Every leads everyone at Greenbrier Classic
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - It's crunch time at the Greenbrier Classic and some of the players know that this weekend will be one of their last chances to make a final stand on the PGA Tour schedule. Matt Every took advantage of his opportunities Friday, shooting a sizzling 8-under-par 62 to seize a one-stroke lead after the second round on the par-70, 7,287-yard Old White TPC course. The former University of Florida standout stood at 9-under 131 through two rounds.
There wasn't a whole lot of separation, though, as 25 players were within four shots of Every and there were 67 other rounds below par.
"It's coming down to the end of the year and a lot of guys are trying to get inside the top 125 for the money to keep their job next year,'' said Every, who was alluding to one of the ways that players can keep their PGA Tour cards. "It's a big week for a lot of people. If you play good it can change your life.''
There was a logjam for second place with five players tied at 8-under 132, including Thursday's opening-round co-leader Johnson Wagner, who turned in an even-par 70 Friday after an 8-under 62. Tommy Gainey, Thursday's other co-leader, was another shot back at 7-under 133 after a 1-over 71 Friday. Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion, had a 4-under 66 to join Gainey and two others.
Friday was also important because it was cut day as the field was trimmed to the top 70 and ties.
Phil Mickelson was among the casualties as "Lefty'' failed to make play on the Classic weekend for the third straight year, finishing at 2-over 142. He showed promise early Friday morning, charging out to 4 under on the front nine to get to even for the tournament, but had three bogeys and just one birdie on the back nine. It's the only event in Mickelson's career in which he hasn't made the cut.
Others who missed the cut included Stuart Appleby, the inaugural Classic champ in 2010, Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters winner, 1998 PGA champion Vijay Singh, Aaron Baddeley, Ken Duke, a first-time winner at 44 years old on the Tour two weeks ago, and 1993 U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen.
Pat Carter, the 13-time West Virginia Amateur champion, who received a sponsor's exemption into the Classic as last year's State Am champ, didn't make the cut and finished at 8-over 148. The insurance executive from Huntington, who was just one of two amateurs in the field of PGA Tour regulars, turned in a 3-over 73 Friday.
Every made eight birdies in a mistake-free round Friday, a rare showing this year for the Daytona Beach, Fla., native. He's missed 10 cuts but has shown promise with a pair of top-10 finishes.
"I played really well tee to green,'' said Every, who opened with a 63 in the 2010 Classic before fading to a tie for 66th. "I finally made some putts. I haven't made anything all year. It just finally happened.
"I've been playing really good and it's been really frustrating the last three weeks. Last week I missed the cut by one. There was a stretch [today] where I missed four putts inside of 12 feet. It could have been really low.''
Wagner only carded one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars Friday, which was in stark contrast to his sharp opening round of six birdies and an eagle.
"I'm excited,'' he said. "I haven't made a cut in seven tournaments, much less in contention, so it's really nice. I'm sure a bunch of guys up there are kind of in the same position I am, really needing to have some good weeks to extend our years [on the PGA Tour].''
At one point Friday afternoon Gainey was alone in the lead at 10 under after two early birdies on the back nine. He gave those back and then some on the front nine where he clubbed three bogeys. The former water heater plant worker from South Carolina had eight birdies and no bogeys during Thursday's 62.
"For as bad as I swung that was a great round,'' said Gainey. "But that's just the way the game is. That's why it's so crazy and that's why we love it.
"But today was punishment for me because I swung at it terrible. It could have been worse, but you know what? I've got two more days so I'm going to try to get back in the situation [today] and just let it ride.''
Brendon de Jonge, a Virginia Tech alum, and 19-year-old Jordan Spieth were among a group of six at 6-under 134. Kenny Perry, coming off his first major on the Champions Tour, defending Classic titlist Ted Potter Jr., Rory Sabatini and Bill Haas, who lost in a playoff at the Classic in 2011, were bunched with six others at 5-under 135. Scott Stallings, the 2011 Classic winner, was just six shots off the lead at 3-under 137 after Friday's 67.
Other notables who will be sticking around the Greenbrier Valley two more days include Justin Leonard, the 1997 British Open titlist; Davis Love III, last year's Ryder Cup captain; Louis Oosthuizen, who took the British Open in 2010; Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion; and Tom Watson, the eight-time major winner who is The Greenbrier resort's pro emeritus. The 63-year-old Watson was at 3-under 137 after his second straight round under par at 69.
John Daly withdrew with an elbow injury Friday after completing his first three holes.