Billy Horschel birdied five of his final eight holes on Friday to join Si Woo Kim, Talor Gooch and Tom Hoge in a four-way tie atop the leaderboard at halftime of the Wyndham Championship.
Playing Sedgfield’s back-nine for his second set, Horschel entered the day tied for 13th, but after a bogey on his second hole the former Florida Gator was sitting outside the top 20. Birdies on 6 and 8, however, gave Horschel a 1-under par 34 outward-nine.
Following a par on the 10th, Horschel – who was still just 1-under on the day, reeled off five birdies over his final eight holes, highlighted by a hat trick of gains on the middle three, to reach 10-under par, alongside Kim (65), Gooch (65), and Hoge (68).
“Yeah, a really good day of golf, 64. Really didn’t have any trouble at all. No. 11 (his second hole) I made a bogey and honestly, I probably shouldn’t have made a bogey right there in front of the green in two… just missed a short putt,” explained Horschel of his only bogey.
“Other than that, it was really solid. Gave myself a lot of opportunities to make putts out there. I put the ball in the fairway, which is key around here. If you can put the ball in the fairway, you can be aggressive to these pins and control your shots going into these greens, which is crucial, and I’ve done a really good job of that these last two days.”
Shane Lowry headlined a five-player logjam at T5 on 9-under par. The 33-year old Irishman, who sits No. 131 in the points standings, and badly needs a top finish this week to punch a ticket to Boston, carded a low-round 63, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole.
“I felt like I had a score like that in me yesterday, I was quite disappointed to shoot 2 under. It was nice to go out there and shoot a good score today,” said Lowry. “You know, it’s kind of the best score I’ve shot in a while and I’m looking forward to the weekend.
“Obviously I’m outside the FedExCup number and outside of Boston next week, so I need to keep playing some good golf and try and polish off a good week this week and hopefully make it into next week then.”
Tournament favorite, Webb Simpson, was among a group two further off the pace at 8-under par. The North Carolina native, who is seeking his third win of the season, shot a 66 on Friday to stay in contention for his second career Sam Snead Cup.
“A couple bad decisions, but one dropped shot at 10 and I didn’t birdie 5 from the middle of the fairway, so I felt like I left a couple out there, but in good shape,” said Simpson.
“You know, I thought the leader would kind of get away with 12, 13 and surprised to see it’s only at 10.”
Three time major winner Jordan Spieth overcame a double bogey on the 14th with a birdie on No. 15 to sneak into the weekend, right on the number – at 3-under par.
“Yeah, I felt good. I was kind of trying to feel stuff out. I didn’t feel great about the way I was swinging it early in the round and then I started to find a nice rhythm and hit a lot of really good shots. Felt like I hit some great putts this week that haven’t gone in. Clearly the one on 14 off the tee will hurt, that’s two strokes, but I feel like I’m playing like 8 under golf and I’m at 3., so I really hope that 3 holds,” said Spieth.
“It’s going to be close here on making the cut. I feel like with being able to play aggressive tomorrow, a little more fearlessly on the back nine, I had to watch it a little bit today after 14, I think that will help quite a bit for making a little run.”
Brooks Koepka brought his final-round PGA Championship struggles with him to North Carolina. The four-time major champion opened with a 72, and followed it up with an even-par 70 to miss the cut by five shots. The 30-year old Florida native will enter the postseason somewhere around the 90th spot.
Top 5 Leaders
Pos-Player-To Par (Today)
1. Billy Horschel -10 (-6)
1. Si Woo Kim -10 (-5)
1. Talor Gooch -10 (-5)
1. Tom Hoge -10 (-2)
5. Doc Redman -9 (-6)
5. Shane Lowry -9 (-7)
5. Harris English -9 (-3)
5. Harold Varner III -9 (-1)
5. Andrew Landry -9 (5)
Question For Billy Horschel
Q. You’re playing eight out of 10 weeks, Billy. How do you kind of conserve energy as you make this run trying to get back to Atlanta?
HORSCHEL: “Yeah, so we saw the schedule and I wasn’t sure if I was going to play here or not. It’s an event I love. I knew if I played here there would be a lot of tournaments in a two-and-a-half month window, but with my position in the FedExCup, I felt like it was vital for me to come here and try to accumulate more points.
“So after Sunday I flew home and spent two days there and I flew up here Wednesday morning. It was just nice. It was nice to not be here Monday, Tuesday and sort of grind it out.
“So I know I’ve got several more weeks left to play golf and I’ll just do a good job of being smart with my practice. Thankfully, the game’s in a good spot. I don’t have to really grind too hard, which helps a lot in that aspect.”