Henley maintains a one-shot lead at Wyndham Championship

 

Russell Henley fired a four-under-par 66 on Friday to maintain his one-stroke lead in the Wyndham Championship as Justin Thomas boosted his bid to make the US PGA Tour playoffs.

Henley couldn’t match the fireworks of his first-round 62 at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.

 

But his five birdies and one bogey gave him a 12-under par total of 128, one clear of Billy Horschel – who signed for a 62 of his own for 129.

“I would say just off the tee didn’t quite get it in the fairway quite as much,” Henley said of the difference in his rounds so far this week, adding that the back nine played “a little bit more difficult” in drizzly conditions and a changed wind.

Henley, who ended a five-year title drought with his fourth tour victory at Mayakoba, Mexico, in November, said his plan for the weekend would be to “continue the same things: Just committing to my lines, committing to what I decide to hit off the tee and just making the best swing that I can.”

 

One thing he won’t do is get ahead of himself. He was chasing a wire-to-wire victory at Sedgefield in 2021 when a birdie at the 10th hole on Sunday had him feeling “in control of the tournament”.

Instead he missed the six-man playoff won by Kevin Kisner.

“It’s why I’ve got to play all 72 holes,” Henley said. “It’s just hard to do, hard to finish it off, but I’m excited hopefully for another good weekend.”

Horschel squeezed past a quartet of players sharing third on 10-under 130 with a round that included an eagle at the eighth and seven birdies.

Horschel, hoping to salvage a disappointing season, said his game has been improving in recent weeks.

“There’s been a lot of positive stuff coming, a lot more confidence in my ability to strike the golf ball, which has been the biggest issue all year,” he said.

But at 116th in the FedEx Cup playoff standings, Horschel had a mountain to climb to try to push his way into the top 70 that qualify, with this week the last opportunity.

“I know I have to win or finish solo second,” he said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Thomas climbs

Former world number one Justin Thomas, who is also trying to muscle his way into the playoffs from 79th in the standings, went the right direction with a five-under par 65 that put him at five-under 135 heading into the weekend.

Australian veteran Adam Scott, 81st in the standings, went the wrong way with a one-over 71 that left him eight off the pace.

Well ahead of them, the group at 10-under featured South Korean An Byeong-hun, Canadian Adam Svensson and Americans Lucas Glover and Brendon Todd.

Todd had eight birdies in his seven-under 63, Glover posted a 64, Svensson carded a 67, and An – coming off a bogey-free 63 – had two eagles and a double-bogey in his 67.

“Two eagles, still four shots worse than yesterday,” An said. “Today was a little disappointing.”

Some of the sting was relieved by a 66-foot eagle putt at the 15th, his sixth hole of the day, and a hole out for eagle from 94 yards out in the fairway at his final hole, the par-four ninth.

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