Friday's roundup: Simpson leads in Wells Fargo

Associated Press

Charlotte, N.C. — Webb Simpson has plenty of hometown knowledge when it comes to playing Quail Hollow Club.

He might need every bit of it if he hopes to hold off Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson this weekend.

Simpson chipped in twice for birdie and shot a 5-under 67 for a share of the second-round lead with Robert Streb in the Wells Fargo Championship. Streb had a 69 to match Simpson at 10-under 134.

"Playing here quite often, I know where the best places are to miss (the green)," said Simpson, who lives in Charlotte and has played the course countless times.

Simpson knows it will take a lot more big shots over the weekend to win with some of golf's top names lurking behind him.

McIlroy and Mickelson were three shots back. Mickelson had a 66, and McIlroy matched Simpson's 67.

Martin Flores and Patrick Rodgers were tied for third at 8 under.

"I know I have to make birdies," Simpson said.

Mickelson made seven Friday.

One day after joking that he "turned a 66 into a 71" in the opening round with some missed opportunities, Mickelson got his 66.

"Right now nobody is turning 66s into 71s better than me," Mickelson joked, so it's nice to finally shoot that 66 and get the score that reflects the way I feel I'm playing."

Mickelson thought he didn't play all that bad last week, but still missed the cut at The Players Championship. He appears to be back in a big way.

McIlroy was on his game, too.

The world's top-ranked player said his focus was on eliminating mistakes after an up-and-down 70 the day before. He did just that, posting five birdies and no bogeys. He was never in any real danger of making bogey in what he called a "stress-free round."

"Anytime you can play a round of golf with no bogeys you're doing something right," said McIlroy, who won the 2010 event for his first PGA Tour victory.

McIlroy rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the first hole to gain some early momentum. He went on to hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation with 29 putts.

With four top-10 finishes in six events this year, McIlroy's confidence keeps growing. He said his biggest strength now is his patience, understanding that he doesn't have to go for every birdie opportunity.

"Just knowing from experience what a good score is and (that) sometimes, if it's just not happening, you're not losing any ground," McIlroy said.

"I felt like I could have shot 63 or 64, but realizing that 67 is still a good score and puts me in position going into the weekend."

The biggest surprise high on the leaderboard is the 22-year-old Rodgers, a regular on the Tour who is playing on a sponsor's exemption. Rodgers, who played at Stanford, rents a house with Jordan Spieth in Jupiter, Florida.

"The young guys are ready to come out here and win," Rodgers said.

Brian Stuard (Jackson) is at 4-under 140 after a 70. Tom Gillis of Lake Orion (72-146) and Matt Thompson of Battle Creek (78-149) missed the cut.


Alison Lee shot a 4-under 67 to take a two-stroke lead in the LPGA Tour's Kingsmill Championship at Williamsburg, Virginia.

Lee had a 9-under 133 total on Kingsmill Resort's River Course.

Minjee Lee and Perrine Delacour were tied for second.


Kevin Sutherland (66) and Jeff Maggert (67) shared the second-round lead in the Regions Tradition at Birmingham, Alabama at 10 under.