After brutal back-to-back breaks, Wyndham leader collapses
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Winning a golf tournament is really hard. Russell Henley and Lucas Glover reminded us all Sunday it takes getting some breaks to go the right way too.
The pair were locked in a battle for the Wyndham Championship when play was suspended just before 5 p.m., tied at 20 under. When play resumed more than two hours later, Henley grabbed the upper hand with a birdie on the par-5 15th.
Then he came to the 167-yard par-3 16th.
Rewind a few hours, before the weather delay when Justin Thomas was playing the same hole, fighting for his playoff life after making eagle at 15.
Thomas hit a knockdown draw with a short iron, but he immediately knew he had a problem.
“Go! Go! Go!” Thomas shouted as his approach started falling back down to earth. With a back pin, his tee shot landed just past the front edge of the green, not far enough to survive the green’s false front.
His ball rolled all the way back to the opposite side of the green’s approach and settled into the first cut of rough, narrowly avoiding divots of players saddled with the same fate before him. The result was a bogey that ultimately proved costly for Thomas as he finished one shot short of the playoffs.
But that was only a sign of things to come for the later groups.
Nearly three hours later, holding the solo lead, Henley stepped up on 16 and hit a similar shot. Instead of drawing back toward the pin, Henley’s ball was left out to dry right and he spun his club in one hand in frustration.
Henley’s ball actually landed deeper into the green but it ripped back toward the front and just trickled over the slope. But just as it began to settle, some 30 yards from the hole, it took a dive toward a divot and stopped in it.
This wasn’t any ordinary divot, however. This was a crater.
From there, Henley could only chop out to the front of the green and two-putt for bogey.
“16, to come back into a divot, that’s a pretty tough break,” Henley said afterward.
His luck got no better on the next hole as he blew his drive way right and had to punch out into a slope of rough in the middle of the 17th fairway. While he wasn’t in a divot this time, his lie was so bad he called an official to attempt to get relief for an embedded ball. The CBS broadcast confirmed it had bounced first.
This time, Henley’s hack couldn’t even reach the front of the green and he made another bogey to fall out of the lead entirely.
Another bogey on the home hole and Henley went from the driver’s seat to letting Glover coast to victory in a matter of 30 minutes.
“17, I just hit a terrible shot and 18 was just not good enough to make a par,” he said.
On the flip side, Glover got all the fortune Henley didn’t. On 18, the 43-year-old snap-hooked his tee shot toward the pine straw on the left, near where Justin Thomas played his second shot from earlier.
Instead of skipping into the pine straw, his ball bounced off a police cart and back toward the fairway.
From there he laid up and made par to close out the two-shot win.
“I did not know that [my ball had hit the cart],” Glover said. “I thought somebody was joking, I heard them say that.”
It was no joke and neither was the luck that helped Glover and sunk Henley.