Fighting for spot in playoffs, Adam Scott fires 65 at Wyndham Championship

Fighting for spot in playoffs, Adam Scott fires 65 at Wyndham Championship
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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Adam Scott got off to just the start he needed Thursday to try to salvage his season, making six birdies and turning his worst swing into a par for a 5-under 65 that gave him the early lead in the Wyndham Championship.

Justin Thomas has more stress awaiting him, both for making the FedExCup playoffs and being part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. He didn’t take advantage of short irons and had to settle for a 70. His next task will be making sure he’s part of the weekend.

The Wyndham Championship is the final PGA Tour event before the postseason. Only the top 70 — down previously from the top 125 — make it to the lucrative postseason that starts next week.

Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Scott is No. 81 and likely needs at least a top-10 finish to have any chance of advancing.

“I’ve had a lot of years having a go at the FedExCup playoffs, and all these kind of things come to an end at some point,” Scott said. “But for sure, I want to win this tournament, and if I do that I can have a really good run right through to East Lake, I believe.”

Scott had a one-shot lead over Thomas Detry and Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, the former Texas Tech star who topped the list on the PGA Tour University ranking to earn membership. Because he didn’t turn pro until June, Aberg is No. 146 and would have to win to advance.

Among the late starters was J.T. Poston, whose triple bogey on the last hole in Minnesota last week cost him 11 spots in the FedExCup. He’s still a lock for the postseason, but more is at stake. The top 50 after the first playoff event in Memphis, Tennessee, move on to the second round outside of Chicago and are assured of playing in all the signature $20 million events next year.

The top 30 reach the FedExCup finale at East Lake for the Tour Championship.

Scott made a couple of birdies from the 12-foot range and seized on rain-softened conditions with his wedge to set up short birdie attempts. His most unusual par was on the 226-yard seventh hole, with a creek running down the right side.

Scott hit his tee shot so far to the right — the pin was left — that he went on the other side of the creek. He chopped out of thick, wet grass to 15 feet and made the par putt.

Thomas had a round that matched the dreary day of light but steady rain. He had two birdies, two bogeys and the rest pars, some of them valuable. But he needs a high finish — 18th place at a mathematical minimum, though something around 10th might be more safe — to get into the top 70. He currently is at No. 78.

Adding to the importance is that Ryder Cup qualifying ends in three more tournaments, and then six players are added as captain’s picks. Without any more tournaments, Zach Johnson might have a tough time considering a player who has gone 15 months without a win.

“I played fine. I didn’t really do anything well, I didn’t do anything terribly,” Thomas said. “When I woke up and looked at it this morning, didn’t think I was going to be playing 16 holes in rain. So that’s a bummer, especially in the position that I’m in and the scores that I need. But who knows what will happen the rest of the day? I just wish I would have taken advantage of a couple more scoring clubs.”

Stephen Jaeger, at No. 64 in the standings, had a good start to protect his position. He opened with a 67, along with a large group that included Billy Horschel and Brendon Todd.

Most of the players who don’t reach the postseason will have the fall to make sure they stay among the top 125 who have full cards for 2024.

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