By Jeff Mills
Special to the Wyndham Championship
GREENSBORO, N.C. — It all comes down to this: One last day of summer here at the Wyndham Championship, one last chance to share a day in the sun with old friends and new acquaintances at the Piedmont Triad’s party of the year.
And for the golf tournament’s co-leaders after three rounds?
One last chance to extend their seasons by playing their way into the FedExCup playoffs.
No pressure, right?
Lucas Glover shot an 8-under 62 and Billy Horschel fired a 63 in Saturday’s third round on Sedgefield Country Club’s classic Donald Ross golf course, and both men head into Sunday’s final round with a share of the lead at 18-under par.
Russell Henley, who held the solo lead after the first and second rounds, shot a fine 5-under 65 and somehow lost ground. He starts the final round one shot back at 17-under.
“You’re going to get lapped if you’re just playing for pars out here,” Henley said, alluding to the annual Sunday shootout we’ve come to expect at the Wyndham Championship.
In all, 10 players start the final round within eight shots of the lead on a golf course where players can post low scores and leaderboards can swing rapidly.
The co-leaders know that. Between them, Glover (19) and Horschel (11) have played this tournament 30 times.
And both can vault into the top 70 in the FedExCup point standings with a win or a second-place finish here, which would qualify them for the St. Jude Championship next week in Memphis ― the first tournament of the Playoffs.
Glover came to Greensboro 112th in the FedExCup standings, but he is always comfortable at Sedgefield. He grew up in South Carolina, but he played Sedgefield often as a kid.
“I’ve got a lot of family in this area,” Glover said. “I’ve got two or three uncles who were members here years ago, and I still got a bunch of cousins in the area. It’s three hours from where I grew up. And I like the golf course. It’s a special place. I came up here in the summer when I was 7, 8, 9, 10 years old, and I remember the swimming pool. It was cool, they had a high dive, so it was fun. I’ve played a bunch around here.”
Glover, 43, has seven professional wins including the 2009 U.S. Open. And now he’s in position to finally win a tournament he’s played every year since turning pro in 2004.
“I’m OK laying back off the tees to make sure I’m in the fairway,” Glover said. “When my irons are sharp, I seem to be able to make a lot of birdies. If you try to attack this place a little too aggressive and miss some fairways, it can bite you. I learned that quite a while ago. I think it’s just a ‘fairways first’ mentality, and then if you hit it close, you’ve got a good chance to make some birdies.”
Horschel made his share of birdies the last two days, posting scores of 62 and 63 to claim his share of the lead.
The 36-year-old came to Greensboro 116th in the FedEx Cup points standings. Horschel, who won the 2014 FedExCup, has made golf’s Playoffs 10 years in a row.
He was in serious danger of missing out this year after struggling mightily earlier in the year. Those struggles peaked when he shot an 84 at The Memorial, and then broke down and cried during a media session afterward.
“That interview, that moment, it was sort of like a release,” Horschel said. “I don’t fully understand why it happened, because I had shared some of that with my team and my family before then. But right then and there it just happened. From that moment, I’ve been in a better head space. The game’s been going in the right direction since then. Listen, I’m not afraid to be open and share anything with the public. I’ve always been that way. People understand that about me. It’s been a nice upward trend since that moment.”
Horschel switched putters this week, and he is playing relaxed. He has a family vacation planned next week, but will adjust those plans if he qualifies for Memphis.
But in the meantime, Horschel and Glover have the last tee time on the last day of the Wyndham Championship, playing on a golf course they both love, with a whole lot on the line.
“It’s a great pairing. I played a lot with Lucas, and I’ve always enjoyed playing with him,” Horschel said. “It’s going to be an amazing round of golf tomorrow. We’re both going to be battling out there. We’ve got Russell Henley right behind us, and a couple of other guys not too far back.
“We’re going to have to play our games and see what happens. I’m happy where my game is. I’m happy where things are trending, I’m happy where I’m heading mentally. So hopefully, it’s just another day of moving forward, another stepping stone. I haven’t been (in this position) in a while, but I’m prepared for whatever comes.”
What’s coming is one last day of summer at the Wyndham Championship, one last chance to savor our tournament and all that it means to us before the long wait for next year.