SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- Leader Briny Baird just teed off here in the final round of the Frys.com Open, where he’s trying to win for the first time in his career -- or 347 starts.
Twice before Baird has held the lead after 54 holes with the last coming at the 2004 Children’s Miracle Network Classic, where he went on to finish in a tie for second after a final-round 70.
His other lead was that the 2003 Buick Classic, where he tumbled to a tie for 30th after a final-round 77.
A win would obviously mean a lot to Baird for a number of reasons. But so would a strong finish even if he shouldn’t win. In 17 starts this season Baird is No. 148 on the money list. Last year he finished No. 127.
As for the Frys.com Open, he missed his last two cuts here but did tie for 14th in 2007 when the event was played in Arizona.
Entering last weeks Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Kevin Na trailed Baird and Brett Quigley for most career money earned without a victory on the PGA TOUR. With Na’s win Brian Davis moves to third on the list.
SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- At 137th on the money list coming into the week, Garrett Willis needs to play well if he wants to climb into the top 125 and secure his PGA TOUR card for next season. That’s exactly what he did Thursday with a 4-under 67 to share the lead with Brenden Steele, Briny Baird ad Matt Bettencourt at the Frys.com Open.
The performance by Willis, and the others, was impressive given not only the circumstances but the weather.
“I didn't like it one bit,” Willis said of what was a cold, wet day with at times heavy rain. “The way that rain was coming down, it was pretty amazing they continued play, but I was just keeping my fingers crossed and hoping it would either stop or they'd call play. It was about as tough of conditions I've ever played in.”
He barely showed it, making just one bogey on the day.
For Willis, it’s the second week in a row he’s opened strong. Last week he carded a 65 in the first round in Las Vegas before finishing in a tie for 34th.
But it’s only the first round and Willis is trying not to get ahead of himself and what a win could mean for him.
“I won't think about that,” he said. “I mean obviously if I'm in this position come Saturday night, I'll think about it, but like I said, this is a tough golf course. I'm glad I got this round under my belt, and like I said, I'm still grinding away trying to make the cut. I'm not even thinking about winning golf tournaments. I'm thinking about being able to play on Saturday morning.”
Briny Baird's bid to get his PGA TOUR card back could ride on
what he does Sunday. Every shot he hits is going to count ... and
he's off to a good start.
Baird went out in 30 and hit 12 under, putting him into a tie for seventh as he tries to regain the PGA TOUR card he lost after the 2010 season. Whatever score he ends up with probably won't help him finish in the top 10 -- the leaders still haven't teed off -- but every bit counts.
Baird has made just $171,080 this year and he sits just 185th in FedExCup points. If Baird can somehow get into the top 125 in FedExCup points, he chances of getting his TOUR card back become much greater.
Baird is in the field for next week's Viking Classic, and he has a shot at playing in each of the next four weeks.
John Deere Classic scorecard
FedExCup standings: Live projected points
Roland Thatcher is eight holes away from winning his first career PGA TOUR title. After a slow start, Thatcher is 2 under on his round and is alone atop the leaderboard – for now – at 20 under. One shot back, though, is Robert Garrigus, while Johnson Wagner and Spencer Levine are each three back. Rickie Fowler is four back.
Should Thatcher win, he would obviously lock up a card for the next two years. If he comes in solo second, though, that would also be enough to land him a spot in the top 125 on the money list.
Speaking of that top 125, Wagner is now projected to climb to 125th should the leaderboard remain the same the rest of the way. Briny Baird? He’s now projected at 127th (Mark Wilson is actually projected at 126th, but thanks to his win in Mexico last season, he’s safe for another year). -- Brian Wacker
For Briny Baird, Friday was a very enjoyable round of golf – with "not too much to worry about," he said.
Guess not when you make birdie on five of your first seven holes. Baird, who is searching for his first win in his 11th year on TOUR, went on to shoot a 65 that left him at 8 under and two strokes off the lead.
"I actually got off to a really good start," said Baird, whose birdie putts came from 2, 22, 13, 3 and 14 feet. "Made some putts, hit some good shots, and then I think it finally caught up with me. I wasn't playing or scoring particularly well, so to get in with 5 under, I was pleased."
Baird didn't want to say that the Old White Course played easy in the second round, but it basically did. The greens are soft so well-played iron shots are rewarded, and the wind was essentially non-existent in the early going.
"You get a golf course like this with benign conditions like that, there's gonna be some low scores," Baird said simply.
Like so many of the rest of the PGA TOUR pros, Baird has been impressed with the crowd support. Fans have come out in abundance even during the practice rounds, and the weekend is sure to bring even bigger galleries.
"I'm not surprised that the resort is nice; everybody told me how great the resort was," Baird said. "I'm a little surprised with the amount of people out here. It's awesome.
"I think it shows how hungry West Virginia was for a tournament." – Helen Ross
Looks like Boo Weekley has found his way around The Greenbrier – at least the Old White Course.
In a pre-tournament interview, Weekley was talking about how big this resort nestled in the Allegheny Mountains was.
“I might have to get my compass out to find my way back to the golf course and where I’m staying up there,” he said. “I come out of my motel room and I done got lost three times. I had to call my agent. How in the hell do I get where I’m going. He says, just try to get downstairs. I’m like, well, where is the elevator at.
“This place is big. I’m hoping that when I come out I’ll be able to play the game the way I know how to play. Hopefully, I can get jump-started because this would be a great place to get jump-started at.
“I feel like I could fit in here, minus the White House up the hill there.”
Weekley’s doing fine in all regards. He started on the back nine Friday and played his first 11 holes without a bogey – making the turn in 32 and rolling in a 4-footer for birdie at No. 2 to tie for the lead at 8 under. Weekley shares the lead right now with Scott Piercy and Briny Baird. – Helen Ross
Scott Piercy now has some company at the top of the leaderboard on a sun-kissed day when players are once again going low.
Piercy hit his approach well right at the 11th hole and was unable to save par. So now he’s tied with Richard S. Johnson, Boo Weekley, Briny Baird and Eric Compton at 7 under.
Weekley, who just two-putted from 21 feet at the par-5 17th, and Baird both started on the back nine. Baird has played six holes and made birdie on four of them.
Johnson got to 7 under with a 10-footer at the ninth hole, his third birdie of the day. Compton, on the other hand, won’t tee off until 2:30 p.m. – Helen Ross