On the opening hole of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina, Matt Every holed out from 95 metres for an eagle. Surely, it would be all down hill from there. Not quite. Every would go on to shoot the low round of his career – a bogey-free, nine-under 61 to take a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson.
Every, 33, followed up his eagle with seven more birdies on his round, four of which helped him make the turn in six-under 29. The two-time US PGA Tour winner was dialled in, hitting 17 of 18 greens and holing just 51 feet of putts.
Coming into the week, the Floridian was 183rd in the FedEx Cup Standings, meaning he will almost certainly need to win or finish in second to earn a spot in next week’s Northern Trust Open. He’s made just nine of 29 cuts this season, but did find himself in contention at the RBC Canadian Open two weeks ago, ultimately finishing T-14th.
Stenson, who ranks 75th in the FedEx Cup standings, will be at Glen Oaks for the FedEx Cup Playoffs opener next week, but decided to tee it up at the Wyndham for just the fourth time in his career. History would not suggest success, having missed the cut in 2010 and 2011 and withdrawing in 2012.
But the Swede fared better at the Donald Ross course, posting an eight-under 62, his low round of the season. After missing five of six cuts leading into the British Open, he’s found some late-season form, finishing T-11 at Royal Birkdale, T-17 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and T-13 at the US PGA Championship.
Seven players are two shots behind Every at seven-under, including New Zealand’s Tim Wilkinson who carded eight birdies and one bogey in his round of 63. Among the others who shot 63 are Australia’s Cameron Smith and Webb Simpson, who earned his first US Tour victory at the Wyndham in 2011.
Just three shots back is 53-year-old Davis Love III thanks to a bogey-free 64. The two-time Ryder Cup captain hit just seven fairways, but still managed to find every green in regulation on a track he’s pretty familiar with. In 2015, he became the third oldest winner in US Tour history when he won the Wyndham at the age of 51.
In the tournament-within-a-tournament, it was a promising start for Geoff Ogilvy, who came in as the 125th-ranked player on the FedEx Cup standings. The 40-year-old was three-under after five holes but squandered shots thereafter in an even-par 70 that leaves him tied for 102nd place after round one. Ogilvy needs roughly a 50th place finish or better to enter the playoff events and keep his card for 2017-2018.