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.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Prior to Thursday, Billy Mayfair had played in 21 PGA TOUR events this year. He'd only broken 70 in the first round on seven occasions, though, and the veteran was having a hard time playing catch-up.
The first round of The Greenbrier Classic was a different story, though. Mayfair put together a 65, which was his best round of the season, to pull within a shot of the early lead held by Trevor Immelman.
Mayfair started on the back nine of the Old White TPC and set the tone for the day early when he shot 32. He made birdies in bunches -- three straight starting at No. 12 and consecutively at Nos. 18 and 1 before making his only bogey on the third hole. A 4-footer at the ninth hole sent Mayfair home with the kind of momentum that has been lacking this year.
"'I’ve just not been getting off to real good starts," Mayfair explained. "I just kind of shoot self in the foot and I always seem to be always seem to be trying to catch up. So getting off to a good start today really helped."
Mayfair played steady all day, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. The putter was cooperative, too, with 27 on the firm new greens. With calm breezes and ample sunshine, Mayfair said he'd be surprised if someone didn't go lower in the afternoon.
"I drove the ball very well today in the fairway and I hit a lot of good shots short of the hole," Mayfair said. "They kind of bounced and with the firmness of the greens rolled up close to the pin. I had a few real good bounces today.
"(The restoration) makes you think a little. The greens are a lot firmer but lot quicker in certain spots. It's like re-learning the golf course over again. But in the end, you just have to put ball in right spots and when got an uphill putt you've got to take advantage."
Mayfair said he played The Old White TPC on Tuesday when it was "super-duper long" after being softened by rain and hit a 2-iron into the second hole, a 440-yard par 4. On Thursday, he hit a 7-iron, and said the course was playing a "lot fairer and a lot better."
Mayfair, a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, lost his exempt status and had to go back to q-school last year. He ended up winning and was hoping for better in 2011 but only has one top-10.
"It's been a disappointing year," Mayfair said. "... But as we all say, one week out here can change a lot of things. I'm still in the in FedExCup race (ranked 113th)."
Three years removed from his Masters victory, and the wrist surgery that followed, Trevor Immelman finally finds himself atop a leaderboard again. The South African made seven birdies and one bogey Thursday en route to shooting a 6-under 64 at The Old White TPC, where he has the early lead.
Immelman missed just one green in regulation and took 28 putts in the opening round.'
Meanwhile, three others -- Billy Mayfair, Derek Lamely and Webb Simpson -- all shot 65 to sit just a stroke back.
Simpson has played extremely well of late with five straight finishes in the top 16 dating back to the Memorial tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. During that stretch, he also did most of his damage early with his last three opening rounds all in the 60s -- a 66 at the British Open, a 69 at AT&T National and a 66 at the Travelers Championship.
In last year’s final round of The Greenbrier Classic, Stuart Appleby shot a 59 to win. The day before that, J.B. Holmes carded a 60. But with several changes made to the course , we might be hard-pressed to see numbers like that this year.
So far, the lead is just 4 under with Billy Mayfair (through 14 holes) and Trevor Immelman (through 13 holes) sharing the top spot.
Now, The Old White TPC shouldn’t play as difficult as Shaughnessy G&CC did for last week’s RBC Canadian Open, but of the 78 players currently on the course, 17 of them are under par at the moment. In other words, figure scoring to be somewhere between what we saw last week, where only a couple handfuls of players broke par, and what we saw last year, where the winning score was 22 under.
See the top five shots from this week at TPC Scottsdale.
Watch Billy Mayfair as he produces the lowest score in this year's q-school finals.
Billy Mayfair took home medalist honors Monday, shooting a final-round 70 for a six-day total of 18 under, one stroke better than William McGirt and Ben Martin.
Here’s what the veteran said about his performance this week at q-school: “It was a great week. You don’t want to be here, that is for sure, but I played really good. It gives me a lot of confidence to start the year.”
“A win is a win, I don’t care if you win this or if you win your Match Play back at home … a W is a W and I’ll take the feather in my cap. But watching these young kids, watching Ben (Martin) and Bio (Kim) play today under the pressure, I mean they had a lot more pressure riding on this than I did.
“Basically I was playing all week to be able to play through April. After April, I was going to be able to play pretty much everywhere I wanted to anyway with my status. It was good to win, but man, there are some good young players and fearless.”
“I’ve had fun since we putted out on No. 18. It has been a long week. It has been a grind. We’ve had wind, we’ve had rain, we’ve had a little bit of everything this week. The golf course has been great. It has been a great place for q-school.”
“With the weather conditions, and all that, I think a lot of these kids haven’t seen some of that. With us out on TOUR, we see that once or twice every month. We have a lot of adversity. Also, having people close to you, having walking scorers, that is stuff that I’m used to and some of these guys haven’t seen that. So it is the little things that make a big difference.”
“The tournament sponsors were absolutely wonderful last year, giving me a lot of spots. The good thing is, with me playing good this week, I don’t have to ask them for those anymore. That is probably the most satisfying thing.”
The holes-in-one by Billy Mayfair and Will MacKenzie were the 20th and 21st aces on the PGA TOUR this year.
Both players aced the par-3 eighth hole with 7 irons from 170 yards.
There has now been one ace recorded on TOUR in each of the past four weeks.
ACES ON TOUR IN 2010
|Greg Owen||7||2||PGA West (Nicklaus)||Bob Hope Classic|
|Chris Couch||7||3||PGA West (Nicklaus)||Bob Hope Classic|
|Dustin Johnson||6||2||Riviera||Northern Trust Open|
|Derek Lamely||14||1||Monterey Peninsula||AT&T Pebble Beach|
|Adam Scott||7||3||Monterey Peninsula||AT&T Pebble Beach|
|Charles Howell III||7||1||El Camaleon||Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Robert Allenby||13||2||TPC Blue Monster at Doral||WGC-CA Championship|
|Justin Leonard||13||2||Innisbrook (Copperhead)||Transitions Championship|
|Woody Austin||7||2||Redstone||Shell Houston Open|
|Lucas Glover||16||2||Redstone||Shell Houston Open|
|Nathan Green||16||4||Augusta National||Masters|
|Ryan Moore||16||4||Augusta National||Masters|
|Jerry Kelly||4||1||Harbour Town||Verizon Heritage|
|Davis Love III||4||3||Harbour Town||Verizon Heritage|
|Ted Purdy||14||4||TPC Louisiana||Zurich Classic|
|Ken Duke||2||2||TPC Four Seasons Resort||HP Byron Nelson|
|Ben Crane||13||2||Colonial||Crowne Plaza Invitational|
|Paul Goydos||13||3||Colonial||Crowne Plaza Invitational|
|John Senden||8||4||Muirfield Village||the Memorial|
|Billy Mayfair||8||1||TPC Southwind||St. Jude Classic|
|Will MacKenzie||8||1||TPC Southwind||St. Jude Classic|