GREENSBOROW, NC (AP) — John Hugh wasn’t expecting the worst round of his PGA Tour career at the Wyndham Championship Thursday, and he had no complaints about the score or the time.
Hu made seven of his eight birdie attempts from 10 feet or holes and hit a 40-foot eagle shot on the 15th par-5 hole at Sedgefield for 9-61, giving him a two-stroke advantage over Sungjae Im among the first players. in the final tournament of the regular season.
“It’s a little weird because, as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t do very well in my game, and (to) lower my career, it’s a little weird,” Ha said. “Somewhat of mixed feelings, but I’ll take it any day.”
Well, a round was needed. He’s ranked 120th in the FedEx Cup – with some wiggle room due to defectors to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf – and only the top 125 advance to next week’s lucrative postseason and receive the full PGA Tour card for next season.
“I know what is at stake, I know how important this tournament will be,” said Ha. “At the same time, you just have to go and play, and I think I did that really well today.”
I had two heads in his 63rd round. A true No. 15 in the FedEx Cup, he’s already set for the postseason, and a good week could be in a position to secure his place in the East Lake Finals.
Much more relevant was the 65-year-old group, which included Austin Smotherman. He is ranked 135th on the FedEx Cup list, but he will count as 125th – a cutoff – because 10 players ahead of him were disqualified for signing with LIV Golf.
Suspended players will queue up to receive FedEx Cup bonus money without playing. The PGA Tour said last week that FedEx Cup player rankings would not be affected by players moving to LIV Golf.
Smotherman only missed two greens and kept ghosts out of his map. Three others aged 65 – Ben Coles (181), Cameron Percy (170) and Brian Steward (148) – did not make the top 125.
Also at age 65 was Aaron Wise, who is 34th in the standings and looking to improve his ranking ahead of the lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs. Wise had a five-hole stretch on the back nine that he played 5 under par, including a 30-foot eagle shot on the 15th, until he missed the fairway and was unable to keep par due to the green on the 18th.
World No. 14 and the highest-ranked player in the field, Will Zalatoris was hoping to finish in the top 10 in the FedEx Cup and earn regular season bonus money. After finishing second in the majors twice this year, he opened with 71 and then had to worry about being cut.
Among those playing during the day was Ricky Fowler, also on the bubble.
Ha now has three rounds at or below 62 on the PGA Tour – he had 62 at Sedgefield in 2013 and 62 at Las Vegas in 2016 – and this round looks easy.
Starting on the fourth hole, he ran five birdies in a row, the longest of which was 10 feet high. After his long eagle shot on the 17th, he scored a 4-foot birdie shot.
“I got close enough, gave myself a chance,” Ha said. “The longest kick I did was for the eagle, but other than that, I put it almost 10 feet and did it all.”
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