’ve got to make these [FedEx] playoffs.
“Fortunately, I’m exempt next year due to my win at the Sony Open [in 2012]. But I still want to finish in that top 125 and have a chance to win the FedEx Cup. So I’m sure a bunch of guys up there are kind of in the same position I am, really needing to have some good weeks to extend our years.”
On a more difficult scoring day than Thursday’s opening round, Every fired a career-low 8-under-par 62 — the best number of the day by three shots — to surge into the lead at 9-under 131.
“It’s coming down to the end of the year, a lot of guys are trying to get inside the FedEx or the top 125 on the money list to keep their job next year, so it’s a big week for a lot of people,” Every said.
“For myself, I mean, every week is a big week out here. If you play good it can change your life.”
Every, a 29-year-old Floridian who has missed the cut in four of his past five events, is looking for his first victory in three full seasons on tour. The former three-time All-American at Florida has finished second twice, both times in 2012 when he won nearly $2 million.
He player like a winner Friday, making eight birdies without a bogey in stringing nines of 30-32.
“Finally made some putts,” he said. “I haven’t made anything all year and it just finally happened [Friday]. Been waiting for it.
“That said, could have been really low. I missed four putts inside of 12 feet.”
Wagner, the co-leader with Tommy Gainey after a first-round 62, couldn’t make much happen in an even-par 70. The former Virginia Tech standout is tied with rookie Russell Henley, who won in Hawaii in January in his third start on tour, plus three guys still looking for their first tour victory — Daniel Summerhays, Bill Lunde and Steven Bowditch.
Gainey birdied two of his first five holes to get to 10 under for the tournament, but let it go with three bogeys on his inward nine to shoot 71. He joins veteran Ben Curtis, Greg Owen and Jonas Blitz at 133, two shots back. Wagner’s ex-Tech teammate Brendon de Jonge shot 68 and is tied with fast-rising rookie Jordan Spieth and four others at 134.
The biggest name in the 156-player field? He’s already home. Phil Mickelson shot 68 but missed the cut for the third straight year is this event. That’s the first time that has happened in the 41-time tour winner’s career.
As is often the case, Wagner had a tough time backing up his 62.
“Didn’t drive it as well, just a little short with all the putts, a little nervous out there, so understandable,” said Wagner, a three-time tour winner. “I’m happy to be close to the lead. It would have been nice to shoot another 62 and separate a little bit, but that’s what [today] is for.
“I’m excited about my position. I haven’t made a [paycheck] in seven tournaments, much less been in contention. It’s really fun when you know what you’re doing.”
Suddenly resurgent after a “three-day golf boot camp” with his old coach, Bob Hines of Old Oaks Country Club in Westchester, N.Y., Wagner appears to be comfortable and in a good place amid a bunch of Hokie followers. He’s smiling and chuckling at his miscues, such as when he bladed a bunker shot on No. 17.
“I lose $50 to my caddie every time I blade a bunker shot,” Wagner said. “I owe him actually $100 but he let me off because [the ball] stayed where I could putt it.
“My whole goal for the week was to laugh off mistakes. I’ve been getting frustrated lately, I’ve broken two clubs this year during tournaments, which is probably more than my entire career.”
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