White Sulphur Springs, WV – Johnson Wagner drained an 11-foot birdie putt at the last on Saturday to grab a 2-stroke lead entering the final round of the Greenbrier Classic.
Wagner was coming off six missed cuts and a withdrawal in his previous seven events, but he has posted a pair of impressive scores at the Old White TPC Course to move within striking distance of his fourth PGA Tour win.
Thursday's 8-under 62 gave the 33-year-old a share of the lead, and Saturday's 64 moved him two clear of the chasing pack at 14-under-par 196 through 54 holes.
"This is the kind of golf course that if you play tentative at all you're going to miss fairways, and when you miss fairways out here you get some awkward angles on some of these tough Tour pins especially on Sunday," said Wagner, who played the Old White TPC several times a year while attending Virginia Tech. "I think my main key for tomorrow is going to be aggressive off the tee and hit as many fairways as I can, which will set up a lot of birdie opportunities."
Jimmy Walker matched Wagner's 64, the low score of the day, and jumped into second place at 12-under. The 34-year-old is seeking his first win on the PGA Tour in his 181st start.
"I like the golf course, I've always liked it," said Walker. "The first time we came here we really enjoyed it ... just really enjoyed being here and the golf course really seems to fit my eye. I like the tee shots, like the second shots, and I feel comfortable."
Jonas Blixt is alone in third place at 10-under after a third-round 67, while 19-year-old Jordan Spieth (67) is tied for fourth with Australians Matt Jones (66) and Steven Bowditch (69) at minus-9.
Bill Haas (67), who won last week's AT&T National, shares seventh with five others at 8-under. He sits alongside first-round co-leader Tommy Gainey (69), Rory Sabbatini (67), Pat Perez (66), D.H. Lee (68) and Tag Ridings (68).
"This week I've tried to do a good job of staying in the moment and telling myself that last week you did it, you never know what will happen," said Haas. "... I'm going to need the leaders to not go crazy low but a good round tomorrow will put me in a great position."
Overnight leader Matt Every couldn't maintain momentum on Saturday, carding four bogeys and back-to-back doubles during a third-round 74, which opened the door for Wagner & Co.
Wagner was a stroke off the pace through two rounds before opening with birdies on three of his first five holes Saturday to grab the outright lead at 11-under.
A bogey at the seventh, Wagner's only dropped shot of the day, created a three-way tie at the top, as Blixt and Lunde were also 10-under, but it didn't last.
Wagner birdied No. 9 to go back in front, then turned the trick again at the 12th to push his advantage to a pair.
Another gain at the par-5 12th stretched the margin to three, but Walker refused to fade, as he opened his inward nine with four birdies in five holes, including three straight from the 12th. That run moved Walker within two strokes of Wagner, who parred five straight from the 13th before dropping his tee shot at the par-3 18th within 11 feet and draining the birdie putt to close at 14-under.
Walker held serve with a birdie from 17 feet at the last to remain two back.
NOTES: Wagner's last PGA Tour win came in January of 2012 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. His best finish this season is a tie for 13th at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions ... Walker has 18 career top-10 finishes and 41 top-25 finishes in his previous 180 PGA Tour starts ... Defending champion Ted Potter, Jr. is tied for 16th at 6-under through 54 holes. He shot 69 on Saturday ... On Friday, Phil Mickelson missed the cut at this event for the third straight year. It marked the first time in his PGA Tour career that he missed three consecutive cuts in a tournament.