(Reuters) – Webb Simpson, who skipped last week’s tournament after his daughter tested positive for COVID-19, made a late birdie to earn a two-way share of the lead after the second round at Detroit Golf Club on Friday.
World number six Simpson, the top-ranked player in this week’s field, shot a bogey-free, eight-under-par 64 for a 12-under halfway total of 132 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic where he shared a one-shot lead with fellow American Chris Kirk (65).
Simpson, seeking wins in consecutive starts after a triumph in South Carolina 12 days ago, birdied seven of his first 13 holes and moved into a share of the lead when he holed out from a greenside bunker at the par-four 16th.
“I came in confident, I came in feeling good about my game,” former U.S. Open champion Simpson said.
“Most guys I feel like play well out here when they’re not really thinking a whole lot, their mind is calm and they feel in control and they feel confident. That’s kind of where I am right now.”
World number 10 Bryson DeChambeau (67) was among a group of six golfers sitting one shot off the lead in Detroit, where the field lacked the same star power seen at the PGA Tour’s previous three events since returning from a three-month COVID-19 hiatus.
DeChambeau, who started on the back nine, came agonizingly close to capping his bogey-free round with an ace at the par-three ninth where his tee shot settled two-feet from the cup.
“Coming off with a clean card today makes me feel really good, and finishing off with a birdie gives me some inspiration for tomorrow to play well,” said DeChambeau, who has top-eight finishes in all three PGA Tour events since play resumed.
Rickie Fowler (71) offset two front-nine bogeys with back-to-back birdies starting at the 12th hole to get inside the cutline and added another at the penultimate hole to sit six shots back of the leaders.
Defending champion Nate Lashley (69) closed his round with a bogey and missed the cut by one stroke.
Among those who missed the cut are former major champions Vijay Singh, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Jason Dufner and Charl Schwartzel.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue and Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Chris Reese)