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February 3 2012

11:52 PM

FedExCup leader wants zone to be norm

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Johnson Wagner is the only player on TOUR who has posted top-10 finishes in his first three starts of the 2012 season.

He's well on his way to another -- and maybe more -- after a 69 on Friday moved him to 5 under at the midway point of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

_Open_in Wagner leads the FedExCup standings after a win at the Sony Open in Hawaii and a tie for second in his last start at the Humana Challenge. He also tied for ninth at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

So what's it like to be in that kind of a zone?

"It's good," Wagner said. "I'm really hoping this is kind of the norm from now on. I'm making a lot of mistakes but when I'm putting as good as I am right now it makes a lot of things easier because I can rely on making a lot of 10-, 15-footers for birdie. I know I am never really out of the hole if I can chip it close.

"Putting has been huge key for the first month of the season."

Wagner played with two good friends in Mark Wilson and Brandt Snedeker, his junior golf foe, and called it "probably one of the best pairings I could ask for." Wilson, who won the Humana Challenge, is 3 under for the tournament while Snedeker, last week’s champ, is 1 under.

Wagner has already posted more rounds in the 60s this week than in four previous appearances here. He has three missed cuts and a tie for 60th in Phoenix two years ago. His lone sub-70 round at TPC Scottsdale, a 67, came that week in 2010.

"I always liked it and always thought I could play well here," said Wagner, who appears to be proving himself right. "I'm just making a lot of birdies and I've got to minimize the mistakes this weekend."

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