Nick Watney grabs one stroke lead at Wyndham Championship
Nick Watney birdied the final hole for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead Saturday after the third round of the Wyndham Championship.
Watney made a 20-foot birdie putt from the right edge of the green on the par-4 18th. The five-time PGA Tour winner had a 14-under 196 total at Sedgefield Country Club.
Brad Fritsch was second after a 65.
Freddie Jacobson and second-round co-leader Heath Slocum were 12 under. Jacobson shot a 66, and Slocum had a 68.
Former Wyndham winners Brandt Snedeker and Webb Simpson joined second-round co-leader Scott Langley at 11 under in the final event of the PGA Tour’s regular season. Snedeker and Simpson shot 66, and Langley had a 69.
Fritsch was the first to 13 under, but Watney joined him with a birdie on the par-5 15th — his second of the week on that hole.
Then came the sequence that gave him sole possession of the lead, and it came on the second-toughest hole of the day.
Watney plopped his fairway shot from 180 yards onto the right edge of the green, then calmly rolled in his putt for just the fifth birdie of the day on 18.
That put him in great position for his second top-10 finish of the year and his first victory since he won The Barclays in 2012.
Fritsch — a Canadian who played college golf at Campbell and lives in the Raleigh suburb of Holly Springs — said he asked the officials at the first tee to announce him as a North Carolinian.
“Just so people would know (and) get a little focus off Webb and a little onto me,” Fritsch said with a laugh.
He was the first to get to 13 under when he birdied the par-3 16th after placing his tee shot about 15 feet from the flagstick.
Fritsch, who is playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, put himself in position to challenge for his first victory on tour and his third top-10 finish.
He’s also got a shot at making the postseason after arriving at Sedgefield Country Club at No. 163. The top 125 qualify for The Barclays next week in New Jersey.
He came to this tournament last year at No. 128 last year but missed the cut — and the playoffs.
Andres Romero had the day’s best round, a 64, and Kevin Foley and David Toms each hit holes-in-one. Foley aced the par-3 12th with a 5-iron a few minutes before Toms did it on the par-3 seventh.
But so far, the story at Sedgefield Country Club has been its tightly-packed leaderboard. Thirteen players enter the final round within three strokes of the lead.
When the second-round co-leaders finally teed off midway through the afternoon, four other players had already joined them atop the field at 10 under.
And by the time the Slocum-Langley pairing had finished its 10th hole, there were five players — including those two — sharing the lead at 12 under.
That didn’t even include Jacobson, who began the day two strokes behind the leaders but made a short, quick rise to 12 under with four straight birdies on his front nine. He fell back with a bogey on the 11th.
One by one, most of them slipped back with back-nine bogeys: Martin Laird had one on the 12th and another four holes later, Slocum followed suit on 11, Langley had one on the 15th and Snedeker had his only bogey of the day on 18.
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