August 21, 2017
Henrik Stenson kept making birdies on the back nine Sunday at the Wyndham Championship. They added up to a tournament record - and his first victory of the year.
Stenson closed with a 6-under 64 for a one-stroke victory in the final event of the PGA Tour regular season.
The 2013 FedEx Cup champion finished at 22-under 258 at Sedgefield Country Club, breaking the course's 72-hole record set by Carl Pettersson in 2008 and matched last year by Si Woo Kim.
The Swede earned $1,044,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points for his sixth win on tour and his first since the 2016 British Open.
''It's certainly a good time to start firing,'' Stenson said. ''We know the kind of damage you can do in the playoffs. ... If you get hot and keep on playing well, you have a chance to challenge.''
Stenson said he left his driver in his locker all week - ''he's a little anxious to get out there and start getting some air time next week,'' he quipped of the club - and certainly didn't need it on the par-70 Sedgefield course.
For the second straight day, he had four birdies in a five-hole stretch of the back nine.
Ollie Schniederjans shot a 64 to finish second. Webb Simpson was 18 under after a 67.''
''I had to keep on making birdies,'' Stenson said, ''because Ollie was surely not backing down.
Stenson had three consecutive birdies on Nos. 15-17 - leaving a 20-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole about a foot short - after he and Schniederjans were both at 19 under.
Stenson's 30-foot birdie putt on No. 17 moved him to 22 under.
He needed it, because Schniederjans kept the pressure on him. The 24-year-old former Georgia Tech player made a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 17 and added another birdie on the par-4 18th hole after placing his second shot 2 feet from the pin.
''I thought I had a two-shot cushion ... and as I walked over (to the 18th hole and) looked around, 'Oh, OK, (Schniederjans) birdied it as well,'' Stenson said. ''So I better scramble a par here to get the win.''
With Schniederjans watching the television broadcast and hoping for a tie, Stenson rolled a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 18 off the right edge of the cup, then made a 3-footer to end it.
''When I stuffed it (on No. 18), I thought that's probably going to be a playoff,'' Schniederjans said. ''And he birdied 17 and got par on 18. Hat's off to him - he had a great finish, too. Just one short.''
Low scores and tight leaderboards once again were the norm at Sedgefield. With seven holes left for the final pairing, four players - Stenson, Schniederjans, Ryan Armour and Kevin Na - shared the lead at 18 under.
''It was anyone's tournament on the back nine,'' Stenson said.
Stenson moved to 19 under with a birdie on the 13th and Schniederjans joined him with a remarkable recovery for birdie on the 15th. His second shot careened off a canopy covering the gallery and landed in a greenside bunker, but he chipped to 2 feet of the flagstick and converted the putt.
The other subplot at Sedgefield was the push by the bubble players to qualify for the playoffs that start next week at The Northern Trust for the top 125 on the points list.
Geoff Ogilvy, who was at No. 125, finished at 11 under and earned enough points to move to No. 116.
And Martin Flores, who started at No. 139, jumped to No. 118 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2014 after a 63 highlighted by a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th. J.J. Henry, Harold Varner III and Rory Sabbatini also played their way into the top 125.
''I was very aware of where I was all day but I knew that I needed to be somewhere inside the top 10, have to,'' Flores said. ''So I was able to get off to a great start and I was able to just keep it going all day.''
August 20, 2017
Henrik Stenson kept his cool when some birdie chances turned into pars. That patience paid off late in his round.
Stenson shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Wyndham Championship.
The 2013 FedEx Cup champion and 2016 British Open winner was at 16-under 194 at Sedgefield with a round left in the PGA Tour's last regular-season event of the season.
The Swede had four birdies on a five-hole stretch of the back nine to overtake Webb Simpson for sole possession of first place.
''It's all about how you finish, I guess,'' Stenson said. ''I came back strongly, great birdies coming home and right where we want to be.''
Simpson, Kevin Na and Ollie Schniederjans were tied for second. Na shot a 65, Schniederjans had a 66 and Simpson - a North Carolina native who won on this course in 2011 - had a 68. Johnson Wagner was 14 under after a 65.
''Any time you're within two or three of the lead, you know you've got a good chance,'' Simpson said. ''And for more guys on tour, it's not every week that you have a chance to win. Hopefully, I'm going to take advantage of it and come out and play a good, solid day.''
Stenson was at even par through his first 12 holes.
Then came the birdie binge he capped by sticking his second shot on the par-4 17th some 10 feet from the hole and converting that putt.
He could have ended his round with another one, but pulled his 15-foot birdie putt wide right and settled for par.
Still, his 72-hole score is second-best in tournament play at Sedgefield, surpassed only by Carl Pettersson's 191 in 2008.
''Obviously, what I've done so far is working pretty well, and I'm playing the course the way I think it's best for me,'' Stenson said. ''And I just trying to keep on hitting a lot of fairways, and if you do that, you can set up a lot of birdie chances with mid to short irons.''
Simpson - a local favorite who grew up in Raleigh, played in college at nearby Wake Forest and named his third child Wyndham after his first victory on tour came here - shared the 54-hole lead with Ryan Armour at 13 under.
Simpson birdied his first hole, then reeled off 11 consecutive pars before briefly taking sole possession of the lead with birdies on the 13th and 15th holes. He sank a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 13 and two holes later, he settled for birdie after missing a 35-foot eagle putt on No. 15.
Simpson could have caught Stenson on the 18th, but he pulled a 15-foot birdie putt left.
Winless on tour since October 2013, Simpson admitted his drought is ''on my mind a little bit,'' adding that he's ''very hungry to win again, very hungry to compete week in and week out.''
Schniederjans - a 24-year-old, third-year pro from Georgia Tech - is chasing his first victory on tour and his fifth top-10 finish of the year.
After shooting a 63 on Friday and starting his round two strokes off the lead, he became the first to 16 under with his birdie on the par-5 15th, hitting his second shot into the primary rough but recovering by chipping to 10 feet and converting the putt.
Then came trouble on the next hole. His tee shot on the par-3 16th landed in a low greenside bunker, and he stuck his chip into the rough just above the sand on his way to a bogey that dropped him back a stroke.
Na - who hasn't won on tour since 2011 - joined Stenson in making a big move on the back nine. He had birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 17, landing his second shot inside of 10 feet.
''It's been a while since I won,'' he said, ''so I think I'm ready.''
August 19, 2017
Ryan Armour shot a career-best 9-under 61 on Friday for a share of the lead with Webb Simpson after two rounds at the Wyndham Championship.
Armour and Simpson were at 13-under 127 halfway through the PGA Tour's final event of the regular season. Simpson shot a 64.
Henrik Stenson was a stroke behind them after a 66. Ollie Schniederjans and Vaughn Taylor and were 11. Schniederjans shot 63, Taylor had a 66.
First-round leader Matt Every followed his 61 with a 72 to slip six strokes off the lead.
The field at Sedgefield Country Club is once again full of players trying to force their way off the bubble and qualify for the postseason. The top 125 players on the points list earn berths at The Northern Trust next week in New York.
At No. 187 on the list, Armour isn't even close to the bubble.
''Could turn your life around,'' Armour said. ''I had some goals at the beginning of the week. I knew where I stood and, you know, right now the goals are attainable.''
The 41-year-old who has yet to win on tour and has bounced between the big tour and the Web.com Tour throughout his 14-year professional career, had nine birdies - five on his first nine holes, then four in a row on Nos. 5-8 - to quickly climb the leaderboard.
His round was two strokes better than his previous best of 63 nine years ago in Milwaukee.
Simpson, a North Carolina native who won here in 2011 and named his third child Wyndham, put himself in position to contend for his first victory since 2014.
He had four birdies on the first six holes of his back nine, pulling even with Armour at 13 under after his birdie on the par-5 15th.
''Keep making birdies, stay aggressive and know that there's plenty of good golfers behind me,'' Simpson said. ''I got to keep the hammer down.''
Stenson, who started on the back nine, offset his lone bogey of the round - he missed a 15-foot par putt on the par-4 18th - with three birdies during the four-hole span between Nos. 4-7.
''The game plan is there,'' he said. ''I got the set-up in the bag to give me those numbers off the tee that we need and it's just about going out there and playing, continue making birdies and giving myself birdie chances. It's a low scoring golf course ... keep it going.''
Among bubble players, No. 125 Geoff Ogilvy played his way to the weekend late in his round.
He had birdies on five of his final six holes to move to 4 under for the tournament - good enough to help him beat the cut line of 3 under.
And No. 141 Johnson Wagner had the shot of the tournament so far, with an albatross on the par-5 fifth, using a 5-iron to hole out his 215-yard second shot from the right fairway. It was the first double-eagle at the tournament since Fabian Gomez had one on No. 15 in 2011.
''I had a bunch of family that's up by the green and they started going bananas,'' Wagner said. ''Pretty clear it had gone in.''
Wagner shot a 64 to move to 9 under.
Some others weren't so fortunate: No. 126 Daniel Summerhays was at even par while No. 126 Cameron Tringale was 1 under.
August 18, 2017
Matt Every matched the Wyndham Championship's first-round record with a 9-under 61 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead.
Every tied the opening-round mark set in 2010 by Arjun Atwal, who went on to win the PGA Tour's final tournament before the postseason.
Henrik Stenson opened with a 62. Former Wyndham winner Webb Simpson was at 63 along with Cameron Smith, Vaughn Taylor, Tim Wilkinson, Harold Varner III, Brian Campbell and Sam Saunders.
Davis Love III - the 53-year-old player who has won this tournament three times, most recently in 2015 - matched Martin Flores and Rick Lamb with a 64.
For Every, a 33-year-old with two career victories on tour, this was a much-needed strong start to what he hopes is a long week.
''I played good, and have been playing good for a while,'' Every said. ''So it's just nice to see it come together.''
Every arrived at par-70 Sedgefield Country Club in a tie for 183rd on the FedEx Cup points list. The top 125 qualify for The Northern Trust next week in New York.
His best finish this season was a tie for 14th at the Canadian Open, and he had a string of seven consecutive tournaments from April-June in which he either withdrew or missed the cut. Both of his victories came at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in 2014 and '15.
''I have a high regard for my talent. Like, I know I'm as talented as anyone out here - maybe like five guys are more talented than me - so I couldn't let myself quit,'' Every said. ''There were a lot of low points, though. That's life. Just everything that I've been through, I've brought on myself. So I don't need any sympathy or anything. It's just the way my path has gone so far in the last couple years.''
After the best round of his career, he sure looks like a safe bet to reach the weekend at Sedgefield.
Every started his round with an eagle on the par-4 first, holing out a 105-yard shot from the left fairway that bounced three times and rolled in. He birdied three straight holes from Nos. 3-5, then added another on No. 7 and three more on the back nine.
He had a chance at the overall course record of 60 with a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18, but missed it and tapped in a 5-inch putt for par.
Stenson, the 2016 British Open champion and FedEx Cup winner in 2013, had eight birdies in his bogey-free round and could have had another one but missed a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 15.
Simpson, the North Carolina native and former Wake Forest player who won this tournament in 2011, started his round on the back nine and had five birdies and an eagle on his first nine holes. Bogeys on the 418-yard first hole and the 428-yard fourth hole left him two strokes behind Every.
Varner had five birdies on his front nine, and after a bogey on the 10th hole, he reeled off three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15 - and celebrated by dabbing. The former East Carolina player began the tournament at No. 138 on the points list.
|T10||USA||Davis Love III||-14||-||64||66||67||69||266|
|T10||USA||Harold Varner III||-14||-||63||68||66||69||266|
|T16||USA||J. J. Henry||-11||-||66||70||66||67||269|
|T16||USA||J. J. Spaun||-11||-||71||66||69||63||269|
|T28||KOR||K. J. Choi||-9||-||68||67||70||66||271|
|T28||RSA||Tyrone van Aswegen||-9||-||71||66||65||69||271|
|T50||USA||J. T. Poston||-6||-||67||69||67||71||274|
|63||TPE||Cheng Tsung Pan||-4||-||67||70||69||70||276|
|T69||USA||D. A. Points||-2||-||69||66||73||70||278|
|MDF||USA||Davis Love IV||-1||-||67||67||75||-||209|
|CUT||USA||Billy Hurley III||-2||-||70||68||-||-||138|
|CUT||ZIM||Brendon de Jonge||Par||-||70||70||-||-||140|