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Gainey & Wagner Fire 62s at Greenbrier Classic
Tommy Gainey and Johnson Wagner soared to the top of the leaderboard of the Greenbrier Classic after posting 8-under 62s in Round 1. The $6.3 million PGA Tour event began on the Fourth of July on the Old TPC White course at the historic Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Gainey, a 37-year-old from South Carolina, carded four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back. Wagner, a 33-year-old from Amarillo, Texas, started with five birdies on the par-34 outward nine to make the turn in 5-under 29. After a birdie on the 11th, he eagled the par-5 12th and suddenly had thoughts of a magical 59. But the three-time Tour winner carded six straight pars coming home for a 33.
"I made the turn in 29 and (the 59) crept in there. I kind of put it out of my mind, but when I made that eagle on 12 and definitely thought about it the rest of the way. Hit a lot of good shots coming in and made some good putts, but maybe I wanted them too bad . . . It's nice to be disappointed with a 62."
Wagner, who gained some notoriety by growing an old-school, jet-black mustache, decided to shave it off Monday as a favor to his wife, Katie - who's not particularly fond of it - for a seventh-anniversary present. "I didn't get her a gift, so I thought surprising her with a clean lip would suffice," Wagner kiddingly told PGA Tour.com.
"It will definitely come back at some point," he added. "I love irritating my wife too much with it to let it go for too long."
Gainey, widely known as "Two Gloves" for his wont of wearing a golf glove on each hand, owed his fine opening effort to a new Callaway driver. "I missed one fairway today with this new driver and that says a lot because if I can hit fairways, I can score, I can really play this game," said Gainey, whose first and only win so far came in last year's McGladrey Classic. "All of us can. All these guys out here, if we hit the fairways, we can score. Today with the soft greens, you know, I made some putts."
Sharing third after 64s are 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and South Korea's Jin Park. Another stroke back lurk Americans Daniel Summerhays, Neil Lancaster and Tag Ridings, and Aussie Steven Bowditch.
Twelve players posted 66s and 11 had 67s. Bill Haas, who won last week's AT&T National, opened with a 68. Kenny Perry, who won the first major title of his career last week, the Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh, also shot 68 as did the two Watsons in the field - Bubba and Tom, the latter of which is the pro emeritus at Greenbrier.
Also shooting a 68 was Ryan Palmer, whose caddie for the week is New Orleans' Saints coach Sean Payton. Payton, who led the Saints to victory in the 2009 Super Bowl, said he's known Palmer "for quite a while." Payton told reporters before the tournament that it's an ideal time for him to get away from his day job.
"This time of year for us in the NFL is very quiet," Payton said on Wednesday. "So what started as a plan of vacationing here at the Greenbrier for a week, after two days I've quickly realized, this isn't a vacation. It worked out and, James is someone - James Edmondson, Ryan's caddie, is someone I'm good friends with as well, and we were just talking at dinner one night and it ended up working out. So the last two days have been good, but I take the opportunity very seriously in that this is how he makes a living."
Defending Greenbrier Classic champion Ted Potter Jr. opened with a 69.
Phil Mickelson had a desultory outing. In his first tournament since the U.S. Open in mid-June at Merion, where he finished as the runner-up in America's national golf championship for a record sixth time, the four-time major champion opened with a 74 that included four birdies, five bogeys and a triple on the par-5 17th when his tee shot found water.
Though he hit 10 of 14 fairways, Lefty had a tough time on the greens, needing 32 putts. He's also had prior difficulties at Greenbrier, missing the cut in the two times he's played the tournament. He's in danger of missing the weekend rounds again.
"I don't feel bad about my game," he told PGATour.com. "I'll come out tomorrow, see how low I can go. I look forward to these next couple of weeks, because I know I'm shooting low scores and I'm playing well, so I'm not going to let a bad round on a course that I've struggled with in the past get to me."
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.