By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GULLANE, Scotland -- On a day when several groups were put on the clock, Hideki Matsuyama was assessed a one-stroke penalty for taking too long over his second shot at the 17th hole.
As a result, the 21-year-old ended up with a bogey at the par 5 and a third-round 72. So Matsuyama, who tied for 10th at the U.S. Open, will start the final round of The Open Championship six strokes off the lead.
Matsuyama's first bad time came on the 15th green when he took 1 minute and 12 seconds over his first putt. His second bad time of 2 minutes and 12 seconds was on his approach from the rough at the 17th hole. The group ahead of Matsuyama and Johnson Wagner, Tom Lehman and Mark O'Meara, was also on the clock, as were several other twosomes during the third round.
David Probyn, European Tour tournament director, assessed the penalty. The chairman on the Japan Golf Association was an observer with the group and he handled the translation.
Wagner said he thought it was "terrible" the three-time winner on the Japan Tour was penalized. He said Matsuyama played a little slower than he did but that overall he felt the twosome kept up with the group ahead throughout the day.
"I don't like slow play, either," Wagner said. "But given his position in the tournament, and given the shot he faced on 17, laying it up out of the fescue over gourse and pot bunkers, I don't think he took too long. I think he executed a really good shot and under the situation, I think it's tragic, and I think The R&A should use better judgment in the penalizing of it."
In fact, Wagner said he spent five minutes in the scoring trailer making an appeal.
"I feel like I let the official know how I felt about it as gentlemanly as I could, but it infuriated me that he got a penalty," Wagner said. "If they had tried to penalize me, I would have gone ballistic. So I tried to represent Hideki as good as I could, and couldn't get it changed."
According to David Rickman, the R&A's director of rules and equipment standards, Probyn said he gave Matsuyama time to deal with the errant shot, which had traveled into the crowd, as well as walk up and back to assess his shot before the timing began.
"So we feel that we were appropriately liberal with the starting of the timing procedure," Rickman said.
Twosomes are expected to complete 18 holes at Muirfield in three hours and 41 minutes. Rickman said Matsuyama and Wagner were 15 minutes over the time par, "but more crucially in those circumstances, they were four minutes out of position with the group ahead of them."
Wagner, who played with Matsuyama at last year's Masters, said at one point there were four officials walking with their group and "it was extremely frazzling." He said he was in the fescue rough on the right side of the 17th fairway "rushing to play my shots" while Matsuyama was hitting his approach. Once the two met again on the green, Wagner was very sympathetic.
"I just looked at him and gave him (a) this is ridiculous, I'm sorry, look," Wagner said. "And he was like, I know. We don't really speak the same language, but we know what we're talking about. Like I say, I love The R&A and I'm all for fast play, but I think a little better judgment could have been used."
This is the second time an Asian player has been penalized at a major championship this year. Guan Tianlang, a 14-year-old from China, received a one-stroke penalty at the Masters but went on to finish as the low amateur.
Johnson Wagner found his game and finished T2 at The Greenbrier Classic (Trotman/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
We have all been there -- a slump. When you fall into one, it feels like your swing is out of sequence with too many moving parts, your grip feels completely wrong, and the hole is the size of a pea. Nothing seems to be working right. Even if you have played all your life, you can still feel like a beginner.
Since April, Johnson Wagner had found himself in a major slump. Wagner has missed six cuts in a row with a WD thrown in the mix. However, times change rapidly, and Wagner finished a very respectable T2 at The Greenbrier Classic.
I tell players to think of your golf game like a roller coaster ride. There will be times during a season in which you will be playing stellar and other times when you will be a real stinker. That is normal and part of the human sporting experience.
However, and most importantly, you must stay resilient and confident during bad times. If you do, your game will swing out of a slump naturally (in most cases). But if you begin to lose your confidence and want to change every little thing in your game, you can fall deeper into a slumping pattern that can last a lot longer.
As Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...” Your golf game mimics life. Realize that the nature of events includes slumps. Stay confident and your game will find the best of times once again.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Jonas Blixt just drained a 6-footer for birdie at the 16th hole to take sole possession of the lead at The Greenbrier Classic at 13 under.
Minutes later, Johnson Wagner bogeyed the 15th hole, his third on the back nine, and suddenly Blixt's lead is two strokes. Joining Wagner at 11 under are his playing partner Jimmy Walker and Steven Bowditch, who has played 17 holes.
Wagner's tee shot on the par 3 landed in the rough beside the greenside bunker, he chipped long to 33 feet and missed the putt for par.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Jonas Blixt and Johnson Wagner remain tied for the lead midway through the back nine at The Old White TPC.
Blixt has only made one par in five holes on the back nine. He birdied Nos. 10 and 12 but bogeyed Nos. 11 and 13. Wagner, who made the turn in even par, has made two bogeys in his first four holes on the back.
So he and Blixt are deadlocked at 12 under, one stroke head of Steven Bowditch, who has completed 16 holes, and Jimmy Walker, who is playing with Wagner.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Jonas Blixt has closed the gap on Johnson Wagner with birdies on the ninth and 10th holes.
The Swede, who picked up his first PGA TOUR victory last fall but has yet to post a top-10 in 2013, made a 4-footer at No. 9 and 9-footer at the 10th to pull within a stroke of the overnight leader.
Wagner shot even par on the front nine so he remains at 14 under. His playing partner, Jimmy Walker, also shot 34 on the front nine and is one behind Blixt at 12 under.
There are roughly 90 minutes of daylight remaining.
Both par 5s on The Old White TPC are on the final nine holes so this figures to be the scoring nine. There are three other players in double digits under par now -- Steven Bowditch is 2 under through 11 holes and 11 under for the tournament while Brian Stuard and Matt Jones are 10 under.
Stuard is 4 under through 17 holes on Sunday while Jones is 1 under through 11.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Midway through the front nine in the rain-delayed final round of The Greenbrier Classic there are now four players in double digits under par.
The two players in the final group are both 1 over for the day. Johnson Wagner, the overnight leader, three-putted the undulating green at the second hole from 40 feet for bogey while Walker did the same from 53 feet at the next hole.
So the gap between the two remains two strokes with Wagner now 13 under and Walker at 11. Jonas Blixt is even par through four holes but he has been joined at 10 under by Steve Bowditch, who just tapped in from 14 inches at the fifth hole for birdie.
Defending champion Ted Potter Jr. has climbed into a tie for fifth at 9 under with Tag Ridings and Jordan Spieth. Potter is 3 under through 12 holes on Sunday.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Johnson Wagner is looking to beat the odds at The Greenbrier Classic, and he has personal history on his side.
No third-round leader has gone one to win the popular PGA TOUR event in its three-year history. But Wagner, who owns a two-stroke advantage as he waits to tee off in the weather-delayed final round, has won two of his three TOUR titles when owning the 54-hole lead.
The first came at the 2008 Shell Houston Open. Wagner -- who is playing tribute to his Virginia Tech Hokies by wearing maroon pants trimmed with orange on Sunday -- owned a one-stroke advantage over Chad Campbell, closed with a 71 and ended up beating Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy by two.
Three years later at the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun, Wagner again led by one, this time over Chris Stroud. He ended up shooting a solid 67 and had to beat Spencer Levin, who shot 65, in a playoff.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- The rounds of 62 were accomplished differently.
When all those birdies and that lone eagle were added up, though, Tommy Gainey and Johnson Wagner owned a two-stroke lead after the first round of The Greenbrier Classic.
Wagner actually added a bit of excitement to the morning when he played his first 12 holes in 8 under to leave fans wondering if The Old White TPC would relinquish another 59 like it did to Stuart Appleby in the final round of the 2010 event. But he parred his final five holes and Gainey caught Wagner with birdies at Nos. 16 and 17.
"I've been disappointed with 72s and 79s in thelast month, so I'm very happy to be disappointed with a 62 today," Wagner said.
Webb Simpson and Jin Park are tied for third after shooting 64s while Daniel Summerhays, Tag Ridings, Steven Bowditch and 50-year-old Neal Lancaster are another stroke behind. Two other Champions Tour players more than held their own with Kenny Perry and Tom Watson each posting 68s.
The scoring average on Thursday, when preferred lies were used due to heavy rainfall in recent days, was .094 above par 70.
"The golf course is really soaked, it's really soft, and with the players that we have out here, when you have soft greens and the rough is not too penal, I mean, you can really score low out there," Gainey said. "I just was one of the lucky ones to make some putts, hit some fairways, and you know, we all know it's all about making putts out here."
Phil Mickelson struggled for the third straight year, shooting a 74 that left him tied for 135th and in danger of missing the cut once again. He has yet to break par at the Old White TPC.
Johnson Wagner shot a first-round 62 after shaving his moustache. (Trotman/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- There were those who thought Johnson Wagner bore a striking resemblence to Tom Selleck in his "Magnum P.I." days.
Particularly after Wagner won the won the 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii sporting that thick black moustache. Making the comparision even more interesting? The TV character, who was a private investigator, lived on the island of Oahu, where the real-life tournament is played.
Wagner had started growing the facial hair over the 2011 Christmas holidays in an attempt to change his luck -- and it did. Since what was his third PGA TOUR victory the following January, the moustache has made several other appearances and was even spotted earlier this week.
Trouble is, Wagner's wife Katie tolerates, but isn't particularly fond of the 'stache. So he decided to shave on Monday in honor of their seventh wedding anniversary.
"I didn't get her a gift, so I thought surprising her with a clean lip would suffice," Wagner said with an impish grin.
Turns out, Wagner's luck changed anyway as he shot a 62 that left the Virginia Tech product tied for the lead at The Greenbrier Classic with Tommy Gainey. The round of 8 under was just his sixth sub-70 round of the season.
And the moustache?
"It wll definitely come back at some point," Wagner said. " I love irritating my wife too much with it to let it go for too long."