Lucas Glover and Billy Horschel started the Wyndham Championship as long shots to advance to the PGA Tour postseason. Now, they have reason to think about winning.
Glover had great control on Saturday, hitting every fairway and missing only one green, on his way to an 8-under 62. That gave him a share of the lead with Horschel, who fought his swing towards the end and still managed a 63.
They were at 18-under 192, one shot ahead of 36-hole leader Russell Henley. He rolled in a sweeping birdie putt from just inside 30 feet on the last hole for a 65.
The Wyndham Championship is the final PGA Tour event before the lucrative postseason, and only the top 70 advance to the FedEx Cup playoffs next week in Memphis, Tennessee. That’s a change from previous years, when the top 125 made the postseason.
Glover came into Sedgefield Country Club at No. 112 and without a win in more than two years. But he has been building to this point, with three finishes of sixth or better in his last four tournaments, and he put it together on a warm, sunny day that began to dry out the course.
He finished with birdies on his last two holes, a wedge that landed near the pin and settled 2 feet away on the 17th, and a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
Horschel, who is No. 119 in the standings, began his day under a tree right of the first fairway. He chopped out across the fairway into rough, used the contour of the green to run a wedge into 8 feet and escaped with par.
He went on to a bogey-free round and scores of 62-63 that give him a chance to extend his season, having already booked a trip to the Bahamas with his family next week.
Justin Thomas also stayed in the mix, at least for his season. He posted a 66 that moved him into a tie for 11th, and while the nine-shot deficit is likely too much ground to make up, he is on the verge of sneaking into the top 70 to extend his season.
Thomas has never missed the postseason since his rookie season in 2015. Even more is at stake this year. He is under consideration as a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, and it would make such a choice more difficult if he doesn’t have a place to play the next three weeks.
“It’s a different kind of nerves,” Thomas said. “It’s a lot harder than trying to win a golf tournament, in my opinion. I think when you’re trying to win a tournament you’re there and if you don’t win it’s a bummer, but you still had a great week. If I just don’t get it done for what I need to get done this week, then it sucks and my year’s over.”
Byeong Hun An, already a lock for the postseason, had a 65 and was three shots behind. Stephen Jaeger (64) was at 13-under 197, the only other player within five of the co-leaders.
Horschel and Glover are dealing with setbacks of different varieties. Glover had been working through a spell of the yips when he switched to a long putter at the Memorial, the version that has worked well for Adam Scott.
He missed a 2-foot putt in a playoff with a U.S. Open spot at stake in a qualifier, but he has been finding his groove in recent weeks.
“It’s nice to feel you can make all your tap-ins for a change,” Glover said with a laugh. “I was down to two options, the long one or left-handed. ... This seemed to work. It’s been streaky, but I like the freedom it’s given me mentally.”
Horschel has been struggling with his swing all year, and it reached a low point when he shot an 84 at the Memorial and held back tears speaking to the media about the state of his game. Horschel has yet to register a top 10 in stroke play this year.
Suddenly, he feels as though he knows where the ball is going, and his confidence was growing even after a few loose swings took him out of birdie chances toward the end.
“I had really good control, really good tempo until the last two holes,” Horschel said.
Horschel and Glover each could advance to the postseason with a runner-up finish, though both have a bigger goal they are chasing.
Scoring has been so good that Henley shot 65 and could barely keep up. Even so, he’s right there at a tournament that he felt got away from him two years ago.
“You’re going to get lapped if you’re just playing for par out here,” Henley said.
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