Wagner, Gainey share early Greenbrier lead


With a soft course and lift, clean and place conditions in effect, low scores were abundant Thursday at Old White TPC. Here's the skinny heading into the second round of The Greenbrier Classic, where two players find themselves two shots clear of the field:

Leaderboard: Johnson Wagner (-8), Tommy Gainey (-8), Jin Park (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Neal Lancaster (-5), Daniel Summerhays (-5), Tag Ridings (-5)

What it means: Both Wagner and Gainey got off to hot starts on a soft course, but they weren't the only ones to start strong Thursday in West Virginia. Nearly half the field was able to break par in the opening round, with former U.S. Open champion Simpson headlining the group chasing the two co-leaders.

Round of the day: Wagner appeared ready to challenge Stuart Appleby's course record of 59 early in his round, playing the first 12 holes in 8 under. Though he carded six consecutive pars coming home, his bogey-free round that included six birdies and an eagle was enough to vault the three-time PGA Tour champion into a share of the lead.

Best of the rest: Like Wagner, Gainey made it around Old White TPC in 62 shots without dropping a stroke. The reigning champion at The McGladrey Classic, Gainey notched four birdies on both the front and back nine, and as a result is in position to stem an ongoing slump, as his 2013 season has included nine missed cuts and just one top-10 finish in 22 starts to date.

Biggest disappointment: Phil Mickelson. In his first start since finishing runner-up - again - at the U.S. Open, the left-hander was even par through 16 holes, but triple bogeyed the par-5 17th after hitting his tee shot in the water. For good measure, he bogeyed the par-4 18th to shoot 4-over 74.

Main storyline heading into Friday: While both have struggled this year, Wagner and Gainey have played themselves into position to make up for weeks of missed cuts across the next 54 holes. They'll both need to maintain an aggressive game plan, though, as Simpson remains determined to make up for last year's T-7 finish after leading following both the second and third rounds.

Shot of the day: Already 6 under on his round, Wagner moved to the top of the leaderboard at the par-5 12th. After two shots placed him just off the green, the former Virginia Tech player chipped in from 84 feet for eagle, moving to 8 under and tying Gainey for the lead.

Quote of the day: 'I love irritating my wife too much with it to let it go for too long. We just celebrated our seventh anniversary on Monday and I didn’t get her a gift, so I thought surprising her with a clean lip would suffice.” – Wagner, who recently shaved his recognizable mustache.