WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — The Old White TPC had all but emptied Friday evening when Matt Every’s final stroke broke up a six-way tie atop the Greenbrier Classic leaderboard.
A 10-foot birdie putt on No. 9 pushed Every to 9-under overall, lifting the former University of Florida All-American one stroke ahead of the pack.
Though the course was less congenial than Thursday, Every fired an 8-under 62, his lowest stroke total in 68 PGA Tour career starts. Considering no other player shot better than 5-under in the second round, Every’s eight birdies presented a striking storyline and ended his slump of three consecutive missed cuts.
“Finally made some putts,” he said. “I haven’t made anything all year, and it just finally happened today. Been waiting for it.”
Every has some history at the Greenbrier—he was a first-round co-leader with a 63 in 2010, before shooting a cumulative par the next three days and finishing tied for 66th. That was his final event before serving a three-month suspension for what the PGA labeled “conduct unbecoming a professional” — a penalty stemming from Every’s arrest at an Iowa casino three weeks earlier for marijuana possession. He denied possessing drugs and those misdemeanor charges subsequently were dropped, yet the suspension effectively cost him his Tour card in 2011.
Current circumstances show Every attempting to secure his Tour spot for 2014—he’s currently 93rd on this season’s PGA money list.
Among the five-pack behind him at 8-under are other golfers hungry to climb the earnings list: Daniel Summerhays (124th), Johnson Wagner (148th), Steven Bowditch (183rd) and Bill Lunde (220th).
“It’s coming down to the end of the year, a lot of guys are trying to get inside the FedEx or the Top 125 on the money to keep their job next year,” Every said. “So it’s a big week for a lot of people. For myself, I mean, every week’s a big week out here. If you play good it can change your life.”
The outlier among the second-place group is rookie Russell Henley, who has earned more than $1.8 million this year thanks to a win at the Sony Open and sits 20th in earnings. He stockpiled seven birdies Friday in a round that rang stellar except for one flaw—a double-bogey on No. 5, where his approach shot overflew the green and required two shots to escape the rough.
‘I’m still kind of scratching my head on that one,” he said.
First-round co-leaders Wagner and Tommy Gainey came back to earth after their opening-day 62s.
“It would have been nice to shoot another 62 and separate a little bit, but that’s what tomorrow’s for,” said Wagner, who was even on the day. “I’m excited. I haven’t made a cut in seven tournaments much less been in contention, so it’s really nice.”
Gainey, whose baseball-style swing will never make a teaching video, shot 1 over to fall into a four-way tie for seventh at 7-under.
“No one’s trying to give me any tips on (my swing) because I think they know my stance on it: It’s not happening, I’m not changing,” he said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. For God’s sake, I won a PGA tournament last year. So there’s got to be something good with it.”
Some 81 players made the cut at 1-under. Among them were Greenbrier pro emeritus Tom Watson (-3), 2011 Classic champion Scott Stallings (-3), defending champion Ted Potter Jr. (-5) and Kenny Perry (-5).
Phil Mickelson (+2) was the most notable casualty, along with Charles Howell III (+1), 2010 Classic champ Stuart Appleby (+1) and Boo Weekley (+5).
Huntington’s Pat Carter (+8) also was nixed with a 3-over 73. He made the Classic field based on last year’s West Virginia Amateur championship, his 13th title.
Among the four players who qualified locally Monday, only Brad Adamonis (-1) survived to play the third round, though Ryan Blaum (even) missed the cut by a single stroke. Dan Obremski (+4) and Ryan Zylstra (+10) finished out of the money in their PGA Tour debuts.
“The biggest change is (the course) is so much softer this year. Last year it played a lot shorter. The fairways were a lot firmer so the ball rolled 20, 30 yards when you hit your tee shots.” — Ted Potter Jr.
“The crowd got behind me and they were still pulling for me even though I was hitting it like crap.” — Tommy Gainey
“I’ve been getting frustrated lately, I’ve broken two clubs this year during tournaments, which is probably more than my entire career. So I’ve just been trying to laugh off my mistakes. ” — Johnson Wagner
“This weekend I have to come out and shoot something really low in two days and hopefully I can scare the leader on Sunday.” — Bubba Watson