Amid a disappointing season, Johnson Wagner has found a comfort zone not far from his college stomping grounds at Virginia Tech.
Wagner shot a 6-under 64 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after the third round of the Greenbrier Classic. Wagner played golf at Virginia Tech less than a two-hour drive from The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Wagner, who has yet to post a top-10 finish this year, was at 14 under on The Old White TPC course. Jimmy Walker also shot 64 and was in second place at 12 under.
In his two previous tournaments, he had three birdies combined. He had seven of them on Saturday.
“I felt really comfortable all day,” Wagner said. “I hit a lot of good golf shots. I’ve got a really clear picture of what I’m trying to do on every swing.
The other two times Wagner held the lead going into the final round on tour, he won the 2008 Houston Open and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico.
But no third-round leader has gone on to win the Greenbrier Classic, now in its fourth year. The tournament has been decided by a playoff the past two years.
Wagner said he isn’t going to stop being aggressive Sunday.
“I’m just going to try to make as many birdies as I can,” he said. “This golf course, when it’s firm and fast, may be one of my favorite places we play on tour.”
After seven consecutive pars on the front nine, Walker ran off five birdies late, including a 17-foot putt on the par-3 18th.
Walker is hoping to secure a spot in the British Open in two weeks. After the Greenbrier Classic, the leading five players not already exempt from inside the top 20 in the FedExCup points standings will earn spots at Muirfield.
Sweden’s Jonas Blixt was four strokes behind Wagner at 10 under after shooting 67. Australians Matt Jones (66) and Steven Bowditch (69) and Texas teenager Jordan Spieth (67) were at 9 under.
2-WAY TIE AT FRENCH OPEN
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Richard Sterne of South Africa share a one-stroke lead after three rounds at the French Open in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France.
McDowell shot a 1-under 70 while Sterne had a 71 on the Albatross course of Le Golf National, leaving both at 5-under 208.
Bernd Wiesberger (68) of Austria, David Howell (69) of England and Richard Green (70) of Australia were at 209.
Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and Simon Dyson of England were at 210.
TRACKING ANDRES GONZALES ON THE PGA TOUR
This week: The Greenbrier Classic, through Sunday, The Old White TPC, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Third-round score: Even-par 70.
Position: Gonzales (1-under 209) is tied for 62nd, 13 strokes behind leader Johnson Wagner (14-under 196).
Recap: Celebrate the small victories when they happen. With a Sunday cut looming, the outlook on Gonzales did not look good early Saturday when he reached the final green, a good ways left of the hole location. But the Capital High School graduate drilled the 18-foot putt for birdie, which ensured he would be safe from the final-round cut – and earn a bit more cash.
Tee time Sunday: 6:15 a.m. (PDT) with D.A. Points.firstname.lastname@example.org