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The former Hokie shot a 3-over 39 on the last nine, letting Jonas Blixt win his second PGA Tour title.
Johnson Wagner tries to coax his putt on the second hole during the final round of The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Sunday.
Jonas Blixt struggles to lift the trophy as The Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice (left) watches. Blixt won The Greenbrier Classic on Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Johnson Wagner (center) hits from the first fairway during the final round of The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Sunday. The tournament was delayed for three hours due to inclement weather.
Spectators walk back to the clubhouse as inclement weather delays play during the final round of The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Sunday.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Johnson Wagner’s magic carpet ride in the mountains ran out of steam in the final nine holes of the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday.
Johnson, who started the last round with a two-shot lead on Jimmy Walker and a four-shot cushion or more on everybody else, played the back nine in 3-over 39 and basically gave away what would have been his fourth PGA Tour title.
Sweden’s Jonathan Blixt was the beneficiary of Johnson’s last-nine collapse and took home his second PGA Tour title and the $1,134,000 first-place paycheck.
“This is going to hurt for a while,” Wagner said. “But I played great for almost four days. Nerves got the best of me, I started looking at the leaderboard after I bogeyed 11.
“What’s so disappointing is I didn’t putt well, which is my strength. I’m livid, I’m really disappointed and really mad.”
Wagner, who had been on point the first three days en route to shooting rounds of 62-70-64, started to lose the swing that been so tight all week. Plus, the putter, which had been his friend the first 54 holes, betrayed him most of the final 18.
“I just never got comfortable with my putter all day,” said Wagner, who had been 2-for-2 in closing 54-hole leads into victories. Two of his previous three tour wins came that route.
“The rain, I don’t know if it slowed the greens down, I should have adjusted quicker than I did. I just don’t think I had the confidence with the wand today.”
Following a 3-hour, 8-minute weather delay for thundershowers, the final group of Wagner and Walker didn’t go off the first tee until 5:10 p.m.
Wagner, wearing Tech colors — orange hat and belt, burgundy slacks — played the front side in even par-34 and took a two-shot lead to the final nine.
Blixt was making some noise in the penultimate group by touring hole Nos. 9-12 in 2 under to tie Wagner for the point at 13 under. Wagner, 33, was victimized by a pair of bad tee shots on Nos. 11 and 15 that resulted in bogeys. He also missed a 6-foot par putt on No. 13.
“I felt like I swung it pretty good early and it went away,” said Wagner, who finished in a four-way tie for second at 11-under 269 with Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch and Jimmy Walker.
“Every swing on the last four holes I just reverted back to what was comfortable. And I’m sure my coach [Bobby Hines] probably was watching and was mad at me. But he’ll get over as I will as well.”
Wagner said he thought there was “no chance” that he and Walker could finish the full round. But they did, coming home in dusk.
“The last few holes we just kind of started running,” Wagner said. “We wanted to finish, but it’s kind of a shame with an incredible tournament like the Greenbrier Classic to feel like you’re in the last group and you’re rushing to finish before daylight. It was dark, really dark.”
Blixt, who won the Frys.com event last season, was stunned to pull out the win. He closed with his third straight 67 for a winning total of 13-under 267.
“I can’t believe,” the 29-year-old Swede who played collegiately at Florida State. “Just to be able to play Augusta [site of the Masters], that’s incredible! There’s so many dreams come true.
“This means the world, absolutely the world. No chance. That’s what kind of chance I thought coming here this week because I haven’t been playing very well.”
Inclement weather has dogged the PGA Tour all season. Counting Sunday’s delay, 15 of the tour’s 27 events this season have seen play suspended for either thunderstorms, lighting, rain, high winds, fog, frost and darkness.
“This year has been a weird year for the tour with rain delays and weather delays that way. So it’s not uncommon to have one this week, I guess,” said last year’s winner Ted Potter Jr., who shot a 67 to finish at 271, for a share of sixth place.
Wagner’s former Tech teammate, Brendon de Jonge, closed with a 66 to finish tied for 17th at 273.
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