SIMP­SON BREAKS OUT FROM THE CROWD

Sup­presses chal­lenges from heat and wind to take Colo­nial lead

New Straits Times - - Sport -

WEBB Simp­son felt al­most as if he had just played a round in a ma­jor after a steamy Satur­day at Colo­nial.

For the 2012 US Open cham­pion, and pretty much ev­ery­one else at Ho­gan’s Al­ley, it was a men­tally drain­ing day at the tra­di­tional tree-lined course where tem­per­a­tures were in the up­per 90s, with a heat in­dex of 108 de­grees and wind gust­ing to 25 mph.

“There is so much think­ing in­volved on ev­ery shot,” Simp­son said.

Even so, Simp­son shot a 3-un­der 67 to break out of a crowd and take the third-round lead.

At 9-un­der 201, Simp­son was two strokes ahead of Paul Casey (68) and Danny Lee (69) after both of them made long birdie putts at the 18th hole. Ste­wart Cink (66) and Kevin Kis­ner (70) were three strokes off the lead.

“It was a good grind day,” Lee said. “It’s tough out there with the wind blow­ing side­ways.”

De­fend­ing cham­pion Jordan Spi­eth shot 68 to get to 4 un­der, even with cad­die Michael Greller leav­ing the course after 11 holes be­cause of heat ex­haus­tion.

Part of a four-way tie for the 36hole lead, Simp­son went ahead alone to stay after con­sec­u­tive birdies to start his back nine. He made a 6-foot birdie putt at the 387-yard 10th and a 12-footer at the 630-yard 11th be­fore fin­ish­ing with seven con­sec­u­tive pars.

It is on the sec­ond time in 12 years for the 54-hole leader at Colo­nial to have more than a on­e­stroke ad­van­tage.

Simp­son leads after three rounds for the fifth time in his ca­reer, and first since the Shriners Hos­pi­tals for Chil­dren Open in Oc­to­ber 2013 that was also the last of his four PGA Tour vic­to­ries. He lost in a play­off to Hideki Mat­suyama at Phoenix in Fe­bru­ary.

“Def­i­nitely feel like (the sea­son has) ebbed and flowed,” he said. “I feel like that’s start­ing to hap­pen more, where I’m part of the con­ver­sa­tion of con­tend­ing. That’s a good feel­ing. I know what I’m do­ing is work­ing.”

Play­ing in the fi­nal group, Simp­son birdied the first two holes Satur­day. He gave one of those back with a bo­gey at the par-3, 192-yard eighth after miss­ing the green with his tee shot. His only other birdies were at Nos. 10 and 11.

Spi­eth said it was “a no-brainer sit­u­a­tion” to make a cad­die switch be­cause Greller felt so bad. Greller told Spi­eth that he’d be ready for Sun­day’s fi­nal round.

Damon God­dard, the per­sonal trainer for both the player and the cad­die, car­ried the bag the last seven holes. Spi­eth had a bo­gey at the 14th and two birdies down the stretch.

“He’s cad­died for me be­fore. Michael was re­ally sick in Hous­ton in 2014. Damon cad­died the first round. We went bo­gey-free, 2 un­der,” Spi­eth said. “I let Damon down to­day. I made my first bo­gey with him on the bag by three-putting.”

Lee and Kis­ner also were tied for the sec­ond-round lead, along with Scott Piercy, whose shot 72 to fall five strokes back.

After three birdies and three bo­geys his first eight holes Satur­day, Lee had a steady stream of pars un­til fin­ish­ing with a 16-foot birdie.

“I re­ally needed that to have a good mo­men­tum start­ing to­mor­row,” Lee said. “It was a good grind out there. It’s not easy out there when wind is blow­ing side­ways ev­ery hole. It’s very hard for me to com­mit ev­ery shot.”

AP PIC

Webb Simp­son watches his tee shot in the third round of the Dean & DeLuca In­vi­ta­tional in Fort Worth, Texas, on Satur­day.

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