Friday 28 October 2016

Simpson shares lead, McIlroy closes

Published 16/05/2015 | 00:05

Webb Simpson moved into a share of the lead at Quail Hollow
Webb Simpson moved into a share of the lead at Quail Hollow

Local boy Webb Simpson joined Robert Streb in the lead of the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina as Rory McIlroy moved into contention with a bogey-free 67.

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First-round leader Streb was three under for the day to follow up his opening 65 while Simpson birdied three of the last four holes on his home course Quail Hollow, including his second chip-in of the round on the 17th, for a second successive 67 to join him on 10 under.

Martin Flores and Patrick Rodgers were on eight under while McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Will MacKenzie were a further shot back, three off the lead going into the weekend.

McIlroy started on the back nine, where he made three birdies, and two more after the turn.

The last came after a fine bunker shot at the eighth hole and McIlroy told Sky Sports 4: "It's a real solid score, it sets me up well for the weekend.

"I wouldn't have minded picking up a couple more but I'm going to be in one of the final groups tomorrow and it should make for an exciting weekend."

Mickelson out-performed even McIlroy - his 66 was matched only by fellow American Steve Wheatcroft, who is four under for the tournament.

The left-hander's front nine featured four birdies and after a bogey at eight, he picked up three more shots on the way home.

"I played really well," he said. "I'd been turning 66s into 71s like yesterday and today it was nice to make such a good score."

Streb kept his momentum going with three birdies on the front nine and another at the par-three 13th, where he struck his tee-shot to within nine feet of the pin.

He would have kept the outright lead but for a tee-shot into the water at 16, where he dropped on the other side of the hazard and did well to scramble and lose only a single stroke.

"I scored pretty well, got it going for a few holes in the middle there and then hung on at the end," he said.

Streb already has a win to his name this season, at October's McGladrey Classic, a nd as he bids for a repeat he said: "I have the confidence, I know I can do it, but you've got to hit the shots over the weekend."

Colt Knost provided one of the highlights of the day with a hole in one at the 17th, adding a birdie at the last to finish one under and ease any nerves over making the cut.

The American high-fived a young spectator during his celebrations and revealed afterwards: "That little kid gave me a broken tee to use for the shot.

"I told (playing partner) Jonathan Byrd I needed a miracle, and I hit a three-iron right at it - it's my first ever one in professional golf.

"I'm proud of 18 more than 17, I knew needed to calm down and make that birdie to make sure I was here for the weekend."

The cut eventually fell at level par, with a hefty 81 players through to the weekend but the likes of Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington and defending champion JB Holmes not among them.

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