On Friday afternoon at the Wyndham Championship, the suspense isn’t as much at the top of the leaderboard as it is on the cut line.
Tommy Gainey hasn’t moved from the top spot all day after his morning 65, which moved him to 12 under for the week. Ernie Els is making a late run, at 10 under with one hole to play, but more than likely “Two Gloves” will lead going into Saturday.
But it’s who might not play at all Saturday that is interesting. The cut has been fluctuating between 3 under and 2 under, and if 3 under wins out some players’ hopes for the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup will be dashed. Take Matt Jones – he was No. 122 coming into the week but is currently projected at No. 127. Missing the cut, of course, won’t allow him to gain any ground so he’d be out of the Playoffs (the top 125 qualify for The Barclays, the first Playoffs event).
Billy Mayfair is also at 2 under and projects to No. 119, down from the No. 113 spot he claimed before the Wyndham began. He may turn out to be safe for the Playoffs, but it would make for a nervous weekend if all he can do is watch the scoreboard and not play.
Vaughn Taylor is always happy to be back in Reno. The two-time Reno-Tahoe Open champion (2004, ‘05) is off to another good start at Montreux Golf and Country Club, sitting at 4 under through 14 holes in a bogey-free round so far.
The pace is being set at 5 under right now, with Nick O’Hern, Chris Riley and Dean Wilson at that mark. Wilson, in particular, could use a good week to solidify his date with the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. He’s 123rd in points.
If you’re wondering about the cutoff man at No. 125, that’s Australian Matt Jones. He’s 1 over through 10 holes in Reno.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Before the horn blew Saturday afternoon, six players were fortunate to finish the third round. Of course they were only able to do so because they were well off the lead and had an early tee time.
Of those already in the clubhouse, Aussie Matt Jones had the best round, a 3-under 69, to jump 22 spots on the leaderboard and into a tie for 38th at the moment.
Zach Johnson also finished his round, shooting a second straight 70, while Scott Verplank and Carl Pettersson each shot 71.
Last year’s Kodak Challenge winner Troy Merritt shot 73, while Kevin Chappell, who got into the tournament when Jeff Maggert withdrew with an injury, struggled to an 80.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The first two players finishing the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship had widely varying levels of success.
Matt Jones polished off a round of 69 that included six birdies while his playing partner, Kevin Chappell, struggled to an 80. Chappell had made the field for his first PLAYERS Championship when Jeff Maggert withdrew and shot even par in his first two rounds.
There are several other early starters who are putting up low numbers.
Peter Hanson, who birdied his last two holes on Friday to make the cut on the number. is making the most of his opportunity on the weekend. He has yet to make a bogey and is 6 under through14 holes – for the day and the tournament.
Angel Cabrera also turned in 32 and has played his first 15 holes in 5 under to make another big jump up the leaderboard.
After a near-90 minute delay due to rain and lightning, the second round has resumed at the Wells Fargo Championship, where Bill Haas is still in the lead but now has company in the form of Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson isn’t the only one moving up the leaderboard, however. Brian Davis, J.B. Holmes and Matt Jones are all 4 under on their rounds and within three of Haas.
On the par-5 18th, Bubba Watson managed just a par Thursday. That was about the only thing that didn’t go write for Watson.
The long-hitting left-hander made six birdies, an eagle and just two bogeys on his to a 6-under 66 that gives him a one-shot lead after the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Watson hasn’t been much of a factor his last three starts, but he was on target Thursday, hitting 15 grens in regulation and taking 28 putts.
And remember, he has a history of playing well in this even with a tie for fifth in 2007.
Meanwhile, Australian Matt Jones made a late push with birdies on each of his last two holes to tie for the lead with Watson at 6 under.
At one point, Jones made four straight birdies and he finished the day with eight. He also took just 25 putts and averaged 1.46 putts per green.
Watson and Jones lead a cluster of six players at 5 under, which includes David Duval.
Matt Jones has been in this position before. A year ago, he went into the Wyndham Championship ranked 119th in the FedExCup standings and wound up being the odd man out at No. 126.
This year, though, Jones made the field for The Barclays with ease at No. 56. But he dropped down to 70th -- which is the cutoff for next week's BMW Championship -- when he tied for 60th at Ridgewood.
The young Aussie, who got off to a solid start with a 65 on Friday at TPC Boston, is philosophical about his decision.
"It doesn't bother me at all," Jones said. "I know if I play to my abilities, it won't even come into affect. If I play well enough I won't have to worry about being the bubble boy."
Besides, he's got some other things to look forward to -- regardless of what happens at TPC Boston. Jones is getting married during the off week before the finale of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
"If I don't play well I have next week off and then I get married," Jones said. "I'm fine. It's been a long year, so if I play well this week, get into next week, then I have a chance at THE TOUR Championship."
Jones made seven birdies and a lone bogey from the left rough on the ninth hole, which was his final of the day. He hit nine fairways, 11 greens and used just 22 putts.
"It was a good round," Jones said. "I hit a couple squirrelly shots, but overall I hit it pretty well, took advantage of some holes in these conditions while we can. I made plenty of birdies. I actually putted really well. I had a lot of par putts which helped keep the round going."
Last week’s winner was Matt Kuchar. And among the early leaders today is another Matt – as in Matt Jones.
The Aussie has played a bogey-free 15 holes and is tied for the lead at 6 under with Ryan Moore, Ryan Palmer, Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Charley Hoffman and Fredrik Jacobson.
What makes Jones’ name particularly significant in that group is that he is the current bubble boy for next week’s tournament t Cog Hill aat No. 70. He started on the back nine, turned in 31 and has just made consecutive birdies at Nos. 4 and 5.
Prior to this year, Jones had only played in one event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, missing the cut at The Barclays in 2008. He’s got five top-10s this season and a career-high $1.1 million in earnings – and now he’s staring a third straight Playoffs start smack dab in the face.