Thanks To Excellent Play, Johnson Wagner Has 54-Hole Lead At Greenbrier Classic

By Brandon Raper
Johnson Wagner
Jake Roth – USA TODAY Sports

Last summer, when Johnson Wagner was having some troubles near the end of the season, he got rid of his famed moustache. He said at that time that the facial hair had gotten him recognized around the world, but he wanted to be known more for playing good golf than his hirsute upper lip.

Mired in an even more difficult downswing on the PGA Tour this year, perhaps that wish will come true in the next 24 hours. Coming off six straight missed cuts and a withdrawal at The Memorial, Wagner played a nearly flawless round of golf on Saturday at The Greenbrier Classic, racking up seven birdies and only one bogey on his way to a six-under round of 64, tied for the lowest score of the day.

The round also marks the second time this week that Wagner took low-score honors, as he also shot an astonishing eight-under round of 62 in Thursday’s opener. After shooting level-par 70 on Friday, Wagner lost his lead but came back on fire for the third round.

When you look at the stats so far for the week, it’s no wonder that the three-time Tour winner is seemingly on cruise control. Most notably, in his two low rounds so far, Wagner has a huge advantage in the strokes-gained-putting statistic. Gaining 3.716 strokes on the field Thursday and 3.681 today, he’s ranked second overall in the category for the week. Even though his putting let him down a bit on Friday, it didn’t really cost him anything in the big picture. He’s only made two bogeys all week, which is remarkable.

Wagner is also keeping the ball in play at a much higher clip than he has all year. Averaging just under 57 percent from the tee in 2013 thus far, the Virginia Tech alum is running at just over 76 percent for the championship, and he hit 12 of 14 in Saturday’s third round.

With a two-stroke cushion over Jimmy Walker, and Gary Woodland leading the rest of the pack a full five strokes back, Sunday’s finale is shaping up to be a two-man show. If Wagner can keep playing anything like he has for most of this week, he’ll be enjoying a nice uptick for his season, and he will have a brand new trophy to add to the collection.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, or add him to your Google+ network.

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