Mon, Jul 09, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Simpson fires to a two-stroke lead at Greenbrier Classic

AFP, WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WEST VIRGINIA

US Open champion Webb Simpson closed with back-to-back birdies on Saturday to stretch his lead in the USPGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic to two strokes after three rounds.

Simpson posted a five-under par-65 that included five birdies and no bogeys for a 54-hole total of 14-under par-196.

That put him two strokes in front of Troy Kelly, who had eight birdies in an impressive eight-under 62 on the Old White TPC course for a 12-under total of 198.

It was a further stroke back to Ken Duke (65), Charlie Beljan (67) and JB Holmes (66) on 199.

Simpson, who claimed his first major title with his US Open triumph at The Olympic Club in San Francisco last month, has played 48 straight holes without a bogey — his last miscue coming at his sixth hole of the first round.

He birdied four of his last six holes on Saturday to gain a bit of breathing room atop the leaderboard, but 20 players were within six shots of his lead.

Although the bunched field promised an unpredictable day yesterday, two players Simpson would not have to worry about were Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Both missed the cut on Friday.

It was Woods’ second missed cut of the season, but just the ninth of his pro career. Simpson said he was not sorry that the 14-time major champion was not going to be around.

“When he’s not lurking around on Saturdays and Sundays, it makes it a little easier, I think, for other guys,” Simpson said.

However, Simpson said he fully expected someone to come out of the pack and challenge him yesterday.

“The way I look at it is, I’ve got to go shoot under par. And if I don’t, somebody’s probably going to [play] pretty good,” he said.

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