GREENSBORO, N.C. - Russell Henley delivered a scintillating start at the Wyndham Championship with a remarkable 8-under 62, giving him the lead in the final tournament before the PGA TOUR's FedExCup Playoffs. Henley's impressive round included an eagle on the par-5 15th, where he struck his approach to within 6 feet of the hole. His impressive back-nine performance at the rain-softened Sedgefield Country Club put him one stroke ahead of Adam Svensson and Byeong Hun An, who birdied his final two holes.
Henley is currently ranked No. 34 in the FedExCup standings, while Svensson is at No. 37, and An stands at No. 52. All three players have already secured their spots in the Playoffs, which are for the top 70 in the standings. Their strong performances in this tournament might give them a head start in the FedExCup Playoffs.
In contrast, Adam Scott, ranked No. 81, and Justin Thomas, ranked No. 78, are in need of significant finishes to salvage their seasons and qualify for both the FedExCup and the Ryder Cup. Scott's opening 65 was a positive step towards that goal, demonstrating his determination to stay competitive. As for Thomas, he struggled to a 70 in the challenging rainy conditions.
Henley's solid performance was bolstered by avoiding the inclement weather that plagued the early starters, such as Scott and Thomas. Missing just two fairways and displaying a hot putter, Henley showcased his prowess at the Sedgefield course.
However, despite his stellar start, Henley still reflects on a disappointing finish from two years ago at the Wyndham Championship. In 2019, he held a three-shot lead entering the final round and was still in control on the back nine, but a series of bogeys derailed his chances, including a costly bogey on the 18th hole, causing him to miss a playoff by a single shot. The experience has motivated him to approach this tournament one shot at a time.
The FedExCup Playoffs have been reduced to include only the top 70 players, down from 125 in previous years. Scott acknowledges the challenge of being in this position, but he remains optimistic and determined to win the tournament and secure a strong run through the Playoffs to East Lake.
Other notable performances on the first day included Andrew Novak holing out from off the 18th green for birdie and a score of 64. The group at 66 includes Thomas Detry and Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, who is seeking to advance despite being ranked No. 146.
For players like Thomas, the Wyndham Championship takes on added significance as Ryder Cup qualifying ends soon, and captain's picks will be made. Thomas needs a high finish to secure a spot in the top 70 and improve his chances of being selected for the Ryder Cup team.
As the tournament progresses, the pressure intensifies for those on the bubble, as they strive to maintain their positions and earn a spot in the FedExCup Playoffs and the Ryder Cup team.