Saturday’s golf: Henrik Stenson surges to Wyndham lead
Greensboro, N.C. — Henrik Stenson kept his cool when some birdie chances turned into pars. That patience paid off late in his round.
Stenson shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Wyndham Championship.
The 2013 FedEx Cup champion and 2016 British Open winner was at 16-under 194 at Sedgefield with a round left in the PGA Tour’s last regular-season event of the season.
The Swede had four birdies on a five-hole stretch of the back nine to overtake Webb Simpson for sole possession of first place.
“It’s all about how you finish, I guess,” Stenson said. “I came back strongly, great birdies coming home and right where we want to be.”
Simpson, Kevin Na and Ollie Schniederjans were tied for second. Na shot a 65, Schniederjans had a 66 and Simpson — a North Carolina native who won on this course in 2011 — had a 68. Johnson Wagner was 14 under after a 65.
“Any time you’re within two or three of the lead, you know you’ve got a good chance,” Simpson said. “And for more guys on tour, it’s not every week that you have a chance to win. Hopefully, I’m going to take advantage of it and come out and play a good, solid day.”
Stenson was at even par through his first 12 holes.
Then came the birdie binge he capped by sticking his second shot on the par-4 17th some 10 feet from the hole and converting that putt.
He could have ended his round with another one, but pulled his 15-foot birdie putt wide right and settled for par.
Still, his 72-hole score is second-best in tournament play at Sedgefield, surpassed only by Carl Pettersson’s 191 in 2008.
“Obviously, what I’ve done so far is working pretty well, and I’m playing the course the way I think it’s best for me,” Stenson said. “And I just trying to keep on hitting a lot of fairways, and if you do that, you can set up a lot of birdie chances with mid to short irons.”
Simpson — a local favorite who grew up in Raleigh, played in college at nearby Wake Forest and named his third child Wyndham after his first victory on tour came here — shared the 54-hole lead with Ryan Armour at 13 under.
Simpson birdied his first hole, then reeled off 11 consecutive pars before briefly taking sole possession of the lead with birdies on the 13th and 15th holes. He sank a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 13 and two holes later, he settled for birdie after missing a 35-foot eagle putt on No. 15.
Simpson could have caught Stenson on the 18th, but he pulled a 15-foot birdie putt left.
Winless on tour since October 2013, Simpson admitted his drought is “on my mind a little bit,” adding that he’s “very hungry to win again, very hungry to compete week in and week out.”
Schniederjans — a 24-year-old, third-year pro from Georgia Tech — is chasing his first victory on tour and his fifth top-10 finish of the year.
After shooting a 63 on Friday and starting his round two strokes off the lead, he became the first to 16 under with his birdie on the par-5 15th, hitting his second shot into the primary rough but recovering by chipping to 10 feet and converting the putt.
Then came trouble on the next hole. His tee shot on the par-3 16th landed in a low greenside bunker, and he stuck his chip into the rough just above the sand on his way to a bogey that dropped him back a stroke.
Na — who hasn’t won on tour since 2011 — joined Stenson in making a big move on the back nine. He had birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 17, landing his second shot inside of 10 feet.
“It’s been a while since I won,” he said, “so I think I’m ready.”
Ryan Brehm (Mount Pleasant/Michigan State) shot par 70 to move up to a tie for 62nd place, though well back of the leaders.
In West Des Moines, Iowa, the United States took a 10.5-5.5 lead over Europe in the Solheim Cup, matching its biggest advantage entering the final day.
The Americans took three of the four afternoon fourball matches after splitting the morning foursomes at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. The biennial event concludes Sunday with 12 singles matches. Tee times will be moved up because of expected inclement weather.
Cristie Kerr set a record for career points by an American with 20, teaming with Lexi Thompson to win both of her matches. U.S. captain Juli Inkster held the previous mark with 18.5.
“We’re confident. So we just want to keep it going,” American Austin Ernst said.
Kerr and Thompson beat Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson, 5 and 3, in the morning, and topped Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew, 4 and 2, in the afternoon.
In the other U.S. afternoon victories, Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang beat Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid, 2 up, and Paula Creamer and Ernst edged Karine Icher and Madalene Sagstrom, 2 and 1. Shadoff and Anna Nordqvist beat Lizette Salas and Angel Yin, 4 and 2, for Europe’s lone point.
Creamer and Ernst also won in the morning, topping Reid and Emily Pedersen, 5 and 3. Europe took the other foursomes, with Nordqvist and Hall beating Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, 2 and 1, and Matthew and Karine Icher defeating Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang, 2 and 1.
In Endicott, N.Y., Scott McCarron had two eagles in an 11-under 61 to join Kevin Sutherland atop the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open leaderboard.
Sutherland, the first-round leader, had a 67 to match McCarron at 12-under 132 at En-Joie.
McCarron also had eight birdies and a bogey. He matched his career best set in 1999 in the PGA Tour’s Air Canada Championship.
The 52-year-old McCarron has four PGA Tour Champions victories, winning the Allianz Championship in February and the major Senior Players Championship in July. He won three times on the PGA Tour.
Joey Sindelar, from nearby Horseheads, shot his second straight 67 to join Jerry Smith (67) and Corey Pavin (68) at 10 under. Sindelar won the PGA Tour’s B.C. Open in 1985 and 1987 at En-Joie.
In Los Angeles, Doug Ghim and Doc Redman advanced to the 36-hole final of the U.S. Amateur with semifinal victories at Riviera Country Club.
Ghim is the Big 12’s Player of the Year at the University of Texas. He beat Tommy Humphrey, 2 and 1, in his latest outstanding performance.
Ghim led 4 up down the back nine at Riviera, but a few hiccups allowed Humphrey to halve the lead before Ghim finished strong on the 17th, holing a tough par putt to end it.
Redman plays at Clemson and is heading back to school immediately after the weekend. He lost a late lead before holding off Mark Lawrence Jr. at 1 up, continuing his late-week surge after a self-described “horrendous” performance during stroke play.
The championship match is Sunday.