Déjà vu for Slocum at Wyndham
Heath Slocum finds himself in a familiar position at Sedgefield Country Club
August 15, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Heath Slocum was only 1 under with six holes to play when he rattled off four consecutive birdies to card a round of 65. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Heath Slocum has felt the pressure at the Wyndham Championship before.
In 2009, he came to the tournament ranked No. 117 and tumbled down the rankings when he missed the cut at Sedgefield, eventually landing at 124th and safe for the FedExCup Playoffs by just one point. Or, as Slocum put it Friday, "by the skin of my teeth."
He was so nervous on that Sunday as Ryan Moore was winning in Greensboro, Slocum spent the afternoon at his Atlanta home, far from the TV, playing with his daughter, Stella, while his wife Victoria monitored the FedExCup projections on the Internet.
Interestingly, Slocum would go on to make a clutch birdie putt on the 72nd hole the following week to win The Barclays, beating Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington, in the process. He vaulted to No. 3 in the standings and eventually finished eighth, the best of his career.
Three years later, Slocum again needed to play his way into the top 125. He came to the Wyndham Championship ranked 128th and was the only player to move inside the magic number and make the Playoffs.
The four-time PGA TOUR champ faces his biggest challenge this week, though. Slocum is currently ranked No. 158 and likely needs to finish third or better on Sunday to advance to The Barclays.
Langley and Slocum go low to lead at Wyndham
He's halfway there, though, after a second-straight 65 propelled Slocum to a tie at the top of the leaderboard with Scott Langley, who is safely in the Playoffs after coming in ranked 81st. Langley matched Slocum's 65 on Friday.
The two are one stroke ahead of Brian Stuard, Nick Watney, Martin Laird and Andrew Svoboda, who birdied the 17th hole to get to 10 under but missed the green and a 7-footer to save par at No. 18. Svoboda and Watney shot 64s, Stuard had a 65 and Laird signed for a 66.
"I don't even know what it would take," Slocum said. "I haven't even looked or calculated. I'll be honest, I came into this week trying to create a little bit of momentum ... whether I could somehow get myself into the Playoffs or into the (Web.com Tour) Finals.
"I wanted to create some momentum because I feel like it's been a couple years where it's been rough but I feel like I've made lot of progress this year and played actually some of the best golf at times that I have but I haven't put them together."
Slocum's last top-10 finish came way back in 2010 when he won The McGladrey Classic -- a span of 90 PGA TOUR events. His best this year is a tie for 20th at the Sony Open in Hawaii, which is also the only time he's put four sub-70 rounds together in the 2013-14 wrap-around season.
The South Alabama grad credits his improved play this week to the ability to finally get out of his own way. He doesn't need to find the secret to turn things around. He needs to just go out and play.
"I know how to do it," Slocum said. "I've done it before. ... I had a good week of practice last week where I kind of let go. I said, 'You know what, It's all here. See if you can't go play golf and enjoy it.'"
Sometimes, of course, that's easier said than done, particularly when the results don't show progress. But Slocum says everyone from his wife to his swing coach to his trainer to his caddy have stressed the power of positive thinking and it appears to be paying off.
"It's still a work in progress but, I've gotten two days under my belt," Slocum said. "I will say, no matter win, lose or draw I will go have fun the next two days. I do miss this feeling of being in contention. ... I'm going to savor it."
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA OF THE DAY
Nick Watney interview after Round 2 of Wyndham
SUB-STANDARD YEAR: The 2013-14 season hasn't been the best for Nick Watney.
Sure, he should get to play in at least one FedExCup Playoffs event after coming to the Wyndham Championship this week ranked No. 110. He's made more than $700,000, too.
But Watney's standards are higher. Much higher.
He's made it to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola each of the last five years and he hasn't missed a Playoffs event since 2009. He's never earned less than $2.4 million any of those seasons, either.
Small wonder, then, that Watney recently decided he needed an attitude adjustment. And it's paying dividends this week at Sedgefield as Watney fired a 64 Friday that left him one stroke off the lead at the midway point of the 75th renewal of one of the PGA TOUR's oldest events.
"I would love to start the year over but ... I still got a few events to go so (I want to) try to make the best of these," Watney said.
The deeper he got into the lackluster season, Watney admitted he started feeling sorry for himself. But once he changed his outlook and decided to go back to basics, the lanky Californian has finished 12th or better in two of his last three events.
"Now I just (go), 'Let's go,'" Watney said. "I just want to play as long as I can and get hot at the right time, you can go a long ways in the Playoffs.
"I'm real excited about where my game is going. Like I said, I just want to do it."
UNKINDEST CUT: The cut came at 2 under with a total of 78 players surviving to play the weekend at Sedgefield.
Among the players making early exits were former major champions David Duval, Trevor Immelman, Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Padraig Harrington, Lucas Glover, Todd Hamilton and John Daly. All were outside the top 125 in the FedExCup so none will advance to next week's Barclays.
Ditto for Brian Gay and John Rollins, who were among five players in the field who had never missed the Playoffs and came in outside the top 125. Gay, who came in ranked No. 135, and Rollins, who was No. 164, both were eliminated when they missed the cut but J.J. Henry (130), John Merrick (138) and Charlie Wi (145) are still alive.
For more information on the FedExCup moves, click here.
CALL OF THE DAY: Tom Werme of SirusXM and PGA TOUR Radio on PGATOUR.COM calls Scott Langley's birdie on No. 9 for a share of the lead at Wyndham Championship
Live play-by-play coverage of the third-round streams from 12 - 6 p.m. ET on Saturday on PGATOUR.COM
ODDS & ENDS
Brandt Snedeker is tied for 16th after rounds of 68 and 65. He only shot 16 rounds in the 60s in his first 19 starts this year but he's posted 12 in his last four starts including the Wyndham Championship. ...
Three of the seven previous FedExCup champions have competed in the Wyndham Championship the week preceding the start of the Playoffs: Vijay Singh (2008), Bill Haas (2011) and Brandt Snedeker (2012). ...
Defending champion Patrick Reed made the cut on the number after shooting a 67 on Saturday. He has two wins during the 2013-14 PGA TOUR wrap-around season. ...
Five of the last seven winners of the Wyndham Championship were first time winners -- Brandt Snedeker (2007), Ryan Moore (2009), Arjun Atwal (2010), Webb Simpson (2011) and Patrick Reed (2013). Three of the top six players on the leaderboard would continue that trend -- Scott Langley, who shares the lead with Heath Slocum, Brian Stuard and Andrew Svoboda.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click on the picture below to see the best moments from Sedgefield Country Club during the second round of the Wyndham Championship.
THEY SAID IT
"Brian played great. It was the first time I ever played with him and I was just kind of drafting off him. He got off to a great start. You felt like you were falling behind." ~ Bo Van Pelt, who shot 65, on playing with Brian Stuard, who also shot 5 under and is one stroke off the lead.
"I think we're both in a position where we've got to play good the next couple of weeks and we're trying not to think about it, trying to focus on this week. But it's definitely in the back of our minds." ~ Webb Simpson on how he and Brandt Snedeker are trying to play well in order to impress U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson.
"This course you got to kind of keep your foot on the gas because the scoring is usually pretty low. I can keep going and make more birdies." ~ Carl Pettersson, a Sedgefield member and the 2009 winner of the Wyndham Championship.
ROUND 2 STATS
Category Leader(s) Statistic DRIVING DISTANCE Robert Garrigus 328.5 DRIVING ACCURACY Kevin Kisner 14 of 14 (100 percent) GREENS IN REGULATION Martin Flores, Will Wilcox 17 of 18 (94.44 percent) STROKES GAINED-PUTTING Scott Piercy 3.615 TOTAL BIRDIES Ryo Ishikawa 9 BOGEY-FREE ROUNDS Brian Davis, Brad Fritsch, Kevin Kisner, Scott Piercy, Brandt Snedeker LONGEST DRIVE Johnson Wagner 378 yards LONGEST PUTT Patrick Reed 52 feet 8 inches Easiest Hole Par 5, No. 5 4.303 Hardest Hole Par 4, No. 18 4.226
Slocum Capitalizes, Langley Locks in