Simpson’s Late Eagle Gives Him Lead At TPC Boston

NORTON, Mass. (AP) — The putt is one that Webb Simpson never practices enough. He wasn’t sure it even required his putter.

He worked it to perfection.

From just over 70 feet away off the green on the par-5 18th, Simpson rolled in the eagle putt for an 8-under 63 to take a one-shot lead Saturday at the halfway point of the Dell Technologies Championship.

“You just kind of laugh at those because you’re not trying to make them, you’re just trying to get them close,” Simpson said. “The grass around the greens is firm enough to where the ball runs pretty smoothly. I didn’t like my lie to chip it. I decided to putt it, and it came off really nice, just how I wanted it.”

A gorgeous Saturday in New England allowed for low scoring at the TPC Boston.

Tyrrell Hatton of England had eight birdies with his store-bought putter for a 63 and was one shot behind, along with Justin Rose (67). Tommy Fleetwood made it a trio of Englishman near the top with his 65, leaving him three shots behind.

Tiger Woods got into the act, too.

Woods only once came close to bogey, making a 12-foot par putt on the par-3 11th hole, and gave himself ample opportunities in his round of 66. It was an important day to move forward with conditions ripe for scoring, though he still was seven shots behind Simpson.

“I’ve got some work to do still,” Woods said. “This is a golf course you can’t sit still on. You have to keep making birdies. You have to keep getting after it. Conditions are going to be like this the rest of the weekend. You’re going to see plenty of birdies out there.”

Simpson was at 11-under 131, worth little more than pole position going into the final two days before the Labor Day finish.

Ten players were assured of their season ending by missing the cut, meaning they will not finish among the top 70 to advance to the third event in the FedEx Cup playoffs next week outside Philadelphia.

Simpson, who won The Players Championship in a landslide in May, is at No. 9 and already assured of being among the top 30 in the Tour Championship.

He is more interested in doing well enough, often enough, to be consistently among the elite.

“I don’t want to just have a couple of good years and have it go away for two years,” Simpson said. “There are a few guys that are always top 10 in the world. I want to do that.”

A lot of those guys are still in the hunt at the TPC Boston.

Jordan Spieth showed signs of getting on track, despite opening with two straight bogeys. He ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch after making the turn, and saved par from a bunker on the other, and had a 67 to be in the large group at five shots behind.

Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 player, missed several birdie chances and shot 69. He was six behind.

Hatton is riding a hot streak with his $149 putter that he bought last week before the final round at Ridgewood Country Club.

Well, the putter his caddie bought. Hatton wanted to shake up his short game, but the equipment trucks had already left and he was too embarrassed to be seen in a golf store shopping for a new putter, even if not many in Paramus, New Jersey, would have recognized him.

His caddie headed to a Golf Galaxy store, using a video app so Hatton could look at the options.

“Obviously, he made a good choice,” Hatton said.

Abraham Ancer of Mexico was poised to get within one shot until he chipped across the 18th green and into a bunker, and then missed a 4-foot par putt and had to settle for a 69 that left him three shots off the lead, along with Cameron Smith of Australia (66).

It’s a big week for Ancer, who is No. 92 in the FedEx Cup and needs to move into the top 70 to advance to next week outside Philadelphia. After that, the top 30 make it to the Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup finale.

“I don’t play well, I’m not playing any golf next week,” Ancer said. “I’m not trying to put any extra pressure. I know what I need to do. And I just need to execute my game plan and it will be fine.”

Tony Finau had five birdies over his last eight holes for a 68, which might help his cause involving another cup — the Ryder Cup. U.S. captain Jim Furyk makes three of his four wild-card picks on Tuesday, and Finau entered the equation with a runner-up finish last week.

Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain didn’t hurt his chances, either. The four European selections are Wednesday. Cabrera Bello chose to play in the FedEx Cup playoff event at the TPC Boston instead of going to Denmark with one last chance to qualify. He had another 68 and was at 6 under, which is sure to get the attention of European captain Thomas Bjorn.

WEB.COM

BEECHWOOD, Ohio (AP) — Kramer Hickok shot a 2-under 68 on Saturday to keep a one-stroke lead in the DAP Championship, the second of four Web.com Tour Finals events that will determine 25 PGA Tour cards.

One of 25 players who have already earned PGA Tour cards through the Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list, Hickok had a 12-under 198 total at Canterbury Golf Club. He matched the course record Thursday with a 63, and had a 67 on Friday.

“I really didn’t get myself too far out of position,” Hickok said. “I had one bogey today and it was just one bad drive, but the rest of the day, it was just easy pars. Just a consistent day all around. I didn’t get myself in trouble and I wasn’t too stressed.”

Hickok was 23rd on the regular-season list, and jumped from 23rd to 13th last week in Ohio with a tie for 14th in the series opener. The 26-year-old former University of Texas player was the 2017 Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada player of the year, winning twice.

“I really want to get a win,” Hickok said. “I’ve had a second and a third this year and I’ve been in the lead going in the back nine and finished a little short. I would love to get a win.”

Germany’s Stephan Jaeger remained second after a 68.

“I didn’t get off to a great start, honestly, but I just hung in there,” Jaeger said. “I had good putts on Nos. 7 and 8 and finally made one on No. 9 that kind of got me going a little bit.”

South Korea’s Sangmoon Bae, a two-time PGA Tour winner, was third at 9 under after a 69.

Six-time PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan had a 65 to move into a tie for fourth at 8 under with five-time PGA Tour champion Ben Crane (69), Justin Hueber (66), Brian Campbell (67), Peter Malnati (68) and Matt Jones (69).

The series features the top 75 players — Hueber was 42nd, Campbell 75th — from the Web.com regular-season money list, and Nos. 126-200 — Crane was 148th, Jones 151st, Mahan 159th, Malnati 161st, Jaeger 165th and Bae 207th — in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.

Hickok and the other top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for 25 cards based on series earnings.

“I feel like if I was in their shoes, I would have a little more pressure,” Hickok said. “I feel like there would be more weight on my shoulders in order to play well. Being in my shoes, I have everything locked up and ready to go. I can’t move backwards, so all I can do is go out and play good golf.”

LPGA

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Georgia Hall pulled away from Minjee Lee late in the third round Saturday to take a two-stroke lead in the Cambia Portland Classic.

The Women’s British Open winner four weeks ago for her first LPGA Tour title, Hall shot a 3-under 69. She birdied the par-3 16th and par-4 17th and made a 6-foot par save on the par-4 18th at tree-lined Columbia Edgewater.

“Sixteen and 17 are tough holes, especially with both pin positions, so I was very happy to hole some putts that I didn’t really hole much today,” Hall said. “I’ve got a two-shot lead. Still a lot of golf to play, but looking forward to tomorrow.”

The 22-year-old Englishwoman had an 18-uner 198 total. She opened with a 66 and shot 63 on Friday.

“I definitely putted yesterday like I did at the British,” Hall said. “Hopefully, I’ll putt like that tomorrow, as well. But I still kind of feel the same, and I’m just looking forward to playing another round of 18 holes.”

Lee had a 68. The Australian lost a share of the lead with a bogey on 17.

“Just tried to play my game,” Lee said. “I felt like I played pretty solid all day. Probably had one bad drive on 17 that really cost me my bogey.”

Marina Alex was third at 12 under, shooting her second 71 after opening with a 62.

“It was firm today,” Alex said. “The greens were really firm. The last like six holes, it was tough to just get at the flags. Once you got past 12 it’s hard to get it close. I hit really good putts, too, and it was just a lot of lips. But hoping to just have a really great day and see what happens.”

Brittany Marchand (70) and Ayako Uehara (70) were 10 under.

Brooke Henderson had a 74 to fall into a tie for sixth at 7 under. The Canadian star, the 2015 and 2016 winner at Columbia Edgewater, won the CP Women’s Open last week on home soil in Saskatchewan.