GREENSBORO, N.C. — Not many players birdied the tricky final hole at the Wyndham Championship on Saturday.
Nick Watney did to top leaderboard.
The 1999 Davis High graduate made a 20-foot birdie putt from the right edge of the green on the par-4 18th for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead.
Watney, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, had a 14-under 196 total with only one bogey through three trips around Sedgefield Country Club.
“I’ve been trying to keep it pretty simple — a lot of fairways and greens, and I’ve been able to do that so far,” Watney said. “I’m super excited about going into (Sunday) with the lead. … I’m looking forward to everything that comes with it, all the emotions and wanting to do well and whatnot. Learning how to handle that is a big thing, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Brad Fritsch was second after a 65.
Freddie Jacobson and second-round co-leader Heath Slocum were 12-under. Jacobson shot a 66, and Slocum had a 68.
Former Wyndham winners Brandt Snedeker and Webb Simpson joined second-round co-leader Scott Langley at 11 under in the final event of the PGA Tour’s regular season. Snedeker and Simpson shot 66, and Langley had a 69.
Fritsch was the first to 13 under, but Watney joined him with a birdie on the par-5 15th — his second of the week on that hole.
Then came the sequence that gave the former Blue Devil sole possession of the lead, and it came on the second-toughest hole of the day.
Watney plopped his fairway shot from 180 yards onto the right edge of the green, then calmly rolled in his putt for just the fifth birdie of the day on 18.
“It’s a hard hole as it is, and they put the pin on that back right little knob,” Watney said. “It’s a bonus and I’m very happy with it.”
That put him in great position for his second top-10 finish of the year and his first victory since he won The Barclays in 2012.
Fritsch — a Canadian who played college golf at Campbell and lives in the Raleigh suburb of Holly Springs — said he asked the officials at the first tee to announce him as a North Carolinian.
Fritsch, who is playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, put himself in position to challenge for his first victory on tour and his third top-10 finish.
He’s also got a shot at making the postseason after arriving at Sedgefield at No. 163. The top 125 qualify for The Barclays next week in New Jersey.
Andres Romero had the day’s best round, a 64, and Kevin Foley and David Toms each had holes-in-one. Foley aced the par-3 12th with a 5-iron a few minutes before Toms did it on the par-3 seventh.
But so far, the story at Sedgefield has been its tight leaderboard. Thirteen players were within three strokes of the lead.
“I assume that when I tee off, I probably won’t be in the lead or tied for the lead,” Watney said. “So it’s not like I’m protecting anything (Sunday). Just more (of) the same.”