Greensboro, NC – Russell Henley shot an 8-under 62, his lowest round in more than two years, to take the lead in the suspended first round of the Wyndham Championship on Thursday.
Henley has birdieed three of his last four holes to create a two-stroke lead over Sung Kang, Ted Potter Jr., Chris Kirkand, Hudson Swofford, Scott Piercy and Michael Thompson in the final regular season event of the PGA Tour. Adam Hadwin was also 6-under but had two holes left when darkness ended the game.
A storm halted play for 2 hours and 7 minutes, with 22 players unable to complete the game.
Former champions Webb Simpson and Kevin Kisner led a group of 10 one stroke back at Sedgefield Country Club, where many competitors are battling to make it into the top 125 to get into the playoffs next week at Northern Start trust.
Henley, ranked 46th overall, wasn’t worried about the postseason, but quickly got on the hunt for his first PGA Tour win in four years with a bogey-free lap.
He took the lead with a two-putt birdie on par-5 15 before closing with birdies on 17 and 18, the last with a 20-foot putt. He had his lowest lap on the Tour since a career low of 61 at the John Deere Classic in 2019.
Henley has been playing solid golf lately. At the US Open in June he was tied at 36 holes, then had two top 20 placements in a row before missing the cut at the British Open. He returned this week, hoping he can play his strong game through to the end.
“I haven’t won in years so I feel like I played as well as I played, I feel like I undercut a little,” he said.
“My mindset,” Henley went on, “is that if I can play my game, my normal game, then maybe I can give myself a chance and there I am.”
There are several big names struggling to keep their season alive. Adam Scott, who started in 121st place, and Matt Kuchar, in 124th place, both had strong starts from 66.
“I want to play well this week and get the chance to play next week and keep my game in order,” said Scott.
Rickie Fowler, who came in at number 130 and took a good week, couldn’t help himself with a 71. Justin Rose, this week’s Payne Stewart Award winner, has to finish in the top 10 after finishing 138th to advance. He opened with a 66, tied in 19th place.
Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was 69 years old, tied in 89th place.
Olympic medalists Rory Sabbatini and CT Pan will also play in Tokyo after the Games. Sabbatini, who took silver for Slovakia behind US gold medalist Xander Schauffele, started with a 66.
Pan from Taiwan won a seven-man playoff for bronze. He shot a 68.
Louis Oosthuizen, the only top 10 FedEx player, resigned with a neck injury.
Michele Thomson of Scotland shot a 7-under 65 in Dumbarnie Links on Thursday and took the lead in the first round of the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open on the LPGA Tour.
Thompson, the 33-year-old Ladies European Tour player from Aberdeen, bounced off an opening bogey with an eagle in second place. She banged seven of her last 11 holes at Dumbarnie Links.
“Probably got off to a nervous start, I’d say,” said Thompson. “Of course it’s my fourth at the Scottish Open now, but obviously I still had the nerve from the first tee and was riding a bit rope and bogeying from there, which was fine. Got up on the second tee and just started New.”
The US Women’s Open winner Yuka Saso, Jasmine Suwannapura and Anne van Dam finished second with 67.
“We were lucky this morning with no wind and were able to score 5 under, that’s an absolutely good day for me,” said Suwannapura.
Mi Jung Hur, the 2019 winner, was 68 years old with Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Yealimi Noh, Ryann O’Toole, Kelsey MacDonald, Lauren Stephenson, Atthaya Thitikul, Olivia Cowan, Sarah Schmelzel and Becky Morgan. Defending champion Stacy Lewis opened with a 71.
“There is only one thing here. Just keep (the ball) low, ”said Hur. “If it helps, you can keep it low, but especially when you are in pain you definitely have to keep it low.”
Thompson ranks # 599 in the world and has no win on the LET and LPGA.
“I don’t want to jump too far,” said Thomson, who turned pro in 2009 and was a cop for a few years before returning to the game. “I just want to play each hole as it comes and see what happens during the week.”
Michael Thorbjornsen made five birdies in a row to win his first match and needed another big comeback in the second round from a US amateur who faced further delays on Thursday.
Only four of the 16 second round matches at Oakmont were finished before the game was interrupted for the second time due to storms in the area. The first delay was just under an hour.
This week there have already been four weather delays totaling 10 hours. A two tee start was used for the second round, and that was the plan for the third round.
Thorbjornsen, a former U.S. junior amateur winner, had 3 penalties with six holes to play against William Hott when the Stanford sophomore dropped five straight birdies.
It started with an 18 foot birdie putt on the 13th hole. He won the next two with wedges in about 5 feet and then hit 4 irons at 3 feet on par-3 16. Thorbjornsen finished the match 2 and 1 with a bunker shot at the attainable par-4. The 17th hit the pin and settled 2 meters away.
But the 19-year-old from Massachusetts got into trouble late in the second round against Nick Gabrelcik, who birdieed holes 15 and 16 before the storms. Gabrelcik was in second place with two holes remaining when the round was scheduled to resume on Friday morning.
After all, Thorbjorsen reached the second round.
Mark Goetz, the medalist in qualifying to become number 1 in match play, grew up about 40 miles away and had a lot to cheer about when he was three and had four holes to play.
Sweden’s David Nyfgall then turned the match around by winning the next four holes – his only birdie was at # 18 – for a 1-up win.
Nyfgall only qualified for last place in match play by winning a 12-way playoff. Nyfgall was tied by 20 holes with Florida star Ricky Castillo when play was suspended.
Eddie Lai defeated second seeded Brian Ma, 4 and 2. Travis Vick, the No. 4 seed, beat Preston Summerhays, 4 and 2.
The plan was to continue the second round on Friday. The original schedule stipulated that the second and third round should be played on Thursday, the quarter-finals on Friday.